Thursday, December 16, 2010


This is the conversation I just heard from the neighbor children in reference to the Christmas lights on the houses.
Sister, about 5 years old. "Oh, look! The entire community is all lit up!"
Brother, about 6 years old. "It's not called a community. It's called a neighborhood."
Sister, "So what."
Brother, "Remember! We did this last year and it really works!"
Then the brother, for whatever reason looks up at the lights on his house, cups his hands over his mouth and says, "Echo! Echo! Echo!"
Sister does the same thing, "Echo! Echo! Echo!"
Remember being little and waiting for Christmas and how it was the most exciting thing ever! My parents had this Ceramic Nativity scene. It was small. But the thing that made it an insane mystery was that the little wooden crib was empty. Then on Christmas morning, the baby Jesus would appear laying in the crib! You know, because Jesus wasn't born until Christmas morning? I remember coming around the corner and there was Jesus! And where there was Jesus, there was presents!
On my research for this investigative journalistic piece of work, I asked my mom, "Where did you guys keep the ceramic baby Jesus until Christmas morning?" After about 15 minutes of mumbling, "It seems like we didn't have a very good system on that. We put Jesus in different spots. Some years, we would have to look for him because we couldn't remember where we put him."
At some point, the baby Jesus's head was busted off because of what my parents called our 'rough-housing'. Several ceramic icons were injured, but not to the level of the baby Jesus. The head was glued back on but the baby Jesus just didn't look right.
I remember another Christmas where we were doing the Christmas pageant. You know, with all the biblical celebrities. Mary, Joesph, the wise men, Jesus. I was so excited about my part. It wasn't a speaking part. And if my memory serves me, it was the only non speaking part, but it was a very powerful moment and I was going to deliver it with such depth that the audience would gasp at the emotion I brought to the character. I believe the actual character was written on the script as 'Walking Child'. I had practiced ahead of time for weeks. All I had to do was carry a 'challis', that had pretend wine in it, down the center isle of the church and set it on the alter. Then walk back. That was my part. That was what I practiced. I still have no clue what part the glass of Chard had to do with the birth of Jesus but I was just honored to be involved.
Right before I am going to rock their world, my nose begins to bleed. Then I faint. The Priest, an amazing man, Fr. Gene was looking over me fanning me with something. Turns out I didn't have an understudy for that role. They grab some kid wearing a vest and shiny black shoes out of the audience and say, "Take this and set it on the alter." The rage made my nose bleed more that this fucking amateur random kid was stealing, let's face it. The role of a lifetime. It was complete bullshit. Not just anyone could be 'Walking Child'. It was a role not unlike that of Meryl Streep in Sofie's Choice except we were not in Germany and there was less bombing in the background.
The main thing I remember about Christmas when I was a kid was, well, the utter disappointment. Sorry mom and dad! But the only time you really got in the game was the year you bought us bikes? And the other year that you got the boys chemistry sets. One year I got an easy bake oven. That was the year I realized that nothing in my life was going to work out. The easy bake oven came with ONE cake mix. And they didn't sell them. So you bake one little cake? It's over. The toy is not only no longer fun, there is no function for it. I tried to make it in to a Barbie house, which is what I actually wanted. I would pretend it was their hotel. I'd lay them on the racks. Then take them off the racks. That was it. I took the actual rack out and then the Barbies could sit in there like they were on a bus trip or something. You know it takes three minutes to eat your little cake the size of a bisket, then you realize you were completely screwed by Fisher Price. I spent the day mumbling, "Bullshit." My brothers thought this was hysterical, "Hey, Dina! When will the cake be ready!" Me, "Fuck off." I was ten.
But what was the real idea of Christmas? That little baby Jesus. In the manger. Surrounded by the wise men, one of which had an arm broken off and the sheep with one ear. With Mary and Joesph in all their glory looking down at the baby Jesus. And the baby Jesus looking at them. With white glue on his throat and his head cocked to one side. That's what it's all about. The birth of Jesus at a Marriott in Dubai. I haven't read the bible in a while so I could be improvising that last part. But it's the traditions that create the love at Christmas. For me, it was that Nativity scene. For my kids, it's the Coach purse. We all have something that makes the holiday magic. For some kids, it's standing in the front yard and saying, "Echo! Echo! Echo!" I hope they heard some sort of echo. I wonder if when they grow up they will take their children out to the front yard and teach them to echo. I think it's a really nice idea:)

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