It is the end of the holidays, the end of the year, and end of the decade…and the end of my wits…an alarmingly short journey, by the way.
I am sitting here in a festered tri-polar stupor amidst the post-Christmas wreckage, eyes cracked and cavernous, staring at motes of dust, mind impenetrable and uncomprehending, skin pale yellow, gift wrapping in a dilapidated arrangement of rubble around my feet, face serenely blank…and looking SPOOOO-KEY!
But that’s not how I began the season. No sirreee. My veins were nearly curdled with the milk of human kindness. I was the Spirit of Christmas incarnate…THE Season Sorceress. That’s why I feel compelled to chronicle the events of the recent celebration before they are lost in the ravings of a Grandma gone lunatic.
I immersed myself in the festivities right after placing any evidence of Halloween on the funeral pyre. Carols gurgled from my throat like an underground stream of spring water. I lit hearth fires and Yule logs like a pyromaniac. I bellowed “Noel! Noel!” to startled strangers and frightened children. I chimed bells and mimed angels in suffocating peals of good will. I honored the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as if they were the three Wise Men. And I carried Tiny Tim and his little crutch on my back as he monotonously droned “…bless us everyone.”
My White Elephants were whiter and elephantier than all the rest. I was aglow with peace on earth. My good will oozed from every orifice like mucus. I was a virtual hybrid of every adorable Christmas movie heroine from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland. I was confection perfection.
And then it happened…The Great Implosion…The COLOSSAL COLLAPSE.
It all began innocently enough. I simply asked Necie what she wanted Santa to bring for Christmas. And she responded with all the aggravated cuteness of Cindy Lou Who in rapid-fire Ralphie-speak, “A Zhu Zhu pet with a wheel, a rolling ball, a car, house and garage.”
Well, I stood all amazed and made a mental note to stop by Toys R Us sometime in the next few weeks and purchase said toy and attachments. No pressure. No hype.
What a no-brainer. This holiday would be like silk – smooth and slick. Christmas morning would be “Joan-ed” and go down with distinction as the “Most Amazing Christmas Extravaganza Ever!” hall of fame. I pictured myself humbly and demurely accepting the crowning accolades from an adoring and ever-grateful family, community, planet.
Now, you have to understand my relationship with Necie. Being our only granddaughter, our hearts are finely attuned to each other. She never forgets that one notable Christmas when she was sitting on my lap opening her gifts and began an unanticipated cookie toss, unparalleled in duration and volume. It was a perfect storm.
However, as a stroke of extreme good fortune, everything landed in my cupped hands, steaming, shiny and visceral, and down my particularly fashionable gay apparel I had just donned for the occasion. The boys’ haul narrowly averted being drenched in primordial slime, and Grandma was hailed by the grateful congregation as a hero, having salvaged and successfully defended Santa’s excessive chimney deposit.
From that moment on, Necie and I have shared a special bond – not necessarily blood sisters – but kindred spirits born through a warming squirt of viscous bodily fluids, nonetheless.
Necie has always considered The Incident an act of unqualified love, a badge of distinction and filial fidelity – that I would take a projectile for her – that I was and always will be, her own adoring emesis basin.
So it was imperative to perpetuate her belief in a magical, chuckling fat man by granting her the only entry on her “Dear Santa” list – a zhu zhu pet, et al.
Oh, the innocence of the old and infirm! That was before I knew the evil alien was impossible to find. It was the “Cabbage Patch” incarnation of the decade…of the entire 21st Century. It was rarer than the prehistoric warty-backed humberdinck, and not to be found in any legitimate store.
I tried to persuade Necie that perhaps Santa ran out of the toy, and maybe she should ask for an alternate selection on the menu. I pleaded my case, but Necie was steadfast in her confidence that Santa could do anything. And she reminded me I had always taught her to “BELIEVE!” (Curse the buttercups!)
Well, obviously I had no choice. After searching for the elusive prize everywhere from the inter net to naked men wearing trench coats in back alleys, I turned to the dark side. I morphed from Grandma Jeckyl to GRANNY HYDE! A macabre creation of a little girl’s with list.
Driven by a mindless force to procure a pet rodent, I went to the mattresses – diabolical and hostile. Forget good will toward men – those men were now competitors in a lottery for the coveted fur ball. I was willing to debase myself by clawing, elbowing, profaning, and inflicting bodily damage in a crazed Zhu Zhu Pet Smack Down; willing to go down in infamy as the anti-elf, an icon of greed and lust in a demonic paganistic buying orgy.
I rationalized that I would seek absolution in January – after I stuffed the hairy varmint in Necie’s stocking in December.
Dennis and I began haunting toy store parking lots like ghouls on a mission at unholy hours of dark, foggy mornings, baggy-eyed, foul-breathed, drooling. We became phantasmic specters of our former selves…not exactly your typical picture of nostalgia on a greeting card. It was rather like good holiday intentions gone terribly wrong in the lethal pursuit of THE TOY. I became a macabre hallucination of Mother Teresa transforming into Lady Macbeth.
It wasn’t pretty. Oh, the humanity! In the immortal words of Kathryn Hepburn, “Good golly! Why didn’t you sell tickets?!”
But then one foggy Christmas Eve, by mere happenstance and pulse pounding, we found and purchased the coveted item, and after paying $9.99, we raised it triumphantly aloft in demonic delight and laughed maniacally as lightning flashed and the heavens hurled down thunderbolts. (So that’s where “Ho Ho Ho!” originates!)
And then we drove home, catatonic and zombie-like.
I suppose at some point I will flagellate myself with the guilt stick for being corrupted by conspicuous and ritualistic lust for the material. But then I’ll salve my wounds with self-administered back-patting, knowing Necie’s belief in Santa will remain unchallenged and unaltered by the present, and narcissistic gluttony is once more preserved and perpetuated in a showcase of flagrant ethical regression.
I confess I am a little chagrined to think I began the holidays with holly in my heart and ended them as a tarnished and consciousless radical with no scruples or redeeming moral basis.
However, now Christmas ’09 belongs to the ages. Cosmic harmony has been restored. Our efforts at collective hallucination were successful. Gift opening rapidly degenerated from civil combat to total war in a blizzard of paper and ribbon so profuse, we very nearly had to impose instrument flight rule. And for once, even my culinary efforts kept gastric juices effervescing – at any rate, no one hurled.
As the final gift was gutted, all the adults took on the look of electrically shocked Chia Pets.
We had a splendid little Christmas, in spite of excessive celebration in our end zone.
Pulling off the holidays is the highest form of human endeavor, being held hostage to tradation, expectation, Norman Rockwell, and Necie…definitely not for the faint of heart.
We are declaring a holiday sabbatical for the next 11 months, when we’ll begin all over again. We pledge not to go “postal.”
But it’s the winter solstice, and more light is grafted onto each day. We are beginning a new year, a new decade, a new life. We have a blueprint for 2010. Our past will inspire but not haunt us.
So, Happy New Year to all our loved ones.