For the twelfth day of GTA Christmas I needed “twelve cards for greeting”, but I only had six Christmas cards. They are hard to come by in a Muslim household. I had to call in the troops: my little brother and sister.
“Neela! Nain! What are you doing? You want to do arts and crafts?”
“Now?” Neela asked. “Okay.”
“We’re supposed to have a Mario Kart tournament with Nadeem,” Nain reminded her. He loved group activities, so he’d be happy either way but since his strengths lay in video games and not art, he was reluctant to change plans.
“We’ll do it after,” Neela said.
“Yeah, you’ll do it after,” I repeated. “Neela, get that old purse filled with glitter glue. We need to make some Christmas-y things.”
Nain sighed. “Okay, I’m coming. Let me go tell Nadeem there’s been a change of plans.”
We set ourselves up in the basement, and I shot out rapid-fire instructions. “I’m thinking a snowman, Santa…things that aren’t too complicated. What else?”
“I’ll make a candy cane,” Neela said. “I know how to make a lit candy cane.”
I nodded. “Perfect. I’m gonna make a snowman. Nain, turn on an episode of One Tree Hill for background noise.”
“Okay.” He grabbed the remote. “I’m just going to watch you guys.”
The episode we chose was the one in which Haley and Nathan’s friends throw them a post-wedding bridal shower and bachelor party. The scene where the faux-mechanic shows up to fix their “broken down” car is playing. The music starts, and the mechanic starts stripping.
Nain looked down at his hands and shook his head. “I really thought he was a mechanic.” Then he spotted my semi-completed snowman.
“Neya, what kind of a branch is that?” he demanded. “There’s supposed to be extra parts at the end. Have you never seen a tree branch before?”
I made an offended noise. Neela looked up from the piece of paper she was cutting and said, “You’re being very critical, but you’re contributing nothing.”
“Does Frosty have buttons?” I asked. “And how far down do they go? Is it like a trench coat thing? What about his mouth? Everything’s made of coal, right?” They both nodded their heads.
“I’m loving that he doesn’t have eyes yet,” Neela said. “Gives him mystery. Oh my gosh, give him a wink.”
“I’ll give him eyes that look real.” I drew one eye open and one eye closed.
“Neya, that looks awful and scary,” Nain said.
Neela was of a different opinion. “I’m loving everything that’s happening with that snowman. I want to put it in my room when we’re done.”
Now I was concerned about how I was going to make its carrot nose. “Do we have any orange paper? Or an orange marker?” I looked through the pencil case. “Oh, I’ll use these sticky notes! Wow, that was lucky.” I cut out a triangle and stuck it on its face.
“Aha! There we go,” I said triumphantly.
Nain gasped. “No! He doesn’t have a carrot nose. Remember the song “with a corn cob pipe and a button nose.”
I blinked. My snowman looked too good, so there was no way I was starting over. “This is a No Name brand snowman. “
“Frosty is not supposed to look like that, Neya,” Nain said disapprovingly.
“Wow, yeah he does have a pipe,” Neela muttered to herself.
“Well whatever,” I snapped. “All other snowmen have carrot noses.”
“YEAH BUT DO ALL OTHER SNOWMEN COME TO LIFE?”
Neela played peacemaker. “It’s okay. He’s not Frosty, he’s Frosté.”
Nain turned his attention to Neela’s work. “One of the lines on your candy cane is fatter than the others.” Neela and I glared at him.
Meanwhile, on the screen, Nathan was playing 2K with a stripper. We all stopped to watch before returning to work.
“I’m done,” Neela said, holding up her finished candy cane.
“Oooh girl. That’s a great candy cane.”
“Are we done?” she asked.
I looked appraisingly over the table. “No, we need three more things…”
She thought for a moment. “Hmm. How about a present?”
“Yaaaas good thinking.”
“I have red ribbon.”
The episode starts to look like Nathan’s going to cheat, but we all know better. Still we watch. The episode ends. Haley and Nathan are still happily married. We still need background noise, so we start searching for another episode, reading descriptions as we go. After my binge watch this summer I can recognize them all. “We’re getting closer to the school shooting episode,” I say.
Neela perks up. “Let’s watch that one!”
I rolled my eyes and turned to Nain. “She’s so lukewarm about this show, but she could watch that episode 47 times.”
As the episode starts we begin discussing the difficulties of making a gift. How do you make it look three-dimensional? How will we stick the ribbon on the top with only a glue stick? We eventually decide on a simple design, but now we have two more things left to make.
“A reindeer’s too hard,” Neela says.
“Maybe Santa,” I suggest. “I don’t want to make an entire Santa though. How about a hat? We’ll make just the Santa hat. While I do that, you make a snowflake.”
By now everyone in the tutor centre knows that Jimmy Edwards is the shooter. One girl Abby sobs, “I can’t be here.”
We giggle at that adorable understatement. “We are all Abby,” I say.
The show is now at the emotional scene where Glenda’s mom asks Brooke if she’s seen Glenda. She explains that Glenda’s always said they were friends, but Brooke has no idea who that is making her realize how oblivious she’s been to her classmates throughout high school. Suddenly the screen goes black, and we look over to see Nain holding the remote.
“What are you doing?” Neela asked.
“I hate this scene. It’s so sad.” Nain’s always had a soft spot for Brooke.
We both stared judgementally at him.
“Turn it back on,” I commanded.
Neela continued working on her snowflake. ‘It’s okay. I get it. I can’t watch Fat Albert without crying.”
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