It’s not surprising that at this time of year we all like to sit back and examine our own little traditions so I thought I’d share some of mine with you.
2 days before Xmas I like to go into Philadelphia and turn off all the dripping faucets in the bathrooms of big commercial buildings. I’ll usually start on the top floor and work my way down but if the spirit moves me I’ll start on the ground floor and work upwards. Just something about saving all that water, I don’t know, it seems so festive. Just knowing that there are faucets that are dripping somewhere not because of a mechanical problem but simply because someone didn’t take the time and effort to give them a little extra twist makes it hard to sit still here and type.
The day before Xmas I like to get on a train and then just as we’re pulling away confirm with someone sitting close by that this train is headed to New York City… when I know it’s actually going to New Brunswick. There is something about the faces I see when they think I’m headed in the wrong direction. It’s really just heart-warming. I’ll make the appropriate angry or sad responses… looking around wildly, gnashing of teeth, the whole production. Somewhere deep in all of us is the unbridled joy we get out of seeing someone totally fuck up. So I spend the day getting on and off trains giving that to people. I even know sign language so I can include the deaf in the fun. My Dad is deaf, as well as a raging alcoholic, and his favorite saying is “The cruelest lies are often told in silence”. Occasionally, when he’s had a bit too much to drink, he will fly into a jealous rage and accuse my Mom of the strangest indiscretions. One time we weren’t allowed to use any paper towels for 6 months because he swore my Mom had a crush on the guy on the Bounty package.
And then finally Xmas eve arrives! Like every year my entire family gathers around the trees (yes, we have 2) to decorate them. Then, much like the Japanese game Botori, we divide up into 2 teams and try to knock down the opposing group’s tree. My Mom spends the whole day baking gingerbread fortifications while my sister’s mouth gets a workout sucking the tips of hundreds of candy canes into sharp daggers to set into the gingerbread. Then after we choose squads we have at it until only one tree remains standing. After which we retire to the family room to apply cold compresses and exchange taunts. If you’re wondering why I didn’t make a funny comment about my sister and her sucking hundreds of candy canes down to a point… let’s just say the jokes have all been made many times since a few years back when she decided to set up a webcam to broadcast her efforts and ended up having over 5,000 men watch her at her task. As Kurt Vonnegut once said “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Needless to say KandyGirlXoX has not been online since.
On Xmas morning we all rush downstairs to take part in the re-enactment of my 5th Xmas. That was the holiday where I went downstairs to find my beloved dog Sparky dead under the tree. Always the jokester, my Mom had told me that Santa had killed him accidentally coming down the chimney. I took out my wrath on mall Santa’s for years after that. Sitting in their lap until they asked me what I wanted… then yelling “You know exactly what the fuck I want… dog killer!” Well of course my parents had to get Sparky stuffed and now we all play our little part in recreating the moment. Even to this day everyone roars with laughter.
Well there it is. A little slice of life. I hope everyone has a great holiday and has a safe and happy new year. Mostly happy… safety can be a double-edged sword.