Open for the Holidays

It’s on at Chez Daisyfae this year…  Getting through Thanksgiving, hosting gatherings of friends, has gotten me in the mood to celebrate.

Got the tree up by myself last weekend.  Sometimes this can be a bit of an emotional quagmire, but this year?  i had a little more fun with it…He's behind me isn't he

Wait?  What’s that back there?  Over the fireplace?  Ermagehrrrrrrrrd!

om nom nom

Christmas.  My way.  Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and the like can check their ribbons and potpourri at the door.

The first batch of almond biscotti is toasting away nicely in the oven.  The bar is stocked.  Various party staples are tucked into the fridge and pantry.

Happy Alcoholidays, folks!  Let the decadence begin!  Drop in parties for the entire month – but call first to make sure someone can stumble to the door!

Life is short.  Celebrate.  Stay out of the damn shopping malls and bigassbox stores and spend time with people.  Reconnect with an old friend.  Play cards.  Eat without guilt.

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Christmas in my rear view mirror

At 5 years old… Jumping up and down on my oldest sisters bed on Christmas morning, with my sister, T.  “Wake up!  Santa came!”  The orchestrated chaos of Mom’s Christmas morning.  Had to have breakfast before gifts were opened – usually some nutritious PopTarts – but we were allowed to dig into the stockings.  Mom liked to drag things out – only one gift opened at a time to “make Christmas last”. 

At 10 years old… The year i ruined my own Christmas by peeking at every gift with my name on it under the tree.  i was good with the letter opener, and carefully slit the tape to reveal what was inside.  Lesson learned:  Don’t fuck with anticipation.

At 15 years old…  After a tumultuous year of battles with my sister, T, we reconcile.  She was suffering quietly through fights with her girlfriend – she wasn’t ‘out’ to anyone then.  After my best friend, J, had come out to me earlier that year, he suggested i just go ahead, tell my sister i knew she was a lesbian, and offer support.  It worked.  My gift to her that year was a collection of  ‘gay lit’ books – “The Front Runner” and “Rubyfruit Jungle”, suggested by J.

At 20 years old… My first Christmas away from my family.  i had been living with EJ for a year, and he was going to Florida to spend the holiday with his parents.  i go with him.  Calling home on Christmas day is weird.  A little bittersweet – a sense of independence as i start something new, and a sense of loss as i leave something behind.  And the weirdest thing of all:  Having a family meal with people who were quiet.  i could hear myself chew! 

At 25 years old…  A baby? The girl at about 18 months old.  Our first house.  Having a baby gave us an excuse not to travel, so we don’t have to go to Florida, but we are required to bring the toddler to The Park.  Overloaded toddler by 5:00 pm, as we retreat homeward as soon as we can possibly escape.

At 30 years old… The peak years for me “doing” Christmas.  Love buying gifts and wrapping them beautifully.  Baking with the kids.  Driving through the neighborhoods looking at holiday lights.  Hitting the road for “warm” Christmases in Florida every other year.  Our own family holiday traditions emerging – saying “It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever” as soon as the tree is done – which has to be said every year.  Still the ‘Santa’ years… One kid serving as “elf” to distribute presents.  Learning that dogs can smell wrapped chocolates under a tree, and will eat an entire pound box.  And then paint the household a horrid shade of brown…

At 35 years old… Mellower.  Santa puts scratch off lottery tickets in stockings, and the emphasis is now hanging out, watching movies, and eating junk food until we achieve sugar comas.  Travel every other year to visit grandparents – despite the fact that no one really wants to do it, we made the best of it… sometimes renting a beach house for a few days en route. 

At 40 years old… Awkward.  My husband and i are effectively separated and living in two different homes, but we converge on the vacation place up north for Christmas.  The kids are REALLY over the hype.  We spend our time watching satellite tv movies.  Playing with dogs.  Staring at the frozen lake.  Drinking.  A lot.  The Trailer Park Christmas has gotten ugly, with disagreements percolating in many corners.  i develop the ‘avoid and minimize’ strategy.  Mom grumbles that the family has fallen apart and that Christmas just isn’t the same any more.

Today… It’s noon.  i’m still in my pajamas.  The Girl is sleeping downstairs because she works retail now, and had to work late last night.  The Boy is visiting his dad up north, because Dad needs company after losing both his live-in girlfriend and his father within the past month.  Drank a half pot of coffee – with a little Kahlua in deference to the holiday.  Read the newspaper.  Basically, it’s kinda like any other Saturday,  only everything’s closed.   We’ll get together and hang out when The Boy drops by early next week.

Life is good.  Merry Christmas!

taken a couple of weeks ago when The Boy was home for his birthday…

Hope…

i’m not much on ‘glurge’.  and i’m not much on ‘sports glurge’ in particular…

but this one got me…  maybe it’s the bottle of wine i consumed with a pal tonight.  maybe it’s the christmas spirit.  hell, maybe it’s just the fact that i don’t want to leave a post about dog poo up for christmas…

redemptive nuggets of humanity are out there… and sometimes, you can find* them in the sports pages…

Hope.  It’s not all that hard when you think about it. 

Best. Gift. Ever.

yes.  another puppy.  that's the ticket...

yes**. another puppy. that's the ticket...

* i found it here.  cool guy… has a cow…

** image sourced here.  mesmerizing…

This just in…

During a routine holiday photography session, we were fortunate enough to capture the precise moment when Mr. Pickles actually received a signal from the Dog Planet… Seen here wearing his fruitalicious manly green velvet Christmas collar and antlers, we believe he was being told “REGROW A PAIR! Don’t put up with this shit!”

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So. Not. In. The. Mood.

It’s the 10th of December.  i have some circular greenery stuck on my front door.  With a mangled, red ribbon – smooshed from overuse and bad storage habits.  Neighbors have tastefully decorated their lamp posts and entryways with wooden santas, pine shrapnel and understated light displays*.

i don’t shop.  i buy goofy shit for my kids, generally do something for my Mom**.  The random silly gift for friends, and perhaps a gift basket*** or two for the admin ladies at the office.  All of which can be taken care of via internet…which i did in about 20 minutes from work today on my lunch break.  it’s not hard.  Thoughtless impulse purchases take only minutes….

Tomorrow is the fucking office christmas party.  For the past few years, some of my geek-musician friends and i pull together some tunes, bring in a sound system and perform a few songs.  After the keg is half gone, we swap that out for karaoke to assure ample opportunity for public humiliation amongst our colleagues. 

Here i sit.  Just not feeling it.  Baked up some cinnamon-cranberry scones to bring to the office event.  Put up the christmas tree.  My house smells wonderful.  There’s a naked pine tree in my empty living room.  A content, but generally confused, dog at my feet.  My shopping – such as it is – is done.  No worries, no stress, no pressure…

Maybe i need to do something with the playlist i put on when i got home tonight?  Natalie Merchant and Rufus Wainwright do not make for cheeriness and holiday warmth.  And i should probably drop Joni Mitchell’s River from my setlist for tomorrow.  it’s the only christmas song i do… tends to make people wanna cut themselves, though… not good for a party.

So i’m switching over to some Bob Marley and UB40.  Then throwing a little Jon Stewart on the tv-tube and hitting the exercise equipment.  i think i’m just missing my kids… The Boy turns 20 in a few days, and is at school, taking his last final exam of the semester.  He’ll be around this weekend.  The Girl (aka “Danger Monkey”)?  Returns from her semester in Beirut on Monday…

it ain’t the stuff.  it’s the people.   it’s always about the people…

"And then the guy says, he says... 'MAAAAAAAARGRET! That wasn't a bratwurst!'"

* unlike my former neighbors, who were of the mind that unless your display pulled megawatts, and caused rolling blackouts, it wasn’t bright enough!

** Last years gift was such a big hit, i think i’m gonna give her a bathrobe this year….

*** Generally, gift cards, “smellies”, wine or booze and chocolates.  If the admin gal is suitably wired?  There have been potions, lotions and things that go “bzzzzz….”…  Ho, ho, ho!

a ghost of christmas past – a tale from 2006

On December 26th, 2006, i was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Even as i got the diagnosis, i had been doing my own research, and was reasonably certain the prognosis would be good.  The challenge:  How to tell the inhabitants of The Park?

Specifically, Mom.  The rest of them? I probably wouldn’t have bothered telling any of them if not for Mom.  I was separated for 5 years, and divorced for a full 6 months before i told The Park… but this was something Mom would want to know.

First order of business – control the timing.  I scheduled our Christmas visit to The Park for the 27th from 6 pm – 10 pm.  I can do anything for four hours.

Second order of business – Pre-brief my oldest sister, S, who is a 6 year breast cancer survivor.  I though her best situated for keeping Mom from getting scared and upset.  I called S on the 26th and said “It’s going to be ok, but i’ve got a small, malignant tumor in my breast, and i want your help keeping Mom calm when i tell her”.

What happened next surprised me, even after being in and out of The Park all my life.  She started wailing and crying… “What am I going to do?  My sister has cancer? Waaaaaaaah…..”.  This went on for an hour.  I was calming her, reassuring her that i would be fine – and emphasizing that i needed her to be calm and strong to remind Mom that breast cancer can be effectively treated if you get it early…”.

She was terrified of going through it all again.  And then decided that it would be good therapy for her to assist me along the way…  “You’ve got to let me help you through this – i need to do this”.

Seriously.  I could not make this shit up.

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Trailer Park Christmas – 2007

This year, it was quite nice. 

No hurt feelings or accidental cigarette burns on children.  The kids and i were a little disappointed to miss the traditional holiday “Trash My Ex” competition.

We gathered at the home of my oldest sister, S, on Christmas day.  Everyone brought food to share, and it was all non-toxic – no one got sick this year.  i was pleasantly surprised by an elegant bowl of Cheese Puffs.   It’s all about presentation, you know…

That’s not to say there weren’t a few Trailer Park Moments – fortunately this year they were shared, rather than experienced.

The true Queen of The Park is my 35 year old niece, DQ (either “Drama Queen” or “Dairy Queen” – she’s a huge substantial woman).   She is prone to share stories of barfights, drunken adventures, attempts to work ‘the system’, or even combinations of all of the above.  Quite the raconteur-ess. 

I was starting to wonder if the birth of her second child in September had mellowed her behavior a touch – could she be maturing? 

She saved us from disappointment, through an astonishing tale of drunken stupidity… not only that she could mistake her own living room for the bathroom after drinking half a bottle of tequila, but that she would share such a tale with her family.  On Christmas.

And share this tale enthusiastically in front of her 13 year old daughter, DQ, Jr. 

Welcome to The Park.  (sigh)