Hermie on holiday

No time for nice little essays this week. No intelligible thought whatsoever. My brain is a pile of brown boxes I have to unpack before Sunday. Hermie’s writer persona is on hiatus—The Abominable Snowman is out shopping.

But the sugar plum fairy is in full pirouette. There must be time for cheese, in a cheddar ball encrusted with almonds. Time to wallow in sentimentality … it doesn’t have to be Christian, Dave. Choose a holiday, a theme, a soundtrack, but take advantage of the day off to get in the spirit of something supernatural.

We’ve been sophisticated, skeptical, ironic, even disappointed. We’ve discussed social stagnation and the hope for change. We’ve planned parties, compared cultural touchstones and pushed each other, comment by comment, to sharper ideas. But the six-year-old in me doesn’t care about Bush or the sky melting or commercialism. Somewhere there is a balloon of excitement that only comes out once a year. I don’t love everything about the holiday season, but I cling to specific moments like the tattered edge of a baby blanket and I don’t care who knows about it.

My weekend wish is that if a frazzled, phlegm hacking, working six days a week, smiling but thinking silently (by Dec. 19th) “box-your-own-goddamn-fondue-pot” retail lovely-turned-bitch can find a way to celebrate, then perhaps you can too.

What I love about Christmas (or insert whatever holiday lights your candle):

  • My mother’s Italian chocolate cookies that are shaped exactly like, well let’s just say we call them “lamb droppings,” in honor of the Christ child, of course.
  • Duck. Sweet and crusty on the outside, deliciously greasy on the inside. Makes turkey seem like McDonalds.
  • A Bloody Mary at exactly 10:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. Nothing like religion and birth imagery mixed with vodka.
  • White lights. On anything, houses, trees, windows—no blinking, no color, just stars or fireflies or glitter in the dark.
  • Odetta singing “’O Jerusalem.” If you are going to tell a story, why not sing it in the voice of God? Really, if there is a God, He/She sounds just like this. In fact, let’s just agree Odetta is God.
  • Presents. Stop all your tut-tuts, you know you love them too.
  • Listening to Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory read by my husband every Christmas Eve for the past 20 years. This and the duck—worth keeping him around.
  • A ceramic ornament that was given to us by some unknown person that resembles the creepiest Santa mask ever imagined. We position it every year at the very top of the tree with a bulb shining through the cut-out eyes. We call it affectionately, “Devil Santa.” It made our children’s transition from belief to fable very easy.
  • The Watermans’ fabulously detailed 5-point font Christmas letter. I am ready this year, I have new glasses.
  • Taking a nap at about 10:15 a.m. on Christmas morning. A long nap, knowing that everyone is happily playing whatever gaming system is the fad that year, drifting off into a land without customers or smiles or “Can I help you?” Induced and prolonged with a touch of tomato, clam and Grey Goose. Wake me up when the nog is ready.

10 responses to “Hermie on holiday”

  1. Bryan says:

    I love how this is filed under “Work” and “Slacking off” at the same time. I also love the timing on the bloody mary/nap. And the idea that a bloody Mary is tied up with Christmas birth imagery. My, my.

    Alas, I have given up writing a “Christmas” letter. December is too hectic. For the last few years it’s unabashedly been a New Year letter — which may arrive in February. If any of my new TGW friends aren’t on my list and would like to be, email me your snail address privately. Thanks for the shout-out, P. One of our highlights, of course, is your fabulously creative yet minimalist and cryptic letter every year. I can’t imagine what people who don’t know you very well must think.

  2. G-Lock says:

    You know, Pandora, all throughout my childhood, a lot of people said I reminded them of Hermie the Elf. (Perhaps it was the wispy blonde hair, the nasal voice, or, okay, the fagginess.) To the point that I own a plush doll of the character given to me as a gift by a college buddy.

    Are we going to have to have an Elf Off when we meet?

    Happy Holidays, everyone!!

  3. G-Lock says:

    By the way, excellent post.

    I saw Odetta perform last Christmas at this awe-inspiring “Songs of the Spirit” concert at the famously unfinished Cathedral uptown. Quite honestly, I had never heard of her … but now I will never forget her … um, that is Her.

  4. Dave says:

    Fab post, PB. Of course, it’s the sentimentality I object to as much as the theism. But you’re right — there’s plenty of worthwhile sentimentality this time of year. I’ll drink a bloody Mary in your honor.

  5. Lisa Tremain says:

    Okay, so for me, it’s grandma’s fudge (which I made this year instead of her). Also, Bailey’s on ice. My dad does an excellent job at keeping my glass filled. And the giant fireplace (in Southern California!) and a full stomach and afternoon football.

    Love to all Hermie’s and Grinches and baby jesuses and seasonal whatsit characters.

  6. baby jesus says:

    thanks! right back atcha!

  7. Tim Wager says:

    O, baby Jesus, thank you for stopping in on us. I bet you adore Odetta’s Christmas Spirituals record as much as the rest of us do. After all, it’s all about You!

    (BTW, I saw Odetta once a number of years ago at the Folk Festival in Grant Park in Chicago. She opened a cappella with “Amazing Grace.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the joint, I tell you what.)

    PB, you’ll be glad to know that I’ll join you in retail Hell this weekend. Am right now slacking off at my bookstore job while we rev up for the final push. I’ll think of you on Christmas morning and raise a glass to the end of another season.

  8. jowl x says:

    this is the best post ever. i love baby jesus. happy holidays
    from jowl x

  9. PB says:

    G-Lock–I am anything but wispy and my voice is rather gutteral, so the Elf-Off will have to be about teeth removal. Actually I have never been compared to an elf before Lisa, but I like the schizoid dilemma part. But if you have the plush, I may have to concede.

    And I love how people have responded to Odetta. Re-listen to this song in light of current events, as timely as ever.

    Tim, bless you comrade.

  10. g-lock — we just got your christmas card and woah — you’re right — you did look like hermie.

    i’ve always associated hermie with your brother-in-law, derrick.