Nothing says Christmas to me like the hot desert sun beating down on bronzed Southern Californians as they sip their Long Island ice teas at the pool while their grandchildren annoy everyone in the pool with their game of Marco Polo and Water Volley Ball.
Yes, of course I'm joking. One of the reasons I like being at my home in Rancho Mirage during the holiday season is that nothing about it suggests the holidays to me. Let me back up just a bit. You have to understand that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. Although I've lived and worked all over the world, my home base has always been New York City and New York City defined in my mind what Christmas and the holidays are supposed to look like....a sort of cross between Dickensian England and Art Deco Radio City glitz. For a long time, I thought the holidays were all about dashing through crowds on Fifth Avenue, pushing and shoving to get a quick glimpse of the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center on their way home from fighting the crowds on the ground floor of Saks and Macy's in their quest for those special gifts for the loved ones in their lives and if not the special gifts, then any old gifts that satisfied the gift-giving obligation. It was always the time of year I dreaded the most. From the sounds of the goddamn Little Drummer Boy, probably the worst piece of music ever written, to the endless bell-ringing by the good-natured volunteers for the anti-gay Salvation Army, I positively loathed the holidays in New York City, especially having to work mid-town and having to fend myself from this synthetically manufactured good will to men.
One of the things I love about being in the Southern California desert for Christmas week is that it frees me of these Christmas sights and sounds. Today I wandered downtown to Palm Springs to hear a Cher impression perform a special Christmas concert underneath the sixteen foot Marilyn Monroe statue. Instead of featuring theme windows decorated with scenes from Miracle On Thirty-Fourth Street, the stores in downtown Palm Springs are still highlighting the latest in bikini wear and hot outfits for the next White Party. I actually bought a red break-away thong today to surprise my husband with on New Year's Eve! The streets are not decorated in holly and ivy but brightly light palm trees. I love this place.
The desert has really helped me to finally enjoy the holidays. There's nothing better than entertaining a few friends, all of them ex-patriots of New York City, in my backyard, barbequing hamburgers and reminiscing about our past city lives in the city before the widespread introduction of home air conditioning. We laugh about the hustle and bustle of Times Square and sing Let It Song! Let It Song! when we hear that New York City is being pounded with two feet of snow while we're skinny-dipping in my pool. In a strange way, that's what the holidays should really be about: spending time with the ones you love and not spending money you don't have on gifts you don't need.
Have A Happy New Year