Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's All Downhill from Here

Today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The last day before we are forced to accept THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. Stores, especially drugstores, have had Xmas decorations, wrapping paper, candy canes and all the other superficial trappings of the holiday stocked for weeks. But on Friday, the CHRISTMAS SPIRIT will emerge in all its commercial glory.

Not that I don't enjoy the holiday season. I do. My birthday is part of the holiday season. And I love giving presents, especially to my nieces. I just wish it wasn't so cold! Although, one of my favorite Christmases in recent years was in 2002 (I think, or maybe 2003). It was freezing, and it snowed. It snowed, and kept snowing. My sister and brother-in-law had driven to my house in the Hamptons on Christmas Eve (I was working on my MFA at the time; I lived in Hampton Bays, had 2 jobs and wrote when I wasn't catering or in class.  So it was just that--a house that was located in the Hamptons, because that's where my grad school was). We had dinner (probably ordered in) and I gave my brother-in-law a present, something I had heard him talk about for years; it was a DVD called WARRIORS. He was thrilled and my sister and I were curious about this "awesome" movie neither of us had heard of. We watched it.

We laughed our asses off from start to finish, but for all the wrong reasons. WARRIORS is about two rival gangs in a very dark, abandoned city though what they're warring over is never really made clear. The dialogue is so over-the-top, every time someone spoke I could not help laughing. Throughout the movie, whenever the rival gang is searching for someone in the Warriors gang, the person shouts "War--riors, come out to pl--ay!" in this very high-pitched, exaggerated, drawn-out voice. We laughed and laughed! Needless to say, WARRIORS was stuck in a time capsule for my brother-in-law, so he remembered it with the same affection he felt decades earlier.

In the morning, it was still snowing. My parents could not get to the East End for Christmas breakfast. We waited for the roads to clear a bit so they could maybe join us for Christmas lunch. in the meantime, we watched other (better) movies. And then we started to play the "Let's just each open one present" game (my family has always exchanged Xmas gifts rather than Channukah gifts). My sister and I are particularly good at this game. We can barely keep our gifts to one another a secret, let alone stare at them, all piled up near the fireplace as in a holiday postcard. My brother-in-law wanted to wait for my parents, but together, my sister and I can convince almost anyone to do almost anything, so it wasn't long until he was shaking boxes, feeling their shapes and their weight, trying to figure out what was inside.

Within an hour, we had opened all our presents. It was still snowing. My parents called--there was no way they could drive to us. My sister and I shared a pint of Ben & Jerry's (purchased from the Quogue 7/11, the only store within ten miles that was open on Christmas) while my brother-in-law napped. I can't remember what we ate for dinner. We watched more movies, but none as funny as WARRIORS. It was a terrific Christmas, despite not being with my parents.

Crossword update: I sprang for the $39.95 and joined the NY Times premium crossword site. Word of the day: tyro. It's a noun, and it means: a beginner in anything; novice. Never heard of it.

And has anyone played hinkypinky? It's apparently a rhyming word game. Never heard of it.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope to see some of you at my next reading for CLOSER TO FINE, on Tuesday, December 2, at SUNY New Paltz. 7 PM. JFT 1010.

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