This is my son’s first Christmas. I know this for several reasons. However, when engaged in a recent superficial discussion with one of my neighbors whom I don’t really know, I began to question the existentialism of what it really means to be somewhere. This stranger in my apartment complex entered into an unsolicited dialogue with me like so many people feel obligated to do based solely on the proximity of our residences. These meaningless conversations are one of the more annoying aspects of social culture. It seems the world is filled with unpaid Wal-Mart greeters. As a result of our inconsequential interaction, I’m left debating the philosophical and metaphysical nature of my son’s first Christmas.
Aside from the typical salutations and the otherwise trivial nature of our brief interaction, my neighbor asked me how old my son was to which I replied, “five months.” He then asked me if this was his first Christmas. He was totally serious. In the awkward silence that followed, I figured that I had several options: ignore the idiotic question, pretend I didn’t hear it, stab him, or politely reply “yes.” I opted for the “yes” answer and moved on with my life even though I had a switch blade in my sock. But as I walked away and mentally planned future alternative routes to avoid this guy, I questioned the existentialism of what it means to be present. I’m still fairly certain that this is my now six-month-old son’s first Christmas. I think.
Most notably, my son was born in June and I can confirm that because I was there. I witnessed his furry, oblong shaped head crown and then explode forward from my wife’s vaginal canal. I distinctly remember this moment and it is one in which I won’t soon forget. The very fact that I witnessed his entrance into the world confirms that he was not with us last Christmas. However, there are a couple of other ways that I can confirm that this is his first Christmas.
I vividly recall his absence from last years Christmas. While he may have been there in utero, he was not physically present and as far as I know, physical presence is a requirement for experiencing Christmas with others. While it would certainly be a luxury to get all the credit from your friends and family for holiday gatherings without actually having to attend and feign interest in seeing them, this unfortunately is not how our society functions. My son was a two-month old fetus last year on Christmas and in accordance with social convention, he was not present. However, I think my wife would disagree with this statement, as she spent a large chunk of last year’s holiday season hunched over the toilet and most of the time it was not due to her drunkenness. In this vein, the constant hacking and vomiting sounds emanating from our household last Christmas would indicate that our son was indeed present, thus making this his second Christmas.
As I ruminated about the definition of life as it relates to physical presence, I realized that I really don’t know how long sperm cells thrive in the male testicles. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever ovulate. Therefore half of my son’s DNA has technically experienced every Christmas since 1987. According to science, male sperm are routinely being expelled from the body either intentionally or otherwise. While it takes a couple of months for new sperm to mature, it’s not impossible that a specific sperm cell could remain in the testes for some time, depending on the frequency of the ejaculations. While in my case it seems unlikely that the other half of my son’s DNA, the half from me, were present two Christmases ago, I suppose it is entirely possible that this could be his third Christmas based purely on the presence of his biological essence within two autonomous bodies two Christmases ago. Science is weird.
I’m truly grateful that I did not remove the blade in my sock from its sheath, as my neighbor clearly has a much deeper philosophical understanding of human life than I. I still refrain from talking to strangers in my apartment complex, but my distaste for the apparent idiocy of my neighbors has decreased based on my callous, sarcastic, and poorly thought out response that this year will be my son’s first Christmas. In all honesty, I do not know how many holiday seasons he has experienced.