Last night for Christmas Eve we went over to my sister’s home. We had baked brie as an appetizer. During appetizer time, Ci-Ci showed us her BB8. As BB8 raced around the room, I waited with baited breath to see whether her BB8 was as dim-witted as ours. Much like I imagine a real parent concerned with their child’s developmental progress would feel, I hoped that if Ci-Ci’s BB8 was smarter than ours, she could give me the remedy for making our BB8 <i>better</i>.
All hope for improvement was cast aside when her BB8 came to a pause, did a slow 180 degree turn, and then glided at full speed toward the staircase, flinging itself down the basement steps, losing its head mid-flight down the stairs. While Ci-Ci looked for BB8’s now-missing head, I thought about the importance of appreciating what I do have. Our BB8 might spend all one hour of its charge stuck in a corner, but at least it isn’t suicidal. I suppose appreciating the blessings you do have is what Christmas is all about.
For dinner we had beef tenderloin, potatoes, mushrooms, crab, asparagus and shrimp. While my sister did the dishes, my dad recommended we watch a 45 minute BBC special on Tajikistan and the celebration of Yalda, entirely in Farsi. Even though David and Ci-Ci don’t speak any Farsi, they made it their own by commenting on the host’s fashionable style and the Middle Eastern musical instruments. After that, it was time for dessert, this year with gluten-free options. Fortunately, all the dessert was still delicious, as gluten-free was a culinary challenge that my mother overcame with months of trial and error.
After dessert, we opened our Costco gifts. Costco gifts are not presents from Costco, carefully selected with the recipient in mind. Costco gifts are pre-wrapped chotzky’s. Each person gets one, and when you open it, there’s an exciting pop and a gift tumbles out. Prospective gifts include a fancy bookmark, a money clip, a mini-flashlight, a pen, dice, and a paperweight. I got the paperweight last year, so I was elated this year to get the pen, what I deemed the best gift in the batch. Within the wrapping there is also a gold crown, made of paper, a corny joke, and a charade recommendation. We all put on our crowns and went around the table telling the jokes. When it was my turn, I opted to tell a joke my dad had shared with me last week, rather than the one written on the paper. After I delivered the punchline, no one laughed, and my dad said I delivered it wrong and re-told it. No one laughed, and my dad explained that it’s not a joke, but rather, a cautionary tale. Then we played charades.
Our family banned conventional gifts many years ago. It was my idea: I explained the practice was too much for my mother, who was always in search of the perfect gifts for everyone, resulting in a series of stressful shopping weeks for her. But really the practice was too much for me. Upon receiving a velour jump suit from my mother in 2001, which was so far from the perfect that even the thought of pretending to love it was deeply distressful, I vowed to end the spirit of Christmas giving for everyone I love.
After charades we gathered around to leave. I was the last to exit her home, and my sister handed me a box of Toblerones with 5 sticks in it. She instructed me to distribute the boxes amongst the family. I kept them all for myself, because I love Toblerones. Merry Christmas!