As evidenced in Charley’s paintings, vibrant color provides an undeniable sense of life and joy. Taking time off from a youtube marathon of old Debbie Reynolds interviews, this Christmas I embellished a magenta Madonna found laying around the apartment. The holy virgin is now displayed in the hallway transom flanked by vintage Radko presidential ornaments. By conspicuously coupling the holidays I can keep the installation up until mid-February. If not longer.
Starting with the Choo Choo in 1955 when I had just two brothers, Mother put a lot of effort into selecting the family Christmas card. She was not about to let the world forget that in the span of eight years her tiny five foot, 100 pound frame churned out four boys.
I was never big on sending cards but made an effort in the eighties and nineties. They were usually of a “San Francisco Liberal,” or “Gay” theme. Oh hell, what I was trying to say was Christmas is for queers too.
Much to the chagrin of some who married into the family, there was no religion in Mother’s celebration of the holiday. It was a time to get the family together and have fun.
When the internecine politics of divorce and new spouses complicated the formula, there was so much rivalry for the Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning and Christmas Dinner prime-time slots. Mother did the non-obvious thing and laid claim to Supper on Christmas Day. A couple of years ago my nephew said that Mother and I did the best Christmases. When I asked him why he said, “because you gave the best gifts.”
Those in search of the meaning of the day need look no further.
In 1996 when Mother was undergoing chemo we tried to make her feel a little less conspicuous by doing what comes naturally: making fools of ourselves. It was a life-long dream of hers that we have our vision tested. That we would all select the same pair of designer frames was truly an astonishing coincidence.