Merry Christmas, Here’s a Dead Baby

When I was ten years old my father quit his job at a chocolate company and started working as a marketing manager for a business which sold tea. This meant two things; our house would no longer be filled to the brim with delightful cocoa related goods- instead my father insisted on stocking our cupboards with old person drinks because what child guzzles Earl Grey? The second thing was that my tenuous grasp on any semblance of popularity from living in a house filled with candy bars was gone.

Life went on and before I knew it, Christmas was upon us. Previous years my sister and I had been packed in our snow suits and shuttled to the chocolate company’s Christmas party. The fete not only featured Santa Claus but the giant allergen that was the company’s mascot as well. Diana and I would take turns standing next to the costumed people for pictures. This would be followed by a draw in which every child was given a gift then we would leave with a loot bag as large as ourselves after being stuffed with candy, brownies and cake. In essence the chocolate company’s Christmas party was every child’s vision of heaven. I used to picture going there after I died.

This year of course there would be no company party, not for the children in my family at least. My mother and father dressed to the nines early in December and left my sister and me at home with a babysitter. The next night my mother presented Diana and I with a box. “It’s from the tea company’s Christmas party, your Dad said we should bring it home to open as a family.”

It wasn’t a garbage bag full of sugar but it was something. Furthermore after initially questioning the wisdom of his career move I had been buoyed up by a phone call my mother had made to me while on a business trip with my father two months previously.

“Guess where I am girls?” she cried ecstatically into the phone. Sitting at home with our grandparents Diana and I had a vague notion that our Mom and Dad were very far away but not exactly sure where.

“Scotland?” we said in unison.

“No! I’m in the bathroom!”

“Um” was our confused and faintly grossed out response.

“The bathroom in the hotel room is as large as our bedroom at home and there is a phone by the tub!” My mother’s excitement was contagious and I began to forgive my father for leaving his lucrative candy coated job.

As Diana and I unwrapped the small package I could tell we were both thinking of the enormous hotel bathroom with a telephone in it. If this new company had provided something as fabulous as that for the employee’s families on business what sort of wonders had they packed into this little box?

It was a dead baby. Or to be more specific; half a dead baby. The lower half of the infant was a ceramic bell while the upper half was dressed in what looked like a nubby, hooded ceramic jacket. Without a doubt, the gift was the creepiest, most homely Christmas ornament I had ever seen. The entire tchotchke was beige coloured except for the eyes which were painted blue, giving it the appearance that someone had dressed the baby crossed bell in a coat then thrown it in a snowbank to freeze to death. “Well, that’s um, nice.” said my mother looking at the ornament skeptically. The baby’s eyes stared back, sinister and unblinking.

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It likes to sing a song at night. It goes like this, “My cold, ghostly eyes are watching you”. (Photo Credit : The Great Unwashed)

Without looking at my sister, I knew what she was thinking “I would have preferred a bag of chocolate.”

My father and I aren’t able to celebrate Christmas together this year, so all of my gifts arrived in a large Purolator box. In addition to the presents, my Dad also decided that I would enjoy this bizarre ornament from my childhood because he knows that there is nothing I love more in the world than a good story. So Merry Christmas my Unwashed public, may each and every one of you receive a dead baby of your own.

Illicit Sugar and Job Confusion

Once upon a time, when I thought glitter glue was a necessary addition to all objects, my father worked for a company that made chocolate bars. Technically he was a marketing manager, but at seven years of age his job title was irrelevant.

Black Chocolate in Japan

The cupboard contents of my childhood home. (Photo credit: gullevek)

The more important part to my young mind and mouth was that this job resulted in every cupboard in our house being stocked with some type of delicious treat. Everyday my father was sent home with an edible good to sample and create a detailed description about. A man can only consume so much sugar before he begins to stash it with the coffee mugs, next to canned corn and behind the stand up mixer. As far as I was concerned this was the next best thing to being fathered by Santa Claus himself.

Life was not all rainbows and unicorns in my childhood home. Although we were surrounded by chocolate, my sister and I could not technically eat all of the chocolate. We had to ask permission. Nearly always the answer was “No”. However we discovered a loophole in the parental framework; what my parents did not know about, we could secretly consume.

Diana and I later parlayed this rule into the consumption of my parent’s old alcohol. As a teenager my sister spent an inordinate amount of time searching for dusty bottles of booze in our basement to decant into inconspicuous containers. Our crime was discovered eight years later when the house was being renovated and my mother was puzzled by a box of twenty cobweb covered bottles of hootch, each with only a couple of milliliters left. God bless my near teetotaling parents’ drinking habits.

I digress. In Canada the legal age that one may stay at home alone is ten. This was an excellent year for me as I discovered a fifteen pound box of abandoned chocolate chips next to a stack of two year old flyers advertising a new candy bar. I ate nearly a third of my bootleg bounty before sharing the news with my sister.

When I was twelve, my father changed jobs and began working for a tea company. Supposedly it was a better position but from my preadolescent point of view it was a step down. In my mind our family was probably one job change away from the poor house.

In high school, my father changed careers again, no longer was he concerned with the colour of tea or chocolate packaging however I never quite figured out what he did. To this day if asked I will answer “Um…..? He’s a banker? He works for a bank? He talks to a lot of people. Stocks?”

My dad has repeatedly attempted to explain his role but he always includes unnecessary technical details which confuse the issue. Once, Phillip my sister’s giant boy friend explained what he did, and everything made sense. Unfortunately then my father tried to elaborate on the topic and my understanding was lost.

Here’s what I know

  1. My father goes to work everyday
  2. He wears a suit
  3. He talks to a lot of people.

Based on this I like to assume that what he does is very important but it’s entirely possible that he could be a well dressed ice cream man.

My father's office. (Photo Credit: www.dreammakericecreamcarts.com)

My father’s office. (Photo Credit: http://www.dreammakericecreamcarts.com)