(This post appeared on Christmas Eve of 2009, again in 2010, and it now, with a few updates, officially becomes a holiday tradition. My child bride is in a small town 40 minutes southwest of here with her long deceased mother’s side of the family. They stay up way too late for me.)
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Silent night, holy night (to many), solo night.
That’s what I am enjoying — a quiet, solitary night at home.
And where is my lovely wife? With a pack of kin named Pérez.
Latinos tend to celebrate Christmas most of all on Christmas Eve, and the later the hour the better. Around midnight sounds ideal for dining.
To me, it sounds like way past bedtime.
After much angst over the years, we’ve reached an accord. She goes wherever they go, and I stay at home, enjoying the peace.
That’s what it’s all about anyway: peace.
I’m happy with this arrangement. She finds it a little unsettling, and feels guilty, but I send her packing with her homemade pecan pies and hummus …
… and her guilt fades, one imagines, in the general racket created when a Latino family collects under one roof.
And, of course, the following morning she feels stunned, and her eyes are red from scant sleep. She swears never again, but the negatives fade, and the tradition plods on. Till next year.
She will share the gossip. Who got drunk. Who got angry. Who stormed out in a snit. There’s never any shortage of that.
It’s best to stay home and hear about it second-hand.
* * * *
At age 67, I’m still waiting for the ideal Christmas. the kind portrayed on Hallmark cards. Where happy people in heavy coats bearing gifts enter beautifully decked-out homes as snow falls gently on the lawn.
The tree is bright and beautiful. The dog is always a cocker spaniel, black and white.
Where are these places?
Fact is, I got off to a bad start, Christmas-wise. Dad was a drunk, and there is little in the way of holiday memory. And as you begin, you usually remain. I remember only one childhood Christmas, just one.
We were not at home. Our family of four was at Granny’s farm in Georgia. I was 6. With sister, 9, I fell asleep in the bedroom next to the living room where stood the tall Christmas tree. We had put out cookies and milk for Santa.
There really was a chimney.
I awoke the next morning to a pile of loot that Santa had left after downing the milk and cookies. The gift that remains in memory these six decades was a vinyl record. Gene Autry sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
The beautiful sound of an ideal world to a child of 6.
I played the tune over and over that morning. There was no snow. But it was grand anyway. That one Christmas.
Just that one.
One wonders how those cookies tasted with bourbon.
* * * *
Gene Autry sings Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.