ArchivesCategory: Holidays

04Dec

Thanksgiving was interesting. Two days before feast day, my back went out. I don’t remember a Thanksgiving when I haven’t cooked and this year it was supposed to be my show once again. Being the control freak that I am, I trust no one else to mash the potatoes, flay the apples, or puree the cranberries into proper submission. God forbid the stuffing has the wrong ratio of fresh sage to breadcrumbs. I personally break the fresh bread into stuffing sized pieces. Hansel and Gretel have nothing on me. Hence the name of this blog.

But this year, with my back seized up,  I moved more like Frankenstein’s Monster than cheery forest frolicking children. So I was forced to supervise the preparations from a recliner or the floor of the kitchen. Every hour or so I would get up and lumber from pot to pot, barking orders to my sous chefs. I was just like chef David Bouley (if he were a zombie) as I directed my minions. But everyone seemed to manage quite well without my actual hands touching the food. The only snafu was that they stuffed the turkey with lavender instead of rosemary. To their credit, herbs can be hard to tell apart in the garden.

The good news is that I still had my prescription pills from the last back-disaster squirreled away. They help. One unfortunate consequence of those otherwise enjoyable muscle relaxers: I bought a handbag made from an armadillo. I was doing some Christmas shopping on Etsy for my vintage obsessed daughter. However the handbag was purchased for me. I told Scarlett that next time I take muscle relaxers she must take away my computer.

Now we are in the opening salvos of Christmas. Although the city is decorated from top to bottom with the hopes it will inspire us to spend even more money- I still look at it with the joy and wonder of a girl from Small Town and stand amazed that I live here, rampant commercialism or not. Something about the twinkly lights and the smell of evergreen and I go all “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” However, that fat man in a red suit is me. A role I was born to play. I delight in hunting and gathering that perfect gift for my loved ones at Christmas. You really, really, want to be my friend in December.

On the home front preparations have begun. The tree emails have been exchanged with a lovely farmer from the Union Square Market. I am determined to acquire one fresh enough that it will not be dropping needles the week before Christmas. It kills me to see ornaments hanging on for dear life over still unwrapped packages.

Years ago I would go upstate somewhere to get the tree, but these past few years I’ve been at the mercy of the local Tribeca tree vendors, who clearly sell trees cut months ago. Those rosy red-cheeked, plaid shirt wearing, hipster vendors all lie like rugs, despite their wholesome appearances.  And this next bit may be politically incorrect, but I’m going to go there; I think they’re the modern equivalent of gypsies, selling inferior products for exorbitant prices and then disappearing into thin air. Until next year. I’m waiting for one to offer to tell my fortune.

I have a confession. My name is Kate and I have tree OCD. My needs for a tree are specific: tall and thin. This is not a Park Ave. affectation, it’s a matter of the tree going to the ceiling and yet not taking up the floor space of a Volkswagen Beetle. Once acquired, I spend days decorating it. I weave twenty strings of lights through to the trunk, winding each branch, and then add clusters of white and clear balls collected for years from a little store on Christopher Street. The ornaments representing our lives come out of their carefully labeled boxes and the kids and I recount the history of where they came from.  Each one has a story and part of the tradition is the remembering.

Wolf the Cat

It goes on from here, the garlands, the wreath, the monstrous gingerbread house, (which deserves a post unto itself), and the sweater for the cat. Yes, I did say sweater for the cat. The kids have outgrown the blinking antlers I used to put on their heads. The cat sweater is retribution visited on the “next generation.” Clay and Scarlett delight in embarrassing Wolf the Cat by stuffing him into a medium size dog sweater. He’s topped 28 pounds, so he may need a large this year.

Okay Real Santa, I know I’ve been naughty this year, and been remiss about posting, but I will rise to the occasion for this very special season. There are too many tales to tell not to share.

You could call this is my version of the Christmas letter. Be afraid, be very afraid.

ho ho ho

~kate

Last years creation.

 

 

01Jan

There amidst the piles of artfully arranged and carefully wrapped gifts was something for me. A pile of poop, a Christmas turd, deposited by the cat, perfect in its symmetry and ripe with a freshly minted aroma that only newly deposited shit can emit.

Was this his version of coal in my stocking? Was he doing Santa’s dirty work?

I know I should have been posting all along during these past few weeks before Christmas. I mean there’s serious fodder in the farcical holiday season and now it may seem a bit after the wise men have sailed, but I was unable to deal with the realities of the season, preferring to stay safely in the land of frenetic holiday denial. There’s so much about this holiday. It’s loaded. Just like Santa’s sleigh of expectations. I didn’t know where to begin and I had to process. But I’m ready now, so be afraid.

I’m torn between the happy-pants-let-it-snow Christmas post, and the reality that it truly is for all of us; a mixed blessing. Seriously, no one has one of those perfect families caroling around the wassail depicted in holiday specials and films. If they claim to, they’ve been into the eggnog big time.

As for me? I’m facing my second “alone” Christmas. And it’s all good.

Not really. I lie. At least before the separation we all knew what the script said, just what our roles were and our pretending came naturally because we’d been learning our lines for years. Now I’m faced with a blank page. I adore my ex-husband and we will always be a family, but we aren’t what we were and although everyone is better off, there is a sadness.

Let me tell you about my Christmas tree. The tiny blown glass wine bottle gifted to me by Astrid and Nic, a symbol of their profession and passion. The gaudy hula girl Jane gave Scarlett and I in commemoration of the victory hula dance we preform on the tennis courts after a victory. Green glass Tinkerbelle; chosen by Scarlett on our first trip to Disney World. It was a long hard decision for her back then, we visited each little kiosk searching for the perfect representation of the Magic Kingdom. She chose a fairy. Not a Princess. She was three.

There is Pooh and Buzz Lightyear, for Clay, as well as two tiny bunnies I bought for him on his fifth and sixth Christmases. There are Toot and Puddle, Sponge Bob and Madeline. There is a magnificent crystal acorn, from a long ago holiday party guest. There are many of those, hostess gifts from the days of the crazy beer and tequila fueled bash we threw each year, sometimes 150 people in attendance. I did the cooking. I did. I swear. That was a different life.

There are the numerous glass chickens, and the wooden reindeer hand painted and purchased by me at the Museum Of Folk Art some many years before the kids were born. There are glass icicles gathered a dozen per year, beginning when I moved to Manhattan, young and single. I couldn’t afford to buy a hundred of them all in one fell swoop, so as an optimistic 20 something, I started with a dozen, just as one starts with one push up at the gym with the expectation that in time there would be enough to make a difference. And now the tree is heavy with those glass spears, glittering and fragile. It’s survived numerous cats, a visiting Great Dane, and two toddlers. There were years where all the ornaments were hung in three square feet, and after the kids fell asleep an OCD Elf arranged them into a gorgeous tableau, complete with clusters of large clear glass balls, tiny opaque white ones, interspersed with cherry red globes all dangling between yards of white organza ribbons and 25 strings of tiny white fairy lights.

That same OCD Christmas Elf has over the years given each ornament a special box labeled with the year of gift or purchase and the giver. It’s been a tradition with the kids and I to take out each ornament and talk about the year it was acquired, the person who gave it to us or the year or time in my life when I purchased it. In other words, it’s a thing.

This year as I take each ornament off the withered tree I have great sadness. I feel as if I am putting parts of my life away in their neatly labeled boxes. I’ve left entire swaths behind, sometimes willingly, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes kicking and screaming. But in this case, it was a choice I needed to make and the most difficult one I’ve ever had.

I drop a particularly fragile and precious glass globe from the highest point on the ladder and in those moments of free fall I know it will break, and I am regretful and sad about the loss. In those ten seconds I accept it. And then it hits the hardwood floor and it bounces.

2013 begins in a few hours. I’m ready.

13Dec

I know that every one of you leaps from your bed in your little feety pajamas and runs to your computer to see what brilliance I’ve posted for the day.  And last week I let you down. Bummer. Get over it people. Read the New York Times. Then you can tell me what’s happening in the world because I can barely get past the first page and the Arts Section. You can also read The New Yorker and fill me in on the weekly witty round table stuff because I only read the cartoon and theater reviews. That would be review of theater and not the cartoon. I find the cartoons really stupid, mostly because they never choose my caption submission.  Morons.

Anyway, back to the grand disappointment.  Here’s the new deal:

Screw the Thursday thing. Its cramping my natural writing style- which is spewing out things as they come to me, and this whole deadline thing is making me self conscious and cranky. And no one wants me cranky. When I started the blog a trusted source told me that if I didn’t post on a regular schedule my “followers” (Hi Mom!) would stop reading my posts. Well I tried, and instead of enjoying this, which was the whole point- making me happy, (remember this and make it your mission in life) I’ve started to dread Thursday mornings.

So we’re going into relaxed mode. I’m going to try to post every week, and some weeks I’ll post more than once. The posts will be less formal (if that’s humanly possible). You know, if you guys actually registered, you’d get notified when I post and all this nonsense would not be an issue. It’s free. Remember? I told you that. Someone isn’t paying attention. And there is this thing called an RSS feed. I’m a luddite and not exactly sure how it works, but I’m told it’s easy and you can’t play the luddite card because I just did and there’s only one in the deck. So sign up for those things.

So that’s what I’m going to do, post a lot, but not on schedule, okay? It better be, because you’re not the boss of me.

I’m working on a few posts for the holiday season. Actually when I say working on- what I really mean is that they are little monologues in my head. I have so very much to share with you about the holidays. After I get into the eggnog, there will be some real honesty. In fact I might just post something small almost every day between now and then. You’ll have to check in and see.

For today I will leave you with this tantalizing thought; I purchased a Justin Bieber Christmas song and since my loving daughter keeps outing me to everyone I might as well just post it here. So suck it Scarlett, I’m shouting it to the world. But in my defense- I didn’t mean to buy it, and no, I didn’t steal it either. It didn’t just jump into my coat pocket and leave the store with me by accident, Officer. What I mean is that I purchased it from ITunes as part of a various artists holiday CD. What I was after was some holiday tunes by Norah Jones, Grace Potter, and The Fruit Bats. Justin happened to be part of the package. That’s the truth. Honest.

That concludes the first of my many holiday posts. I have a lot to say this time of year. It’s no accident that my first play was set at Christmas…

From the top of Mount Crumpet~

Kate

22Nov

It’s that time of year and all the Whos Down in Whoville are gearing up for the reign of holiday terror. Mayhem. Madness. Chaos Panic Disorder. My work is just beginning. For those of us with OCD the holidays are just a Xanax away.

We start the trifecta with Thanksgiving. Now this is a tricky one for me. My mother is DAR. For those of you who LOL, have BFFs and cats who haz cheezburgers this acronym might be a bit mysterious, so I’ll explain. It’s Daughters of the American Revolution. To be one you must trace your ancestry directly back to the Mayflower. Wasps R us. Here’s where my gene pool gets interesting. My father’s people are Mohawk. My grandfather left the reservation as a young man and up on the Reserve my sisters and I are all registered Mohawks. I’m humming along with Cher on a chorus of Half Breed.

With this particular set of DNA I’m required to either love or hate the holiday. I chose love. What’s not to love about a holiday that was prescient of a marriage that blew up 200 hundred years later? That said I always make the biggest turkey I can get my paws on. Who cares if we’re only 10 or 12 at the table? A thirty-pound bird please. It’s all about the leftovers.

I am a Rice a Roni and Hamburger Helper refugee. Having grown up in a family where stuffing was stove top and veggies meant the Green Giant was joining us at the table, I’ve become a Thanksgiving rebel. Since I’ve become the master of my own domain, there will be nothing at my table that even resembles a Dough Boy.

I love stuffing.  The kids and I always break a couple of the best pullman loaves Grandaisy bakes into chunks two nights before. Add a couple handfuls of sage plucked from my herb garden mixed with all the other savories and that’s my idea of carb heaven. For me, breaking of the pullman bread is always the real start to the holiday season. As my now hulking son used to say “Yum Yum Hum a Dum.” Don’t ask me why, it was just something he always said when I was cooking and either the impending holidays or my hormones are making me all squishy today.

What’s better than fresh cranberry sauce? Not much. I love that sound of berries popping free of their skins and the resultant spatter that looks like a forensic dream. Saucy-goodness all over my stove.

Potatoes. An homage to the other half of my kids ethnic makeup. We went off the reservation and added some Irish DNA with this generation.

Brussel sprouts with pancetta. Pork makes everything better.

Cauliflower. My daughter and Jane have been known to get into cat fights over the last floret. Strange for a child who once abhorred her veggies.  For Jane? No biggie. I’ll miss her at my table this year.

This year my cauliflower queen, Scarlett, takes over the pumpkin bread baking, in addition to her repetoire of pies. A few years back she challenged a friend of ours to a pie bake-off and she kicked his ass. She’s made pie her bitch.

All of this is created to the backdrop of the Westminster dog show. Fuck those stupid balloons; give me a Portuguese Waterdog any day.

When we were kids, my mother used to make a big deal about the Macy’s Parade. Living in Hicksville USA, New York and Macy’s was about as real to me as Oz. We obediently watched with her, but the voice in my head was always running the you-can’t-get-there-from-here loop and a two block long Underdog wasn’t doing it for me. The bands that played and marched simultaneously didn’t seem at all special to me. They were no ice-capades.

So for this family, it’s all about perky Pekinese and drooping bassets with the occasional mud football game tossed in if someone else is organizing.

Happy Thanksgiving!