I bitch. That’s what I do. I’m a complainer, I always have been. Thank God I’m funny about it at least!
My natural state is to focus on what I don’t have instead of all wonderful things in my life. And nothing brings this sniveling streak out in me more than Christmas. Ever since I was a kid and my entire family would cram into my grandmother’s stuffy one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living building where they would reminisce about the wonderful Christmas pasts they used to have pre-me. Big Italian Christmases with homemade sauce, spicy sausage and small-town neighbors coming over for my Great-Grandmother’s famous cookies. My Aunt would often say how, as kids, her and my mother and uncle would run up and down the stairs to work off all the food and make room for more. Because another amazing meal was coming after Midnight Mass.
I would listen to these stories with a palpable Christmas lust. And an anger formed in my tiny Grinch heart because I always felt cheated that I had arrived into this family right when everything went to crap. That my childhood Christmases involved endless car drives back to my mother’s hometown with my parents fighting the whole way, illness, guilt (Catholic and Italian a divine mix) and my Christmas stocking on the cold tile floor of my Grandmother’s tiny nook of a kitchen because that was the only area of the apartment out of sight. My mother tried her best but when the stories of the good ‘ole days, back when Christmas was actually fun, would start up after dinner I would go into my Grandmother’s bathroom (the only room with any privacy) and cry. Or, sometimes, if it wasn’t too frigid I would go out onto the porch shared by her floor. I’d look out at the twinkling lights of the small town that we journeyed to twice a year, but where I wasn’t actually from since we moved away when I was little, and I could never shake the feeling that I’d somehow missed out on my own family. On belonging anywhere.
Every year I say I’m not going to let Christmas make me crazy and every year it does. I could bitch now about all the ridiculous things that have made me want to cram a candy cane down someone’s throat in the last few days and believe me there is enough fodder to make it frakking funny. But I’m not going to do that. There are five days to go in my Cray Cray Season and I am going to write about five people this year who have made my life particularly special.
- MARK FISHER - I feel like a walking commercial for Mark Fisher Fitness sometimes but the positive impact he has had on my life this year has been extraordinary. At a time when my self-esteem was at an all time low he made me feel like a Super Ninja. The words sad dog, porn star, snatched, Turkish get-up, “my Why”, GLORY and of course NINJA have become a part of my regular vocabulary. Along with improving my overall health, Mark continues to make me feel like a hero of fitness and inspires me to ‘get better!’ every day. I am the Kelly Clarkson of Snatched, having won the first 6-week Snatched before/after picture contest in January. And through donations and by winning back my entry money, Mark also helped WGWaFA raise $600 for Feeding America. I am so proud of him that he has recently opened the Ninja Clubhouse, a full-time location of his very own and I’m so excited to take classes there in 2012! CLICK HERE to check out Mark Fisher Fitness!!
- ROB & JUSTIN - I am cheating a little bit here with a two for one. But when my sister got married, that’s exactly what I got. Two for one, a brother and a nephew. Two geeks who love Superman and comic books (and also golf and McDonald’s but nobody’s perfect) and have treated me like family from day one. They have visited NYC twice, once just to come see a play that I wrote! We have taken a cruise to Alaska on the ‘BrokenBoat’ and have rocked Halloween. There is a quote from the movie “Say Anything” that I have always loved Don’t be a guy; the world is full of guys. Be a man. And Rob & Justin are two men who I am very lucky to have in my life.
- My niece. Ever since they pulled my niece out of my sister and dumped her little gooey body on me (if you are ever in the position to watch a cesarean, trust me stay on your side of the curtain. It’s like an eclipse, once you look it’s hard to look away and it burns your eyes!) my world has never been the same. This year I got promoted to Auntie KJ. Whenever I’m talking to my sister on the phone and she tells my niece, “Guess who I’m talking to? It’s Auntie KJ” hearing her little voice pipe back, “I need to see her!” is the greatest thing ever. She is smart, feisty, has her mother’s facial expressions, loves to yell “Poop Feet!” like her Auntie KJ taught her, and is the most fun person I know. She has brought the Christmas spirit back to our family and I am so proud and honored to watch my sister become an amazing mother.
- BILL – He is by far the most random friend I’ve ever had. Our friendship is 90% hilarious emails/texts and 10% fabulous food. It is a rare and magical combination. He checks in on me when he doesn’t hear from me in a while, never gets sick of my complaining (funny or not), is pro-Ice Cream and a supportive fan of my writing and my fundraising efforts. I long for the day when I no longer have disastrous dating stories to tell Bill but until that day at least his hilarious email retorts make it all worth it (almost…) Once, when I had my heart so badly broken I could barely function this message from Bill was the first thing to truly make me feel better:
Two more things. These aren’t nice but I’m being honest and I am an inherent pessimist and cynic. That helps me and maybe it will help you. I’ll root for your final act but, of course, have to figure shit like that generally doesn’t happen (as you know). And I think the whole “me, not you” stuff is always bullshit. Especially from men. We’re never trying to figure ourselves out or really analyzing things. We’re just narrow-minded, self-destructive, extremely selfish morons.
- TOMMY – My niece’s half-brother is one of the sweetest young men I have ever had the pleasure to know. In the short time that I knew him, my two favorite memories of Tommy are – the two of us trick or treating around my sister’s neighborhood the year we all dressed up as Peter Pan characters. He was Peter (or rather psycho-Peter which was way cooler because it involved fake blood) and I was Wendy. And dancing at my sister’s wedding. He looked so sweet with his sweaty tousled hair and purple tie. He was so excited to be there, for our families to all be joined and to dance. I never minded less being single at a wedding. There are still moments when I am in church, or on the subway or even at the gym when I have to stop and remind myself that Tommy is no longer with my family. His loss was far too soon but I often see his sweet face in my niece’s smile. He is her angel. Tommy’s kind heart has forever touched my life and my family. Please take a moment to visit the site for the Memorial Dog Park in his honor.
There are many, many other friends and family who have made my life special this year. My sincerest thanks to all of you and to all the generous people who have donated to my virtual food drive to help Feeding America fight hunger in our country. CLICK HERE if you would like to DONATE and help me reach my fundraising goal!