December 18th, 2004 - Christmas Tree


Dear Journal,

Again I've neglected you, but that is a faith you must have gotten used to by now, or so I hope.  I'm not the best of confident so I seldom write about myself like this. I always find something else to do or to think about instead of making sure I conceal my feelings to you.  I must say it's quite demanding to do as such, hence surely I unconsciously dabble in all sorts of interests rather than confine in you.  I may be working against my own good, yet again, I know.  Well, look at me now! I write as if you were going to answer back... Maybe I would like that you know, so I will keep believing this is worth the effort and write more.

Tonight, I was watching my Christmas tree and I thought I might as well write you something.  When I look at the magical lights on the tree, I always feel part empty, part fulfilled. Why is this so?  Contrary to popular belief, I like Christmas, but unlike others, I like it in the intimacy of my rooms.  I feel too exposed in front of others, which is why I won't dwell long in front of Hogwart's Great Hall's Christmas tree or else, someone might notice.   I had refused myself my own tree for long, but this year, I figured my "need" for it was greater than the fear of being caught with one.  Yes, the grand Potions Master is afraid of being caught red-handed with a Christmas tree. Too "bright" for me some would say, but that is the point really. Some brightness will do me some good. Something no sun can ever do for me that those magically twinkling lights cannot achieve.

Strange how a wizard like I can still be mesmerized by the magical lights and ornaments of a mere Christmas tree. Ah! So many would have a heart attack... maybe I should reveal it after all (Slytherin grin). Actually, looking at it makes me relive those parts of my life which were not so bad... as in any wizard house, we'd have wizard traditions and Christmas was one of them of course.  Christmas was the perfect time of the year to brag about the new acquisitions you'd made during the whole year to your "friends" and family.  Therefore, my parents were quite adamant to celebrate it grandly.  When I was young, I was gullible enough to believe it was actually all about a moment of peace and rest in the world when I looked at the tree while in reality... it was all about family dispute and human deceptiveness.  However, the tree kept me far from those harsh realities. Maybe it is why I long for one year after year once Christmas is at our doors.  As pathetic as that sounds, I believed Christmas was a time when people stopped fighting... Well, at least they pretend, now I know as much.  Even funnier, people do believe nobody sees through their pretending! How presumptuous and gullible!

I said I feel empty in front of a Christmas tree.  It's like its magic was never enough to satisfy the emptiness of my heart, that dark hole in me.  At the same time however, I feel it also gives me hope for better days. How paradoxal it is. Maybe this is also a reason why I love them, they're complex even to me. I can't quite decipher their meaning even though I try hard.  My logic cannot come across such simple magic. So like in front of Albus, I am left helpless.

Even more disturbing is my need for both solitude and company when I'm faced with such simple beauty.  I wish I was not so alone and could share the beauty of the tree with others... yet when I do am surrounded by others, I feel trapped and exposed all the time. I can be merry, but a simple thing can cause me to get into a bout of anger once again, no matter if it's Christmas dinner or not. It just happens and so, each year, I feel the more weary and anxious of what could possibly go wrong this year.  Maybe I've just not found the right way to aboard people or let them approach me on Christmas night.  Maybe my duality about wanting to be alone and surrounded is causing my mind to go havoc on Christmas Eve.  It's so hard to keep my temper in check on that night, yet, when it happens that I can't anymore, I feel more horrible than any other nights.  When I self-spoil my evening, I wish I could just wither away in some corner and never wake up.  I so wish to be merry and uncaring like all the others, to drink away my problems and darkness, but I cannot.  I would hate to lose so much control over myself.  I must admit that the remaining students of Hogwarts do grate on my nerves on Christmas dinner. I much prefer the staff Christmas dinner, I feel less exposed there and can actually carry on more conversations without feeling bad.

And then, when I look back at my Christmas tree I wonder why I cannot just be happy... Maybe it's something innate like some people are innately happy.  I don't know.  Oh! I wish I could be as merry as the others without any fear of my ever falling back to my grumpy-self... I've tried so many times and failed.  Well, actually, I did overcome my bouts at times but it took so long each time that I missed most of the enjoyment.  And then my loathing self is left with nothing but a bitterness against myself for having spoiled part of my evening. Ah! The vicious circle of my heart!  If I'd get a galleon for each time it went round in circle, I'd be the richest man alive surely.  Being rich like that would be nice, but I am not deluded to the point of believing it might actually solve my problems. No, they're of another level totally. Nothing money can buy... inner-peace is not easily bought, is it?  Well, I wouldn't have to worry about teaching dunderheads anymore and could pay myself all the books and research I want, but would it cure my heart? I am not stupid enough to believe it. Money helps, nothing more. It buys you things that are not eternal, something Slytherins never understood. Now why did I talk about that? Ah, yes!  Vicious circle.

As far as Christmas is involved, I fear it is more beautiful in my head than it actually is. But then again, I will keep that illusion to myself, however Gryffindor-like it is, because it is one of the only sources of pure happiness in my life.  Apart from my friends that is. Yes, Christmas is one of those rare times of the year when I allow myself to believe in this "wonderful thing that is Life" as dear Albus would say.  Christmas is a great metaphor each of us dwells on which may be why we take care of making it seem as pleasant and beautiful as possible using all sorts of colours, wrappings and tastes to make sure our senses are overcome and leave our minds giddy.  But for once, I like this giddiness, in the solitude of my rooms at least.  

Also, maybe seeing everyone trying to make Christmas bright and joyful, and seeing the resulting problems and fights is soothing for me in its familiarity; makes me feel normal somehow.  At Christmas, people don't hide so much, they seem more human, so what they tried so hard to hide is uncovered... I like that. Not to laugh at them, rather because I like to see everyone equal.  Then nobody can tell me about my flaws because they are as exposed as I am.

Yes, that may also be why I like Christmas for.  Everyone fighting to make it perfect while all human enterprises always turn out imperfect is an irony that sounds like music to my heart. But I like that kind of optimism, and it falls on Christmas. Maybe because of my young days when I used to look up at the immense tree in the living room, before I knew its size was meant to impress people rather than for its beauty and magic.

 If I could hold on to my youth's silly ideas then I wouldn't be so sour, would I?  I may even have been sorted in Gryffindor! Ah!! That would have been quite a sight! Still, I envy their foolishness when I cannot get out of the vicious circle of my Slytherin mind.... may be why I'm suddenly more ready to give Lupin a chance.  The sorting hat once said that Slytherin and Gryffindor were the best of friends once... maybe it was, maybe it can be...  I wish it could be, then fights would be over and I could get some peace teaching!  Oh, I'm a Slytherin all right, thinking of my own needs.  However, too many people forget that we also think of others, too. At least I do and will do what I must. But that is for another time.

Yes, a truce between Lion and Snake would be great for me, and everyone.  Of course right now, Albus's voice sounds in my head and tells me: "Go ahead, Severus, give the good example"  Why me?! Couldn't Potter be nice to Malfoy or something?  Why does it have to fall on me to show the world that fighting is useless? That's just Albus's voice in my head now, but that's exactly what he would say! Sigh! He knows I feel compelled to do these "right" actions all the time even though I hate to admit it.  My seeing the wrongs of the world is part of the reason why I keep away from it, so why should I be the one to try to right these wrongs?  I'll be the decoy once again and I've had quite enough of that in my life. It takes courageous people to face others with their mistakes and try to solve problems for the better good of everybody... takes courageous people who are foolish as well. Yet, as much as I praise myself for my intelligence, I've more than once come to the defence of injustices.  Each time more problems befell me, but at least, I could always say: "I didn't stand by and watch others being sacrificed".  I've seen enough of that to last me an eternity, thank you.

 Oh, I know Albus plays this game with me, he knows how I loath injustice.  Yet, why do I get entangled in a mess each time?  It's hard not being all powerful like Albus and so frustrating.  I'm no one compared to him so the people that matter won't listen to me... how I hate this injustice more than anything else.  I know I'm not perfect and I do have my own horrible flaws, oh yes, do I! But even so, I admit them and try my best to right them while all I see around are people who don't.  They embellish themselves but don't show their real selves. I hate that.  And so, to come full circle with my ramblings of Christmas, I like people at Christmas: they're more opened, they show their true faces more easily. Or those who do not always end up in fights so their cover is blown up. And even though I feel not so at ease, I can appreciate people more or less, depending on which side they show me.  

It's getting late, I should go back to bed.  My tree stays lit all night however, a small pleasure of mine. So when I wake up from a nightmare, I see it and the light lulls me back to sleep.  Thank you again for listening to the ramblings of an old Slytherin fool like I,