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The Season Of Giving

The holidays loom again, and isn't it funny how we use the word “loom,” with its slightly dire connotation, to describe the approach of this most joyous of seasons. You know what else “looms”?

Giants, coming to grind your bones to make their bread. Thunderstorms, with their freight of flood and fire. Days to dread, like the end of summer for schoolchildren or the date of execution for the condemned. You'd almost think there was something to be feared about spending time with and money on people you'd really rather not, eating too much, and undergoing a full-scale blitz from the producers and purveyors of shiny things to soften you up enough to consider buying their stuff a reasonable proposition.

But there I go again, waxing cynical when my original intent was to spread a little holiday cheer, so before my inner misanthrope reasserts I would like to wish all of my, and our, readership a very merry Christmas.

May your puddings be uncommonly figgy, your nogs similarly eggy, and your pop unaccountably Iggy.

May your gifts with thought and care be chosen your turkey on time be completely unfrozen

May your beans amandine be resplendently green (just the greenest of beans that you ever have seen) 

May the mantelpiece groan with the weight of our stockings. Your door reverberate with agreeable knockings

As neighbors and friends on your homestead descend with giftings and holiday cheer to extend 

May the carolers croon just at times opportune, 

Not too late nor too soon (like at midnight or June) 

May their harmonies mesh and they all be in tune. 

May the cider you age be an ass-kicking brew. May it knock all partaker's hats slightly askew. 

May its natural kick not make anyone sick, and may no one enjoy it more than ol' Saint Nick, 'Cause we know he enjoys getting lit with the boys in between distribution of all those damn toys.

So Santa, hoist it high! Here's mud in your eye! But could you please try not to get a D.U.I?

'Cause the kids need the swag you've got stashed in your bag and Christmas at Low Gap is (trust me) a drag 

May your rooftop be rated to withstand the weight, and your chimney able to accommodate 

Santa's morbid obeseness (you may have to grease it), and stay up all night with the fire to police it 

'Cause if that dude alights on the coals and ignites, It'll give the kids frights right up until Twelfth Night. 

May the cat not eat tinsel and puke up his guts, And may peanuts not dominate in the mixed nuts.

May the tree's needles hold like the vendor foretold, 'cause the price that you paid makes that green more like gold 

So let's hope it stays young with its balls all well hung, and its garlands of popcorn and berries well strung. 

May all the imbibers maintain their decorum, and not use the holiday quorum as a forum, to air their pet peeveses like Festivus grievances, after all, it ain't their goldang birthday, it's Jesuses'. 

May all Mendocino, from apex to nadir

From Westport to Willits; from Leggett to greater 

Downtown Point Arena and points in between 

From the valleys verdant to the saline marine 

Have a Christmas so fine that you won't even mind 

Being hung over, broke, and three payments behind.

It's the season of giving, so give til it stings and embrace everything that the Yuletide time brings. 'N at the end of the year when you're sated with cheer, You might just think I am the lucky one here.

* * *

Yeah, Christmas in prison sucks, but so does every other day.

My last honest-to-gosh surrounded-by-loved-ones Christmas was in 2001, at my in-laws in Conifer, Colorado, under a blanket of fresh powder, and a Christmas-ier setting there never was. Since then, I've either been locked up or had the sort of non-Christmas common to those for whom holidays are just wrenches thrown into our mission to get and stay high. With an exception or two, including the following notable one.

My friend Joseph is absolutely apeshit for holidays, so much so that the intervening time between them is solely dedicated to preparing for the next one. Right now, for example (mid-November), Thanksgiving is in the can, with Christmas and New Year's in the staging area ready for deployment and St. Patrick's waiting in the wings. I suspect that eventually American holidays will be insufficient to satisfy his worsening celebratory addiction, and he will adopt the feasts and festivals of other nations and cultures to fill all the empty space on the calendar.

Shortly after I met Joseph, I was at his house on Christmas Eve, doing some drug business with his roommate when he asked me if I had any plans for Christmas dinner. I said that what I had were not so much plans as an expectation of being spun out enough to be able to forget it was anything but another day, and not eating anything at all. He invited me over and I was touched enough by the gesture to accept, though not without a little trepidation and reservation. A fellow like myself with a soft, creamy center must needs be scrupulous about erecting and maintaining the necessary walls to shield his core, and attending holiday functions is really just asking for it. Nevertheless, I agreed to show up and fully intended to.

The following morning — Christmas 2004 — I wondered if I hadn't been rash and vacillated all day about it, fully expecting to keep thinking about it until it was too late and a decision was made by not deciding, but as some point I said, why the hell not?, and made my way over to Joseph's.

The dining room was illuminated by elegant golden tapers set in elaborate silver candelabra. The walls and table were decorated, not with shiny ticky-tack dime-store ornaments but beautiful vintage Victoriana. Each place was set with fine china, gleaming sterling cutlery, and crystal stemware.

Sparkling wine accompanied the turkey and all his traditional accompaniments. I was very pleasantly astonished by the scene and said to Joseph, "It's like a real storybook Christmas!"

He beamed radiantly — clearly that was his precise aim — and sat me down, where I proceeded to have one of the loveliest Christmas dinners in recent memory. The company was odd, being mostly made up of semi-homeless teenagers and degenerate tweakers like myself, but Joseph's efforts had overlain our foibles and differences with sincere holiday enthusiasm. Aside from some dangerous levels of emotion which constantly threatened, the evening was a smashing success and not one I’ll soon forget.

This is to be my penultimate Christmas in the stripey hole, and I fully expect in 2018 to be back in the bosom of my family and spending the holidays in the usual fashion — dredging up old slights and grudges and airing them out at the dinner table. There'll probably be tears, and maybe a few injuries — we're not a family that skimps on alcohol — but we will be together, and that's all that matters.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

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