I had my heart set on a seriously hot pink tinsel Christmas tree. Well, kinda. I saw one in the “Moods of Norway” window in Beverly Hills and fell in love. I took a photo and searched the internet for any last minute “fuchsia + Xmas + tree” ‘s. Sold out.
Eh, who needs a tree anyway when there aren’t going to be presents under it or people looking at it! I mentally hoisted two middle fingers at the internet. And life.
This Christmas is gonna blow.
I’m not going home to see my family in PA this year, because I am too broke. I can lie to myself and say that it’s because it’s such a hectic season and we wouldn’t really get to spend quality time together anyway, but that’s not it. I just can’t miss all that work and I can’t afford the plane ticket (for the price, I could be going to Paris. Making sense, airlines!). But I’m an adult. This is life. It is what it is, I tell myself, because… I don’t know why. I hate that phrase.
I started feeling like this year wouldn’t be memorable in any way – no tradition, new or old, no celebration, no #@%*# holiday spirit. I know it’s not about parties or trees or gifts or cookies or crackling fireplaces with mulled wine and a golden retriever gnawing on a ham bone, wrapped in red and green tartan ribbon. But somehow I find myself longing for SOMETHING. Maybe a little less LL Bean, but something even vaguely meaningful.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at work. Which means I’m driving around Beverly Hills, getting brainwashed into their Christmas (and Hanukkah) spirit. This is the neighborhood that boasts phrases like “What do you give the city that has everything?!” (The answer is the new performing arts center they’re building), and lines its streets with holiday banners that scream “JOY TO THE HILLS!” Beverly HILLS. Not you, world! Suck iiiiiiit!
Bel Air mansions sparkle with blinding amounts of twinkle lights and when their gates open, wreaths that are as tall as me, part triumphantly in the middle like the Red Sea! Sprawling lawns feature all the reindeer, multiple Santas, entire light up choirs, and palm trees bedazzled all the way to their tops. People bustle through Rodeo Drive, hauling giant bags of Prada, Gucci, and Burberry. And extended families gather in jolly parties at restaurants that serve kids spaghetti and meatballs for $35, as Frank Sinatra belts out the hits.
People with STUFF getting STUFF, and the people with nothing, remaining needy. Is this normal? My eyes go “Pretttttyyyyyy!” And my heart goes limp. What world am I in? Where is the heart and soul of this holiday?
I tried to let it go. This is just not the year for all of the above. It’s simple times. No gift exchanging. No glorious meals. No stupid tree that would have been pink and so amazing just with a string of lights. No loved ones. (No squeezing my nephew who is probably the cutest kid I’ve ever laid eyes on.)
I wanted to mock up a Christmas card to send to everyone I know. A photo of just me, with a holiday sweater and a bottle of whiskey, lying face down in the middle of Sunset Blvd. “Joyeux Nöel. Lauren.”
But as soon as I resigned myself to (what I had named “UGH STOP WHINING ABOUT NOT KNOWING WHAT DAY CHRISTMAS IS”), I began to discover gifts from unexpected places. As it turns out, I have crazy thoughtful, generous friends. And family. In my life.
I don’t know if I have realized it as much as now. When I have nothing to give back to them.
My sister sent me a tiny Christmas tree. With a hilarious rhyming poem she wrote about missing me. Of course I cried. The tree even had a small string of lights and 12 itty bitty wooden ornaments, most of which looked like “rustic Hitler angels” doing things with harps. It’s perfect.
I thought about how lucky I am, for these people — I have no idea why they love me so much, but I’m going with it — and that I can spend this year with Ervin. Last year, I was single and not ready to mingle. And now I have this incredible person to do stuff with. A Christmas Miracle! Even if we’re doing nothing special, we can at least go on a hike or watch TV together. Maybe that tow truck show on Discovery Channel. Those chains always look like they’re gonna break. A little Thai food and a beer…. no. Champagne. This is Christmas, afterall.
Suddenly I was feeling connected to people. And really loved. It’s something I’m missing a lot of the year, in Hollywood. Where I’m spending my time proving I’m worth something, and wondering if I am.
So, I’m passing this gift on to you (It’s not a regift. I’m keeping mine and getting you one just like it). I know this time of year is nutty and there are a lot of heightened expectations and wishes (I’m talking to myself), but really, I hope that you feel loved.
Deep down in your soul.
And then, put some of those cookies and mulled wine on top of that, because if there’s an acceptable time to get your carb on, it is now.
There’s all of January to pretend to go to the gym.