Sorry for the lag but I couldn’t blog over Christmas. I had to let go. Suspend. Lose control and be cool with that. Aye, the crowds, the action, the emotions and experiences. All too layered and intense to let me sit, be still and write. What is this different mind-space? The spirits of Christmasses past? The family isolation ward? The expectation of perfection? In gifts, food, love, friends, giving and receiving with equal grace while ingesting too much alcohol, too much sugar, too much fat? Kids spinnng out of control on candy highs, disappointment and greed, while husband and I fight because on some cellular level we remember our own parents fighting, getting drunk, leaving (forever) and coming back and ex wives and step brothers and sisters suddenly demanding equal opportunities in our perceived second-family-fun?
Family, they fuck you up, they say, but I dont want to have the kind of family that fucks anyone up. I take this mission seriously. Especially over Christmas. So what happens? I fuck mysef up. I twist myself into a pretzel of perfection. I will have the best food, the best decorations, the best gifts, the best dressed kids, the heirloom decorated tree, the funnest boxing day party, you get my drift. You probably drift in that same direction yourself. Nothing new here you are thinking. Well, this year with our change of scenery, palmtrees instead of evergreens, weather : sun @80 degrees instead of ice and snow @15 degrees, the impersonal designer bachelor candyland pad as our new home rather than my 200 year old farmhouse with beams and fireplaces, I thought it would be different. I went into denial, no, I actually believed that if I closed my eyes and wore a swimsuit Christmas would pass me by.
I have kids. Kids with friends. I have a husband who is a romantic.
They were gonna get the tree without me. Let them, I thought, I won’t be a control freak. A tree appeared, three days before the actual event, and the last strings of lights gathered from a variety of Walgreens, CVesses and Target. One pink, one green, one that blinked (!) and two white, and the last few boxes of leftover multicolored balls and silver streamers. I planned cinnamon salt cookies, but fuckit nothing could save this tree, which looked remarably like the one in the lobby of the Wachovia bank on 41st.
Christmas eve we went to Vicki, our warm embracing super-hostess friend, who served the seven fishes. So bring a fish dish. But in my newfound, I’m-not-a-control-freak personality, I did not cook. Husband did! He made the most delicious Finnan Haddie. We feasted in the pre-Christmas gift chaos of our friend’s dining room by a tall tree which was obstructed by more gifts than my kids had ever seen, while another stack of presents lay as yet bare in the wrapping corner of the room.
Just before we left Vicki (mother of two young girls) whispered to us: “We’re off to get the kittens.”
That did it.
“This is our worst Christmas,” the twins wailed in the back of the car. “Why do Rebecca and Suzy always get everything? We never get what we want. WE WANT KITTENS!”
Santa, for lack of a chimney or anything else that resembled such in our candy-land-bachelor-pad, left our stockings in the elevator. In our astroturf, daisy covered mini elevator. Clever Santa. It was lovely. Husband, the romantic, had discovered the Aventura Mall and had shopped like a true trophy wife. He got me Gilly Hicks underwear, Jo Malone glorious smelling body stuff, and my own Ipod (finally).
click to see a full size Gordon
Everyone in our consumer household was content while at the same time contributing to the health of our economy by spending 60% on clothes, 20% on lifestyle, 15% on electronics and 5% on other. Kiki and Leila got twin bikes and learned to ride them, like good little Dutch daughters, within 30 minutes. Looking heartbreaking in their too-large helmets, long skinny legs and wobbling handlebars. I cooked Christmas lunch while they went to the beach testing the new boogy boards. I decided to serve the feast by our communal Aqua pool. Eat out in our bathing suits, our wet hair dripping in the cranberry sauce, I fantasized, but instead we had our first Russian Christmas, because, out of 120 deck chairs on all four sides of the pool a group of super wealthy Russians descended by our dining table with several bottles of champagne, caviar, choice drugs and proceeded to show us what a MERRY Christmas really sounds like (without a nod of recognition or toast in our direction). Fuckem. I had to leave anyway. Pick up Natalie, Iona’s best friend, from Fort Lauderdale Airport.
“PLEASE LEAVE MY NAME IN MERRY CHRISTMAS,” – Jesus.
The first billboard on our trip to Sarasota, taking a break from Miami Beach on Siesta Key Beach, started with this quote by Jesus Christ himself, at the start of the Everglades National Park, aka Alligator Alley. How unlike the holy one, I thought. How un-Jesus to bitch about his credit in Christmas like it was some reality TV show. I mean we all know who he is, like isn’t he the biggest brand in history? Don’t get me wrong, I too think Merry Christmas sounds nicer than Happy Holidays, and personally I leave his name in.
As we exited Alligator Alley there was another enormous billboard: Mommy take my hand, please don’t take my life. A tiny newborn hand reached over the edge of the sign. What about Daddy ? I wondered. Is Mommy all alone in this unwanted pregnancy? What would Jesus think of that? But wait, wasn’t his mommy Mary said to have done pregnancy all by herself..?
A few miles along my question about Joseph’s/Daddy’s participation was answered. Vasectomy signs, like rows of Dutch windmills, sprung up alongside the highway. No Scalpel, No Laser, they boasted. Pro-Vas.com and Vasnow.com. Alternative birth control in retirement alley, where Grandpa, hard on Viagra, can now have endless happy holidays without sperm.
Those were ten days of Saturdays. One blur without structure. Tomorrow is Monday. First day of school in 2010 and I can finally resume being a control freak.
And you know what?
I like it. Being a control freak actually works for me…
January 4, 2010 at 12:05 am
January 4, 2010 at 7:30 am
This was a brilliant blog! A fantastic mix of the personal and political. You should have an op-ed column on a major newspaper. Your writing is so down to earth, funny, poignant and wise…You’re Gail Collins, Maureen Down, Art Buchwald, Bob Herbert, H.L. Mencken, Walter Winchell and Dear Abby all rolled into one!
January 11, 2010 at 11:47 pm
what about me…….do i get a little mention…xoxoxoox whimper whimper…xox
January 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm
Barbi hereby wants everyone to know that my dear friend Jayne too would like her name left in merry christmas, as in:
I had a very merry christmas with Jayne, and an even jollier new years eve with Jayne in miami, this year, with her gorgeous in laws…..
I love you Jayne, and yes I do want you to move down here, (so does DG, haha)…