12/25/02 Day IV of our


Day IV of our Baby-Needs-Shoes Khristmas Kavalkade Road Trip of Pure Altruism

Iowa City, IA

Say what you want about my family (and many, including me, have) but we do Christmas right. Even this year, at 35, it remains a magical time for me, so you can guess the kind of ridiculous month-long fetish that built up in the years we were in our single digits. The only tradition we forgot this year was the addition of oranges in our stockings a holdover from our late 19th and early 20th century forbears, who considered oranges such a delicacy in their Utah farms that a single fruit could make Christmas a success. We mentioned the lack of oranges to Mom today, and she said “tough.” I suppose there were plenty of holidays when her great-great-great grandmothers said the same damn thing.

Sean and I kickin’ it Father Christmas-style in 1977 London

Tessa got me the best present, of course: a new Palm m515 handheld with the works. I’d been using her hand-me-down Palm V for two years and it didn’t even turn on anymore. In turn, I made it three gift-givings in a row with jewelry, as I stole her childhood emerald (slightly cloudy, but fascinating) and had it set into a gold ring with tiny diamonds on the side. Doing this was no mean adventure, especially during the talk of the transit strike. I found my way into many dungeons and labyrinths in the heart of 47th Street before one Ecuadorian hero dared take the task. He did a great job, too.

I also got a gift certificate from Smith & Hawken from Mom; a cool CD and Peanuts cartoon characters from Kent & Melissa; a croquet set and pool cues from Sean & Jordana; some monetary sustenance and a nice lambswool shirt from Dad; Gap money from Steve; a giant lobster pot from Michelle; and generally thoughtful and sweet gifts from everyone else.

For our part, we gave Mom the book “Gotham,” Dad a book on Provence cheeses, Kent a “Best Of” CD of his own work, Steve a book on prognostications for the next 50 years, Sean & Jordana an Airport wireless system, Michelle a supersize poster map of her trek across America, Lucas the new book from the Onion, and Sean Patrick a premium subscription to Salon. Tessa also knitted hats like she was the Lady of Shallot.

In all, a fine Christmas where nobody felt had. There is an old story from winters past, about how everybody in the extended family forgot to get presents for my brother Steve (he was four years old and inconsolable). Since that day, my grandmother made sure and bought Steve three or four presents every Christmas, even as he headed into his late thirties. It was kind of cool, actually. My grandma’s been gone for six years now, and I still half-expect to get another wallet with a fiver stuck in for good measure.

in front of the tree this morning

Later tonight, we went round in a circle and divulged our favorite color, favorite food, favorite book and movie, favorite toy and favorite article of clothing as a child. Nobody’s answer was surprising: it was mostly the same stuff, as we have always been particularly inspired by each other’s choices. Sure, morons at school would always try to foist their crap on us, but I think we were always affected first by the ideas our brothers and sister brought home.

Our partial cast of characters – Tessa, Michelle, Steve, Kent, Jordana, Sean Patrick, Mom, me (top), Sean (bottom), Lucas send out a Happy Holidays to you and you and you

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