Christmas Eve in L.A.

There isn’t any snow on the ground but there’s some on the top of the peaks east of Pasadena. It looks like someone tried to cover them with a white sheet. The sky is a longingly deep shade of blue. I went snowboarding yesterday and my face is wind-chapped and pink. It’s Christmas Eve in L.A. and you can feel it in the air.

I hope your chestnuts are roasting in a way to your liking.

I stopped by Rite Aid to buy a picture frame and they had to open two more registers because of how long and hostile the line grew. I was buying the frame for a newlywed couple, dear friends of mine, as a quasi wedding/Christmas gift/thoughtful act. I saved their invitation stationary and put it in the frame. I had planned to include a wedding photo but never got around to it. It looked a little tacky and cheap, not even ghetto-fabulous, just ghetto, but it’s the thought that counts, right. Right?

Tell that to Paris Hilton.

I hope your night is silent and your yule tide log lights easily.

Some stores were closed but most were desperately trying to lure in last-minute customers with willing checkbooks. Melrose was quiet and kinda felt like a weekend day, but with more solemnity. This peaceful vibe was interrupted by an act of Road Rage occurring between an older Persian man in a Mercedes convertible and a young Latino in a Camry. Things got real heated when I heard the older guy yell, “Fuck your mother!” The Latino started to move towards the man just as some men came out of a cigar shop hollering that it’s Christmas and the light turned green, and, so, I don’t know how the incident turned out.

I don’t wrap any gifts. Truth be told, I don’t buy any gifts so it’s not like I’m really not wrapping anything. But if I do give a gift, I’ll just give it to you in its original wrapping. The surprise is not what I got you, it’s that I got you anything at all.

I hope you get a partridge in a pear tree (if that’s your thing).

I don’t mean to paint myself as some Scrooge, a lowlife that despises parting with his cash, some ungrateful louse. It’s not a matter of cheapness. It’s just that I’m not good at taking part in customs. I don’t get why I would send you some card with ‘Thank You’ stamped stupidly on it if I’ve already told you to your face. Am I out of line, America?

Back in high school I used to go down to the Santa Monica Pier on Christmas Eve with my friends and indulge in the quietness. We would hang out casually on the railing observing the old fishermen and the lights of the city behind us, reflecting on the year and our relationships. I remember one year watching a grizzled old man lift a silvery fish out of the dark water. The thing was no bigger than a Twinkie. Out there, hovering fifty feet over the ocean, you get the sense that there’s no where else to go, we’re further west than you can get on land and China is way too far to swim. It produced both a feeling of melancholy and excitement. It was sort of a Christmas tradition for me.

I hope your mistletoe hangs over the head of the one you love.

This is the time for drinking wine and reflecting on the good things the year brought. It’s a time for sharing whispers with a friend in a corner while nearby a fire crackles and whips about. I’m drinking some wine I can’t even pronounce and am getting ready to lash a scarf around my neck and amble down to a friend’s for cider and chat.

The night is gentle and quiet, yet at heart wild and untamed, like a sleeping doe. A folk song plays from my Mac. Artofstarving and I are dancing under the kitchen light. A lambent flame reflects on the wall, pulsing. Things are simple and calm. People are smiling at each other for a change. My simple Los Angeleno heart is warmed. In an ideal world snow would be flitting down from the clouds in soft, white flakes so pure and fragile they melt instantly in your hot human hand.

I hope the wise men bring you gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And maybe something practical as well.

Christmas bells hanging on cedar pines chime when the trains pass on the bluff outside of town, their whistles twisting together cold and forlorn, their rumbles shaking the very Earth. This town is very off-the-map and depleted of any life force by the mere banality of its surroundings. Ma goes out on the porch to shoo away the birds and a truck belches up a cloud of noxious, vaporous fumes that unsettles a hound sleeping in the dirt. There’s a touch of snow resting fur-like on the boughs of the pines, it’s the only thing that is worth anything around here.

(I’m really having a hard time resisting writing, ‘did you see what I did there?’. It feels juvenile and lame to point out something that is intended to be subtle; so instead I came up with the idea of framing the question like it’s just some hip, internal dialogue thing I’m doing. By putting it inside parenthesis — like you’re inside my mind, man — I get to point out how the only thing missing in the above paragraph was snow and in the below it’s the only thing that was worth anything at all; and this way I made sure you know what I did there, without feeling like I was hammering it over your head. But really: Hammer. Hammer. Hammer.)

I hope your jolly St. Nick brings you everything on your Wish List.

A helicopter flies overhead, alerting me that nothing too out of the ordinary is going on in the city tonight, on the Eve of the anniversary of the birth of our lord. Peace and Goodwill only stretches so far. We are humans after all. Somewhere right now a criminal act was committed, possibly something heinous.

I’ll admit though, there is something about the Peace and Goodwill vibe that I kinda like. I hope I don’t sound like a hippie, especially not a ‘dirty hippie’, when I say that we should all realize the oneness that connects us and how we’re attached to each other by invisible strings and instead of playing the game of ‘spot our differences’ we should let go of our tribal impulses and conduct a revolution of Love.

I hope everyone out there has a merry Christmas.


One thought on “Christmas Eve in L.A.

  1. merry christmas aos. fantastic piece of writing. i so enjoy your LA vision, being here, kneedeep in snow,
    it is your distinct view of the place that gets me. it makes me “be there” and notice the things that decorate the surface. and in such noticing i can not help but reflect on the depth.
    i used to come out there once a year sometimes twice, when i travelled for the tradeshows(with a ‘home furnishings’ art director job) the gourmet show sometimes in LA sometimes in SF. My impression of LA seeing only hotel rooms and conference rooms and crowded booths, was limited. we did do the mulholland drive and all but my feeling was that everything was tan and yellow and cumin spice was in the air. your writing brings a greening ‘its alive’ feeling. much enjoyed, thanx

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