Home for the Holidays: Stale Pecans, Dial-up and Girlie Martinis

Ah, home for the holidays! It’s a dilly of a time to throw your hands up and be the kid again: no responsibilities, no worries, no tasks, no requirements. Just sit back on the old brocade divan and wait for Mom to bring you bonbons and eggnog, your older brother to slip you a sawbuck or two (plus some extra whiskey in your nog) and for Daddy to question you about what you’re doing with your money. For my part, Daddy’s been asking me the same question for decades and I’ve been giving him the same answer. “Why, it’s all in my closet, right where it belongs, Daddy-O!”


Dr. Harvey and Mrs. Hildy
Dr. Harvey & Hildy, Mum & Daddy: pre-astral flying

Now, my parents are total dolls and the greatest pair of folks you’ll ever meet. Still, even I have to shake them after a few days or risk going total ding-a-ling. Natch, they’re dead as door nails, too: Dr. Harvey Hart and his missus, Hildy of Boston. I’ve been in San Diego since the early-1930s and we’ve all been dead since not too long thereafter; yet, for nearly a century nothing’s changed. Do Harvey & Hildy fly out to San Diego? Rarely. My big brother Hugh still haunts Boston, so I guess that’s fair. Still, I live in the Hotel del Coronado, who wouldn’t want to come visit, especially at Christmastime? They live in Beacon Hill and sure, it’s lovely there; but it’s lovelier here. I’d bet all you cats my collection of feathered headbands that you’re the ones piling in the ol’ tin cans and hitting the roads, too.



Hotel del Coronado c. 1920s
Who wouldn’t astral project to stay here?


It’s supposed to be darn cold this Christmas in Boston. Seems like it’s always cold in Boston and that’s why I made like a baby and headed out of there, getting myself to sunny California. Plus, I wanted to get into moving pictures. Did some good stuff, too. Ever see Gold Diggers of 1933? Yep, that’s me in the back, the one high-kicking in the sequined bathing suit. Nice gig, but Joan Blondell stole my part. That cement mixer couldn’t dance to save her life. I should have had the lead. That’s all right ‘cause she had to put up with that octopus director. That crumb had more moves than a Mayflower truck. I digress.

So, like a lot of you, I’m homeward bound and it’s a big deal! See, as ghosts we only get a couple of times a year when we can leave our haunts. It takes a lot of energy to travel; so, we save up our strength, pretty much like you save up your cabbage, and hit the astral planes. It’s exhausting and can take all day to get across this great big country. Sure, it’s easier than enduring one of your modern flights, but it’s still arduous. (I won’t say your Alec Baldwin was wholly correct in his actions, but from what I’ve seen of your contemporary stewardesses -sorry, flight attendants- I won’t knock him either. Yes, I follow Twitter @JennyPopNet. My grandmother was a Victorian, not me!)

Once the travel day is over and we’re Home Sweet Home, it’s a cozy and comfy class act with little to do except eat, drink and exchange pressies. Cocooning at home plate can be a sweet dish, but it can also come with drawbacks, like forgoing some of those modern conveniences you dig everyday … including the Internet. Wacky, right? It’s true, Chuck! Some of you are getting a Christmas sans Internet. Some parents and grandparents never got the memo, as you say. Some dingbats had it at one time, then canceled their connection. Murder! Talk about blowing one’s wig!


You think you have it bad, being forced to watch Cash Cab and House marathons, try watching your parents foxtrot around the parlor. Dr. Harvey & Hildy are still listening to their old Victrola and beeswax cylinders, making me sit through verse after verse of Glow-Worm (in German!), Yale Boola! and The Bird on Nellie’s Hat and look at the same stereoviews I’ve seen for decades. Bonkers! Don’t worry, fair friends; there are solutions. Yes, most include gin. Ever have a Girlie Martini? No, not Dita von Teese in a martini glass … although, yum! A Girlie is equal parts champagne, vodka, a splash of vermouth and a maraschino cherry. Christmas is an excellent time for just such a zinger!


Now, haunting an upscale hotel, I am privy to a plethora of traveling media and whilst you’ll need, at the very least, cell phone connectivity back home – even great-aunt Gert has that – you should be able to rough it with enough entertainment to keep your visit as smooth as eggs in coffee. Slingbox, from what I can tell, is the cat’s meow in portable media. Although, I have to say it amuses me to watch folks squinting at tiny screens, shielding them from the sun to watch their television and films. Eavesdropping poolside on one fellow, I got the low down as he explained how he was streaming Adult Swim live to a curious, fellow traveler. (Note to readers: I know with whom I’m dealing and trust me, I’m not trying to school you on gadgetry. All you alligators know how to find out more.)

So, this guy’s got this Slingbox gadget hooked up to his television and a router back at home. On the road, he just opens his Slingbox app and watches the same junk he’d watch at home. Seems keen to me, except that this mook is missing the whole point of being poolside in San Diego: sweet patooties and hot mamas! Of course, if he wants to watch Robot Chicken instead of a kitten with a great set of get away sticks, I give up.


Coronado Girls
Can your Slingbox do this?!


If you really can’t handle the local news and the drunken rants of Kathie Lee and Hoda urge you to make tracks, watching one more parental tango or hearing your older brother tell that ring-a-ding-ding sailboat story one more time, then look into a Slingbox or the PlayOn DVR before you go Looney Tunes with a Tommy on the whole fam. Otherwise, as long as you’ve got your smartphones, headphones, tablets and laptops and as long as they’re stuffed with downloads and mp3s and you’ve got just enough cell phone connectivity or wi-fi to stream some Netflix or Hulu, you should be able to rough it in Kingwood, TX, Sagamore Beach, MA, Richmond, VA, Bakersfield, CA, Jackson Hole, WY, Bloomfield, NM or from wherever your tribe hails.

In the end, try to remember it’s family time. If sitting in the tiny house your nonagenarian great-uncle has lived in since the Great War and consistently heats to eighty-eight degrees, with a roaring fireplace and when he refuses to turn on the T.V., even though it’s sitting right there, or the radio or even the old phonograph and it’s just you, him and your parents sitting around in the sweltering silence, staring at each other and eating bowls of stale nuts and hard candy …. well, that’s just family time. Drink your Girlie Martini, your Guinness, your I.P.A. or your Coppola wine, suck on a pecan and appreciate it in all its absurdity. Ding! Oh, well speak of the Devil, it’s an email from Hildy …  see you cats later!

Happy Holidays!

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