My own holiday cheer | AspenTimes.com

My own holiday cheer

Alison Berkley

So I’ve been doing a lot of Christmas shopping lately, except there’s one little teeny-eeny-weeny problem: I’ve only been buying stuff for myself. You could say I’m on my own little merry Christmas shopping spree.Oh God, I knew you were going to say that. Just because I’m Jewish does not mean I don’t want Christmas presents. I promise I will not be offended if you want to bestow me with a little holiday spirit (i.e. material goods). I could use it.Like I’ve been saying for the past four years, I hate the holidays. It’s only taken me my entire life to figure out that my parents are closet atheists who call themselves agnostic so they won’t offend anyone. Since it’s so fun to blame your parents for everything (if that wasn’t the case, most therapists would be out of business. And since both my parents are shrinks, they should be happy that I’m keeping that tradition alive for them), it is so their fault that I have to go through this emotional trauma year after year after year.Basically, we celebrate nothing. Ever since I can remember, we have spent Christmas week at some ski resort. Every year, my parents blame me for having to exchange gifts. “We only do this because of you, you know,” they always say. Every year we say we’re not going to bother with gifts and then run around these hideous faux-European base villages frantically buying everything in one afternoon while Christmas carols are blasted into our ears from every angle. Far be it from my parents to raise me with any traditions, like maybe the Jewish ones for starters. But no. Our tradition entails me bitching about not having any traditions. Then we exchange those gifts everyone dreads buying and receiving the night before Christmas so we can get up early on Christmas morning and go skiing with all the other Jewish families. We usually get into a big argument about something stupid because everyone is in a bad mood, and then all go out for Chinese food afterwards. One year I made the mistake of inviting my Irish Catholic boyfriend to spend the holidays with us. He was so traumatized from the experience that he couldn’t even speak. I started to worry he might drift into a coma, so I was like, “Should we go drink tequila and then go caroling or something?” Fine, so I was raised without religion, tradition or any semblance of a spiritual life. (In fact, the only spiritual guidance my parents provided was in taking me to the mountains since I was a little girl.) I can deal with the fact that my immediate family is limited to a 90-pound black dog who has some emotional problems and is on antidepressant medication; my a-religious (or even sacrilegious) parents whose only devotion is to snowboarding as many days as possible over the term of a given season; and my brother, who is off living in the jungle of Costa Rica, surfing and chasing dreams of becoming a developer (or a “real estate Mongol” as an old friend of mine once put it).I have decided to spare my parents the agony of having to exchange gifts on account of me and have my own little party.It all started when this pretty little pair of shoes caught my eye in the window at Bloomingbirds. I’ve always wondered where they came up with that name. Now I know. It’s because you walk in there, put these little pieces of art on your feet, and feel enough like a goddess to ignore the price tag. You then sign the credit card receipt with your eyes closed. But no matter how much you rationalize (“If I wear these 60 times, it will only cost $10 per use,” and so on), it eventually hits you that you just emptied out half your bank account. You get light-headed, and these little birdies fly around your head right before you pass out, chirping, and singing, and well, blooming. I didn’t understand how birds could bloom until I was lying there on the floor of that store watching the little chickadees multiplying around my head as they chirped a tune that sounded remarkably like Jingle Bells. First there were two, and then there were four, and then one of those nice ladies was standing over me screaming, “Stand back and give the princess some air for God’s sake! Someone call a whambulance!”Because I now have the perfect shoes, I have to do the rounds to all my favorite stores to find the perfect outfit. All the shopkeepers know me now and so when I come in, it’s like a party. And they’re all super patient with me when I come in three or four times to exchange what I bought the day before because it doesn’t match my new shoes just so. They are so good at not acting annoyed. I don’t know how they do it because I would definitely strangle someone like me after the first ten minutes of supremely neurotic and indecisive behavior. But they put up with it. They’re good sports like that.They’re also smart, because they know the more they coo at me and say things like, “Oh my God! You’re so skinny! Have you lost more weight?” or “You look more like a size 2, let me go grab a smaller size,” the more money I’m going to spend. I’m going to get that shopper’s high and buy everything they tell me is “flattering.” I’m so gullible like that.After observing the holiday in my own way, I realized that I am spiritual after all. I actually dropped to my knees in the middle of Galena Avenue, shook my fists at the heavens and screamed, “Jesus Christ, I spent all my money!” It’s no wonder the Princess’s favorite brand of jeans are True Religion. Send your holiday wishes to Alison@berkleymedia.com