Friday, December 18, 2009

Holly Jolly Very Merry Shit to Do

Christmas is a week away and that means there is nonstop holiday shit to do. I’m not complaining. I love holiday shit, so much so that I don’t even mind when Walmart is playing Christmas carols in mid-November. I know it drives other people crazy. I know it’s a deplorable display of the very worst conspicuous consumerism to which the holiday has been reduced. But I don’t care. Hearing Dean Martin croon “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” makes me so damn merry I don’t know what to do.

Of course, I don’t need to think too hard about what to do with all my holly jolly very merry because, remember, there is nonstop holiday shit to do. I’m no Mommy Poppins, master calendar-izer, but I will tell you what we’ve done this December in the way of cheer:

Santaland at Macy’s

Please see yesterday’s post for more specific instructions. This year’s visit was a success since we sailed through the line and the children sat next to Santa all by themselves (does anyone ever sit on Santa’s lap anymore? Aren’t there laws against that?” This was a welcome development because I really hate being in the kiddie Santa pic. Don’t know why, since I have a high threshold of embarrassment, but cozying up to Santa for a snapshot really makes me feel like a major a-hole. I find the Macy’s Santas to be great, by the way, very soft-spoken, take their time, with no trace of alcohol on their breath. The kids were too bewildered, shocked and confused to tell Saint Nick what they wanted for Christmas (Primo: a mechanical bat (help??) and Sec: the ability to chew gum) but no big deal, because Santa just asked how they’d like it if he surprised them. We wanted to catch our favorite local puppet theater, Puppetworks, doing Miracle on 34th Street, on the same floor as Santaland but the timing didn’t work out. Heard it was great, though – made a grown man cry.

Charlie Brown Christmas at the Brooklyn Lyceum

Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown? Despite the fact that much of it flies over their head, both my kids watch the Great Pumpkin and the Christmas show religiously every year. It is thanks to Charlie Brown that Primo now calls his sister a blockhead. But this year, we took our Charlie Brown fan-ship to a new level but watching a live performance of it, accompanied by a jazz trio at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Maybe I’m just starved for theatrical nourishment, but both David and I thought it was frickin’ delightful, especially to the tune of $30 for four tickets. The actors replicated every vocal intonation and gesture of the cartoon characters, from Snoopy’s piano-side dance to the collective laugh at Charlie Brown when he picks out a pathetic tree. Almost avant-garde. Kind of reminded me of a Richard Maxwell play, House, I saw a million years ago. I’m not sure how it compares with Streetcar but thanks to BAM’s exorbitant ticket prices, I guess I’ll never know. .

The Colonial Nutcracker at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts

At bedtime, we’ve been reading Primo E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker, which I’ve had for decades and never once cracked open. I never thought he’d make it more than a page or two because the language is really dense -- makes Lewis Carroll look like an Easy Reader. But he is mesmerized, mainly thanks to Godfather Drosselmeier. So we downloaded the suite onto his secondhand ipod shuffle and now he’s obsessed with the music, too. So we figured it was a good time to introduce him to the Nutcracker ballet. I opted for this one over the New York Theater version for one reason: the tickets costs $6, instead of $35. Was a good thing too because although Primo was raring to go, after the first half hour he was restless and by the end he was loudly asking, “WHEN is this going to be OVER?? I am TIRED of watching people DANCE.” But all in all, he did enjoy it although he was dreadfully disappointed by the fact that the Mouse Kind only had one head. Me too. I mean, when you’re expecting a seven-headed rodent, just the one head is a big letdown.

Sunday Mass at Saint Francis Xavier

I figured I should include this in the holiday preparations, although I wouldn’t say it was fun, necessarily. I mean, the mass part was fine. I love our church. But the getting there was kind of a Herculean trial. Primo is now scared of the Bible (can’t blame him really, that is some scary stuff) so he screamed and whined the whole way over, refused to go to the Children’s Liturgy of the Word even though I always go with him, and then he informed me (loudly) that the beautiful choir music was “very awful-sounding.” But it was a nice antidote to all the shopping madness that’s heating up to hear a message about sharing love and peace and joy with others.

So I’ll leave you with that. Peace! Joy!