I am sitting here at my kitchen counter, my husband is taking a well-deserved shower after a 15 hour workday, and my children are asleep in their beds (well, almost). The christmas tree lights are on, and my favorite christmas tunes are playing quietly while the oven pre-heats. I have a lot of baking to do, after all. It's quiet all around - the neighbors have finally shut the hell up and gone inside, after hours of hanging out in their driveway talking loudly and "tuning" an engine, while a toddler ran in circles screaming.
(Note: Perhaps your 3 year old is screaming because it is at least an hour past every other child's bedtime, and he is running around the middle of a dark street unsupervised, cold and probably hungry.....Stop yelling at him. Give the kid a meal and and hug, and tuck him into BED. Jesus H.Christ.)
Basically, it's a typical night in the neighborhood. And all is well. And the presents are almost all wrapped, and I am ready to sip tea and make tiramisu for Christmas Eve. I am home. And I am desperately homesick.
Each and every time, it hits me like a punch in the gut. It's like watching that Home Alone movie, where the two robbers just get pummeled, and every time it's a complete surprise. And you would think, the third or fourth time they got cracked across the face with a 2x4 they would have the sense to duck or at least brace themselves. But no. They are always taken unawares, and so am I. Especially around Christmas.
I have said many times, to anyone who will listen, that in a perfect world, I would live in New York half the year, from July 1st to New Years Day, and then I would be in Maui the rest of the time. While Maui is most definitely my home, there is a part of me that struggles with being far from everything that is familiar. There are so many family traditions and fond memories I have: Warm summers in New England, digging clams and pulling lobster pots and riding bikes and eating ice cream on the steps of the Casino in GLP and dancing around bonfires next to the ocean on Cape Cod, wandering from beach house to beach house eating and drinking and laughing and then putting on a sweater and jeans in the cool evenings. And then fall, glorious fall, with the colors and the apples and the wood burning fires and the cold crisp clean air and that sound and smell of the leaves underfoot. Then Thanksgiving, my favoritest holiday of them all, with the Macy's parade at Columbus Circle and then dinner with family, taking a walk after dinner with a glass of wine and a cigarette, through winding country roads until your ears are too cold to stand it for another minute.
But oh, it is hardest at Christmas.
I have a hard time with Christmas, for many reasons....But I can leave my troubles behind in NYC. The holidays in New York are fucking MAGIC and don't let anyone tell you different, because they would be LYING to you. The lights and decorations, the snow if you're lucky, the food and the excitement and the crowds and tea at the Plaza and shopping in FAO Schwarz and oh my god it is just like living inside a goddam snow globe it is so perfect. The Macy's parade kicks off the festivities and Times Square on New Years brings the whole maniacal party to an explosive ending complete with horns and silly string. I can assure you that you have not REALLY celebrated New Years until you have celebrated it with two trannys and an ex-boyfriend who you still slept with from time to time, at some bar a block from Times Square after watching the ball drop from the top of a mailbox swigging a bottle of champagne and wearing a stupid cardboard tiara with glitter and feathers. Because those pictures are priceless and the fact that I threw up for two days afterwards takes NOTHING from the wonderful (albeit very blurry) memories I have of that New Years extravaganza.
So here I sit. No snow. No festivities. No silly string or trannys or ex-boyfriends. No old friends, no visiting old haunts or hanging my pink wool ballet slipper christmas stocking over the fire. No fireplace, for that matter. No taking the train or racing down I95 to Connecticut from wherever I happen to be, to meet up with old friends and extended family. No coffee at the Green Marble, no hard cider from Clydes, no fries at BeeBee Dairy because those bastards went out of business and didn't think of how it would affect me.
Yeah, I'm homesick all right. But it's OK. I live in PARADISE, baby. The only place on earth where you can have a pina colada at 8am and no one bats an eyelash. Where you can parade through Costco at 9am drunk as a skunk in a bikini, a santa hat and a festive sarong, whistling christmas carols and nibbling chocolate dipped macadamia nuts. Where you can lie in the sand on Christmas morning and build a sand castle while sipping mimosas and grilling sausages and pineapple on a hibachi next to your beach chair.
I am going to make the most of it, dammit. I may not be rocking it old school, and I may not be having a traditional white christmas, and there may not be chestnuts roasting by an open fire, but I can take a machete to a coconut and have a fine time leaning up against that palm tree and working on my tan.
9 minutes ago