almond champagne

December 16, 2008

for me there is nothing close to the feeling of holidays in winter. even here, without a snowflake in sight, i feel wrapped up from head to toe when we’ve celebrated thanksgiving and the countdown to christmas begins. it has nothing to do with the ridiculousness of christmas decor on streets and in storefronts before halloween when southern california hits a brisk 78, if we are lucky. and with utter joy i can state there is virtually no ritual in my family around christmas shopping. mall? what’s a mall? what could possibly draw a gazillion people to one of them one day after giving thanks for all we have, to simply Get More, discount or not.

this year is my third christmas as a single parent, that is to say, where the rituals i learned from my mom and celebrated with my family growing up, i’ve handled on my own, much as i did in san francisco when i was single and in my late twenties. my best pal but Estranged Husband ricky and i are always together and present for our daughter on these big days – holidays, school plays, birthdays, anything having to do with a family being a family or maya getting presents. i am grateful, so deeply grateful, that we crack each other up and still love each other and all the extended family and ALWAYS get big, fat coffees at the start of these now occasional celebrations. but as maya gets older, and the holidays start to mean something to her, i begin to feel the weight of making them glitter and sparkle for her, especially on my own. i want her to love this month of colors and smells and twinkle lights and song as much as i do.

somehow in the midst of all these ruminations – not to mention the job search, the highly sensitive kindergartener, an economy in ruins, newly discovered cellulite on my ass, and twelve thousand unfinished projects on my studio table – i found a night with a handful of my close friends and my only sister to drop all the tasks and just be together. i made food and bought food and stocked the fridge with almond champagne. i clustered candles on my mantel, found my favorite stevie wonder cd, and dragged a christmas tree in to my house with minutes to spare. never mind that it wasn’t decorated; my living room smelled like vermont.

all i did that evening was laugh. so hard that my stomach ached the next day. there are those moments when people come together and there are no expectations of what will happen, just the knowledge that something will. there is so much love and comfort and the sharpest of wits, and sweet faces in candlelight, and history, so much gorgeous history… how could it be anything but another gathering of perfect moments?

in the lovely aftermath of that evening (and yes, a slight hangover), i relaxed. maya may not end up embracing christmas as i do, but i am going to give her so many perfect moments around it, she’ll be hard-pressed not to. and if it means getting the christmas tree in to my car and up the stairs all by myself, making pillsbury cinnamon rolls from the can on christmas morning because my mom had them for us every year without fail, or rick and i putting her big girl bed together at three in morning the same night his father passed away because we promised santa was bringing it in his sleigh, then so be it.

christmas is not money or gifts or how many lights you can display in your yard. it is tradition, the gathering of people who you love and who define your life. last wednesday night, in all that candlelight, and the beautiful thin glasses filled with almond champagne, i listened to stories, laughed until i had to pee, and looked in to the faces of a few women i feel enormous love for. it is only the second  holiday evening we’ve shared at my house, but with this second year, it becomes its own tradition. ruthie will be with us next year. maybe we can seduce linda lu to come from massachusetts. whatever shape it takes, it will be. its why i love this season. with family, with friends, with my beautiful girl maya, it is a promised gathering of perfect moments.


2 Responses to “almond champagne”

  1. tracey Says:

    yes my friend,it was magic. i am honored to be in that circle of friends. the love, laughter and history. there’s nothing better. xo

  2. Juds Says:

    Beautiful~! I so enjoy your thoughts and words. Oh to forty again…………Hugs. Maya too~!

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