Monday, December 19, 2005

merry christmas vs. happy holidays

I think Nicholas Kristof had a very good idea when he suggested in a recent op-ed that Bill O'Reilley and the rest of his so-called "War on Christmas" ilk traipse on over to Darfur, or Iraq for that matter, just to take a gander at what a real war is all about. Especially given that so many of these hardcore "Christian" blowhards managed to weasel their way out of Vietnam all those decades ago.

But that's neither here nor there. The holiday season, how ever you wish to call it, is in full force at last. The better half of this past Saturday was spent dashing about looking for last-minute gifties for various friends and relatives, from the Body Shop to a little tiny Chinese dried-fish store (hundreds of bins full of creepy delicacies from gift-wrapped dried scallops to loose shark fin for $299/pound) to Starbucks to the craft fair and green market at Union Square. Then a mad dash home to wrap some of said gifts before cabbing it down to Chris's parents for an early Christmas with his family.

Yesterday was tree-decorating at Dave & Josh's 6th-floor East Village walk-up, and can I just say, I'm just glad they had already lugged that tree up all those stairs! But it was a lovely evening full of cute little christmas ornaments, delicious grilled cheese sandwiches dipped in tomato soup, free watches (again with the Chinatown), homemade pumpkin pie and black-bottomed cupcakes, and other oddities.

Chris and I are leaving Friday morning for a week in Anacortes, Washington, and then flying north for nearly a week in Anchorage, Alaska. I haven't been home for Christmas since 2001, and Chris hasn't yet spent Christmas with my family, so I'm both excited and just a little bit anxious about the whole thing. But Mom and I have already been making plans about what cookies to make for which visitors, and what to have for dinner on Christmas Eve, and where to do our post-Christmas shopping (which will last all of an hour, despite our best intentions of doing that whole manic best-deal-hunting shopping thing, and will end in both of us throwing up our hands and saying, "Oh hell, let's go get a latte!").

Really one of the things I'm most looking forward to is going on one of the ferries out to Friday Harbor, on one of the San Juan Islands. Our big plan is to head out on a 3:30ish ferry after Mom gets off work one of her early days, so that we can see the islands and the ocean and boats (and probably an oil tanker or two... but sitll, it's beautiful...), have dinner at a little Mexican restaurant in Friday Harbor, and catch a later ferry back, showing off the Anacortes skyline, such as it is, or at least the eerily beautiful oil refinery lights at night.

But really what I'm most looking forward to is baking and cooking and sharing knitting stories and other family gossip with Mom, and watching everyone open their presents, because I really like everything we've bought or made for people this year, and I think they will too. And that pleases me to no end.

Anyway, to all, I wish you a lovely holiday season, whether it's Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanza or something I don't even know about, especially to you, Nathan, newly arrived in New Zealand and the next part of your great adventure. Merry Christmas, kiddo.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

just a little bit o' teen angst

I don't know why it got in to my head the other day, I must have been listening to something that reminded me of it, but I suddenly had to go dig out my old Belly album, the first one, the one that I listened to incessantly the summer before my senior year of high school. Chris was surprised, said, "I don't think you've played that since we've been together!" and to the best of my knowledge, he's right. But I put it on as we were cooking dinner, and at first I couldn't quite figure out why I'd liked it so much. Chris was politely tolerant, and I was a bit befuddled, and then Feed the Tree came on. And I had to go turn up the volume. And there's still something completely, if perhaps adolescently, compelling about Tanya Donnelly breaking into her chorus of:

Take your hat off, boy
When you're talking to me
And be there when
I feed the tree...

And it's not like I know what she's talking about, as far as the tree thing goes, but at 16 these lines felt like they could make me soar.