Christmas, All Its Glory and Ghostliness

26 Dec


Last year at Christmas I said to Noah, “Next Year in Beverly Hills!” A desperate prophecy, or unsuccessful joke? A few weeks later my bags were packed, my furniture in storage, and the Ithaca apartment rented. Noah was setting up a (precarious) life in Queens.

I drove out in a blizzard;  six days later I arrived at my old friend Natasha’s tiny apartment on Reeves Drive, right across from *my* new tiny apartment on Reeves Drive. Eleven months later, I am spending Christmas in the unholy Holy Land, City of Angels, Demons, and Highly Desirables. (This is my tiny tree in the tiny apartment on Reeves):

IMG_1606Spending it with Noah:

Noah, thoughtful, at Malibu And Natasha:Nic and me  arrival in LANatasha is single again.  She had moved into a place with Marcus a few months after I arrived. And then last week, she found her own place, a few blocks from here.  To quote T.S. Eliot:

Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future/And time future contained in time past.

(Burnt Norton, Four Quartets.)

I won’t quote the rest because it’s a little depressing, and basically I just want to say that “all time is eternally present.” As it happens,that’s what Eliot said too. I also want to say what you know well, Dear Reader: This Christmas makes you think about last Christmas, and every other Christmas.  It’s a holiday that frames one’s sense of family, community, God knows what else.

I already mentioned last year. Going back in time, (you do that too) here’s a memory  from three years ago–when Noah was off to Ithaca College. When I was trying to sell the big old farmhouse. When Felix the dog was alive (note ribbons around Felix’s neck; that’s how you know it’s a Christmas pic–he insisted on wearing our presents’ ribbons):IMG_1605

Further, much further. (What is your picture?)

IMG_1601This was taken by my mother. She was still alive. And Noah was three. I was. . .young.

Further back:

IMG_1595 That was the year that my mom got me the book Little Raccoon And the Thing in The Pool.  You can’t tell it’s Christmas, but the tree is in the background. As is my dad, who took the photo.

Way way back:IMG_1602I am holding some kind of ornament–all of my German-Irish tribespeople were crazy about tree decorations. I’m saying, in Holiday Red Tights: I got a thing here, right?

And here are Audrey and Dick, before me, before all the trouble:

IMG_1594So  that’ s as far back as I can go.  Ghosts of Christmas past. . .they always visit this time of year. Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present…

This year, Noah and I went to a performance of the Messiah at the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. My stepmother Cleo gave us the tickets as a Christmas gift. She is the woman who loved Dick after Audrey did.  And  divorced him after Audrey did.  And has mothered me, after my parents died fifteen years ago.

Noah, fascinated by all things religious and musical, loved the performance. I told him about how my dad and mom, separately, (atheists both) played The Messiah very loud every  Christmas and Easter. I told him how Grandpa Dick would bellow,  “WE LIKE SHEEP” making it sound as if it meant simply that we sinners were fond of  wooly creatures.

This is the 2013 Christmas picture I insisted on:


After the Messiah, I drove Noah to his apartment, and he told me what he knew about Jesus (from Cleo).  Then I turned around and drove back to the tiny apartment in Beverly Hills, thinking of my parents, Noah, Natasha, some layered history.  (I had to stop to get espresso at Starbucks.) And I kept thinking of this bit in Part The Third, after the Hallelujah chorus (how to follow that?!)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: we/shall not all sleep but we shall/all be changed in a  moment, in/the twinkling of an eye, at/the last trumpet.

Yes, we shall/could/should all be changed in a moment…

Looking at my years of Christmases, I am thankful for an unconventional cycle of  family and friendship. (Someone has a sense of humor.) And the ghosts of Christmas Past are around to remind us: Time Present. Merry, Merry, Dear Reader!


3 Responses to “Christmas, All Its Glory and Ghostliness”

  1. elainemansfield December 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    We’ve become a Solstice tribe. Vic wasn’t attached to Christmas or any holiday much, but we celebrated Christmas Eve as a family because of his mom. After his death, I created a Solstice Ritual with remembrance, grief, hope, and lots of candles and pine cones. This is the easiest time to get both sons home at the same time, although not this year so I held two Solstice rituals. Each more intimate and heart-opening than the other. Christmas? I felt sad after Vic died, but I think I always felt sad and disappointed and depressed from eating mindless amounts of cookies. It never quite measured up to collective TV expectations, so now I celebrate the Return of Light and the Child Within Who Is Always Awed by lights, sunsets, and human craziness. Blessed Solstice, even in LA. I love your stories of Christmas past and hearing the Messiah with Noah. Beautiful words.


  2. kwasson2012 December 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on lostandlaughinginla.


    • kwasson2012 December 26, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

      Thank you, Elaine. The Child Within–yes, that is worth celebrating.


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