Christmas storiesMario here: Nothing says Merry Freakin' Christmas like an office party at Biting-Edge HQ. Admin assistants spiking the eggnog (started at 80 proof). Medical marijuana brownies. Mail clerks copping feels under the mistletoe. Jeanne pulling the fire alarm (ask her for those details).
Usually this season puts me out of sorts. Kinda hard to reconcile Good Will Toward All Men with the relentless Buy! Buy! Buy! of American consumerism. But this year I've set aside my usual cynicism and embraced a mood of good cheer. I'm even singing along with Christmas carols, especially my fave:
You see, I don't have young ones anymore to play Santa Claus to. I know that drill. It's a challenge to ask your kids to play down their expectations without feeling like the Grinch. Sorry kids, it's not that I don't care, it's that your college-educated father is a loser penny-pincher. So like many of you, I became expert in finding the gotta-have presents of the day. In my primo dad days, it was He Man action figures, MicroMachines, Super Mario Kart, and Mortal Kombat.
Earlier, in my youth, our Christmas celebrations were Norman Rockwell with a good dose of Cantiflas. My mom would drag us to the annual Cantada de Navidad at the Spanish Baptist Church. Despite all the Hallelujahs and Away in the Manger's, the high point of the evening was the visit from Santa Claus. He'd give away paper bags filled with ribbon candy, pecans, and an orange. Which was much appreciated after all the sitting around listening to the church chorus. And I liked oranges.
My favorite Christmas tradition was the making (and eating) of tamales and fried bunuelos. My mother and aunts would make dozens of two kinds of tamales: red chile pork and sweet with pecan and raisins. Neither lasted long.
I learned not to peg my Christmas happiness on getting the perfect gift. Sometimes it happened like when I got my first bike and BB gun. Later on I really wanted a minibike--didn't get it despite all the goddamn hints--and an airbrush and compressor...didn't get that either. But I got a lot of sweaters, socks, and model airplanes.
My most memorable Christmas had to be when I was 18 and returned home on holiday break from the Army. My best friend Ron was also on military leave. We spent our ten days of freedom looking up old girl friends, crashing parties, and soaking up as much booze as our livers could stand. I got the biggest monster hangover of my life. But underlying the festivities was the ticking of the clock--until then I was never so aware of the weight of passing time--and the realization that try as we might to hang on to what was--the future was sweeping us away. Here's another favorite song, one that brings back the bittersweet memories of Xmas 1973.
My favorite Christmas (not counting the one's when my daughter was home and every one of those was special) but the year you and I and six friends sat around eating and drinking and TALKING for eight hours. That will always be high on my list. Happy holidays, my friend.
PS thanks for the book on Sherlock Holmes. You know it's appreciated.
My favorite Christmas was just a few years ago when the whole family decided to go to Mexico and spend time with each other instead of giving gifts. We went the day after Christmas to the Riviera Maya and that first night we stumbled around in the dark after checking in and finally found a bar at oceanside, dimly lit, a couple of bartenders hanging out and talking.
They made the kids virgin pina coladas and we had beer and tequila and we talked and laughed and solved all the world's problems. That was such a beautiful night.