This is very late, but Strep prevented me from caring. Or sitting up. I am finally better, and antibiotics are miraculous.
I love to win Christmas.
Okay, let’s be real. I love to win. ANYTHING. I have a problem.
I had to stop playing online Scrabble because it was wrecking me, spiritually, in a Gateway-Drug-to-Murder kind of way, taking me down an enraged path leading through Basement-full-of-the-carcasses-of-tortured-lizards Land and from there, straight into IT PUTS THE LOTION ON ITS SKIN City.
But Winning Christmas, for me, is not toxic. To Win at Christmas is to find the secret thing that the person wants but didn’t KNOW they wanted, or that they KNEW they wanted but didn’t think they would get. I had two nice wins this year.
One involved getting in league with Margaret Maron who I met on the now defunct Lipstick Chronicles. (Do you read her? You should read her. She’s fantastic.) She and I did a book exchange; I sent her signed copies of some of my books in exchange for signed copies of some of her early career titles. Did I mention my mother in law is a HUGE fan? Did I mention she couldn’t FIND these particular titles?
My second victory was totally dependent on having the best niece on the planet, and not only superior in the general sense, but specifically be a BRIL photographer.
Luckily, I meet these criteria; I have that niece.
Erin took an amazing picture of my dad at the beach sitting in front of the blinds. It’s a little melancholy. Dad is not a sad person—but something about the stillness of it captures something true about him:
Then she took almost the same picture again, but with Maisy off to the side in a state of kinetic dance frenzy:
I had nice sized versions of them printed out framed together for Mom-N-Dad. At first, the lady at the frame shop tried to put them in the wrong order—-Dad and Maisy on top, and THEN Dad alone under. I was like,
“NO NO NO! You can’t put them in that order. That is a SAD STORY about a quiet man and a loud little girl and then OH NO he is all alone FOREVER. It has to go the OTHER WAY. Then it is a HAPPY story about this still man all quiet and then THE LIVING EMBODIMENT OF JOY ARRIVES!”
She looked at me like I had yawped open my maw and spewed a pound of loon-foam down her front, but she reversed them. AND COME ON! You see it don’t you?
Anyway, it was a BIG win, as it combined the talents of Dance-licious Maisy and Photo-genius Erin (who happen to be my parents’ two favorite girls), and ALSO it had Papa in it (everything is better with Papa in it) and also, PS, TOLD A HAPPY STORY. Mom is so taken with it she is rearranging all the office stuff to showcase it. HEE.
SO I was feeling pretty smug. Feeling like, A WINNER IS ME. Feeling like, I came, I saw Christmas, I conquered.
Then Scott SMOKED me.
Now understand, Scott and I are… a frugal people. Sale rack hounds. Outlet roamers. Heck, we like hand me downs. We don’t care about name brands. We drive our cars until they LITERALLY start leaving huge chunks of engine in the road behind us. We have never bought a new car, and we could win ten mil in the lottery and STILL we would not be physically able to face driving off a lot and losing five thousand dollars in Immediate Car Depreciation. We LOVE to travel, but we Captain Kirk our budget hotels and hoard sky miles and eat cereal for breakfast in the room so we can spend on SEEING AND DOING while we are in the exciting place.
Remember when those BIG HD TVs that are all flat and fancy first happened? They were five thousand dollars, and Scott would stand in Best Buy and look at them with the hunger-eye of the true techno-phile and say, “I can’t wait ‘til something better happens and makes these babies obsolete.”
Granted, there are a few things we will shell out for, because we think it is worth it: Local produce. Organic milk and meat. Our kids’ education. Supporting local charities and outreach programs. Good seats at the theatre. Books and art by writers and artists whose work speaks to us.
And so, for Christmas, he got me a thing I desperately wanted, but did not dare to ask for, even. And it is probably too NICE a thing to go in our cess pit chaotic hole of a dog infested, cat saturated, kid filled house. BUT OH HOW I LONGED FOR IT IN MY COVETEOUS HEART.
He got me THIS.
It came with a limited edition signed print of the VERY photo that was used for the cover of A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY., so I am counting this, somehow, as this book’s Fic-Fact. But really it is a FACT-FIC, because instead of an art object coming out fo the book, the book came out of the picture.
Whenever I got STUCK writing it, I would go look at the picture until I UNSTUCK. All that burgeoning and yearning and offering, the crisp gingham skirt spreading in a fan, the fresh, sweet, hopeful sexuality of it, yet with the slight browning hint of decay and ruin where the air has JUST begun to touch the flesh of the fruit, the temptation inherent in it, the original sin APPLENESS of it all… OH, how I LOVE this image.
Reader, I married it.
I mean, no, Reader, I framed it. Here it is, next to the cover so you can see both:
Scott won. If you celebrate the holiday, I have to ask: Did you win Christmas this year? Or did someone win it and make your Christmas morning? DO TELL.