Vol. 66 Number 202
It's not yet the Night Before Christmas, but it'll be here before you know it. Picture yourself putting together a bicycle with instructions translated from Mongolian, hoping your husband really wears a size 12 running shoe (they're really hot and you got them on sale and no returns), praying your kid won't grow another size since you snagged the last 4 Tall red coat from Pottery Barn Kids (yep, on sale and you can't return it) and knowing to your feet that the clever cat toys you got for their stockings will bring on cat sneers and disinterest and you'll be putting them out again next Christmas (because cat toys are never on sale) and finally, praying the expensive perfume you got your sister won't turn to vinegar as it spends three days at the bottom of a pile of boxes in a warehouse in South Florida, without air conditioning.
Now picture yourself sitting at a series of three large table shoved together with so much food the tables require stacks of books underneath to bolster the weight. Twenty relativos (can't return them) are all in tearing spirits, ready to eat until even the elastic waist bands are going on strike. Then three, count them -- THREE -- birthday cakes make a grand entrance, HB sung three times, and guess what? LOTS OF BIRTHDAY PRESENTS. (Birthdays at Christmas are a huge challenge -- was that nicely said?) After the Birthdays, shoveling down all those delicious cakes (mine is Hungarian walnut cake), everyone staggers into the living room, trying to find a place to sit because there are Christmas presents piled to the twelve-foot ceilings -- and are you ready? After ten minutes of utter shrieking mayhem, and being awash in a tsunami of shredded Christmas paper and ribbon, 20 big green garbage bags make their appearance, but the kids, now so hyper they're bouncing off the radiators (it's an old house), they want to play with their toys in the giant bags while, of course, an adult is conscripted to hold them open, all the while wishing for a drink. Do you know, once while cleaning up the debris I even found bits of wrapping paper stuck between the strings in the grand piano.
But there is Christmas peace: Christmas Day is a beautiful noon mass at Our Lady of Sorrows with at least one hundred red poinsettias set on the wide steps leading to the altar and three huge undecorated pines soaring to the stained glass windows behind the altar. Green and gold banners are hung from each of the concrete pillars, and all the while, there's Christmas carols sung by tired and thankful adults and beautiful choral Christmas music that makes your eyes tear. And you are so happy to be alive and be here with everyone you love.
I will not talk about the Christmas Day luncheon.
Merry Christmas to everyone -- don't let 2013 get away from you too quickly, still lots of time to savor the present and appreciate this wonderful year.