Last night I went over to the house of my friend Michael and his daughter Anna for the annual eating of the Christmas Pizza. I always tell the story of the three wise men who came bearing pepperoni, mushrooms, and anchovies. It was a pizza miracle. I gave Michael a fully-accurate reproduction of a metal 1950s windup robot, and I gave Anna a 4-DVD set of fascinating obscure cartoons from the early 1930s. They each liked their own gifts, but Anna really loved the robot and Michael really loved the cartoons. We watched the cartoons in a mixture of horror and fascination (for one of the cartoons the two German-stereotype characters became darkie-stereotype characters, and at one point they fought with an octopus that was also represented in blackface). Michael gave me a big butch bottle of Australian wine, which is great.
Tonight I am going to a fancy restaurant (check out the menu) with Jim and Jim's daughters and Denise. I can't yet say what I have for them since Jim may read this journal before tonight. I really like the gift-giving thing. I'm not quite so excited about the gift-getting thing (it embarrasses me, and I don't really need or want anything) but Jim and Denise (like Michael) sometimes insist on giving me gifts anyway. For example, last year Jim gave me a very (and I mean very) nice bottle of Scotch. Are we sensing a theme? This year I have something for Jim that I bought last summer that I really really love, so much so that the best thing to do is to give it away. Maybe that will make sense to you.
Tomorrow I fly east, where I'll stay with my parents but I always spend Christmas eve and then Christmas dinner the next day with mrsmurphy18 and her family. I've spent Christmas with them for at least 20 years, I'm not entirely sure. Sometime during the period surrounding Christmas mrsmurpy18 hosts a generous and delightful party, with a guest list that has changed over the years but with a core group of very interesting and nice people I love having the opportunity to keep up with. Technically it's a Christmas party, but most of the guests (who always include my parents) are Jewish. The food is always superb. My gosh, I've been going to this party for at least a quarter of a century.
While I'm east I always get together with some of my Brown friends for a party in New York City. Years ago my friends Cary, Liz, and I always found ourselves in the New York City area (where our parents lived) at this time, so we'd meet up in New York City for an afternoon, which we would spend walking the streets and trying to figure out where we might go just to sit and visit. Cary said, "Boy with all our friends who have great apartments in the city you'd think one of them would think to host a party. It wouldn't take much, we could order in pizza." I said, "Leave it to me" so the next year I wound up leaving three messages with three different people about this idea and each one of them called me back in great excitement saying it was a wonderful idea they'd be happy to host. Uh-oh. One year we had two parties. Mostly we go to the midtown apartment of my friend Joel, and if the party is on a weekend we have a brunch and if on a weekday we have Chinese food. I am very, very happy for those few hours.
In recent years my trip is is often the only time I have to see my young nephews, who live near Woodstock NY but my brother and his wife sometimes drive down to NJ to make things easier for me there.
And now there seems to be a new tradition, meaning this is year two. We used to say at college that once is a tradition and twice is an institution. For the second year running I will be meeting up with Seattle-based bconn at a museum in NYC. Last year we went to the Museum of Folk Art and the MOMA. This year we'll be joined by bearfuz and theoctothorpe and maybe liftinmoose for an exhibit on Comic Book Art at the Jewish Museum.
Then I fly back home to Minneapolis to get things ready for the New Year's Day Feast of Friends.
And that's how I fight the long nights and short days and take back the sun.