Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas Diner.
I did say I’d have a Bleat, right? Okay. It seems odd to be writing this, since I’m in the mental state that knows no particular day - the marvelous smear of holidays made every day a combination of Friday and Sunday this weekend.
Not done: haven’t watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special. his is possibly because I never watch the Charlie Brown special. Tried it once with my daughter, probably too young; never clicked - but she grew up in the era of conspicuous animation. Cartoons on TV were precious in my time, and in prime-time even more so. Also, I remember watching the Halloween special many years ago, and thinking “this is really a lot of time spent on the Red Baron.”
Late Mall Trip. I dropped off daughter and friends at the theater to see “The Hobbit,” which gave me seven hours of shopping to do. Went over to the Galleria, which is the Hoity and / or Toity mall adjacent to Southdale, just to walk around and marvel at the fact that Peppermint Bark is sold for $29, and Restoration Hardware continues to sell the most banal sort of “stocking stuffer” for preposterous prices, assuming that their customers have bought into the RH gestalt. Or maybe not: I saw one fellow look at a pocket tool kit, and say “fifty dollars? Well, screw this.” He was not referring to the screwdriver function. The store also had this parody of retro-tech:
A grammophone speaker for your iPod or iPad. O the conflicting emotions this must produce in the stereotypical hipster.
There were carolers in Olden Garb striking everyone dumb with the purity of their work; they sang the in-the-deep-midwinter song and nearly made the plastic putti weep. Then I drifted through Pottery Barn, remembering when, like Restoration Hardware, they had more things. Now they have big chunks of large stuff. Used to come here pushing a stroller. Used to go the Family Bathroom to change the child. A million years ago. Another deep midwinter.
Late wrapping. I like to spend an hour doing the last batch up in my studio, listening to old Christmas-themed radio shows. Found a few new ones. Listened to ones I’d heard before. Daughter was dismayed to learn that there were more presents en route. I’m really, really grateful, guys, she said, her face pleading. The great thing is this: never doubted that.
New Traditions! Every year we have Swedish Meatballs on Christmas Eve, but this year we got an invite to a Christmas Eve party with old friends from the old neighborhood. I said yes indeed, count us in - something different, delightful food, a new twist on the old standard post-church evening; why, it’s like something out of a catalogue or television show, bright folk standing around in an enormous old house while tasteful Christmas jazz plays and the hostess brings out a platter of poblano-accented meatballs and the Nog is from this little local place that hand-grinds the nutmeg, and it’s all so damned civilized.
So we had Swedish meatballs the night before. They were delicious. Later I opened my email and discovered the party had been cancelled. So now I have to get up, go out, shop on Christmas Eve, put together a supper, and I couldn’t be happier. To be out and about on the hours before Christmas unfurls and the world shuts down: it’s my favorite part. In addition to everything else.