Thursday, December 17, 2009
Dear Santa: Please bring me a new daddy
Since I was fifteen, I've spent pretty much every Christmas with my father. Normally at this time of year we'd be leaving for Berkeley for a few days of Christmasy action, followed by a brief vacation at our favorite hotel in Healdsburg, CA. (The name of this fine hotel is nameoftown + the word hotel.) We'd be looking forward to lying around in very soft sheets, having a massage or two, and dining at some nice restaurants. (Last year we had dinner at C.y.rus, the venue of this season's final T.op Che.f episode! I'm vegetarian, so have to say "eh" about the experience. I know the stereotypical chef detests vegetarians, and that's fine by me, provided he or she cooks me something delicious. Plus some other diner had left a bottle of very expensive wine near our table--bringing your own wine is a whole big thing--and the many officious waitpersons kept offering to open it for us, thinking it was ours. So it was like a test of our moral strength the whole time.) But my father inconsiderately died in April, six weeks after an adenocarcinoma diagnosis. This has sucked more than words can express--he was my good parent, and plus, there goes my traditional Christmas plan. So we decided to say home this year. But I didn't want my dad's girlfriend of about fifteen years to feel like she didn't have options, so I asked her to spend Christmas with us. And my brother's children are now old enough that they can travel relatively easily, so I asked him and his family to come as well--their first visit to our house. And of course then I needed to invite my other brother (an awesome 23-year-old who recently moved to LA to become a screenwriter). And then I felt like I had to invite my mother and her recovering-alcoholic boyfriend. No disrespect intended--major props to him for being a recovering alcoholic, but he has asked my mother not to drink around him, and she is way easier to deal with after a glass of wine. Plus he looks disapprovingly at the rest of us as we get as drunk as possible. So, next week six adults and two children will descend upon my house. We are putting them all up! I'm anxious about feeding them, and about deflecting pregnancy-related inquiries, but think they will actually not push. I'm also anxious that I will fall into the role of spinster aunt who has to ask a lot of questions about what is and is not okay for the children. Can your five-year-old have knives? How about bleach? Should I not ask your three-year-old to light the fire? And of course I worry that I won't be able to keep my sadness about my father not being there in check. Today I got a Christmas card from his parents with a little note: A bad year, but things will get better. This from two people who are basically on their deathbeds. Fuck it, I'm going to try to believe them, at least for the next few weeks.