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The Christmas Card

Poet Dobby Gibson notes that the average temperature in the universe is estimated at minus-456 degrees. That makes “room temperature” a miracle.
So please proceed in your day knowing that you live in the only comfortable place for millions of miles. Proceed as if – in that random way – you are very, very blessed.
Me, I’d rather have a cottage than a mansion, a dog than a racehorse, a kite than a motor yacht.
I’d rather go for a long hike on a leafy trail than spend two hours in some fussy restaurant. I’d rather have a hotdog at a Dodger game than caviar at a Michelin-star table.
Sure, I appreciate the finer things. But only when they come with mustard and a cold beer.
That said, please bring on Christmas, the finest thing we know.
While sitting around a sports bar the other night, I didn’t miss Paris one bit, or St. Moritz or any other fussy-fancy-overpriced place I’ve ever visited.
At this sports bar, they cut the cheeseburgers in half … you didn’t even have to ask. Needless to say, I felt very, very blessed.
Moments earlier, we’d taken our annual family Christmas photo. Our backdrop, a mango sky, the kind of sunset that always attracts a good crowd.
We asked a stranger standing nearby: “Would you mind taking our photo? It’s for our Christmas card.”
“Twenty bucks,” she quipped.
FYI, California is one big photo studio, best in the world. There is that seasonal light, a bluish Disney aluminum, that filters down through the December clouds.
“Hurry!” I say as we line up for the photo, though I have the kind of kids who, soon as you say “Hurry!” they slow down just a tiny bit.
So, we arrived at the beach a little late, right about the time God lit his afternoon cigar. You could tell from the glow, the gasps, the embers.
Cakes was mesmerized … her eyes like crystals. At 19 months, my granddaughter is not yet so old, so jaded, that she doesn’t appreciate the quivery western lip of this great country, and the way the waves try to kiss her toes when she’s not watching.
Oh, Catty Cakes … what a Christmas this will be. As it is, you wake up each day — as toddlers do — with the expectation that someone will pamper you, take you in their arms, that your house will be at room temperature. Indeed, you are very, very blessed.
Savor it while you can. With the right mom, it lasts about 18 years. After that, you’re pretty much on your own.
As someone recently noted, all the magical Christmases of our childhoods were merely the result of a mother who loved us. That is where the magic of Christmas really exists, within the moms.
Doesn’t all magic?
Honestly, pretty sure my beautiful late wife hated Christmas, even as she nailed it every time.
I know this because, as we finished Thanksgiving every year, Posh got a gloomy look in her eye and sighed: “I hate Christmas.”
Makes me wonder: Did my mom secretly hate Christmas, too? Don’t think so. But maybe.
Christmases are self-portraits, they’re memoir. The way we celebrate says a lot about us. Are we obsessive? Are we quietly content? Are we envious/angry when others show unrestrained delight?
I can crank on Christmas, mock it for the bloat, the greed, the giant red bows on expensive German sedans. It’s almost too easy.
Whenever I’m looking for deeper meaning, I turn to the classics: “Elf,” for one. It is a near-perfect holiday movie. For laughs, “The Ref” is terrific, too — the smartest holiday comedy I know (bet you didn’t see that one coming).
Conversely, the adaptations of “The Grinch” all blow, so stick with the brilliant original, as well as the 1965 masterpiece, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
I see Lucy as a Madonna figure, and Snoopy as the evil corporate tool. Note how every Christmas story has a greedy antagonist: The Grinch, Scrooge, Mr. Potter, Frank Shirley.
Funny how Americans set up a holiday defined by gifts, promote it with all sorts of gooey Proustian moments, then tear it down piece by piece. It’s illogical on every level. And kinda confusing.
Just remember, we all probably know someone battling cancer right now. If not that, then we know someone battling demons, evil bosses, lousy mates, mean siblings, a brutal economy, self-doubt, bad dreams, no dreams, depression, oppression, or epic personal loss.
This season offers them candlelight and small, quiet joys. It gives everyone reason to celebrate in a world riddled with worry.
In that warmly random way, we are blessed.

For books and past columns, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com.

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