Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Everybody ! ! !

This Christmas, we're going on a cruise down the west coast of Mexico. I don't know if I'll get a chance to post anything between now and New Year's, so here's my Christmas gift to everybody that's been checking in since I started this thing in September....

Now that Charles Dickens is dead, David Sedaris is probably our greatest living Christmas writer. This is an excerpt from a story called "Dinah, The Christmas Whore" in his Holidays On Ice collection. In this story Lisa Sedaris, David's sister, has decided to bring an older female co-worker from The Picadilly Cafeteria home for Christmas. The Picadilly happens to hire a lot of former convicts to bus tables, mop floors, and help in the kitchen. At this point in the story, the Sedaris family has gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to meet Lisa's new friend.

In addition to being funny, I think it's one of the most beautifully written paragraphs I've ever read:

Every gathering has its moment. As an adult, I distract myself by trying to identify it, dreading the inevitable downsizing that is sure to follow. The guests will repeat themselves one too many times, or you'll run out of dope or liquor and realize that it was all you ever had in common. At the time, though, I still believed that such a warm and heady feeling might last forever and that in embracing it fully, I might approximate the same wistful feeling adults found in their second round of drinks. I had hated Lisa, felt jealous of her secret life, and now, over my clotted mug of hot chocolate, I felt for her a great pride. Up and down our street the houses were decorated with plywood angels and mangers framed in colored bulbs. Over on Coronado, someone had lashed speakers to his trees, broadcasting carols over the candy-cane forest he'd planted beside his driveway. Out neighbors would rise early and visit the malls, snatching up gift-wrapped Dustbusters and the pom-pommed socks we used to protect the heads of golf clubs. Christmas would arrive and we, the people of this country, would gather around identical trees, voicing our pleasure with warm cliches. Turkeys would roast to a hard, shellacked finish. Hams would be crosshatched with x's and glazed with fruit - and it was fine by me. Were I to receive a riding vacuum cleaner or even a wizened proboscis monkey, it wouldn't please me half as much as knowing we were the only family in the neighborhood with a prostitute in our kitchen. From this moment on, the phrase "Ho, ho, ho" would take on a whole different meaning; and I , along with the rest of my family, could appreciate it in our own clannish way.
It suddenly occured to me.
Just like that.

Merry Christmas Everyone ! ! ! ! !

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