I was thinking about Christmas this year and thought back to my forty-seventh one. Which was not long ago and yet, far away. I was thinking of that year because it was the year that I decided to “not”celebrate Christmas. I intended on by passing the whole affair.
I was going to be an atheist or agnostic or certainly a Santa-Gnostic. And somehow, I remembered that they said that there are no atheists in a foxhole but what if a Santa-Gnostic meets a fox, what then? I was about to find out.
Now, after surviving all those past Christmases and growing up with my parents in Culver City, who would over decorate the house each year a wee bit too much, by having me cut reindeer and elf’s out of plywood, starting in July and ending in December, it was time for a change.
I contributed for many years, in my own way, by making their heads move up and down with old barbecue motors and I would grind up old surfboards for snow. And then after all those years I raised my daughter and there were all those Christmases too, not to mention all the Christmas plays and turkeys.
I mean, just think about all the trees that were cut down just for our family and after all those many Christmas’s we ended up with forty-seven dead soldiers lying by the trashcan with their tinseled needles turning brown.
Yeah, it was time for a break from all that. So, I decided that since my daughter was now grown and had not yet had kids of her own, it would be a perfect time to just enjoy the “not doing” of Christmas. Something I had always thought about. Yes!
I would not send one single Christmas card, not spend one minute in a shopping center, getting elbowed standing in long lines, buying gifts that just get returned anyway. No gift-wrapping or un-wrapping, no chestnuts roasting on an open fire with the fire department showing up to give me a warning and no Tom and Jerry’s to wash it all down with.
I told all my family and friends of my plans and I even decided to spend Christmas day in my studio making art and enjoying a good cigar, all alone . . . alone.
Yes, that was my plan, and it was working just fine too. As I passed shopping centers I could see people inside with scowling faces fighting over items and standing in lines that were way too long. I just smiled and enjoyed an anti-holiday moment.
Yes, this was quite a change from the many other years I endured. In fact, I was enjoying the anti-Christmas spirit so much I caught myself starting to hum Christmas tunes.
But then, like a politician reneging on a campaign promise, it was all about to change. Just a week before Christmas, while I was sitting in my studio, watching all the people in their cars outside, with fists raised, giving each other the holiday finger, yelling and honking and well generally being in the traditional holiday spirit, having a great time splendid in their anger, when a beautiful girl appeared at my door.
One of those Swedish looking girls with high Swedish cheekbones, and deep dark blue Swedish eyes with ribbons in her hair and her hair down to there. She wore a dress that was so tight I could read what it said on her underwear.
It said Victoria Secret. She was the kind of girl that could wear a dishtowel and still look good. The kind of girl you wanted to take home, not to meet mom, but to meet dad so you could just show off a little.
As she walked over to my worktable it was as if time stood still. Each click of her high heels on the concrete floor reverberated in my mind like little chipmunk’s pitter-pattering over my brain. As she stood in front of me she said, “ Hi, I’m Brenda and I’m applying for the position of secretary.”
I opened my mouth to speak but realized it was already open. So I shut it, then opened it to speak. “Secretary, secretary, (I had no add out for a secretary, I thought, but I didn’t say that) Yes, I need a secretary.
I mean I really, really need a secretary, one that looks exactly like you (I didn’t say that either). I did have some papers around that were in need of a good filing, so I said instead, “You’re applying for the position of secretary?”
Trying to not be too anxious, though, I asked her a few questions about her abilities and then had her put a stamp on an envelope for me. Now, I must say that I had never seen anyone lick a stamp and apply it to an envelope in quite that way. In fact I was so transfixed that I didn’t even care that the stamp was self-adhesive.
I could also tell, by then, that she was not the kind of girl who would call Gloria Allred if I asked her to make me a cup of coffee. I realized that I could spend many years staring into her deep blue Swedish eyes and not get bored. What was even better, though, I learned that she did not have a boyfriend or had made any plans for the holidays.
Well, needless to say, I hired her on the spot and a moment after that realized this was not going to be my “Grinch Christmas.” I had just been clobbered by the Christmas spirit and the spirit was wearing a short tight dress, had nice legs and wore a cute Swedish smile. I was now going to have to fit all my Christmas-ness into just seven days.
I spent that night decorating the house stringing lights till past midnight for the now “on” again Christmas party. The local Christmas tree lots, at this late date, were a little short of nice full trees so I bought two and wired them together for a more “full” look and a little green spray paint helped quite a bit.
The next day I found myself standing in one of those long lines that just a day ago I dreaded. But unlike all the others standing with me I had a great big smile on my face, as I couldn’t wait to purchase something really nice, tasteful and expensive for Brenda and well sure, sure, every one else on my Christmas list.
I called all my relatives and friends and re-invited myself to all of the various parties and had them note I would be bringing a “date.
There was no time to send Christmas cards so I delivered all eighty-five of them in person. Brenda helped by making me coffee and organizing the annual studio Christmas party and she did it so well I even gave her a raise.
Well, Christmas was really great that year with Brenda but. . but. . . but, it was not to be. Before New Years Eve it was over. Brenda had met a minimalist who, after spending just 15 years painting his canvases all one color, became even more minimal in his work, dispensed with paint, canvases and stretcher bars altogether and progressed to just pounding a nail in the wall and signing it. She thought his new outlook on art was, as she put it, “So beyond pure” and then, after telling me our budding relationship was over, commented that one of my artworks was “Pedantic.”
I said, “ Of course, . . .of course it’s Pedantic, it’s the word pedantic spelled out in pasta!” I exclaimed. But, to no avail, it was over as fast as it had started.
That New Years Eve, I spent in my studio smoking a fine Cuban cigar thinking of Castro, like an island dictator alone once again, just me, my table saw, rotor, multi-vibrating sander, chisels, Elmer’s glue, clamps, and of course my compound miter saw, all kept toasty warm by my Christmas trees burning in the potbelly stove. My thoughts turned again to, what happens if a Sainta-Gnostic meets a fox, I finely knew, but wished I didn’t.