I’d like to brag a little.
Christmas day was unlike any other for us.
Typically we host an open house for people far and wide. Folks who pop in for ten minutes or ten hours. The cast of characters s always wide and varied:
Wandering Jews who don’t have a holiday to celebrate but enjoy Elysha’s chili and NBA basketball.
Families of four and five who use our home as a place of peace, respite, and recharge between visits with each of their slightly difficult in-laws.
Friends who have returned home for the holidays and have discovered how long 48 hours can really be and use our home as an escape valve.
Folks without family in the area. Neighbors with plenty to do who feel obligated to show their faces. Facebook friends who haven’t seen us in a decade but saw the invitation online and decided to reconnect in the old fashioned, face-to-face way.
My brother. My own in-laws. Last year a pair of Turkish women – strangers, really – who Elysha met while purchasing a Christmas ornament at the mall.
It is fun serving as the Grand Central Terminal on Christmas.
And yes, it’s Grand Central Terminal. Though commonly referred to as Grand Central Station, it’s actually a terminal because it serves as the southern terminus of the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines. I’m not a transportation nerd, but I proposed to Elysha on the steps of Grand Central Terminal while two dozen of our friends were hidden in the holiday throng, so I’ve made it a point to know a lot about the place, including its name.
But I digress.
As I was saying, Christmas is always a hustling, bustling affair in our home. But not this year. Thanks to a stupid bat or possibly a pangolin, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, so our doors were sadly shuttered to friends and family.
Just the four of us, celebrating alone.
At some point in mid afternoon, I decided to offer a festive reading of my Die Hard Christmas book to Elysha. It’s a recreation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” except instead of describing Santa’s rather mundane adventures on Christmas Eve, it instead chronicles the heroic actions of John McClane in Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve, 1988, as he battled more than a dozen well-armed terrorists, led by Hans Gruber.
As I opened the book to read to Elysha, she said, “Wait, I don’t want you to spoil the movie.”
“You’ve never seen Die Hard?”
I couldn’t believe it.
Now it’s possible that she had seen the movie years ago, but a special feature of Elysha’s brain is that except for facts related to music and cooking, her brain jettisons most other knowledge related to movies, television, books, Broadway shows, sports, puppet theater, and the like, making every viewing a new experience for her.
It’s kind of amazing. She can tell you who every member of The Pixies are (original and replacements), and she can sing every word to an unreleased song off a 1983 Billy Squire album, but she can’t recall the ending to a movie that we saw three days ago.
This, I’ll remind you, is a feature. Not a bug.
So perhaps she had seen Die Hard before, but she didn’t think so.
So on Christmas afternoon, while Charlie sat in his new tent in the living room, programming his new robot, and Clara sat in her bedroom, engaged in long, thoughtful discussions with her new American Girl doll, my wife and I watched the Christmas classic Die Hard.
When it was finished, I turned to my wife and said, “I think it’s a Christmas movie, but some people disagree. What do you think?”
She scrunched her nose in a way that indicates utter disbelief – It’s quite fetching – and said, “Of course it’s a Christmas movie.”
You heard right:
My wife and I ate homemade chili and watched Die Hard in Christmas day, and when we were finished, she declared it a Christmas movie.
It was a Christmas miracle.
The next day, as the children were getting ready for bed, we cuddled on the couch and I read the book to her, which she also adored.
I’m not saying it was the best Christmas ever. I miss our open house, filled with friends, family, and Turkish strangers,. But it was the best pandemic-spoiled Christmas ever for sure.
And possibly in the top 10 overall.