Monday, December 30, 2013

Crossing Xmas

Nothing is quite as gone as Christmas when it's past —the red-kettle bell ringers departed, the store music abruptly back to unseasonal oldies like "Love Potion Number Nine"— especially as the next port of call comes into view— New Year's Eve–New Year's Day, and a whole new unexplored land stretching to the horizon, known only by its number: 2014.

But I have promises to keep, and hatches to open before I sleep, beginning with the one for December 24.


"It was the day before..." 
(Ah! the anticipitation—waiting for the white in White Christmas, along with all the other props, gifts, and decorations that today is the last chance to assemble before Christmas is what it is...and what it is for me, a non-religious Jew who as a kid used to look at neighbor's tinseled trees in the front windows like a suspicious soldier from Temple Beth El doing recon on the Goyish army, is a holiday I've adopted through Carol's family, even including a tree once, now just fireplace-strung lights, definitely Christmas music [Harry Belafonte; Carol's sister Jacqueline's CD, "Down Came an Angel;" James Taylor] and most definitely gifts, with Santa cartoons drawn on my tags, no longer collaborating with Hanukkah Harry.)

So, it's the day defined by its tomorrow, though no less a full day, midnight to midnight, but there's a strong gravitational pull from that tomorrow that causes me to put off wrapping the gifts I'm responsible for, leaving them naked and shivering in the plastic store bags they came in, until it's midnight, and I've trespassed into Christmas itself, leaving me liable to be challenged and browbeaten by border elves who don't have to show me any stinkin' batches! And still I delay because of the Christmas Eve movies we're watching—me, Matt, Santa (hey, Kringle! Move yer boots!), and three reindeer (who are house-trained).

It starts with going back and forth between A Christmas Story (yes! the part where the dad receives the leg lamp!) and It's a Wonderful Life (yes! starting before Clarence jumps in the water to keep George from committing suicide), which claims our full attention after George starts to get unhinged in the streets of Potterville (his own mother slams the door on him!) and takes us clear through to the end where the house fills with George (now restored to life)'s  neighbors repaying their debt of love and thanks, including the bank examiner and process-server!, and newly-arrived war hero Harry Bailey toasting "my big brother George, the richest man in town!" and by now everyone's singing "Auld Lang Syne" and Jimmy Stewart is grinning so broadly it's ridiculous and the ornament jingles and ZuZu pipes up "Listen, Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!" and Jimmy Stewart says in that soft near-tears voice, "That's right...That's right...Atta boy, Clarence!" And I look over to Matt and I'm so happy to see that it's got to him too. And Santa and the reindeer would be crying, too, if they hadn't left.

That was today's hatch. Actually it was supposed to be—and maybe still is—Jean Vigo's L'Atalante, which we watched next, and which is a beautiful movie, 1934,  about a canal barge captain, Jean, who marries a sweet young woman from the village, Juliette, but must compete with the distractions of Pere Jules, the gruff but whimsical first mate, and a persistent magician-one-man-band-street-peddler, and all of Paris, before love conquers all, enfin. It's a pretty wonderful movie. (L'Atalante is the name of the barge.)


Two hatches: 

Morning: oeuf! French toast that turned out too eggy!
I felt like a schmegeggy,
but no one else seemed to mind,
or were just being kind.

Evening: a game of Fictionary with pals Lenni and Mike and Matt and Carol and words plucked from the pages of an old coverless unabridged: including molopo, podzol, pleonasm, and etesian. Carol, bless her, voted for two fake definitions that happened to be mine: molopo—a fretless ukulele; and pleonasm—a hiccough.

So I conclude: 
May your molopos all be fretless and your pleonasms brief!

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