Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas

I was doing such a good job of avoiding the combined ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. I went to most of the parties, sure - there are friends I only see this time of year, and I hibernated most of November to prepare. And if I was religious I would've gone to mass. Beyond that, I was skipping it. I was sick of it. Or, more specifically, sick of the shopping orgy that accompanies the holiday.

The local news run non-stop accounts of how merchants are doing, and what stores are open when, and gee I hope they sell more stuff than last year. They tag on a few milliseconds about 'of course it's not about the shopping it's about Christ' - and then it's back Live from the Mall. Jay tells me that his kid came back from kindergarten with a bag full of toys - some of the mothers went shopping for every kid in the class. Friends are sending their nephews and nieces cash, because the kids already have everything they could want. It's giftcards for Amazon, Starbucks, or Macy's for the adults.

And I just cannot find the meaning in any of this. There's no thought and little love in any of this. It's gone overboard. I was opting out.

My record was almost flawless. The men in my office managed to kibbosh gift-giving this year (and oddly enough, it was our Chinese Buddhist clerk who was most upset by this). I only went to the mall once, and that was for Ron's birthday. I didn't do cards (though I'm feeling a bit guilty at the ones I've received, and haven't opened them yet). No tree. No lights. No party. No nothing beyond dinners with good friends.

I'll make up for some of this, sure. I'll buy presents while I'm in Egypt for friends and family. I'll do a party this summer - it was too rainy to open my yard this winter anyways. And I kind of liked making cookies, though I did cook a big meal for the surf house and I'll probably cook for the Swamp Pigs this February.

Mid week went to Rudy and John's for cocktails. Saturday Cliff had a party, and it was all the usual gang. Spent a pleasant night with Peter after one of his shows. Went to David and Roger's at their awesome new house in Kalihi Christmas eve. It was all so nice. So non-commercial. So much more in the spirit of the season. Tomorrow is Fred and Boyd's dinner at Grand Cafe, which should be an awesome way to wrap up the holidays.

I dodged the commercialism, and I dodged every ghost of Christmas past.

And I could have made it straight through unscathed. I guess I did ... but other friends weren't so lucky.

I called D_ mid Christmas morning. His boyfriend is on the mainland, and we'd made plans to drink the day away. We've done it before. We're good at it.

His brother had just died a few hours before.

D_ had just moved back from California, vowing to stay put this time & never return. His family is still there. His brother, 43, married, and with two kids, had had some chest pains that morning. He went in to the hospital for a check-up, and collapsed in the hall. They couldn't revive him.

D_ and I spent the rest of the day and a lot of the night together. Sometimes talking, sometimes just drinking bloody Mary's and watching silly movies on tv (South Park Christmas, Kathy Griffin's special, The Simpson's Movie, and the new Hairspray). A friend of his, Jose, joined us later and we went out for dinner at Senor Frog's and one final nightcap at Tapa's.

He's doing alright, though I suppose it wasn't real yet for him. He should have arrived back in Cali a few hours ago, which means it all should have hit him by now. He's one of my closest friends, and I did my best even though there's not much anyone can do, and it was a pleasant day ... but one with the ghost of death lurking in the background. There was the very real one in his family, of course, but there was also that awful awareness that, for all of us, the future will hold many more days like this.

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