Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Legend of Susie Snowflake

I love Christmas.

There, I said it. Feels good.

It's my favorite holiday by far. And not for the reasons you think.

I love the presents. When I was younger I used to get so excited about Christmas when I was younger I would make myself throw up. Seriously. Ask my mom.

And it's because of my mother that I'm writing up this blog post instead of writing or finalizing tomorrow's lesson plans. I felt it was necessary to tell you all the Legend of Susie Snowflake. Like, all legends, there is some nugget of truth but the nugget of truth that my mother is basing her legend upon is in fact a lie. I've decided to tell this legend because it needs to be told properly because my mother isn't telling it right to the world and I've had enough. So thus begins the Legend of Suzy Snowflake.

I was born in Astoria, Queens, New York and lived there for most of my early life. I don't have much of a recollection of having lived there except in tiny flashes here and there. Most of those have more to do with the massive amount of time I spent with my grandparents there than when I actually lived there. My parents were blue collar, working class kinds of people, so we didn't have a lot of money, not that I noticed because I was treated like a prince. I was fortunate enough to go to a very exclusive, private Catholic preschool. I was able to attend because my best friend was the pastor's son and they found a way to keep me at the school. I have vague memories of that school. I remember a water table in the classroom. I remember the pastor's son being named Trevor. I remember a little Mexican boy named Marcello. I don't remember the name of the school, though. I'm sure I could ask my mother, but quite frankly I'm kind of hold a grudge about this Susie Snowflake thing.

As a Catholic school, Christmas is a big deal and like most private (and probably public considering this was the late 1970s and political correctness be damned) there was a Christmas pageant. Each class was assigned a song to perform. Now I don't know who was responsible for choosing the songs each class sang, whether it was the teacher or the pastor or the music teacher or whoever is lost to time. Our class's song was "Suzy Snowflake." A cheesy song that had nothing to do with the holiday. Quite frankly, we should've been doing a more religious song, but that wasn't for the little pre-K me to decide. To help you out, here's a YouTube video of said song:



As part of our performance, we were required to dress as Suzy Snowflake herself. The horror. I would love for this to have been for something more symbolic or metaphoric than it was. Being terrified at the prospect of the infinitesimally finite life of the average snowflake or the sheer creepiness of a winter themed creature tapping on a child's window being a nightmare for any child would fit my profile. But nope that's not it.

The five year old me was horrified. Terrified. Mortified. They wanted me...a little boy...to dress as a GIRL snowflake. This was the grandest of injustices. In my five year old mind, "playing" Suzy Snowflake was unacceptable. Don't judge me. Obviously 36 years later, I'm slightly more enlightened than I was then but this was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to me as a five year old boy. I did what any child would do when faced with having to do something that scared them. I pitched a fit.

I obviously don't have any memory of said fit though I have been led to believe that it was epic. It went everywhere: the classroom, the hall, the street, my bedroom, the living room, the foyer...you get the picture. There were phone calls home, concerned discussions between adults and I'm sure dinner table conversations of my classmates. The Zeleznik boy flipped his lid about being a girl snowflake. It sounds so ludicrous now, but it obviously left an indelible mark that I'm writing this now. I'd write some pieced together extrapolation of what I imagine the fit was like, but, unlike my mother, I don't want to further perpetuate the falsities that my mother gleefully (and, quite frankly, delusionally) has via social network for years.

A compromise was reached in time for the Christmas pageant by the adults in my life at the time. One that was acceptable to all parties and one that is the crux of the argument/grudge I presently have with my mother each and every year at Christmas time. I was moved all the way up to the first grade to be a Silver Bell. A vast improvement. A precious metal. A musical instrument. And, quite frankly, a better song. I mean take a listen:



Now for some reason (probably her advancing years), my mother is perpetually under the impression that I was Suzy Snowflake, as if she weren't there and integral into my metamorphosis from a female snowflake to a silver bell.

But to clarify: I was never Suzy Snowflake. I was a Silver Bell.

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