If anybody was hoping to read my warm-and-fuzzy holiday prose, this ain’t gonna be it. No worries, I’m not slithering down a Grinch path, it’s just that this past year didn’t feel glorious by any stretch of the imagination. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m thoroughly grateful for Jeanette, LouLou, our health, alongside friends and patrons, but what a trying year.

Those residing full-time in the United States endure a divide fueled with hatred and animosity so thick one can cut it with a knife global weather patterns are more alarming every year wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes reached biblical proportions cancer is running amok within our immediate core of loved ones the Dow Jones continues to skyrocket, so does America’s homeless population need I mention Pyongyang’s insanity well-known males, pillars of American culture, many who’ve long been revered are reduced to rubble overnight senseless mass killings occur on a frequent basis, shamefully I feel desensitized; innocent victims become numbers. Call me sentimental and nostalgic, however, the olden days were far less stressful. It’s lofty peaks I should really be concerned with, somewhere on the horizon rough periods as these reappear. If I remain optimistic, realize the future shall inevitably bring harmonious days again.

Winter-Solstice-02I was wrongly convinced to believe I’d lead a life of bachelorhood; the holiday season were months I’d dread each and every year without fail. December 24, 1993 I dined on fettuccine alfredo; Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and American Beauty pasta bought from a corner grocery store on 1st Avenue. Lara and I brought it back to the East Village Hell’s Angels headquarters on 3rd Street, where she shared an apartment with Teddy Vice-President of the New York City chapter. ​Christmas​ ​was​ ​impossible​ ​to​ ​escape; I​ ​ducked into Las​ ​Vegas several Christmas’, it’s​ ​there​ ​as well​, menorahs and dreidels too, along with tour​ ​buses​ ​packed with wide-eyed​ ​chain-smoking ​tourists​. Other years wasting time in after hours bars, coming out of Christmas Eve wandering into Yuletide dawn was the most degrading, surrounded by other wayward artists, tough-guys, hard women, alongside irrational undercover police.

I hadn’t ever heard of, let alone eaten s’mores until my first Christmas Eve spent with Jeanette 2002. We roasted marshmallows over a crackling fireplace inside our Sonoma Mission Inn suite, suddenly my holiday attitude changed.

Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day can be a tremendous challenge, particularly without a conventional home nor extended family; this holiday season brought new meaning to testing our patience. What most desire, I suppose, is an enchanting atmosphere during the holidays. We, the tenacious bedouins reenacted, if you will, the Three Bears tale from November 8th until December 19th this year galavanting across this tender planet. Thank heaven for accumulated hotel points and SkyMiles. Sicily, especially Palermo was buried beneath mountains of visa bureaucracy. Carrizalillo, Oaxaca lacked adequate infrastructure, specifically convenient internet availability. South Beach, Miami in a nutshell: all show, void of any palatable substance.

Eventually Goldilocks did stumble upon a comfortable bed, suitable chair and porridge just right. This holiday season we traveled, searching nearly twenty thousand miles, finally discovering a total surprise for our Christmas haven. Days into South Beach, Jeanette googled rates at our top hotel pick, finding an irresistible solution at their Southern California property, minutes from Jeanette’s longest standing, dear friends. Lately my holiday satisfaction comes driving, while hearing LouLou sing-along to Christmas songs on Sirius XM; she’s memorized each carol verbatim.

winter-solstice-2016.jpgThose who were willing to take the plunge this year (or years prior) on cryptocurrency (if they trimmed profits) can happily stuff their Christmas stockings till they’re blue in the face. One patron mentioned she and her fiancé are buying a Tesla X for the measly $3,000 they invested in Bitcoin last year; their investment grew exponentially, Tesla’s model X sticker price, $135,000. Not one Italian I spoke with a few weeks ago believed cryptocurrency could hold water; I didn’t see any electric cars in Milan nor Sicily for that matter neither.

Seven days after Christmas arrives 2018; exactly a week following, I’ll reach a milestone decade, same birthdate as Elvis and Bowie. After early January’s Jehrcut engagement in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Jeanette, LouLou and I take flight once more to the “Land of Smiles,” where pouring water over a gold, perchance silver Buddha can cause tranquil effect.

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