Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy holidaze

You know it's weird being Jewish sometimes around Christmas.  When I lived in Pittsburgh, and my first marriage was collapsing and I was always alone and everything looked gray, I practically lived in the department stores so I could be surrounded by happy people. (At least they seemed happy.  Some were probably suicidal at the amount of presents they still had to buy.) 

I loved all my holiday years in the thick of Manhattan. My friend Beth (also Jewish) and I lived across the hall from each other on 24th Street and we would cook in our tiny apartments, with our doors open and invite everyone in for food and by the end of the evening we were both giddy with happiness and this warm sense of NYC family.  

I have spent Christmas at the movies with men I have loved.  

And with those I tried to and failed.

I spent one Christmas Eve (Oh wait, maybe it was New Year's) watching the fireworks in Central Park, which is usually remarkable, but it was with the wrong person so it was lonely and terrible and trapped,  and there was a deliberate withholding of a kiss for me and some cruel words were spoken to me,  so I bit down tears while everyone else was laughing and hugging and melding into their own kisses and I kept thinking: I can't start the New Year like this. I had another boyfriend one Christmas eve who took me to his office, where I saw, for the first time, a photo of the wife and child I didn't realize he had--the wife and child he should have been with that evening.  I took a cab home and never answered his calls. 

I spent a Christmas in Paris! 

Now, that I am a family girl, we have rituals.  When Max was little, we used to give him equal opportunity holidays, Christmas and Hannukah both. He wrote letters to Santa and we always wrote him one back on letterhead (From the Desk of Santa Claus.) And every year, Santa brought him a vegetable in his stocking.  One Christmas, we came down to find Max, at three, so proud of himself because he had opened the presents himself.  But we saw that he had used the scissors to cut the wires on the special art projector thingie he had wanted and now it wasn't working.  He was so happy we couldn't tell him he had down something wrong!  So we blamed it on the toy and bought him a new one.

By the way--Max's final performance as Charlie Brown in his theater company?

Now that Max is 12, we have....Chinese food!  Movies all day!  Walking around the city! Stopping for Ethiopian food! More movies! 

Forget bah humbug.  I love Christmas.

And psst, want to learn to write? I'm in the midst of teaching advanced novel writing through UCLA, but I have a beginning course starting up January 14.  Check it out here.

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