The bright light clicked on, interupting the soft glow of the morning. The crumpling of wrapping paper filled the room.
“SMILE!” he commanded. The children faked their best smiles. “Do what you’re told,” had been embedded into their psyches.
“Oh, this is not the one I wanted,” Marge sighed, and then just as suddenly, held her breath, realizing her mistake. “You’re lucky you got that, you ungrateful little dipsh*t,” came the response.
Another Christmas had arrived, the hand-lettered sign on the tree read “Xmas 1969.” The same lightbulbs coloring the thin tree branches. The same tinsel infilling the holes between the bows of the tree.
The same empty ache in the children’s hearts. They treat us like crap all year and then try to make up for it in one day with all this stuff, and then capture it all on film as proof.
What does the film show? Children smiling at the camera, holding up various presents. It looks good to the outside world, and that’s what counts.
The smell of pine triggers old memories of crumpled wrapping paper. It’s not a pleasant memory.