Hello, everybody—nice seeing you again.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how worried I was about Christmas this year, because we are very broke and, in spite of what people say, it’s obvious that one is expected to spend money at Yuletide. I suspected we weren’t alone down here at the bottom of the barrel, and from some of the comments and e-mails I got, it sounds like I was right about that. One thing I guess I didn’t make clear, though, was that I’ve always really loved Christmas. I love the bright, cheerful decorations, the happy music, the delicious food, the fun of going to parties, and the excitement of giving and getting presents. No matter what’s happened in my life, I’ve always tried to keep Christmas as best I can.
I think our Christmas this year turned out to be the best one ever. Over the years Sluggo and I have discovered what works for us and what doesn’t, and we’ve adjusted our Yule celebration until it’s just right. First, we stay away from family on Christmas; intead, we visit them all on New Year’s day, when things are a little less fraught. We catch up on each other’s lives, exchange gifts, and then we go home. We did call the family on Sunday, though, to wish them happy holidays, and Sluggo’s mom told us she’d made a pork roast for Hanukkah, but something went wrong with the recipe (which she’d never tried before) and it came out all greasy and inedible. We could barely hear her over the background noise of our 11-year-old nephew pounding away on the drum set he got for Christmas. After we hung up, we were even happier to be snuggled in front of the fire in our own little house, eating Christmas cookies and watching a Harold Lloyd video.
It took a long time before Sluggo managed to get over his aversion to holidays, but now he is starting to like them. We decorated our Christmas tree together this year, and he made some cocoa for us to drink while we hung the baubles. Every year Dr. Colby gives us some new ornaments, and now the whole tree is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oddsville. This year she sent two weird little snowmen—or they might be ghosts—made out of what appears to be toilet-paper papier mache. They are very strange, and we love them.
I like to cook and bake, so we’ve got the food part taken care of. Some fancy-shmancy food writer once said that hell is two people and a ham, but ham was on sale at our local supermarket for $1.39 a pound, which is really, really cheap around here, and we are looking forward to reincarnated ham from now until New Year’s, when the bone and scraps will make their final appearance in the Hoppin’ John. We always think of Mr. Boyd when we eat that dish on New Year’s day.
We were invited to a couple of Christmas parties on the same night, so we decided to try party-hopping. At the first party they served sidecars, which is a very delicious drink I’d never had before, and that’s why we never made it to the second party where they were serving absinthe—so maybe it’s just as well. People seem to have caught on to Dr. Colby’s grand tradition of hosting a party on New Year’s day, and this year we had FIVE invitations for January 1. We will be seeing Dr. Colby, of course, and then DJ Kelly, and then Sluggo’s family—as long as no one is serving sidecars.
I was really worried about Christmas presents this year, because we just don’t have enough money to buy anything. A place near our house had a sale on yarn, so I got some very bright, multi-colored ribbon yarn and knit a ladder-stitch scarf for Sluggo’s mom. Then I went back and got some grey and purple poodle yarn and knit a long, fuzzy scarf for Sluggo’s brother’s girlfriend. Then I had an accident and bought a copy of Edward Gibbon’s “The Christians and the Fall of Rome” with the $9 I had saved to buy yarn for the scarf I was going to knit for Sluggo’s other brother’s wife. But I figured out a way to make a really nifty scarf from old felted sweaters, so everything turned out all right after all. Sluggo made gifts for the men in the family, including the 11-year-old with the drum set, so now we’re all set for when we visit them on New Year’s day.
The tricky part this year was making gifts for each other. I really wanted to make Sluggo a sweater, and it was going pretty well until I got to the part in the instructions that I just didn’t understand--something about joining another ball of yarn, and binding off some stitches, and using the two balls of yarn to work both sides, etc., etc., and I kind of understand the theory of it, I think, but I really wanted someone who knows what they’re doing to help me and make sure I didn’t mess it up. I went to five different yarn shops and asked if they had anybody who could help me, but they all wanted to know if I bought the yarn at their shop, and I didn’t, I bought it at a store in Brooklyn that closed down 10 years ago. So the sweater didn’t get done, and I still had to make a present. Luckily, Sluggo really likes puppets, so I made him a hand puppet that looks just like Baxter, our dog, and he really liked it. Yay! He is making me a really incredible little diorama for my desk at work: there’s a shanty house, and a Midwestern water-pumping windmill, and a woman (me) hanging wash, and an itty-bitty washtub bass, and cows, and trees, and a tiny little graveyard with a hearse—it is so awesome, and it isn’t quite done either, so the sweater not being done turned out to be okay.
We found out that the best Christmas music is on Yule Log, on Channel 11 (even though it’s a different log than it used to be). The radio stations that play Christmas music try too hard and play too many heinous novelty songs, although I give special credit to the programmer at WFAS in White Plains, who actually put on that story song about Snoopy and the Red Baron on Christmas Eve. It was a real DJ Kenny G. moment.
We even had something of a Christmas miracle involving the manager and assistant manager of Colliseum Books. I can’t say exactly what happened because I don’t want people trying to take advantage of them, but they did something very good and kind for me, and they are really great guys. If I ever get any disposable income again, I am going to spend it all at Colliseum Books.
So this turned out to be a very good Yule after all, and I guess my best wish for you is that your Christmas was as happy as ours.
Thanks for reading my blog post this week, and may God bless.