In the interest of underscoring the surreality of Christmas, a few random notes (I used to have a brain that could organize details and form a coherent narrative; but that was before the holiday sugar gluttony. Now I speak in palindromes & lick the insides of my pockets.):
I don’t know what your Clara looked like, but ours (The Nutcracker at the Tarrytown Music Hall) had braces. I think they were Russian braces. Also one of the Snowflakes was pregnant. Hence the pauses.
Christmas Eve brought the arrival of the Aged P’s, with their long and short memories and balms of forgetfulness. It is such multilayered forgetfulness that gives rise to variations on re-gifting, bringing that somewhat maligned but useful tradition to new and arcane levels of complication.
For instance: knowing my fondness of all things Nicaraguan my mother gave me a ceramic decorative plate from Nicaragua that was given to her about 10 or 12 years ago by a Nicaraguan friend. I know this because he gave me one as well. I have since donated my decorative (but ugly) plate to the church fair. So imagine my delight when I was presented with yet another.
The black handbag with gold chain and a bejeweled clasp also came with a back story. Many years ago a neighbor of my parents died. She was reclusive and in fact my parents barely knew her, but her youngest son was a great friend of all of us. It turned out that this reclusive lady – and this was long before the days of online shopping – was a compulsive telephone shopper, and her house was full of unused and often unwrapped boxes from Saks and Lord & Taylor, full of mink hats, evening bags, designer handbags, cashmere bed-jackets, and black negligees. Days after this neighbor’s death, my mother opened her door to find Fred (the son, our friend) bearing piles of boxes full of his mother’s treasures. In his wisdom, Fred considered my mother the most stylish woman he knew and therefore the proper recipient for this bounty.
The white mink hat (think Hostess Sno Balls before they made them pink) has already come my way, and it’s in my back hall with the label still attached – in case you are interested.
One of the ways my mother has entertained herself these past few days is reading my daybook. It takes a very special person to find this book interesting because (other than my collages which are either the work of genius or a mental defective, depending on your POV) this book merely lists my daily activity in the driest and most unadorned way I can manage. (I do not always manage.) That very special person is my mother, she who corrects the spelling on restaurant menus, corrects the architectural descriptions in real estate adverts and now corrects the spelling in my daybook. “Zut alors! Surely you know that cauchemar has a U in it.”
Maybe you’ve been finding the holidaze a tad stressful and gloomy. If that is the case, you could have found consolation for your condition at the Blue Service, designed especially for the miserable, rotten, brutish and short. But you chose not to go. No one did. You preferred to suffer alone.
Which brings us to Saint Fabiola, of lost portrait fame.