Thursday, 23 December 2010

'Xmas' is Christmas for Dyslexic Kids

The minister who carried out the services and assemblies at our school was a pretty intense character, he was mad about Jesus - which is what you would expect from a minister I suppose. At the Christmas assembly he would tell us never to spell Christmas 'Xmas' as it takes the 'Christ' out of Christmas - presumably this is how Jews and Muslims spell Christmas then? Most of us - particularly the dyslexic kids - never even noticed the 'Christ' in Christmas.

So, thanks to the Minister at our primary school, I now always spell Christmas; CHRISTmas.

When reciting prayers he would stand at the front of the hall with his arms spread out like Jesus on the cross, or like Kate Winslet at the front - bow - of the Titanic. I know this because my friend and I would dare each other to open our eyes during prayers, not much of a dare I know, I don't know what we expected to happen...

The run up to Christmas was our teacher’s golden opportunity to administer pointless 'busy work'. We would spend days making countless Christmas Cards, completing Dot-to-Dots and playing endless games of 'Heads Down Thumbs Up" and 'Hide the Keys'. One year we even made an advent calendar on the last week of term - which wasn't as pointless an exercise as it may seem. All the chocolates in my calendar were usually consumed less than a week into December.

Christmas Cards were big business in primary school. And, as with everything, my brother and I would turn it into a competition...

Not receiving a card from the girl you like on Valentines Day is pretty devastating. It's even worse if you don’t get one at Christmas time, because every other kid in the class – and even the teacher - gets one. The good thing about being a jilted nine-year-old is you demand answers...

Why did so many parents 'suggest' their children didn't befriend me? Spreading rumours about scabie outbreaks is how you communicate your feelings when you're nine years old :(

I was never one for making Cards. My lack of patience meant most of my Christmas Cards just tended to be excessive amounts of glitter. Card making was laid to rest aged twelve after the realisation I had the artistic ability of a four year old. In secondary school our art class was set a homework task, we had to choose an everyday household item and return with a drawing of it. My drawing of a toaster was commended as being a "wonderful picture of a handbag" by my art teacher. Thanks Mr Houston!

Although I retired my card making skills I have, to this day, maintained the age old practice - handed down to me by my mother - of talking shite. When I first met my art obsessed girlfriend I was able to convince her I had a keen eye for, and interest in, art - and that I was a bit of an artist myself. This attempt to impress her backfired. Not only did I almost die of a boredom stroke at the National Gallery of Scotland, but now every Birthday, Christmas, and Valentines Day is celebrated with us exchanging home made cards. Last years Glitter, Snowflakes and Word-art attempt was so poor I managed to convince her the kids in my special needs class made it for me.

So here is some advice for fellow card-makers operating at my level of expertise

  • Stick to simple shapes. A triangle and square will produce a simple, but aesthetically pleasing, Christmas tree...

  • Card design doesn’t get any simpler than the Christmas Present. Just colour in a square or rectangle - try and stay in the lines...

  • Two Circles - one bigger than the other - placed on top of each other will produce your basic snowman shape..

Birthdays can be more challenging. Again the advice is the same, stick to simple, easy to draw - or trace - shapes.

  • An oval shape will give you a pretty convincing balloon...

(A word of advice, avoid leaving your balloon blank or colouring yellow, as it may end up looking like a light bulb).

  • The Christmas present design can be reproduced for birthdays simply by changing colour schemes...

  • If you are three or four years into your relationship and you feel you have over-used many of these designs, the best thing to do is to go for the simple 'Happy Birthday' message, making it large enough so there is no need for any other pictures or designs.

When I was young I would try and make Christmas Day happen at Christmas three o'clock in the morning. The only difference these days are that three o'clock in the morning tends to be when I stagger in from my Christmas Eve piss up. But on the whole Christmas traditions have remained unchanged in the Downie household. Christmas morning wouldn't be Christmas morning if my mum wasn't constantly reminding us we can 'put things back' before we've even had the chance to open them. Apparently the Three Wise Men gained their status as learned men, and great gift givers, by holding onto receipts.

Another of my mums favourites is to tell us exactly how much each item cost - although the true price can be reached by taking the quoted number and halving it - and reminding us of how spoilt we are...

F***ing Live Aid. I was always made to feel guilty when opening presents. If the poor people in Africa wanted one of my presents they could have the orange that was always in my stocking - as if dressing fruit up as a gift was going to persuade me to eat more of it!

Much in the same way a smack addict on a particularly bad come down may ponder whether the previous evenings high was really worth it, after our Christmas Dinner I often find myself postulating "was that really worth it" when I am left contemplating the insurmountable number of dishes left for me to clean. The dishes are supposed to be a shared responsibility split between my brother and I. Every year however he disappears to the toilet at the opportune moment reappearing just in time to ‘dry’ – the dishes that is. This annual bowel movement is as predictable as Christmas dinner itself.

But despite my mother’s guilt trips, my brothers bowel movements, and my crippling Christmas Day hangover, I wouldn’t change any of our Christmas day traditions, the Status Quo is good for Christmas.

So before the Con-Dems attempt to cutback and cancel Christmas, let me take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas and thank you for taking the time to read the ridiculous nonesense I post on here.

And a Happy 'Xmas' to my dyslexic cousin Andy.

I'm off for a nap now!!

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