At least I'm not the only one. From my clients to my friends to other bloggers, I've noticed there's just a little less Christmas this year. In our part of the continent, the weather has been unseasonably and strangely warm. Things are muddy and drab and the absolute worst is that we do not have our unlimited refrigeration/freezing on our decks, patios, and terraces. Often I can use my terrace as a freezer and my garage as a refrigerator for the barrage of holiday pots and pans. So my refrigerators and freezers are crammed, and I'm taking things to a friend's freezer this afternoon.
Whatthefuckever. I will deal with it.
Is your family the holiday fighting type? I have one side of extended family that is, but I keep my involvement with that to a curt minimum. My immediate family, though, is usually not one to blow up. I am absolutely not a yeller. First of all, it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. I'm usually too busy fighting with myself to remember to get mad at other people. Second, when I am angry, I fight more with ice than fire. I'm not one to hurl insults. I'm more likely to map out my feelings in a dismissive voice, refuse to let the other party speak, and I am the king of providing examples. You know how in an argument you bring something up and the other person says AND WHEN HAVE I EVER DONE THAT? Well, I will fucking tell you the date and time and probably have photos. It's one of my worst qualities, I'm not just a score-keeper, I'm equipped with instant replay. This is 100% my mother. So when she and I argue it is tense, long, frosty, and there's lots of evidence to sift through. Thankfully, we hardly ever argue. Like, maybe once every three years or so.
My sister, on the other hand, is a Tasmanian Devil. She yells, she cries, she gestures, she throws out every nasty name in the book. And then she will cry, give you a hug, apologize, and buy you a present. This is 100% my dad. My dad and sister argue constantly. It is a genuinely hilarious thing to behold. The words they use are so spastic and lazy, and insults need not be based on fact. It's sort of like watching two drunk people who have been blindfolded hit a piñata that's not actually a piñata and is a hornets' nest.
And then there is my sweet brother. Who never fights with anyone.
On Monday, there was an epic argument between my parents, my mom and me, and my dad and my sister. There was ice and fire rolled into one deranged evening. My mother and I were sitting next to each other going back and forth, and my dad and sister were on opposite sides of the room exchanging obscenities in kind of a jackass tennis match.
I was so discouraged. I honestly thought about texting my aunt and seeing if maybe she could host Christmas Eve, because I just wasn't sure I could deal with it. As everyone began to scatter, I asked myself why do I even care so much about this?
After a terrible night's sleep, I got ready and went to the grocery. I can't say I was determined, but I knew I would feel worse if I didn't. After about a half hour of fumbling around, forgetting things, being bumped by the same dumb man's cart who has no sense of produce aisle conduct, I started to notice something.
Grandmothers with grandsons. Everywhere. There was a pair next to me where the grandson was picking up apples, dropping them at a rate of about 50%. His grandmother would pick them up and say well now we have to use these bad apples that you dropped because it would be wrong to put them back. He didn't seem too worried. As I observed these many pairs, I appreciated their unique dynamics and their sweet interaction. Though children are certainly more inundated with isolating technology now, these children seemed to be doing just fine--living in the moment with grandma. As I was inspecting and deciding on cheeses, I heard a brother and a sister talking about Santa. They were trying to decide what time they should start watching, and from which bedroom window? Should they stay in their own rooms to monitor separate vantage points? The older sister felt her room was best because there is ”more sky out the window". The younger brother trusted that and said yep uh huh.
I think my favorite was what I heard while trying to find my sister's favorite blend. Over at the bakery, a grandmother and grandson were walking around the display tables. Can I get cookies? No, honey, your mommy will make cookies. Can I get these muffins? No, honey, you don't like cranberries. Realizing this wasn't going to work, he opted for the sweet, manipulative option: Grandma, can I get these doughnuts for you? clearly knowing this trick, she said No, honey, I'm on a diet. to which he said oh, gram, you're not that fat.
Hearing the children excited for Christmas, scheming for a meet and greet with Santa, and happily tooling around with grandma truly warmed my heart. I felt Christmas rush to my head and was ready to dive back in.
Once home and having shimmied everything into the fridge, I turned on Christmas music and hung some garlands. It's a weird year, and I just need to let it be. I'm focusing on my favorite parts and not worrying too much about the rest.
What are yours? My five favorite Christmas songs: Five Four Three Two One Honorable mention, both abundant with gay men: One Two
My mother and I quickly made up, apologized, and my dad and sister have both bought each other presents (that I'm wrapping, naturally) and hugged it out. We had made the human mistake of turning on each other when we needed to embrace each other.
It's not shaping up to be a perfect Christmas or a near-perfect Christmas. I'm just glad it will still be a Christmas after all. I needed some magic, and it found me. I wish you the same. Merry Christmas.
Do you know Ellie? I'm sure you do if you're reading here. If you don't, she is a constant student of beauty and design, wife and mother, hilarious writer, and a non-PC voice that often makes me look gentle. And she loves cooking and food on an elemental level. And she has a French rescue dog. She gives her readers gifts many times a week through her perspective and joy for life. She chooses to be productive and tenacious in the face of a monster. Isla, a friend I made through the comments on Ellie's blog, asked if I would share her lovely idea--a gift of the heart and soul for Ellie. Inspired by this preview of Ellie's upcoming book:
Sometimes I beg God to just let me have those few moments of liberty back. Let me just walk around the park again without knowing my fate. Let me be ignorant, let me be blissful, let me be unafraid. If I could just have back a few moments… I would run around that park smelling every flower letting myself get pricked by a rose thorn. I would pop into the hotel and grab a cappuccino. I would peer into the bottom windows of the brownstones. I would skip over the cracks of the sidewalk. I would walk down the tiny broken steps of the church thrift store and pick things up and put them down at my leisure. Hell, I might even stretch out my arms, lift my head to the clouds, start spinning around in circles and sing a little song. At the end of my allotted time, I imagine I would try to renege on my deal with God and I would ask for more time. Don’t make me go forward to my life with ALS. Let me just stay in this park without ALS. Just give me another few minutes… This time I will cherish it, I promise.
She ended her post with So I encourage all of you to get over to
Isla had this idea:
To all of Elle's friends who are touched by her spirit and her indomitable zest for life...Let's set a time on Christmas Eve when we will all go outside, spread our arms wide, lift up our faces to the sky, and twirl, and twirl, and twirl...just for Elle. What do you say? I am going to twirl. I hope some of you will join me. 7PM Central Time.
I love that idea. Hopefully it's okay with Isla if I expand on her idea and say that it may not even need to be spinning around outside. Perhaps if you're likely to be drunk and your lawn is soggy and muddy like me, you can propose a toast. A toast of gratitude--and send that good energy to Ellie. She'll be asleep (or awake freaking out about finding the right raspberry jam with seeds but not, like, all seeds to serve on brioche Christmas morning) in
for us in the States. And I think waking
up to strong, positive, ambient energy on Christmas is a fine gift. Provence