Let’s say you live in Orient and you want to see a Broadway play. It’s a three-hour drive and parking miseries. The other day I was in New York already, Broadway nearby. Would have been easy. But I had Mattituck on my mind, 90 miles east. Reason: The North Fork Community Theatre. A wonderful group of actors, Lauren Sisson among them. I never miss a show when Lauren performs. Drove to Orient Thursday night. Three hours. Reservation for the next day.
It doesn’t take long for Sandy Wilson’s musical “The Boy Friend” to put you in a joyful mood. The actors themselves, some of them quite young (college age?), are in a happy, contagious state. And Lauren, in beautiful dresses, is a charming and playful Madame Dubonnet determined to convince an old flame to get that fire going again. I have always felt that local actors, busy in their everyday professions, are generous in bringing live theater to us on the North Fork. And they are all so good.
By the time you’ll read this column, Thanksgiving will be over and Christmas so soon upon us. My wish: that it be a celebration of faith and family and not a mall madness. What I read about Black Friday gives a poor image of what this country is about. It certainly isn’t about people camping for days on a waiting line at Best Buy. Sure, I, too, can get excited about shopping for gifts. But for this to become more important than a Thanksgiving family celebration? Ah, no.
I have always been troubled by how rushed and angry some of us look on our Christmas shopping days, fighting the crowds, hoping for one more good deal. And the anxiety: What shall I get Aunt Lucy or Uncle Joe? I know, there’s happiness in all these gift-wrapped boxes. I will never forget my friend Rita Martinsen busy wrapping gifts at Christmas time. Rolls of holiday wrapping paper all over the dining room and the living room, too. Ribbons, ribbons, colorful ribbons. But it was not just about the gifts. It was about the giving. A display of love. She had seven children and 12 grandchildren for that love to be shared. Her house in Orient at Christmastime was an exuberant celebration of the holiday spirit.
At the end of each year I have one less year ahead. And as I have grown older my perception of time has changed. Same number of months but they seem to come and go faster than ever before. I barely turned around in October and now November has run away. No time for procrastination. But to get rid of that old habit! I’ll do it tomorrow. I want to take my time like my dog does. Let’s check every little blade of grass. What’s at the bottom of that tree? So delicious to wander about. That good feeling that nothing will end. What’s the rush, I say. Easy, my life. Truth or illusion. Four more weeks and it’s 2015.
My car is 14 years old. I am … I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been in this house over 30 years. Should I sell it and buy a little cottage for one man, one dog? How about a one-bedroom condo? My father’s picture on the wall is of a man who could be my son. All my 10-year warranties have expired. Once, they seemed to go so far into a distant future. Should I travel to Florida and look at warm-weather places? No more chilly Februaries. I always felt Florida was for old people. Not for me. Well …
Nina barks at me. She wants her walk. I’m slow to respond. She’s impatient, runs around me, pushes, rushes to the door. All right, Nina, let’s see what’s happening in the night on Willow Terrace Lane. The flashlight. Dispels the dark 300 feet ahead. We’ve got the whole dark night to ourselves. No dogs out there. Perhaps a raccoon, a slow-moving opossum, a rabbit, late for home underground. A million stars. It’s cold. Ah, yes, it’s winter.
Third Christmas without my wife, Nancy. How can it be Christmas, really? We’d bring home a tree and decorate it together. We’d have a crèche. One evening a walk along Fifth Avenue to look at the brightly lit window displays. Nancy always finding the prettiest, the most meaningful gifts for everyone. Midnight Mass. Then we’d hurry back home. I close my eyes. It’s all there. But in my house right now, planning for the holidays it’s just me and my dog, the two of us, trying to stay warm.
Still, I want to say it: Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year.
Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]