Best Christmas EVER

Man, this Christmas will be so totally awesome.

Every Christmas it’s the same goddam thing, over and over, family, presents, food. The last few years we’ve even been up at Ian’s hellhole of a farm-house, where you have to go *outside* to reach half the entertaining shit you can do, where the only reprise from the endless discomfort is the incredible comfort of the entire house, where there is that asphyxiating oppression of knowing the whole family is under one roof. I mean, is there even enough air in one goregous majestic farmhouse for all these mouth breathers to sleep at the same time?

I don’t know, but I know we’ve managed to avoid all of that this year. There has been this lingering debate for the last few months. Will Kent and the family manage to get to New York? (“Oh God,” said me, crossing my fingers, “please let them think it’s too much trouble. If I have to spend one more minute with my nephews…”) Will Michelle fly out? (“She just got a new job,” me thought, “there is no way she’ll be able to take time off!”) Will Tessa and Ian stay in town? (“Oh please,” me pleeded with the heavens, “I’ve had all the wit and wordplay I can take. I’m so exhausted by talking about stuff that Ian and Tessa understand, please make them go away…”) etc.

I knew it was too much to ask for. I was gonna end up, again, stuck, covered in presents, eating those god-awful orange rolls, listening to Ian and Sean Patrick talk about music or basketball (two things I couldn’t possibly give another shit about) while Tessa and Jordana and my mom talked about writing (as if they know anything) and Steve bringing me *another* cup of frickin’ coffee while Michelle bores me stiff with more stories of her “fascinating” life.

But, no. I wake up this morning and it’s like a Christmas miracle.

1. Ian and Tessa. GONE! I can’t believe it. Driving to Texas as we speak. *TEXAS*!!! I will *FINALLY* be able to talk about my weight without someone in the room *laughing about it*. And Tessa with her endless fascination with *conversation*, as if talking about stuff weren’t a total waste of time. With them out of the way, I no longer have to worry about having a couple in their thirties who live in New York to relate to. But even better…

2. No FARMHOUSE! Oh, man. I will get to have Christmas where I always wanted it, in my two bedroom row apartment in Queens. I have a five foot tree that fits perfectly in the dining room (with the table moved over and the branches of the tree which face the wall sort of scrunched up, so that it looks less like it’s standing and more like it’s leaning, y’know, chilling), I have a string of lights around the front window (any more decoration than that and the paint will probably fall off the wall in sheets) and, best of all, I have one 4X6 bathroom which should be *plenty* for anyone staying here. Which leads me to

3. KENT and Family. My Christmas wish didn’t come true here, they are actually coming. But, their two options for sleeping are either a) 45 minutes away in Brooklyn (which is almost as good as them not being in New York at all) or b) at my friend Mac’s house (which hopefully won’t induce them to stay very long, as it hasn’t been cleaned since the Pleistocene). I couldn’t stop them from coming, but the Christmas miracle still happened. The weather is so bad in Ohio that THEY ARE POSTPONING THEIR TRIP BY A DAY! They will get here so late on Christmas Eve that I’ll be able to just say hello Christmas morning, explain that I have a lot of private thinking to do, and before you know it, they will be headed back to Iowa.

4. STEVE. Ah, bliss. Sure, I made the obvious overtures. Sure, I kept insisting that I wanted him to come. I’m so good at acting and I so completely believed my own line that I actually, for a moment, felt terrible when he said he was going to Utah. It took me a minute before I remembered, I WANT TO BE TOTALLY ALONE ON CHRISTMAS. Yeah, I got a good line when it comes to Steve, the old “hard nut to crack” thing, but I won’t have to see him *for the entier holiday season*. Which leads me to…

5. MOM. Always the hard case. She’s just always *there*. And *CHRIST*, I am so sick of being around this goddam know-it-all. Every thing I do, she’s hovering, either in the next room or at the end of the phone line, laying out advice for everything from orchestration to bread dough. God. I *get* it. You know *everything*, don’t you? And there is this myth that Christmas isn’t Christmas if Mom isn’t there. Well, you know what? I’ve hated Christmas forever, if Mom isn’t there, maybe it won’t have to be the same fucking presents/family/food bullshit it is every year.

Imagine my surprise when she decided to go to Texas. It’s like I won the lottery! I stopped for a minute, thinking she was pulling my leg. After all, it didn’t make any sense. But she had some explanation about hating Christmas (man, can that woman *talk*) and that maybe if she did it different… God, I can’t remember, but WHO CARES. She’s OUTTA HERE!

6. DAD. Oh, crap. What would I do about this. I really liked Christmas when my dad provided some structure, but if I have christmas with my dad, there is sure to be plenty of room and good food and a nice place for me to sleep, and Jesus, am I sick of that kind of Christmas. Fortunately, he agreed to come to New York for Thanksgiving, and I have him convinced that I am… Man, what is it? How do I avoid… OH YEAH, this is awesome, I have him convinced I am scared to fly. HAHAHAHA. What kind of shithead idiot is scared to fly? Anyway, he wasn’t coming out here, and I wasn’t going out there BECAUSE OF THE PLANE FLIGHT, so it all worked out.

7. MICHELLE. The only spot of bad news. Michelle is not only flying out, she’s coming out earlier than expected. I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking sometimes. Michelle calls and she’s like “the flight a day earlier is an extra $150, and I can’t afford it” and as I’m *thinking*, “maybe you should cancel the whole thing!” my mouth blurts out,

“I’ll help you pay for it, I can’t believe that it’s three days before Christmas and I’m here by myself, I’m looking at this pathetic tree and imagining none of my brothers or parents being here.

“I can’t believe that the family cracked and splintered on Christmas of ’85, and that the shattering was so profound that none of us has fully recovered but, despite that, we have one day a year when we remember that, at one point, we all lived under the same roof and, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it was what it was, and we have one day a year to get together and both mourn and celebrate the death of that family and relish in the birth of this new one, a family that is patched together with the thrown off remains of the old family and created through *choice*.

“Because we learned that we love each other, not as brothers and sisters and parents, but as people. When we talk on the phone now, we know that we *could* live without each other, but we don’t want to. And we don’t say it, we don’t have a sermon about it, the fact that we are all together, fighting, shitting, eating, laughing, cooking, admitting our mistakes, bragging about our accomplishments, brooding about our failures, all under one roof for one day a year is like our makeshift religious ceremony. We are a people without a home, it’s never “next year in the holy land”, but it is always, “where will we all be next year.” It’s why we buy individual presents for each person instead of large master gifts, it’s why there is a pilgrimage instead of a phone call. We negotiate the time and place because it is hard to do so, we find actual gifts for each person because we are showing that we think of each person. We open our gifts the morning of and set out stockings because we are honoring our past. It is the only thing we have that approaches being a “holy day” and it became this organically. It is because it always has been.

And I find myself stunned at the precedent, that our yearly pilgrimage to be together will simply not happen this year. We have missed one person at a Christmas, sometimes, and we’ve even flown the day of to be where we need to be, but we’ve never been spread to four different corners of America on this day. If it was me that had to miss Christmas, but everyone was still together, it would suck but it would still be Christmas.

“So, yeah, I’ll help you with the ticket, and I’ll come pick you up. Kent and Melissa will get in late on Christmas Eve, but, shit, I’ll stay up all night if they want. I’ll do Christmas in a motel 8 in New Jersey. I just wish we could all be together.”

I can’t believe I said all that shit. It’s December 23rd and I am in my apartment by myself. I slept in this morning, ’till 9:30. I woke up because I was done sleeping. *THIS* is the kind of Christmas I want from now on.