I don't know how we're going to make it through the holidays. By that I mean me since the teenagers will be as giddy as sloshed elves Christmas morning having done none of the odious shopping, cooking or wrapping of thousands of presents. My husband is Jewish so that also means Chanukah. I love that we're a dual faith family but things do get confusing. Yesterday the 13-year-old who goes to a Catholic girls school asked if I believe Jesus is the son of God. I searched for spiritual guidance, but since none was immediately forthcoming I said, "I think so, honey, but let me get back to you on that."
The other night we were driving through Old Town Pasadena when the 15-year-old muted the screaming on his AS I LAY DYING CD and asked, "What do you want for Christmas, mom?" I nearly plowed into Crate & Barrel I was so caught off guard. I could be wrong, but the last time he asked this he was strapped in a car seat and sucking down apple juice. Now he's sucking on Camels and wearing girls jeans with his boxers peeking scandalously above his butt. Oh, how fast they grow up! I think wistfully every time I yank up the waistband of his jeans.
Since we were passing by the sprawling new Tiffany's on the corner, I motioned to its big expensive windows. "How about something from there?" I said devilishly. "Sure, mom," he said in a tone reserved for the feeble-minded. I can't wait to see that little turquoise box under the tree.
Speaking of trees we finally got ours a few days ago. Finally because it was not at all clear we were going to have one by Jesus's big day, and I was not happy about it. Normally the four of us go to the YMCA lot below the Glendale freeway. How better to get a fresh Douglas fir AND support a worthy charity? I say. Usually my husband comes but this year he has a new and VERY IMPORTANT job and has been busier than one of Santa's little helpers so he begged off.
That left the triumvirate of Mother, Son and Holy Ghost. Then my good-natured daughter said she didn't want to participate in our happy ritual either. "We always have a fight," she said glumly. "Can I go to Jessica's?" We do fight but doesn't everyone? She wasn't convinced so off she went to Jessica's, whose hipster mom Hannah (pronounced HAH-NAH) has a tattoo on her arm the size of a Prius.
Which now left Mother and Son. "Please, please go with me to get a tree," I begged. "Ah, mom, why don't we wait till Dad can go," he groaned. My son loves to eat out and is forever claiming there's NOTHING to eat in the house. Usually when he makes such pronouncements I've just been to Trader Joe's and spent hundreds of dollars. So I knew I had him when I offered to take him to Del Taco.
The next day after school we went to the Christmas tree lot at our neighborhood Target. Miraculously my son and I were the only ones there and within minutes we seized on a tree. "See how easy this was?" I beamed. I should have noticed my son tapping his foot as in CAN YOU FRIGGIN' HURRY UP! because by the time you can say Joy to the World we were in full screaming mode. My son was holding onto the tree and the poor nice tree man kept trying to screw the tree into our ancient metal tree holder. But the tree kept toppling over so my son kept loudly intoning "SEE, WE SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT DAD!" and "I KNEW THIS WAS A BAD IDEA." At which point I became mildly defensive and launched into my feminist diatribe of "Before I met your father I used to cut down my own damn Christmas trees!" Did that silence him, though? No, he always has to have the last word. Mr. Voluble. Our house is literally up the street so I shouted, WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO HOME!
Meanwhile the nice tree man was ignoring us and gamely tying the tree to the roof of my husband's Four Runner. Then the other nice tree man walked over. I think he was afraid my son and I might hurt each other and suddenly I felt mortified. I mean, aren't I the parent? I told them I was sorry for yelling.
Then the first tree helper turned to my son and gently said, "Dude, you need to respect your mom. You can't be talking to her like that."
"Yeah, Dude," said the second tree helper shaking his head. "She's the one who brought you into this world. You wanna have a girlfriend, right? You need to treat girls with respect."
When we got home later my son apologized. He can be such a sweetie when he wants to be.