Christmas with the family can be stressful. I’m lucky because I’m close to my parents and I get along well with all my siblings except for Christopher. Thirty-four years ago, I absorbed Christopher in the womb and he refuses to let it go.

I’ve apologized thousands of times. It happened and I feel bad about it. We do things as fetuses we wouldn’t do as adults. It’s not as if I had any say in the matter. I was simply more absorbent, but try convincing Mr. Martyr this wasn’t an in-utero coup.

Christopher doles out daily doses of passive-aggressive vitriol, but he’s the absolute fucking worst at Christmastime. As soon as November rolls around, he begins dropping little barbs such as, “So, what are you going to buy mom this Christmas, Trevor? You remember mom? The woman who chose you over me before pushing you out her vagina.” 

He brings up mom’s vagina a lot at the holidays. He’s basically Michael Bublé, waiting all year to blast his Christmas classics, except there’s less Santa Baby and more Mom’s vagina.

He employs lots of tactics to ruin Christmas. When I go holiday shopping, Christopher rants about how mass consumerism oppresses factory workers. When we sing carols, he screams out selections from Limp Bizkit. He’s written a manifesto postulating Santa is a pervy voyeur who grooms children via his naughty list. And every year he sends me this mental holiday card:

Christmas is really the ancient holiday Saturnalia, stolen from the pagans by the Christians, just like the life you stole from me. Merry fucking Christmas, Usurper!

Every. Year. 

I’ve tried negotiating with Christopher, but he dismissed my overtures as the patriarchy silencing the disenfranchised. Meditating doesn’t work because my mindfulness is always interrupted by the angry guy camping out in my mind. Medical marijuana, microdosing, copious amounts of eggnog, nothing shuts him up. At a loss and with Christmas approaching, I decided my only means of getting into the holiday spirit this year was an exorcism.

Expelling Christopher into the void might sound callous, but hear me out. He’s my unemployed sibling who’d been crashing on my mental sofa for thirty-four years. It was time for my non-corporeal brother to go out into the world and make his own life instead of squatting in mine. He’ll thank me for it if we ever meet again.

I knew I didn’t want to go the traditional Catholic priest route. I wanted something less compelled by the power of Christ, so I looked online for spiritual advisors offering cleanses. Lucky for me, several highly rated spiritualists were offering Black Friday deals. I booked a package that included a cleanse, Chakra alignment, and a Mala bead bracelet.

On eviction day, Heather arrived at my door with a large, colorful bag covered with Chinese characters. Mentally, I was prepared for someone who looked a bit more mysterious. Heather’s blond hair, blue eyes, and brilliant white smile made her look more like an Old Navy ad than a mystic healer, but she did have an aloof manner and was wearing green harem pants.

As I described my twin problem, she nodded in the disinterested way a chiropractor does when you tell them your back hurts. She had me close my eyes and do some breathing exercises as she walked around the room burning sage. Heather then came to me and said she was going to purify me. She waved the burning sage around my body, enveloping me in trails of smoke, as she chanted a series of unintelligible but spiritually credible sounding phrases. She silently passed the sage over my face and asked me to chant with her. We performed more breathing exercises and a short meditation, then Heather said we were done. She removed a handsome gift box from her bag containing my Mala bracelet and handed it to me.

“That’s it then?” I asked.

“That’s it.”

“Hmm,” I said, “I thought there might be something, I don’t know, more dramatic?”

She gave me a soft smile. “The spirit can be nudged, but never forced. Do you still feel Christopher?”

I turned my focus inward and was astounded to find nothing there. Usually, I sensed him skulking about, but there was only silence — gorgeous, unadulterated silence!

“I think… I think he’s gone,” I exclaimed.

Heather closed her eyes and gave me a small bow, “Namaste.” 

“Fuck yes! Namaste to you! And thank you — thank you very much!”

Heather gathered her things and left.

My world felt brand new. It was so quiet. There was no mumbling, no dramatic sighs. 

On Christmas Day, I woke with the giddiness of a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge. I sang carols as I showered and loaded my car with all the gifts I’d purchased guilt-free despite what I was doing to Chinese factory workers. I drove to my parents’ house with a festive glow I hadn’t known since childhood. 

After saying hello and grabbing a cookie, we all gathered around mom’s beautifully decorated tree, sipping mulled wine and chatting. I couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t forced to listen to Christopher’s caustic commentary. We began our annual gift exchange and everything seemed so happy, so normal.

“What’s with the goofy grin, bro?” my sister Tiffany asked.

I didn’t realize I was smiling.

“I don’t know,” I said, “this all feels… perfect.”

“No more bah humbugging?”

“No,” I chuckled as I gave her hand a squeeze, “no more humbugging.”

“There’s one more gift,” my dad bellowed out, setting down his wine and walking to the tree. “It’s for you, Trevor, but it doesn’t say who it’s from.”

My dad reached under the tree and brought the gift to me. It was a small red box, the size of a grapefruit. I pulled off the green ribbon and opened the box to find a snow globe.

I carefully removed the globe. Inside it there wasn’t a snowman or a Santa or a reindeer, but rather an odd-shaped thing, pink and brown. I shook the globe to make the snow fall and looked closer.

Suddenly Tiffany burst out laughing. “Oh my god! That’s a vagina!” 

She cackled in delight as I leaned in to examine it. She was right. In the middle of the globe was a fleshy, slightly hairy vagina.

“Let me see that,” my dad asked. 

My heart began racing as I handed him the globe.

Everyone gathered around dad to get a better look while panic wrapped its icy fingers around my chest.

“That’s definitely a vagina,” Tiffany’s husband said.

My dad turned to me sitting on the sofa, “It looks a bit like your mom’s!”

The entire room burst into laughter, except for my mom who immediately protested.

“Harold! Behave!” She yanked the globe from his hand and stared at it, releasing a tipsy giggle, “It does a bit if you squint.”

I felt woozy as everyone laughed hysterically. The room started spinning and the voices dampened.

“Where did this come from, Trevor?” someone asked. I couldn’t answer. I was fading into unconsciousness.

“Trevor? Trevor? Are you okay?”

I collapsed on the sofa and the room went black, Christmas became a silent night except for a lone, hollowed-out voice in the distance.

“Merry fucking Christmas, Usurper! See you soon!”

About The Author

Brian Abbey is a failed philosopher turned almost-successful writer. He lives in Romania with his wife and dog and often writes about living in Romania with his wife and dog.

His work has appeared in several popular publications, none of which made his parents proud as they continue to ask when he’ll be in a real magazine, why he dropped out of law school, and why he uses the F-word.

If you want to see what else Brian is up to, you can go to his website or follow him on Twitter @brianabbey

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