Wednesday, December 31, 2008

May your New Year bring you joy-

I tend to view New Year’s resolutions as self-defeating prophecies personally. But then again I also consider stupidity to be the chlorine in the gene pool…

Goals in and of themselves I find a laudable thing, truly. It’s the setting of sweeping, all encompassing goals I find to be self-defeating. I’m not sure if it’s because I am by nature a pragmatist or it happens to be merely an aspect of my controlling nature, but not having a definable road map to achieve a goal is a recipe for failure as I see it. All of that said, I generally do not make New Years resolutions because intentionally setting myself up to fail seems rather silly to me. This year however I have made an exception to that hard and fast rule, I have indeed decided to make a few.

Those of you that have been listening to me whine for the past 12 months realize that on the whole 2008 sucked royally for me and mine. And when I heard they were actually adding a second to the clock this year, thus making 2008 one second longer to balance the atomic clock, I quite literally screamed “NOOOOO!” enough already, begone with you foul year, I wish to see nothing but the screen door hitting your misbegotten ass on the way out! Ahem, where was I… Oh yes, resolutions.

I really will be taking better care of myself this coming year. I fear I am in danger of not only total exhaustion, but also developing a major case of martyr syndrome. Let’s face it, that’s really an amazingly unattractive thing socially, and surely not a particularly charming one emotionally for those you inflict yourself upon. A large part of this will be reacquainting myself with the word NO. Deceptively small, but incredibly powerful my little friend is. While not turning my back on those I love and the duties I have taken upon myself, I will be recalling the concept of limits, and trying to put them into practice.

I further resolve to remember to tell the people I love and appreciate far more frequently how much I love them. While I don’t really think I’ve gone so far down the self absorbed route that I ignore any of them, I could frankly be a lot more proactive in the letting them know department… To all my friends in this lively little virtual family we’ve created, my genuine and heartfelt love and thanks for supporting me throughout all the fun and games of the last 12 months. And to those of you forced to listen to my dulcet tones whining away on the other end of the phone, your patience and love has been a gift beyond reckoning and truly kept me sane. Or in my case what I pass off as sanity.

Be safe, be well and peace and all good blessings upon all your houses. Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go change into an evening gown so I can proceed to get drunk on my own couch.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Joy to the world, and all that jazz.

By way of the always interesting Citizen of the World a little Christmas meme. As I am sure y'all don't want to hear anymore whining, and surely no more youthful indiscretions.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? A mix of both, I like a little variety. Plus, lets face it, some items can really be a pain in the ass to wrap.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, I’m allergic to artificial anything.

3. When do you put up the tree? When do you take the tree down? Up- December 14th. Yes, really. That sucker gets pitched off the back deck by dark on New Year’s Day. Having the thing around for a month and a half sort of takes the festive part of it out of the proceedings for me.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes actually, I have an excellent recipe, it uses rum, irish whisky and brandy- what's not to like? The commercial crap, not so much.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A red bike on my 10th birthday.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Baby Sister.

8. Easiest person to buy for? The Hurricane.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, I expect they’d take my agnostic card away..

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Depends on the recipient and how far behind I happen to be running.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A truly hideous dress from my husband. And I do mean hideous! Coco was in heaven crying I tell you!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? If I see something I know is perfect I pick it up, no matter the time of year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I am ashamed to admit, yes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? That list is way too long to fit here.

16. Lights on the tree? White fairy lights.

17. Favorite Christmas Song? It’s a toss up"Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella" or “I Saw Three Ships”

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home, period. Long story involving childhood travels on Christmas Day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yep.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither, a large red bow.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? One on Christmas Eve, the balance of the loot they have to wait, because I’m sadistic like that.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Rude, obnoxious behavior. OK, it’s annoying all the time, but seems to run rampant this time of the year.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? Three guesses and the first two don’t count..

24. Favorite thing for Christmas dinner? Someone else doing the dishes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Well Santa, since you asked… World peace, a stabilized economy, and end to global warming. Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble I’d like a ticket to Mexico in my stocking and for my ass to look like it did when I was thirty.

May you all be well and safe and surrounded by those you love. And in the spirit of all the sharing my darling Wills has been doing with his favorite carols, here we have my two favorites.

And Gavin, forgive me for featuring the MTC, but it really is the loveliest arrangement I've ever heard of the song..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Christmas Memory-

Mamma had an amazing way of bending reality to suit her needs of the given moment. I won’t say she mowed over opposition and adversity; she merely said “pardon me” and walked right on past. It was indeed denial on a truly virtuoso grade level...

Christmas was always a little strange around our house, and genuinely did get a tad weirder as the years rolled by. My folks were in the restaurant business, owned three of them actually, in three different towns. These people worked- as in all the damn time… Christmas was always to me one of those rare times we were all in the same place at the same time. As a child this was lovely, as I rolled into my teenage years, not so much.

Anydigression, the whole deal with my mother and Christmas was a two pronged attack- One it was a way for her to salve her guilty maternal conscience at her perceived shortcomings due to her work schedule, which always back fired horribly. Frankly all I ever wanted was just her there, but in typical fashion it had to be turned into a full blown Cecil B. DeMille epic of tasteful decorating, heaps of presents and loads of non stop eating and partying. In short, it was exhausting, not only to her but for everyone else. Two, it was her particular brand of molding the universe into what she needed it to be at its finest. Things may have been insane the rest of the time, but you better bet Christmas was going to be her lovely little snow globe of perfection, no matter what- get on board or get out of the way!

Christmas Eve 1976 was a prime example. My folks had a huge (and I mean huge- as in I’ve seen actual BARS that didn’t have bars this big) bar in the basement, and loved to throw parties. The annual Christmas Eve party was her crown jewel. The entire house was perfectly decorated and half the town showed up. As a kid I longed for Santas and reindeer with blinking noses and loads of flashing lights... nope, way too tacky for her. Now mind you it was all really quite lovely, but the average child really has little or no appreciation for something that belongs on the cover of a magazine, kids want that over the top stuff. As the years passed I resigned myself to getting my flashy fix at friend’s houses and quit nagging her about it.

Then there was the food. Dad used the kitchen at the restaurant and had half the staff working during down time getting it all put together. The restaurants were always closed on Christmas Eve, so the carting in and bar stocking and so forth would commence quite early that morning. Thus the day consisted of either staying the hell out of the way if you were little, or getting drafted into service once you were of an age to be put to use.

Brother #1 was actually managing the bar/nightclub at one of the restaurants at the time so he naturally got drafted to tend bar at the party, Brother #2 got drafted for heavy lifting and I was her main assistant and flunky. After playing assistant all day I was getting a little frazzled, so when she decided to send Brother #1 out to the liquor store for a forgotten bottle of VSOP before they closed, I begged her to let me go too because I really needed to get out of the house. She relented, I grabbed my coat and off we went...

En route I decided to break out the very thoughtful gift my boyfriend had given me and share with big brother... some particularly fine hash. We made it through the liquor store after only having been stopped 5 or 6 times by various people and got in the car and headed for home. We both decided a soda would be an excellent idea, so we side tracked over to the 7-11. A few blocks further I decided we’d damn well better hit the drug store for some Visine before we went home.

All told, I expect this took an hour and a half or so, since we detoured around the gold course one last time to blow another bowl... We pulled into the driveway and in the same breath both went “OH SHIT!” There she stood looking out the kitchen window with THAT look on her face. In my mind the theme from Jaws was playing at about 7 decibels... We were in truly deep shit. Barely missing a beat, brother dear hissed, “car trouble, work with it!” Well I decided to let him manage this situation and pray for the best, figuring he was the eldest after all, and was far more experienced in these matters. That and I was high as a kite and she was loaded for bear.

The man was smarter than I gave him credit for, it was indeed a known fact that the VW bus he drove was notorious for requiring a jump start at the most inopportune moments- she bought it. The fact she was well into her second bourbon and water no doubt helped us slide that excuse over the threshold, allowing us to escape to try and pull ourselves together. The thing that didn’t help was Brother #2 standing right behind her smoking an imaginary joint and trying not to laugh his ass off...

So the house was ready, the food was ready and it was time for us to all get ready- another component of this little tableau was naturally that we all had to be perfectly dressed and be utterly charming to the entire assemblage of guests.. Oy! In actuality, most of their friends were genuinely nice people. It just tended to be fairly tiresome at that point in the proceedings to have to be adorable.

So off I trotted to my bedroom to get dressed. You know, it’s kind of hard to do full face; hair and fancy dress when you’re that high... Thankfully by the time I was done getting ready I had more or less come down. Time for the last lap before show time, the generalissimo’s final inspection. House perfect- check. Bar ready- check. Food ready- check. Children presentable- check. Staff ready to roll- check.

**Side note, no they really didn’t force anyone to work Christmas Eve. Actually there was much currying of favor and jockeying of position amongst the line bitches and waitrons to score the party gig. The Old Fart may have been a rat bastard about some things but he did treat his employees exceptionally well and never served cheap liquor. The party gig involved a rather sizeable cash thank you from the old man, and a number of bottles of good booze in the kitchen. As long as no one got too plowed to function, he could have cared less how much got consumed.**

Herself would then order the candles lit, the luminaries placed out front and retire to freshen her drink and put the finishing touches on her ensemble while she and the old man got whatever they’d been bitching at one another about out of the way.

The boys were supposed to get the luminaries lit, but brother #2 told me to throw on my coat and help, and bring along a little something in my coat pocket... I guess he was put out over missing out on the earlier round. So we snuck around behind the garage after we got them lit and lo and behold-we had company. Seems a few of the staff had the same idea… Shortly thereafter 6 or 8 extremely stoned people came out from behind the garage just in time to note that the Chief of Police and his lovely wife had just pulled up to the curb.. That, my dears, is what we refer to as an “I’m so fucked” moment. I turned to see if any of my older, wiser compadres were going to step up to the plate and manage this situation and realized in one heart stopping second that the entire damn lot of them had abandoned me and headed for the house. So there I was, all by my little lonesome, high as a kite and convinced I was going to be the only teen aged girl in the town’s history to be hauled off to jail on Christmas Eve. Then the light bulb came on, just pretend you’re Mamma- simple. I strolled on up to the car opened Mrs. C.O.P.’s car door for her and wished them a Merry Christmas... Well he looked at me a little funny and said “Dora honey, why on earth are you out here in the cold?” Umm “lighting luminaries?? Y’all come on in the house before you freeze!”

So my very stoned little self was escorted into the house by Mr. Police Chief and the Mrs., only to open the door and see #1 and #2 standing there with looks of abject terror on their faces. Mamma greeted the lovely folks, instructed the boys to take their coats and sashayed with them on down to the bar..

#1 looked at me and shook his head and kept repeating “VSOP,VSOP..Very Stupid On (our) Part kiddo, very stupid.” Thus 1976 then and forever after became known as the VSOP Christmas….

And the rest of the evening? Let’s just say it was a long, long night..