Friday, January 12, 2007

12-25-2006 – Xmas in the ol’ homeplace

Sitting here in the sleepy-warm semisilent afternoon afterglow, echoes of the morning’s orgy of unwrapping and delight-squeals dying down and its festive remains long since stuffed into two or three guilty blue bags, sipping on the best kind of wine: freely offered, freely poured, freely enjoyed in an atmosphere of… exuberant moderation.

Picking out favorite Christmas memories is tough when your Christmases have been so stable – 26 years of same or similar traditions in the same house, tree in the same corner, erected and decorated by the same parents. Memories hang on hooks of exception, while my field of holiday recollection is a mostly smooth surface of warmth, love and general niceness. This year, though, saw the gruesome resolution of a controversy that’d been simmering since last year: the issue of the Boner Angel.

“I can’t get over it,” my sister-in-law said over her second seasonal Caesar. “That angel has a huge penis!”

“Ah, come on,” my dad replied; “it’s just a Christmas angel! It’s holding up its songbook!”

He was trying to revert the ornament to innocence, but just as you can’t unbreak an egg, you can’t unsee a cock; after two years of repetition, my sister’s bawdy bit of pattern recognition had taken hold of the family’s psyche. Though the angel’s designer might have meant its gilt wireframe to represent a freakishly long-armed angel holding tiny music sheets at a weirdly acute angle, all we could see was a giant golden filigree wang with a squarish knob.

When a few weak suggestions for fixing the problem (“Maybe I could glue a little book on there, so people would know what it was supposed to be…”) failed to generate much enthusiasm, Dad defaulted to direct action. Grabbing hold of the offending unit, he wrenched, bent and twisted the wire until it came off with a metallic snap and the angel was properly sexless. Disturbed, I went into the kitchen to pour myself another as the swirl of vanilla ribaldry (“Now he’s putting it up its butt!”) peaked and faded.

Some people have certain Christmases etched into memory by epic highs or lows: a tree fire, a surprise proposal. I’ll forever have the time my father castrated a Messenger of Joy.

The holiday season, though, is a borderland, the zone of the calendar where old meets new, and I’d already had my winter’s real Magic Memory moment a few weeks previously, with the swearing-in of Steady Eddie Stelmach on the steps of the Legislature. All the changes in every facet of my life found themselves reflected in the public sphere there on the snowpack and drift of the plaza as the Ukrainian men’s chorus hymned in the Year Zero.

Here’s where memories came back to me. How many times had I stood and stomped on those sandblasted sidewalks, chanting against education cuts, health-care cuts, privatization, de-regulation, the gutting of the social state, trying along with hundreds of other desperate Albertans to make our smug fucker of an elected monarch BLINK? To hear the words “I hereby submit my resignation” come out of Klein’s mouth, even ten-odd years after we’d really wanted them to come, raised goosebumps. I joined in the Isotoner-padded applause; it was the only time I’ve clapped for the man.

It’s not exactly time for dancing in the streets to celebrate the Glorious Victory of the People – Steddie’s about as red as Smurf, and anyway the money-black goldrush of provincial pillage and plunder has by now spun unstoppably out of political control – but in this situation, a rest is as good as a change. There was a feeling of humility in the whole affair, from the simplicity of the ceremony to the church-hall cookies n’ coffee served afterward. Even anthemist Paul Lorieau refrained from his trademarked rockstar manoeuvre, though the fact the mic was bolted down might’ve had something to do with that.

All in all, I’m approaching 2007 with good ol’ fashioned “cautious optimism.” I’ve got a fine family, a good woman, a tolerable job, reliable wheels and a government (at every level) that’s at least a half-step back from imperial invincible impunity. Humanity’s staring suicide down the trembling barrel of its handmade shotgun, sure, but… same as it ever was, right?

I’ve gotta run; my brother’s downstairs gearing up for his first-ever round of scrotoss, on the icy city-boundary street where for years we played and fought – the Mountie learning an Indian game on Christmas day. Take care of yourselves in the new year, kids; keep it so real it stops bullets.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Dude, you should listen to Dylan Thomas's Christmas stories. Your first paragraphs sound eerily like him. I have a CD here if you wannit.