Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Cookies for Everyone


“No more penises!” I yelled at the teenagers. They rolled their eyes, of course, and kept on with their little tubes of icing.

“These are going to priests and rabbis,” I said, waving my arms and splattering red and green ribbons of sugar and lard through the air to smack and stick on kitchen cabinets. In a pristine room of lacquered white wood and stainless steel appliances. One of the two boys looked up at me. I parted the greasy adolescent hair hanging down to his chin in time to see him roll his eyes and smirk. With a deliberation belying his tender years, he chose azure blue icing and with a precise flick of his wrist and two little dots, created another indecent gingerbread man.


The girls giggled, picked up tubes of pink icing, and added curly Ws to the chests of their gingerbread women.

The eight-year-old looked confused until he found a ribbon of gingerbread, shaped it into a snake, smeared it with green icing, and waggled it at a five-year-old who shrieking ran out of the room.

When I came back into the kitchen, the swollen-eyed girl in hand, the teenagers had decorated the snake with penises and boobs.

“Look, it’s ambidextrous,” he said.

“You mean androgynous. Bloody hell,” I muttered. “Where’s the Chrismukkah spirit?”

One of the teenagers piped in, “Don’t worry. We’ll make Mr. Snake two right hands.”

And with that, I sprayed them with multi-colored sprinkles starting a full out food fight.

We had fun. I don’t remember how many of the gingerbread people made it out of the house; my guess would be not many, but that wasn’t the point.

This year, I made nine dozen Pizelles with an old-fashioned press. Some were anise flavored, and some were amaretto-almond flavored. The Italian cookies covered an entire table. The cat, fur flying, fled the hiss of the cooking snowflake-shaped cookies to hide under her chair. I blistered the index finger of my right hand and pinched a blood blister between the two halves of the press. But the cookies made their way to colleagues. They handled the Pizelles with awe. Like they had never seen anything like them before. Or more likely, they weren’t expecting anything so wholesome from me. Especially after publishing a collection of short stories about breasts two years ago.

There’s something about making holiday cookies that I love. Perhaps the teenagers got it correct. It’s the pairing of the cookies with the unexpected, like making your gingerbread people anatomically accurate or gifting my cookies together with a book about boobs.

Go decorate a cookie and have a happy holiday time.

Trumpatized – Canada Is Not The Answer


I have been finding snatches of time in the day to cry since the election. A friend called it being Trumpatized. A great term combining Trump and traumatized, the cause of the trauma and the condition it is triggering. My reaction, disbelief and grief and anger over the election, has to find little crevasses in the day. Last Wednesday, I cried through Kathleen’s yoga class. I am pretty sure I was not alone. I cry between sessions and in sessions with some of my clients as they tell how they have been triggered back to memories of traumatic events from their past.

Right or wrong, whether you voted for him or not, Trump has reawakened many people’s past memories, snakes of violence jerked out of hibernation., and caused people to wonder about the moral development of the country. I can’t answer these questions.

I can give you some ideas for comfort through this time –

  • Get enough sleep – not too much and not too little. Your neurotransmitter level will thank you.
  • Eat warm and easy-to-digest foods – carbohydrates are helpful, soups, stews, chilis, tea.
  • Stay away from too much caffeine – it will further agitate you.
  • Keep your alcohol level to a minimum – flashbacks and memories seep in when guards are down and alcohol lowers the brain’s guardrails.
  • Be active – it will help you keep things in balance, regulate your nervous system, and get you out of your house (where I am likely to brood …)
  • Dress warm – it will calm your body so it doesn’t feel under siege.
  • Respect other people’s property – march and protest but this is not a time to riot nor recreate Kristallnacht.
  • Cry, find places and people who can accept your response.
  • If you can’t get out of bed or still feel numb, see a therapist. It’s okay to get some help.
  • Try not to re-Trumpatize yourself with on-going news shows and articles.
  • Turn off your blue screens one hour before bedtime to give your brain a chance to settle down. This decreases the frequency of nightmares and allows for more restful sleep.

(Holiday meals are not the time to bring up your differences. Everyone has someone dear to them who voted in a way opposite to you. Don’t spoil this time.)

Here’s the kicker – you need to do something. As I see it, we have three options –

  • Do nothing – that will keep you at war with yourself – only so many ostriches tolerated in this world.
  • Work to promote your beliefs – join a group, start a group, volunteer for a group.
  • Accept the results with grace – promote coming together with as calm a presence as you can.

You can do one or some combination of the three. But do something – the first option leads to feeling impotent which leads to violence against yourself and others. (Oh, and please don’t move to Canada.)

The choice is yours.


Avenue of the Pickles


I have been thinking a little, okay a lot, about love lately.

Who gets love? According to Janis Ian, “Love is meant for beauty queens/and high school girls with clear skinned smiles” … well that knocks me out of the picture. I’m not even close to young with wrinkles and acne. My smile is lopsided.

Why do we fall into love? I think this might be a question for the biochemists – scientists charting pheromones, hormones, and genetic markers. And for the real estate agents chanting, ‘location, location, location.’

How do we fall out of love? I have come to the conclusion that someone always leaves, by death or by choice. Harsh but … the truth.

Could I buy some love if I had a stupendously large limit on my VISA? Would PayPal guarantee it? Maybe I could rent love for a night or a weekend. I’m not sure I want to use my expendable income in this manner.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t figured out too much. I’m a middle-aged love neophyte.

But then I was driving down the AVENUE OF THE PICKLES. What? You don’t know the AVENUE OF THE PICKLES. C’est une catastrophe! (That’s French, the so-called language of love.)

Every holiday season, an outdoor shopping center nearby outlines their trees in lights. Until five years ago, the lights were green. In combination with the shape of the trees, the green lights made an avenue of pickles standing on edge. High in the sparkling trees, speakers blare out holiday songs.

When my husband was alive, we would laugh with joy and excitement over the pickles. The trees with their green lights seemed so incongruent, surreal, and even bizarre in contrast with the stuffy matronly shops they surrounded. In amazement, we would clasp hands and walk through the shopping center oohing and aching over the PICKLES. Giggling. Too old to be giggling but maybe it was love we were feeling. The odd display reminded us of all the times that we walked together sharing silly times and tragic episodes.

One year, we walked the three miles from our house to our favorite seafood restaurant in the shopping center but without our usual delight in the decorations. It had not been a great year. His work stressors and my dissertation disappointments had forged a silence between us.

During the walk home, I was dry-mouthed with the realization that this was the slippery slope to our love’s end. But looking up at the green lights, the lines of goofy up-ended pickle trees, I had an urge to hold his hand – like I had done in previous years when walking the Avenue of the Pickles. In my heart and my head, my wish to feel love and my Russian peasant fatalism fought each other. After a long, breath-robbing stalemate, I exhaled “Fuck it,” and picked up his hand. He smiled at me. My face wouldn’t move. A flash of insight occurred. This was a man I had loved in the past and I could choose to love him again. This was the choice point. Gulping, big caterpillar tears crawled down my face, I smiled back. Not my biggest or most convincing smile, but still a smile. We walked the three miles home holding hands.

Today, the trees are lit up in green, red, purple, blue, and pink lights. How fantastic. And love inspiring.

While I still don’t know who or why or how we fall in love, I do know that there are easy times when love has a tight hold on us and other times when we must choose to hold tightly to love.

The little squiggles of light-trimmed trees, the crazy histories we make with people, and even language return us to each other. They remind us – we have the choice to love.

Maybe as we collide willy-nilly into the holiday season, we can stop wasting our time on questions of little consequence. Then we can look for all the little signals to choose love and wrap garlands of twinkling lights around our love histories.

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