December 2012

I spent two weeks with my parents, back in 1987, holed up in a sprawling motel at the base of the pyramids outside of Cairo, Egypt. Glamorous setting, I know. True story.

Seductive as this may sound – it gets kind of dull pretty quickly, staring at the great pyramids, day in and day out. One morning, as I sat on my terrace in a languid stupor, dipping a pasty croissant into my watery coffee, I noticed a British family on the terrace next to mine. A cheery dad, an attentive mom, and a boy and girl who looked to be about 4 and 6. Dad raised his glass of orange juice, and the other 3 followed suit.

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We DID Christmas in my family. We did it BIG. The tree, the gifts, the Christmas carols, the eggnog, mom’s turkey croquettes. We did it even though my parents didn’t give a hoot about religion. I knew they didn’t – Christmas for us was just plain fun.

My dad and my brother have since passed on, and those Christmases are no more. That’s actually kind of cool; I now get to choose what I want this holiday to be.

We put up a tree this year. It’s beautiful. But honestly – I don’t really care about the gifts any more. I don’t care about all the darn eating. And I really don’t care about the obligatory once-a-year church visit. Heck, I like to worship every day.

I was in a hotel room in Manhattan Beach last week, searching for a wayward document, browsing through emails, when I suddenly heard it. My window was open, and there it was: The sound of the Pacific Ocean, tumbling, roaring.

I stopped and listened. It filled me with joy.

Thursday I sat down for a meal at Sugar Reef, my favorite restaurant on the boardwalk in Hollywood, Florida where I live. Again, I heard it. The sound of the Atlantic, rolling ashore. And again, great joy.

Tis the season when I think of that old Eddie Murphy song. Party all the time.

Even if you don’t like all these darn parties, chances are you will end up at a party or two this month. So why don’t we give the inevitable some thought: What kind of party animal are you, really?

Exhibit # 1: You take the notion of the party animal literally. You let your jungle beast run wild. You freely imbibe the free liquor. You hit on that co-worker you’ve been ogling from afar. You tell those stories you’ve been itching to tell but never did. Yes, you roar.

You know how it goes. Rush rush rush rush. And then rush some more. 

Especially during the month of December. End of year reports. Gift shopping. Office parties. And all the regular obligations. Yes, our adrenaline is likely to go on mad overdrive.

Which means we rush into moment after moment with the flustered energy of the moment before. We steamroll through one social encounter after the next. We don’t ever settle in.