Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I love this Christmas story so much, I wanna take it behind the jr. high school & get it pregnant.

So, at work for the holiday season, HR sent out an email asking people to think of some of their favorite Christmas memories or traditions, and share them at our monthly staff meeting. Twin brother (and coworker) told me I should come up with something, since I like to write, and, to my surprise, I did come up with a little somethin’ somethin’. I mean, we all know that as I am sooooo busy with my dream job of being a receptionist, it was suuuuuper hard to find time to write, but I did; wow.

Along with one other whopping employee.
Out of about a hundred of us.

Now, you know me. You know that my memory wasn’t going to be sappy, or tearful, or even inspiring. Because that’s not how I work. I go for laughter. (And I had my boss all ready to start doing a pity laugh, so that in case no one else did, at least I’d get something.) But I did not need his pity laugh. I had them all rolling around on the floor roaring, thank you very much. (Score 10 self-esteem points for the Briester!)

…So, I’d like to share with you all the Christmas memory that I just read to my coworkers. It’s a goodie. (Don’t let the length daunt you. Have I ever let you down with a good story?) And even if you do hate it or think it's boring SHUTUP ABOUT IT because this is, like, for posterity's sake.
Back when Brett and I and all of our siblings were younger, every Christmas Eve, to our utter dismay, our mom liked to host a talent show of sorts. Now, you need to understand that our family is spectacularly talentless. We do not sing or dance, or throw batons, or play the violin or even do magic tricks. My nine siblings and I have decided that only one of our siblings, our sister, Misty, who is married to our brother-in-law and co-worker,B, took all the talent from the rest of us – she is an absolute and literal genius at playing the piano. She gleaned all the talent from us, we decided, no kidding. So, naturally, she loved the talent show, because she, you know, actually had talent, and could bask in the glory as we’d all listen and sing along as she played beautiful and mesmerizing Christmas carols. Afterward, perhaps another brother or sister would plunk out an elementary song on the piano, glaring at our mom all the while because she was making them do it. One brave soul sang a song that was painfully off-key. (Silent Night has some high notes that the Brown family does not have the ability to hit!) So let’s be honest, we were all pretty mediocre. But we did it because Mom made us – and Mom always had the last word. So there it was. Brett and I had to perform; had to come up with some sort of talent. What on earth were we going to do?

Well, that year Brett and I were only ten years old and in the 5th grade, and we’d started taking cello lessons the year before, in 4th grade. Neither of us was thrilled at the aspect of playing the cello at all, but Mom thought it’d be good for us to be “cultured.” As if playing
really badly on the cello could culture us, but whatever.

So, that Christmas Eve, in the year 1994, our mom had the brilliantly disastrous idea in her head that Brett and I should play a cello duet for the family. I was adamantly against this idea and kept refusing, sensing a catastrophe ahead, but Brett, with his usual calm and chilled out demeanor, just shrugged and said, “
Sure, let’s do it.” I punched him in the arm and gave him a dead-arm. I didn’t even feel bad because he deserved it for getting us into this mess. (I still don’t feel bad about it, either. He knows why.) So we begrudgingly pulled out our cellos and decided to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
– it wasn’t even a Christmas song, but it was the only song we even knew how to remotely coherently play!

So we hesitantly began the song, and we weren’t even sure our cellos were properly tuned – (why we knew
not how to tune our cellos after 1 1/2 years of lessons should demonstrate to you our outstanding ability of cello suckage) and let’s be honest, we sounded HORRIBLE. Not just bad, but like really really really ridiculously bad. Our cello song resembled that of an alarm going off where people panic and start running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Or, like, maybe a cacophony of squealing pigs. Remembering the rendition of our crappy song still
makes me cringe. This, I realized, was definitely not going to be one of our finest moments.

And I was right. Immediately, our older brother (the jerk) busted out laughing. And, not, like, this little giggle to himself that he tried to stifle. We’re talking about an all-out cackle – the guy was practically rolling around on the ground roaring. Shortly thereafter, many of our other siblings started to laugh too; it was contagious, laughing at our pathetic display of our supposed “talent.” Mom started yelling at everybody to shut up and swatting whichever kid who was laughing that was within arm’s length. But it was too late. Once the laughing began, it was impossible to control. We were in for it.

I really and truly wished I was like dead, right at that moment, or maybe being mauled by a giant man-eating bear, or something, because I decided ANYTHING would be better than the humiliation my bratty siblings were generously heaping upon me. I bowed my head over my cello, long hair covering my face, and started sobbing. Mid-playing
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
, Brett started laughing and waving his cello bow around and posing for pictures; he was absolutely un-traumatized with the less-than-impressed crowd.
So…If you didn’t know already, you’ll all know now that Brett and I have very different personalities. I’m much too sensitive, while my twin brother could and still can effortlessly brush off other people's poor opinions of him. Man they were being jerks and he didn’t even care!

So naturally, I dramatically ran out of the room crying, all the while sobbing,
I did my best, I did my best, and after Brett had performed for the tough crowd a little longer, loving every minute of it, he came over to me, where I was dramatically sprawled on the stairs, bawling, and he put his arm around me, and like the sweet brother he’s always been, and said, “It’s no big deal, Sis. You did do your best.
” And I had, which is the pathetic thing. And Brett, like always – then and even now, made me feel better. He always can.

After that fateful Christmas Eve, I never played the cello again; I absolutely refused to ever go back to lessons, though Brett made a valiant effort for another year. Along with
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, he also eventually learned to play This Land is Your Land
. Two songs in two years. Go him!

Every Christmas, without fail,
my brother (who instigated the laughing-fest back on that momentous Christmas Eve) suggests Brett and I pull out our old cellos and play them a lovely tune. Brett laughs, and I do too, but secretly I am plotting his demise. One day I will have major payback. I await patiently. And he’ll know why,
oh, he’ll know why.

So it’s been 15 years since that Christmas Eve, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. And I, for the record, will never
ever make my child play the cello.

Or perform in a talent show.

Our family’s Christmas Eve talent show, in the years following, has never been quite so eventful. And it’s also never again involved cellos, so,
so fortunately.


tawny said...

Oh Brie I am laughing so hard with tears streaming down my face...probably because I completely remember your special cello performance that special Christmas Eve of 1994!! But also I am a little bit sentimental of the fact that all 10 of us LOVED Christmas EVE with all our hearts and all my memories came flooding back!!!...WE all slept up in Troy's room, so cramped together but loving every second. We would stay awake ALL night playing Monopoly, pounding on the walls to wake m and d up, and swearing we heard santa out Troy's window every 5 minutes...it really was a magical way for a kid to grow up. AND I DO thank mom for trying so hard to make Christmas so great for all of us...she was AMAZIN'! Okay this comment was waaaay to long and waaay to sentimental! Thanks for the cheery story, it just made my day!

Shannon said...

Oh my gosh! My mom makes us do the exact same thing every year! We have to do a talent show, but NONE of us have ANY sort of talent whatsoever! One year my sister and I did a lip sing to "a whole new world" where I was Jasmine and she was Aladdin. Now my mom makes us do it every year! And the rest of us just do some sort of lip sing (or is it lip sync? Hmmm...). Its special times to say the least.

brie said...

tawny, sigh. those were the good 'ol days. now it's up to you and i to make it that magical for all our kids!

and shannon shutup no way i'd give ANYTHING to see you as jasmine and aladdin. which one were you, by the way? this changes my fantasy entirely. ;)

Laura said...

add to Christmas gift list:
cello for Brie

and by the way, you are even cuter on the phone than in blog land!! Thanks for keeping me up past bedtime...

brie said...

Laura, if you give me a cello, I will break it into SEVERAL sharp little pieces and impale you with them.

And then dance in your tears. ;)

brie said...

Oh Oh and PS I have to officially say on my *own* blog that I loved your voice and personality and even nasty cough in real person land even more than blog land, too!


Anonymous said...

一起加油吧 ........................

Gena said...

(a) SO jealous that you and Laura talked on the phone, with real voices.

(b) Laughed so hard at your story that I almost peed in my pants. Which isn't all that hard seeing as I've birthed 4 very large offspring from my vagina and peeing is rather effortless.

(c) I think I need to start a talent show starring my very own children this year just so they will have great stories when they're older.

(d) I love the fact that you write these things almost every day and you either make me laugh or cry. I am never neutral. Ever.

Alexandra Rising said...

This story made me giggle...a) Because your writing is more entertaining than David Sedaris' b) I played the violin in 4th grade...and was forced to play in front of my family on Christmas...by myself. And I'm sure I was worse than you and your brother were! "I feel your pain".

And on a completely random note: I want to work as a receptionist while I am grad school! How does one get that job? What kind of *skills* do I need? Please don't say numbchuck skills!

allegri said...

Oh my goodness!! that is just hilarious!!I am SOOOOO glad my family has never done such a crazy ritual!!

Marissa said...

hahahahhaha brie I think I just died!!! I was laughing to the point of tears--TEARS, I tell you--and I'm also in the computer lab with about a dozen other people and they're, like, wth is so funny, huh? WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT. And I try to tell them, but since I'm, like, peeing my pants, my attention is sufficiently divided between keeping my lower muscles bunched up in an effort to stave off further humiliation, still reading this blog post, imagining said talent show, and not falling out of my chair, I cannot answer them. And they are pissed at me, thanks very much. Thank you, THANK YOU for this. WHY have I never heard this story before?? Oh man, I love you--and I'll see in in (about) two days!!!

brie said...

Marissa, even though you were only five at the time, you were there! Good thing you were young enough our Dear Lord blessed you with the repression of this memory. :)