I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here. I mean, four whole days without a blog post – that shit is, as they say, crazy.
Part of my lack of posting has been because I took some time to write a piece for the Good Men Project about rape culture, and how it affects men. The editors really liked my article (squee!), but shit kind of got real in the comments. Let’s just say that many, many people disagreed with me (there were nearly 200 comments at last count), and found me to be of questionable intelligence. Oh well. It is what it is, it takes all kinds, and so on and so forth, you know? If even one person read it and was like, hmm, maybe rape culture is a thing, a thing that seriously contributes to the fucked up ways we talk about male rape victims then hey, I guess my job here is done.
The other reason that I haven’t been posting here is that I’ve been writing honest-to-goodness fiction. Like, not even a thinly-veiled autobiography, but an actual story about things that actually never happened to me. This is the first time that I’ve been able to write about pretend things for nearly three years, so I am kind of stoked. I just hope that I’m not jinxing myself by mentioning it here.
I don’t really have much else to say. I think I’m a little politicked-out, and I’ve also realized that I’m way happier when I write about things that don’t make me go into a blind rage. I’m sure I’ll be back tomorrow being all YOU GUYS DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE LATEST ATROCITY, but tonight, in the spirit of the upcoming Christmas holiday, I want to share with you one of my favourite Christmas stories.
When I was in high school, I worked at Tim Hortons. Several times a week I donned a maroon and white striped polyester shirt and a pair of extremely flattering maroon polyester pants so that I could stand behind a counter and sell donuts for a couple of hours. While it wasn’t as bad as, say, the time my dentist didn’t give me enough anaesthetic before drilling into my tooth, it wasn’t exactly the highlight of my life, either.
One of the things Tim Hortons used to do back then was make custom cakes (they might still do this, I actually have no idea). You could fill out a sheet specifying what type of cake you wanted, what colours of icing, and what message you wanted scrawled across the top, and then a few days later you could pick up your very own delicious cake baked and decorated by minimum-wage earning teenagers.
One day towards the end of December we received what was probably the strangest order we’d ever seen. This customer wanted a vanilla cake covered in white frosting with “Happy Birthday Baby Jesus” written on it. Their requested pickup date was December 24th.
We duly made the cake, of course, snickering over it as we did so. We tried to figure out what kind of person might have ordered this cake. Was it a local, zealous religious group? Someone’s idea of a funny way to end Christmas dinner? Was someone actually planning on having a child on Christmas and naming him Jesus?
When the customer arrived to pick up his cake, I went out back, yelled, “GUYS, THE JESUS CAKE DUDE IS HERE!” and waited as just about every single employee came out front to see who this person was. He looked pretty normal, maybe a little sheepish, but really, nothing out of the ordinary.
Naturally, we asked him what the hell was up with the Jesus cake. His answer was one of the best things I’ve ever heard.
His daughter had turned three that year, so he and his wife had decided to explain the Christmas story to her. She’d been appalled that Jesus, a poor defenceless baby, had been born in a barn. After hearing the basics, she’d begun to pepper her parents with questions.
“Did he have a bed?”
“Did he have toys?”
“Did he even have diapers or bottles or a pacifier?”
Finally, she asked what seemed to her to be the most important question:
“Did he have a birthday cake for his birthday?”
When her parents answered that no, he didn’t have a birthday cake for his birthday, she’d started crying.
“That’s not fair,” she’d said. “Everyone should have a birthday cake, especially Baby Jesus”
A few weeks later, when her parents had asked her what she wanted for Christmas, the only answer she would give them was, “A birthday cake for Baby Jesus.”
After telling this story, her father had laughed, saying that he figured he’d take this chance to enjoy the fact that his daughter wasn’t old enough to ask for a long list of toys. He thanked us, paid for his cake and left. Those of us who were working that day cooed over the adorable story and then quickly forgot about it; it hadn’t been nearly as interesting or as scandalous as we’d imagined.
Thinking back, though, I wonder if that kid didn’t understand Christmas better than most of us. Because it’s not about the giving or the getting, is it? It’s not about stuffing yourself with food, or drinking too much wine, or watching corny old Christmas specials. It’s about giving to those who have not, about loving one another and, most of all, it’s about family. That kid, and her reaction to the unfairness of Baby Jesus and his lack of cake, was on to something. She knew what was really up with Christmas, probably more than I ever will.
Happy birthday, Baby Jesus. Whoever you were, whatever you were, if ever you were, I’m glad I get to use your birthday as an excuse to be with my awesome family. So thank you for that.
See? Definitely no birthday cakes.