Photo by Matt Weber.
Originally posted 12-20-12
It was last year when my wife wanted us to get a family picture taken for Christmas. I say it was her idea even though the idea was actually conceived by another woman — a woman my wife was trying to outdo.
It was one of those woman things, so at the time, I knew better than to interfere.
“We don’t have any pictures of the kids,” she whined, while holding the fresh-out-the-envelope Christmas card sent in disingenuous greeting from her arch-nemesis.
“We have one of Latoyah when she was younger, but I feel bad for Jamal—he’ll have no pictures to look back on and he’s almost five; he’ll be 20 before we actually get another picture of him and that’s if you’re even in it, with you working so much…”
Yeah, it was one of those woman things — all whirlwind, with no patterns of logic or coherence. I’m fine with that. As long as I’m not asked to participate in the madness I can usually drink myself into the type of stupor that has kept marriages breathing. I’d wake up on the other end wearing a tie and being whisked forward by the momentum of some idea that involved too much estrogen to be anything I’d have agreed to. Why the hell would I’ve agreed to go to a pottery class?
And that’s how I would’ve handled this horrible holiday, if not for the fact that this was the week I’d decided to quit drinking. I’d been one week dry and the aching in my soul had become sentient.
“Why don’t you kill her Richard?”
“I can’t do that oh mighty Yearn, God of the Thirst. What would the police think?”
“Make it look like an accident Richard…as soon as she stops talking and turns around, hit her with the kitchen stool…as soon as she stops talking…anytime now…as soon as…as…wow….she’s really going at it, isn’t she? Well, we’ll just wait, surely she’ll tire herself out and turn…she’s talking about your mother now, huh? Well…this uh…yeah, I didn’t anticipate…”
“She’s really into this tangent now, so…”
“Yeah…wow, she’s really laying into your mom, dude. What’d she do?”
“I don’t know…she like, died two years ago, I don’t…Hey…Yearn?”
“You’re a demon. What’s hell like?”
“It’s an abyss, Richard. Just an abyss”
Eventually the conversation went from my bitch-of-a-mother to my hair. Seconds later I peeled away, heading to whatever barbershop was open on a Sunday morning with the radio blasting Josh Groben’s “O Holy Night!” from his 2007 album, Noel; $9.18 on Amazon.com.
Yes, tis the season. Money was in the air and cash registers rang on an almost ethereal frequency. There must’ve been a half price Christmas sale on wings in heaven; no angel was leaving without something.
Holiday Cheer is a communicative virus that eventually mutates into something uglier, especially when you add the concept of gifts. This always happens. Greed is a sickness and during Christmas, we’re all trapped in the same elevator with no ventilation, coughing and sneezing on each other.
- Trust me. I’ve worked in the service industry, I’ve seen things.
Back in ‘94, at Penn Mar mall in Forestville, Maryland, I saw an 8-year-old girl so struck by the Gimmie disease that she literally shat herself. No lie. It was a horrible sight. She stiffened like a board and stood on the tips of her toes, screeching like a honey badger, mouth agape and drooling. Everyone jumped with a start and turned toward the girl who, within seconds, had turned white and was leaking what appeared to be brown urine down her pants.
I remember the girl’s mother screaming for help as the poor wretch, arms akimbo, fell back like a loose 2X4, flat with a loud smack to the linoleum. Her eyes were vacant and lost. It was while the EMTs worked on her, checking for vital signs that I heard her raspy plea, “used…jeans…I’say goddamn…”
My brother, Aaron, sadly came down with a similar case once. It came out of nowhere — one year, all he wanted was the Ewok Treehouse, the very next he suddenly wanted a gold necklace and a $100 pair of sneakers. I witnessed my brother de-evolve into this Christmas-sick, crazed creature first hand. It was like watching a man transform into a werewolf, but over the course of a year; and I mean one of the really sick transformations, like David Naughton in American Werewolf in London.
I don’t know, maybe it’s a part of growing up. Maybe it’s in our DNA; maybe as humans it is our job, our evolutionary obligation, to want. Perhaps that’s what has ultimately driven us and pushed us as a species: the almost animalistic need to need.
Needless to say, I’ve never really been a fan of Christmas; for this reason and others. There’s always been something depressingly sad about a holiday where people are ordered to be happy, just to fuel some government machine running off greed.
I don’t know, I’ve never understood it myself. In fact, it wasn’t until recently I realized I was the only person, or at least one of few, who’re brought to tears by Christmas music. I can’t explain it. What’s there to be so happy about anyway?
We barreled over the river and through the woods, down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, following the vibrations toward the pulsating epicenter of Christmas commerce, the Anne Arundel Mills mall.
It’s a beautiful structure. It sprawls like a good mall should. It has a 1,300,000 square foot gross leasable area and is the second largest mall in Maryland, including a Medieval Times dinner theater, 17 large anchor stores, a Dave & Buster’s and an Egyptian-themed 24-screen megaplex theater. Last year, it was expanded to include a major high-end hotel and casino, one with slots and tables. If there ever was one, this is the place to get some shopping done.
As the brood pulled into a parking spot, TLC’s “Sleigh Ride” from LaFace’s 1993 disc, La Face Family Christmas Album, trumpeted our arrival. The album was an underrated gem, including such talents as Toni Braxton, the aforementioned TLC, and Outkast. It’s the perfect Christmas gift and available now for $19.95.
I parked the car and we all got out to began the trek across the massive parking lot, toward the mall. My daughter hopped like a kangaroo on one leg in anticipation.
“Calm down and get out of the way of these cars!” I warned.
“But I can’t waaaaaaiiit!” She moaned. I grabbed her by the hand just in case she decided to break out into wind sprints. “I want to dress like Willow! Can I dress like Willow? Mommy, can I, can I…I can, I mean, can I buy the cl0thes? I want to buy the clothes. Ooh, I want to buy shoes! Can I buy shoes?”
Christ, I thought, she’s got it bad.
It’s hard to teach humility to a child. This is especially true since the world has become so geared toward the youthful aesthetic. Everything important is young and new. Old things are thrown away at worst, or “improved upon” at best. But the youth are forever. Young people never want to age and old people are always regretful that they did. How are you going to tell a kid in a time like this that he should think about others?
Fuck other people, give me my Nintendo DS, it’s a steal at only $99.99.
My brother, when he was infected with the disease, was a lost cause. Back then, it wasn’t the Nintendo DS, it was the Sega Genesis. Then it was the boom box radio, then the throwback Washington Redskins jersey that ran about $100, it was all so dizzying. I just didn’t get it. It just made everything feel so hollow, to be so focused on stuff. I never liked stuff. It takes up too much room. People with stuff are rarely happy, just cramped.
But my brother was a different beast. He was possessed by the avarice of it all. The turning point with me was when he asked my parents to buy him a young, Somalian boy that he could use in the place of a monkey servant, which he reasoned was better because monkey servants tend to be very expensive. But secretly, he really wanted the boy.
“Aaron, c’mon, you can’t just buy a boy.” I remember my father trying to explain. “You’d be better off with the monkey! At least the monkey wouldn’t be able to complain. Can you imagine that? Tellin’ your monkey to do his duty and clean out your toilet and have that bastard start talking back? That’d scare the ever lovin’ hell outta me. Talkin’-ass monkeys…that’d be the day.
“But no, you need to leave that boy idea alone; maybe get a Somalian girl. That’d be better right? No one cares what you do to the girls, even tho’—and I don’t mean to be mean—they kinda look like the boys, don’t they? It’s the short hair. Hell, they’re probably all cocooned lesbians, waiting to gestate and take flight. Now that I think of it…just get the damn ape.”
Aaron didn’t take kindly to the advice. He was very protective of his Somalians. The idea of being told what he could and couldn’t ask for when it came to Christmas, infuriated him greatly. So he did what any power-hungry capitalist set on getting as much as he could from the system would do — he took it out on his employees, meaning he beat the ever-loving shit out of that poor monkey.
Even today, I can still hear its scream for mercy, in its primitive monkey tongue.
“Do you know what you want your pictures to look like,” a young man in black asked. He stood behind the counter of the small photography studio where we had made an appointment. He had a pony-tail and spoke with a European accent; perhaps he was French.
He was tall and effeminate and looked and talked like how I would expect Dracula to dress and sound. I don’t doubt they shared similar motivations. To him, we were simply targets, potential prey that he could survive off of for the rest of the holiday season.
A smaller woman began taking our coats and putting them somewhere or another and the young French man repeated his question. By this point, thanks to my new found sobriety, I was suffering from an acute sensory overload.
Christmas was the absolute worst time for this awakening. For years, I’d been starving my senses with alcohol, now they violently devoured every last bit of sight, sound and itch that my surrounding environment could radiate. And boy was there a lot of it. Every wall was festooned with bright celebratory colors, shining glitter and faux snow. Christmas music blared in perpetual cycles over the main mall speaker, while every store seemed to be pumping their own music alternatives from radios behind the cash registers.
Then there was the people, they were everywhere, shoulder-to-shoulder and walking on top of each other. All of this was collected, without filter, and funneled into my skull for maximum effect. So I was in no mood to deal with this foreign jackass and his foreign accent shaking his foreign crotch at my wife, while eyeing her very domestic purse.
Perhaps sensing my growing need for murder, my wife stepped in, “Yes, we know what we want.”
“And this is what you’re all going to wear?” He asked, with a note of what I felt was condescension.
“What’s that supposed to mean, you ass —,” I began, fists clinched, before my wife again interrupted.
“Yes, we all have the same clothes, but my daughter wanted to change, is that okay?”
“Oh, but of course,” he said hesitantly, watching me over my wife’s shoulder as I made murder-rape symbols with my hands. This
was done by forming a gun with one hand and then poking the muzzle of the pistol in and out of a circle made out of my other hand. To drive the point home, I pulled the trigger — I imagine it to be as violent as it sounds.
“…and you all do hair, right?” My wife continued, oblivious. “Like, I wanted my hair done and my daughter had a style she wanted…”
“Oh, yes, but of course.”
“Because she wanted to take separate photos.”
“so she’ll be alone?”
“Yes, no…she’ll be with us first, then…”
“Then she’ll take separate pictures? Oh, but of course! Yes, yes.”
“But she can do that, that’s okay?”
“Oh, but of course.”
My daughter was floating around on her toes like she’d been slipped heroin. She was seven. To her, we weren’t taking family photos — no, this was Dress-Up Day and she was going to be Willow Smith. She had the magazine in her hand, waiving it in the French man’s face.
“Can, can, can he do…can, mommy, can he do it like this?”
“Hold on Latoyah.”
“But momomomomomomomomomomomomom…” My wife tried to bring her down but my daughter refused to calm. I ended up having to horse collar her; dragging her away, lifting her up by the neck and throwing her into one of the empty salon chairs that lined the wall. I looked around to see if anyone objected to my use of parental force and met the eye of the small olive-colored woman who’d taken our coats. We locked eyes for a moment. I didn’t blink. She moved on.
The day was only just beginning, but the tug in my gut that screamed for alcohol was just beginning to dig its heels. The crowds, the confusion, the chaos of loud colors and sounds all combined to make me fighting mad. I would’ve been more than happy for someone to say something about “child abuse.” I was fully prepared to give that tiny woman an enzuigiri kick to the back of her head.
My wife and this French fuck-nugget weren’t helping matters.
“Oh, but of course. So you want her hair done, or just yours?”
“I want my hair done too, so it’s okay, she can have a separate photo?”
“Oh, but of course.”
“That’s it,” I called. “I need some coffee!”
Everyone jumped as I probably was a bit louder than necessary. But I needed to go and I figured switching one addiction for another was a great way to get through detox.
My wife shrugged, but before I could go, she asked, “Do you want to take the kids?”
What the fuck? Um…no? “No.”
If I were to make it through this nightmare called Christmas alive I needed at least one moment of peace to sort things in my head. What I didn’t need was to trolley two kids, one in each arm, through a sea of hateful chaos, like some sort of unholy, screaming and whining rickshaw. No, if I were to remain sane today, I thought, that would not do.
Barreling through the merchandise-mad mosh pit, with kids in tow, I moved in a straight line — dodging as little as possible. Let the fuckers get out of my way, I thought. I was the captive here, I was the hostage; held against my will as leverage in some money transaction for millions of dollars that have as little to do with me or my happiness as possible.
That’s what Christmas is like for the Grinches. Once a year, we’re gathered, bound and gagged and forced to sit and watch while the world ransoms our time for the love of need.
“Daddy, you just stepped on that lady’s foot!” My daughter screamed from somewhere behind me.
“The woman looked 500 lbs.” I barked. “Her whole fuckin’ body is ‘standing on her foot!’”
I yanked them both by the hand as we spiraled through the mangy crowd and festive foliage of Sale signs and Discount banners. Invisible ditzy children from 50 years ago whined Christmas carols over the loud speaker, while their real-life physical counterparts of today twirled in Tasmanian Devil circles, spitting and screaming. I held my kids tight.
“You know what would be really good right about now, Richard?” a voice whispered from just behind my ear. “A glass of Wild Turkey 101 Rye; not that 81 bullshit, but the good stuff. It goes for about $21 in some spots, great Christmas deal.”
“Yes, Yearn, but what about my children?”
“Bring them along. Everyone needs to start at some point. Plus, the boy looks to be a little soft — might as well toughen him up with a belt of good old American dirty bird.”
By God, I actually considered it. There was a bar at the Dave & Buster’s several turns behind us. The kids could play some of the games while I sucked on a beer. I needed something, anything, to take the edge off of this whole affair. We hadn’t even taken the damn pictures yet.
Yearn, the dull knife twirling in the back corner of my stomach, was beginning to get on my nerves. His voice was shrill and incessant and threatening. It was like driving a car with a hornet trapped somewhere inside. All you hear is the buzzing, so the hairs on your neck bristle and you realize that it could be anywhere and strike at any time. So I chose to preemptively kill it with coffee.
Just in time, up ahead, I saw a Starbucks. I wanted something strong and powerful, something that would send me out of my skull. From the looks of the line, I wasn’t alone.
Several lines of sleepy-eyed people stretched from the doors. Most of them were men and all of them looked to be hung over.
“Welcome to Starbucks. May I help you?” A thin-faced teen stood behind the bar. It was hard to hear her voice over the jittery and raucous crowd.
“Yeah, thanks. What’s the strongest thing you have?”
“Like, really strong?” She began yelling. “We have Expresso shots that’re like pure caffeine, but they nasty. I can put a shot of it into a regular coffee for you.”
I decided on a tall white chocolate mocha with a shot of Expresso. When she told me the price I almost shat myself. All this Christmas spirit was beginning to wear on my patience and deep into my pocket. But what could I do? I ordered two.
When the coffee was ready, I grabbed both kids and turned to leave, only to be met with a wall of flesh that had gathered in the short time I had been at the counter. It was as if the whole mall had decided to get high off of stimulants at once.
“Coffee! Coffee! Gimme Coffee!” “I want my coffee!!” “Gimme a shot, man…I’ll suck yo’ dick!”
This crowd was not for children. I gathered up my kids, their coats, my coffee and what little money I had left, and hit the gap like Clinton Portis on the goal line.
In Dawn of the Dead, iconic horror genre director George Romero criticized America’s rampant consumerism, likening shoppers to mindless, insatiable zombies. Normally, this type of metaphor would seem a bit heavy handed, maybe even hyperbolic, but not during the holidays. During the holidays, no observation rings more true. All humanity is sucked from the average shoppers’ eyes as they brainlessly shamble from store to store, buying and buying and buying.
Christmas shoppers are the closest things to real-life zombies our society has produced. They’re locusts, swooping down by the thousands and devouring any and everything of value.
From Black Friday on, the economy hinges on this deviancy. Every year, we’re reminded by the media that the country’s entire economy could go down the shitter if this phenomenon skips a year or, worse yet, went away altogether. So the crowds are summoned, sales are advertised, super malls fling their doors open and the virus is released, causing large groups of ordinarily fair-minded individuals to turn into creatures with the thinking capacity of single-celled organisms.
Best Buys are selling flat screen televisions for less than $200, and although Samuel from Richmond,Virginia, has a new car note, mounting school loans and a brand new baby, he sure as hell ain’t going to watch the Superbowl on the little piece of shit screen he has now; because you can’t beat a good deal, and because it’s Christmas time.
Or consider, Tamara Washington from Pittsburgh. Her company not only withheld Christmas bonuses this year, but with her house suffering damage following Hurricane Sandy in November, she and her husband have fallen deeply into debt. Still, that means nothing when she’s staring at a Kenneth Cole purse on sale for 25 percent off.
The results of this virus are huge. Malls are turned into wastelands, housing leagues of the digested and dissolved, empty eyed and bouncing about from store to store like oxygen bubbles in the acidic brine of one huge, working, monster stomach. They jump from Bloomingdales, where holiday gifts are up to 50 percent off (an extra 15 percent if you’re a Bloomingdales cardholder), to Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet; from there, maybe they saunter to OFF Broadway Shoes, only to go mainstream and hit up Old Navy. And in the wake of this Christmas virus and the one-track minded gluttony it induces, there is a trail of destruction and dismay that, at its core, can be very dreary, empty and lonely — at least for some of us.
“Can I put my coffee here?” I asked the room full of people.
“I said, can I put my coffee here, goddamnit?” Every head in the room swiveled toward me nervously. A woman in a black smock, without a word, calmly took the full Starbucks cup, along with an empty one, from my hand and placed it behind one of the salon chairs. I watched her with a seething hate as she then went about her business prepping some frazzle-headed sasquatch who was doing no one any favors by asking to be photographed. I could’ve killed them both right then and there.
Damn, that was some good coffee.
My wife and daughter were sitting in their own chairs, getting their hair done. My son, being that he had absolutely nothing to do was, of course, raising all types of hell. This included monkey flipping off the arm of a sofa and almost onto a small purse that housed an unfortunately feeble Yorkshire Terrier.
Luckily, I grabbed him mid-flight before he could commit dog murder; dog murder that I no doubt would have had to pay for. My nipples itched with the level of irritation such a thought caused.
“What type of idiot puts a dog in a purse?” I screamed. “What the hell is it for? What purpose does this pitiful creature serve? The little faggot is so small it’s shaking under the pressure of merely existing? Look at it! It’s bowing to the intense expectations that come with taking fucking breaths! What do you do with this little shit? Do you roll it up into a ball and bounce it against a wall to relieve stress? Is it a stress release toy? Is that it? Can I do that now? Can I throw this little sack of scrotum skin against a fuckin’ wall, right now? Cause I’m stressed? I’m fuckin’ stressed the fuckin’ fuck out, right now!
“Oh, how about this! How about I take the little fucker, tie a small barrel of brandy around it’s neck, put a leash on it, lube it the fuck up and shove it up its pretentious, vapid eyed, ditzy, fuckin’ bitch-of-an-owner’s ass so that it can climb up that sonuvabitch like a St. Bernard rescuing a lost mountain climber? Because I know the head that is lodged up that ass needs to be found and saved soon, less it risks dying of asphyxiation and all around stupidity! How about that, huh?”
A small, round elderly woman picked up the purse and dog, and walked away from me as if she hadn’t heard anything I had just said. This was probably because I hadn’t actually said any of it. No, in real life, I just stood there with my son in my arms, muttering and twitching like an epileptic trapped inside an upright body cast.
In my mind though, I was letting her fucking have it.
It wasn’t until 5 in the afternoon that we were finally ushered into the photo room. It was around 10:30 a.m. when we first walked through the studio door; we had been waiting for six and a half hours. Finally, we were the lucky group allowed to pass through the glorious hanging drape.
The photographer, an obviously wired gay man, directed us to stand by two crates and on top of a white sheet. Once there, he manipulated us like CPR dummies into multiple poses the he personally found festive.
Like me, he was apparently hopped up on a very decent grade of Bolivian speed bean. He spoke in a hurried manner and his words bled together like passing lights on a freeway.
“Okay, I’ma need the littleguy to sit nextto his sister, canyou sit nextto your sister? Are you okay, with that, okay with that, yeah? Good!” This was followed by the mechanical click of his camera.
And that’s how things went, he would give directions, we would follow, he’d say, “good,” then click.
Of course, my daughter had the time of her life. To her this was all make-believe and in her mind
she was really Willow Smith. She sashayed across the floor, put her hand on her hip and gave the camera her most serious “model” face. My son had seen better days, but for the most part he was just happy to be somewhere, doing something.My wife was the biggest winner. She had been planning this family photo for a long time and things had finally fell into place.
I on the other hand, just as every Christmas, felt miserable. And as always, I didn’t really know why.
When everything was over, they walked us to a computer where we were showed the final pictures. I looked down and saw our image as viewed by the unflinchingly honest eye of a high resolution professional camera. Everything was captured, every blemish and pimple, every wrinkle and every pore. It kind of took my by surprise, reality can have a horrible and harsh eye.
But then they showed us the touched up versions. We didn’t even look real. My wife looked plastic and my children looked like Mattel dolls. I, having the darkest complexion, looked like a shadow with teeth and eyes. To me we looked like a ghastly group of human replicas trapped in the UncannyValley. But to my wife, we looked perfect.
“We’ll take this one.” She proudly tapped the screen. I didn’t know what to say. She really wanted this and had for some time, so I shrugged and whispered a quiet affirmation.
“Oh my God, Richard,” she began, shaking her head. “You’ve been grumpy all day, what’s wrong with you?”
I didn’t know what to say. I never know what to say when that question comes up inevitably, every Christmas.
I have never been happy during Christmas. Growing up, the holiday season always arrived with an accompanying sense of sadness that at times felt crippling. There were times I would quietly cry to myself in my room, overwhelmed by something I could never quite put my finger on. At some point, without fail, my mood affects someone to the point that they have to bring it up with a single, simple question. And without an answer, every year, I stand there silent, unable to correctly formulate a real reason for these feelings.
For the entire day, I had been blaming my anger on everything from alcohol withdrawal to the inherent “fakeness” in Christmas, maybe I had been the crux of it all. Maybe, after years of confusion, and with a new sober mind, I could finally get to the bottom of this by opening the door to the room marked “D” — D for Depression.
It wouldn’t be the first time. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2010, but like most men, I avoided any type of treatment. Instead, I chose to tough it out, not out of some need to prove a masculine point and not out of fear, but out of a sense of quiet acceptance. I had been sad for so long, I knew no other way to be; this was my normal. It wasn’t until I looked down at my plastic family that I finally wanted to understand. My wife was happy, my daughter was happy and my son was happy…what was wrong with me?
Sometimes I feel lonely, other times I feel hopeless. Maybe it’s the finality of it all. December is the end month after all. Maybe it’s just sad to see a year die when nothing seems to have been gained from its life. Perhaps.
Maybe it’s the overtly temporary nature of the holiday’s joy. Everyone knows that on December 26 everything always goes back to our reprehensible version of “normal.” After Christmas, the soup kitchens empty, the Salvation Army slowly dips back into the red, homeless people no longer get obligatory helping hands, people stop smiling, they put their heads back down and go back to work.
I remember one Christmas, my brother — this was long before his “sickness” — came upon a homeless man asking for change. This was when my brother was young, so he thought nothing wrong about asking my parents whether we could take the man home to get something to eat . My parents were aghast, not that he would ask such a question — he was a good-hearted kid, but that the obvious answer would be one that went against everything they were trying to teach him.
The idealistic answer is, “of course. We’re Christians. This is Christmas.” But the reality of life is much more cruel and my brother was devestated when my parents, as politely as they could, explained to him why his perfectly genuine idea was a bad one.
“Oh, we can give him some money, honey,” my mother cooed. And I knew it killed her to see such a pure piece of her son die that day, but that’s life. That’s Christmas, at least to me.
My brother ended up giving the man $20; this alarmed my parents as well, but at that point I’m sure they chose to be picky about their battles. On the ride home I remember him crying, not just for the man but because he had felt duped. He had fallen for “the lie” and he was ashamed. Maybe at some point, my stupid ass just fell in love with the lie too. And every year a part of me dies when the world blinks hard, shakes itself, yawning, “what a wonderful dream.” Maybe it just became easier to not involve myself in any of it — avoid the heartbreak altogether.
Or maybe Christmas is just my excuse to be a lonely, wretched asshole.
“Yeah,” I nodded simply, pointing to the family picture of Sunday morning cartoons. “This is the one we want. Thank you.”
“But, of course.” The French man smiled graciously and left us at the computer to get the paperwork. Behind us and outside of the store, shoppers continued to zip about. Everyone was weighted down by bags filled with gifts for other people, for family, lovers, enemies and friends; and each shopper wore a huge and honest smile.
Happy children danced around their happy parents and happy women hugged their happy men. Peace on earth, good will to men, I thought. For as long as it lasts.
“Thank you Richard for coming with me to take these pictures. I’ve always wanted this,” my wife beamed. This was as happy as she had been for quite some time.
I rubbed her shoulder and smiled, “If it’s what you want, don’t worry about it. Merry Christmas.”