Resigned to a pleasant Christmas with my brother Paul, but without other family members, I had made up my mind to opt for the Costco roasted chicken, pop a couple of yams in the m-wave, make a salad and call it Christmas dinner. I just didn't see myself making the trip to The Ham Store - you know the one - they sell a ham the size of...oh, I know, a pig's ass, and sugar coated at that - though they swear it's honey. Whatever. I knew that Paul would understand as long as there might be ice cream at the end - or pie.
An email came across my screen from a friend of mine - who happens to be Jewish. Was I planning on cooking on Christmas - not that she was begging an invitation, but she could taste my cooking. I glanced at my dining room table, hidden beneath a war zone of wrapping paper and ribbons, tissue and scissors and a roll of tape. Heavy sigh. I answered the email in a somewhat restrained fashion, explaining tough times, my lack of desire to cook a gargantuan feast, but invited her and her fiance nonetheless. They accepted.
Long story longer, I spent four hours at Costco today - a world record for me. And when I left, $347 later, it was with a basket of everything needed to a world class pot of turkey chili. When I got home I sent an email out to the probable "orphans" on my email list. Everyone else declined, we would be four. I concocted a chili from another stratosphere - layers of dark and light chili powder, caramelized onions, roasted turkey breast meat, ground turkey, red and black beans, tomatoes, a melange of colored bell peppers, and at the end a hint dark chocolate to cheer the palate from the dried jalapeno peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin and black pepper, and so on.The kitchen was disgusting and I was exhausted. It had to get cleaned, and the sooner the better as I was on my way out to The Other Side to sing - a beautiful gay piano bar in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.
Half of life is just showing up, they say. I washed counters, took out the garbage, and jumped in the shower to meet my friend Al at 8:30 - well, there was also the part about getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup. You get the drift. It would have been so easy to have stayed home on this cold night. Who needed to sing? I did. When I walked in the The Other Side, there were the familiar and handsome faces of some gorgeous, chisel-faced, well-dressed men whose hearts are bigger than the place that holds them. Amazing.
Christmas reached up and shook me loose. Suddenly, I heard myself - at least I think it was me- asking a couple of guys what they would be doing on Christmas. "Oh, just a quiet day..." the voices trailed off. And before you knew it, I was inviting and they were accepting my proposal that they come for the first time to my house on Christmas. Afterall, the chili was already made!
One by one, they accepted and I found my circle of love growing. Suddenly, my eyes were wide open and twinkling, my heart filled with love and excitement. Everything was magically falling into place. Not just for me, but for everyone. I love when God works that way. I'm pretty sure I was smiling like the Natalie Wood's character of the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street.