Gallery LouLou, Santa Fe, NM
The throw of the dice this week lands on the night before Christmas. I can almost hear everyone talking at once, the children’s laughter, and the crackling fire. I can smell Nana’s baked turkey and buttery potatoes, as I sip hot chocolate and imagine which presents beneath the tree are mine. Last night while watching A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I was reminded of Christmas with Nana. If I want to experience something I’ve lost, or something beyond the horizon, I watch TCM.
As the story transitions moved from the rich class to the poor, I thought of the disparity between the two societies at Christmas. Some of us are thankful to receive one gift, and others are hiring the Christmas Tree Decorator to decorate their tree.
Christmas with Nana in her deeply cushioned home in Encino was perfect. I sank into the velvet pillows and moon shaped sofa. She whisked through the house on high heels, dressed in East coast tailor-made suits, draped with an old- flowered print apron, and waving a dish-towel. For the duration of Christmas Eve and Christmas day while all of us screamed, giggled and dropped candy on the shag carpeting, Nana tended to my Mother, my Aunt Pat, and her six children, my step-grandfather, who was in charge of documenting every moment on Kodak. I remember the porcelain cookie and candy dishes Nana filled, the eggnog with a pinch of nutmeg, the flecks of decorative snow we picked off the tree, ornaments attached to everything, and the tiny marshmallows in my cocoa. Nana went all out on Christmas. She used to confess with Sunday school shame, “I hate to say it, but our house is the prettiest on the street.”
My grandfather was perched on a ladder for days decorating the house. All of us children were wrapped in blankets and gathered around the tree in the living room. In order for anyone to cross to the den, they had to navigate around an assortment of limbs, dolls, and toys. Nana made me believe in Santa Claus and the reindeer’s. I reminded her to clean the fireplace before we went to bed so Santa would not be burned.
All of these memories are flushing out from THE CHRISTMAS CAROL, and mirroring the story in a paradoxical way. Because I was a fortunate child, and surrounded by so much love, Christmas is still about that flicker of human kindness, giving presents, and dissolving religious boundaries. A great way to begin the New Year, and with that, I wish you all a Very Happy New Year. .
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