Other girls dreamed of weddings. Apparently. I mean, given all those stupid shows & the whole, like, wedding industry.
Yes, well, not me. Like a lot of other hipster brides, I’d rather have licked larvae.
This bride wore a black beret to her first civil ceremony, like Gallagher, & the marriage sucked back down through its hellhole shortly thereafter.
Then I began talking in first person again, thankfully. For my second wedding, I think I wore a Mexican skirt, my usual uniform. Authentic Mexican skirt, I might add, just in passing.
The ceremony took place in a minister’s shiny little McMansion in some Albuquerque suburb. What I remember best is avoiding Johnny D’s eyes. We were trying not to giggle about the minister’s long discourse (complete with handouts) on the concept of overlapping circles. Then we went back up the mountain. In our VW van.
So weddings have never enchanted me, particularly. Oh, but my subversive little teenage heart did once dream of my own Crate & Barrel-type family Christmas, complete with peppermint-striped dog bowls & plaited children (even the boys).
The Hippie Pied Piper
When you come from a history of family Christmases that resemble Mountain Dew commercials gone terribly awry, this is just what happens: You dream of Crate & Barrel Christmases. In which no adult teeth are lost.
For a while, anyway. At some point in my late teenage career, it became clear I was just not that kind of girl. I was about as likely to pull off a Crate & Barrel Christmas as I was, say, a UN conference.
My best friends in high school fondly voted me – in a private ceremony – most likely to be trailed by several dirty children.
Which is exactly what came to pass.
It All Just Happened So Fast
One minute I wore an iron-on Badass t-shirt, the next, the same Badass t-shirt but stained like an atlas with vomit-shaped countries.
When one begins adopting & birthing all at once, like a rapidly molting snake, this is how it goes down.
For those first Christmases, I don’t know what I was planning. There was some vague idea of candlelight, a few handcrafted toys, warmth, chanting & yuletidishness. Perhaps Stonehenge.
Instead we ended up taking apart an exercise trampoline we found in the dump & attaching lights to it. I drove into town in the VW van just to buy – oh God, I shudder to think of this now – those hideous envelopes of hot chocolate. (Check out sample ingredients here.)
Despite my Druid-like soul, I had no idea there was any other way to make a cup of cocoa.
Even with so little extra stimulation, our children became…overwrought. Their plaits undone, so to speak. As did mine.
But It Gets Worse
The kids got older (we did not). We moved down from the mountain, having not achieved my goal of rustic family unity/communion with Gaia, much less any sort of coherent Christmas tradition.
And, soon enough, like a fever dream I found myself in the middle of a screeching Wal-Mart.
Extended relatives had given our kids gift cards. My daughters did not believe me that the Easy Bake oven was really a light bulb encased in pink plastic. They did not want Daddy to make them little solar ovens out of cardboard boxes. No. They wanted all the Easy Bake flavor packets, $7 & 400,000 ingredients apiece. (Did you know they’re so fortified with goodness they’re non-perishable? Like, literally?)
And I wanted to slap my daughters, like the other Wal-Mart mothers were slapping their children. I wanted to slap them all the way back to Stonehenge.
Then go get myself a refreshing Mountain Dew.
You Will Fail, Too, Homesteading Hipster Parents
Your relatives will buy your children light-up toys made out of radioactive BPA with extra phthalates no matter what you say. Your children’s eyes will light up, too. Then they will start gnawing their own legs off.
You will not be able to singlehandedly revive the tradition of wassailing. You just won’t. I’m sorry.
You will instead eventually have to take your children home with you. That’s right: the place where everyone wears a turtleneck. One features Glenn Beck’s face. Maybe the décor is Dollar Store, maybe it’s Crate & Barrel. Either way, Cousin Annabelle is still crying in the bathroom after Uncle Bill points out, as he has every year since she was 12, that her ass isn’t getting any smaller.
You will eat processed, factory-farmed food you would not feed an alley rat & you will thank Aunt Sally for it, too. All of these will be lessons in kindness, graciousness & humility.
Also, once your children taste Aunt Sally’s crappy food, they will never, ever stop pining for more. They will, in fact, forevermore associate Christmas with Ritz crackers. This will test your values & restraint like nothing you can yet imagine.
None of this is your fault. You’re just an American, which means your very soul, too, is partly made out of tv commercials. God bless you for fighting the good fight.
Keep it up. Even if the next generation grows up to eat at Arby’s — as one of ours recently acknowledged, much to my quiet horror — you’re still making an impact.
Perhaps it won’t be in the rigid, ceremonial sense you would prefer. Life is not a wedding, after all. Weddings aren’t even weddings these days. They’re excuses to get plastic surgery & treat everybody around you like crap.
Perhaps the real impact of good intentions get felt via the everyday, imperfect love you bestow & receive.
Even when everybody keeps vomiting on your cool shirt.