This weekend marked the first of several Christmas celebrations in our family. It was also one of the most eagerly anticipated. Every year, on the weekend prior to Christmas, we get together with what we like to refer to as our “family by choice.” This does not diminish the importance of those who are actually blood related to us. Rather it shows that the definition of family shouldn’t be limited to genetics. Every year, we plan a big meal, a gift exchange and the ever popular Christmas quiz with prizes to go with it. And for the last several years, a certain Mr. Claus has made an early stop to deliver pajamas to everyone. Despite the fact that Anna has been questioning the truth about Santa big and bad this year, we managed to squeeze one more year out.
It was a very fun time with our friends Jeff, Caryle, Mary and Mike. Mary and Mike are engaged to be married next year so there was extra reason to celebrate this time around. Jeff and I, as most people know, go way back to a high school P.E. locker room where a discussion of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” sparked immediate friendship, as well as solidarity against the jocks hurling dodgeballs our way. And the get-together is called “Tina’s Christmas” because of our collective affection for the movie that launched a thousand shoulder pads (and unintentional hilarity) – Mommie Dearest.
The only trouble was, this year was marred by illness – specifically, mine. My trainer worked the shit out of me on Thursday in what I think is punishment for either a) not showing up to the gym regularly for the better part of a month or b) not signing up for more sessions then and there. Whatever the reason, I hurt like a son of a bitch on Friday and on Saturday, I hurt even worse. By the time I got to the late afternoon, my body ached so badly that I knew something else was going on. Not long after, I started chilling and feeling nauseated. I filled my plate with dinner, but didn’t eat very much and couldn’t bring myself to eat meat at all. We had purchased a special wine from Prairie Moon that I only had a few sips of before I really had to excuse myself to go lay down in bed. I managed to rally for the Christmas Quiz and the gift exchange, but shortly after 10, I was down for the count again and while they all played games downstairs, I drifted in and out of consciousness while I fought against body aches and alternating, in the words of Eddie Izzard, between being fantastically hot and fucking freezing.
One thing I had asked for this year was some much sought after vinyl – specifically Madonna’s Like A Prayer and Cher’s Heart of Stone. Imagine my surprise when I got both of these. Naturally, Jeff gave me the Like A Prayer vinyl, along with the “Celebration” single.
The Heart of Stone vinyl came from Mary. The thing about Heart of Stone is that it had two different covers, the first (and much cooler) version being a painting of Cher sitting next to a heart of stone. The juxtaposition of Cher and the heart of stone creates the image of a skull. For reasons that I can’t figure out, this original artwork was jettisoned after the first pressing and a more conventional album cover issued. I have the CD with this cover, but I always thought the vinyl would be cool. I wasn’t wrong.
The gifts were great, but as always, it’s the company that makes Tina’s Christmas so much fun. Heidi and I said this morning that we would be really sad if someday, one of the couples decided they didn’t want to participate. Who knows what life may bring, and perhaps that day will come someday, but for now, we enjoy spending quality time with friends who are pretty much family.