Mr. Wow Blog
Mr. wOw’s Christmas
12:46 pm | December 27, 2011

Author: Mr. Wow | Category: Point of View | Comments: 84

The Boobys

Home for the holidays: a bad cold, a bad mood, epic movies — and a blue-footed booby

Now, I know you wouldn’t think it, by looking at the lurid display, but Mr. wOw had a difficult time putting up his tree and turning the house into the usual Christmas bordello. I wasn’t feeling it. At all. Oh, I generally have a hard time. In recent years (the last decade!) my bouts with depression, dissatisfaction at work, and disappointment in myself have hampered what was always a lot of fun — if, a lot of effort. B. has always taken great pleasure in my tossing tinsel, overburdening a hapless fir, and garlanding the house willy-nilly. So in the end, I’ve always mustered up enough energy to do my thing. I feel I do little enough for B. and it won’t kill me to be unselfish. Even if I act like it will.

The Tree (and I didn't think I'd done enough!)

But I was way down this year. I had a bad cold. And when I have a bad cold it doesn’t fool around. In fact, I still have it. (A bad cold reminds me always of my illness back in ’97, when I kept insisting, “it’s just a cold, it’s just a sinus infection” — obstinate until it was almost too late.) I continue to hurt from my fall and various sprains of more than a month. As for work — it has been an especially fraught year. I told B. frankly I was deeply unhappy and didn’t think I could bear to do it. He nodded sympathetically, but he has his dissatisfactions and unhappiness too. He needs the tree, the lights, the glimmer of hope for a new year. And he’s Jewish, so this is a major thing for him, to anticipate and enjoy my pagan rites. We have the menorah out, of course — but there’s only so much you can do with a menorah. I suppose I could stick a few sequins on it.

I waited and waited. I dragged out the ornaments and looked at them in despair. No joy. I half-assedly decorated the window (no beads strung along the top. And I love those beads, purchased many, many years ago in Manhattan at a store specializing in Christmas frou-frou.) Then, I went and got the tree, sneezing, hacking, miserable. Brought it home, stood it up, kept in watered but still bound and bare for two days. Finally, I went to work on it, full of self-pity and dark thoughts. Poor Mr. wOw, forced to decorate a Christmas tree. (The absurdity of my intense resistance made me even more cranky — “Effie, we all got pain!” as the line from “Dreamgirls” goes.) In three hours, I was done. Was it any good? Or bad, considering my not-universally-admired tendency toward excess? I was exhausted and went to sleep. But by Christmas Eve — I’d only decorated the day before — I was feeling somewhat lighter. (At least I didn’t feel anymore like the crazy nun in “Black Narcissus” — let’s put it that way). B. really was pleased, although he kept saying, “I feel I forced you into this.” Ah, well — he did. But Mr. W. needs that at times. On my own, I can fall apart. And all the kings horses and all the kings men …

By Christmas day I was feeling much better, mentally. Physically I was still all Greta Garbo, coughing, swooning and generally being a big ham. I took to my couch and switched on Turner Classic Movies. From 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. I watched “Ben-Hur,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “King of Kings.” I know — that’s a hell of a lot of crucifying and resurrecting for one day. Not to mention chariots races and Salome’s dance!

I finally did use those beads

Mr. wOw is not especially religious. Hardly at all. But religion fascinates me — sometimes like a mongoose/cobra thing. And it is difficult not to be moved by the words of Jesus Christ, whether he was a man, the son of God or a myth. But I watched these films more out of nostalgia — I saw all of them on first release as a child. (“Ben-Hur” at a drive-in. I loved drive-ins!) And also because I’d always adored epic movies of antiquity. This sprung from my obsession with Greek and Roman mythology. If you think I know way too much about Marilyn and Liz, you should have heard me at ten years old, reciting the names of all the gods and demi-gods and nymphs and naiads; all the major and minor tales of the capricious gods. And The Trojan War? Please, I’d read “The Iliad” at bedtime. So, all movies that featured men in helmets and great marble edifices, ladies with elaborate hairstyles and lots of make-up — I was there. Quality didn’t matter much. I was crazy about everything from “Hercules Unchained” to “The Fall of the Roman Empire” to “El Cid” to “The Vikings.” Okay, okay — the cute guys bare-chested or in leg-revealing tunics? Even as a child I knew.

So my Christmas Day movie-thon was secular pleasure. Still, “Ben-Hur” is a top to bottom masterpiece, and I inevitably cry when Charlton Heston’s mother and sister are healed of their leprosy “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is cluttered with too many stellar cameos — most infamously John Wayne’s gladiator intoning “This indeed was the son of God” — but it is a beautiful-looking film and Max Von Sydow was an acceptable Jesus. “King of Kings” is high-toned camp, with Jeffrey Hunter as the most Aryan of all Christs, with his milky skin, light brown hair and blue-blue eyes. But he does his best. Even with his shaven armpits, on the cross. “King of Kings” is much enlivened by the subplots — Pilate’s wife, Herod’s wife (Rita Gam’s big moment — aside from being a bridesmaid at Grace Kelly’s wedding), and of course that nasty minx, Salome. (Brigid Bazlen played her as bloodthirsty Lolita. Her dance is erotic to the max. This gorgeous girl’s career never took off for some reason. She died in 1989.) More fun in this movie — Pilate is played by Hurd Hatfield of “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” fame. I never thought Hatfield was particularly well-suited to play Dorian — too, stiff, not pretty enough — but he’s a marvelous Pontius Pilate. And had become much more handsome since his 1940’s MGM debut.

As much as I'd like to say it is, this handsome fellow is not Mr. wOw. It's one of our cats, Tiger: the only one who is unafraid of Christmas in Hoboken

By the time Mr. Hunter was rising from his tomb — this moment is always accompanied by a lot of music — I was in tremendously better spirits. Certainly better than watching the gilt-encrusted Pope on Christmas Eve, condemn the commercialization of Christmas. Too late, now, bub. Just remember, there’s no such thing as Christmas in the Bible, and Jesus himself would be appalled by … almost everything done in his name. Shopping is the least of it.

I was even hungry. B. made a scrumptious pot-roast and I ate as I haven’t in a while.

Miss Taylor, at least, always approves the "too much is never enough" dictum

Oh, my present! We don’t exchange presents anymore. B. lives online and orders most everything he wants during the year. My finances are no longer what they were — nor do I have any credit cards to abuse. In general, all I want for Christmas is B. I stopped wanting “things” a long time ago. But we exchange cards, B. does order me all the current Marilyn calendars for the new year, we have some champagne. But being more sensitive and playful than Mr. W., B. always comes up with something. Last year he presented me with a little stuffed animal. A blue-footed booby. It is in danger of extinction. Along with that, I received a certificate from the World Wildlife Fund that I’d actually adopted the Booby, to protect its special status. I am a very late-life parent! This year, B. said, “wOw, the Booby loves you a lot — but he’s lonely for the kind of conversation he can only have with another booby. So … B. presented me with another stuffed bird. A red-footed booby, equally in danger of disappearing. And another certificate of adoption. Men! They think we have nothing better to do than take care of the house and tend to their Boobys. Actually, the blue-footed booby was very happy. Now they cuddle close together on the chaise. I just hope they are careful. I don’t need a booby litter!

That was my Christmas. It started off bad, but thanks to B., I got my head out of my ass and stopped whining. This won’t last long, but I’m always encouraged that it can happen, and maybe someday I’ll start living again for today, rather than regretting the past and fearing the future. After all, in January I am only 59. And on a good day — today is a good day — I still feel 28.

Last but not least. I love you all. You have made recent years much more pleasant, fulfilling, and brim with “teachable moments.” Despite my anonymity, I think you know me. (Well, you kinda didn’t have a choice — I told all!) I hope yours were the happiest, healthiest of holidays and a fabulous New Year to each and every one of you.

Love, Mr. wOw

  • calgal

    Oh, Mr. wOw, another wonderful gift from you, sharing your heart! I had a bad mood Christmas too, with way less reason than you. Didn’t fight it as successfully as you did, but then I have no Mr. B to encourage me to get over myself. Your struggles, and your willingness to share them, let me know I’m not alone, that it is worth it to fight depression rather than giving in.

    Some of my first memories are singing “How’d you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island” while we were celebrating Christmas on that glorious tropical island of Midway (active again for the Korean War). All we had to do was walk out our front door to see live blue-footed boobies, albatross, and frigate birds. Your stuffed birds and wacky décor take me back to our Christmas with the cardboard make-believe fireplace, and Mom reassuring us that although there was no chimney for Santa to come down, he was equally good at squeezing through keyholes. You’ve given me some Christmas magic. Thank you!!

    1:33 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Cagal…

      It is hard, but the fight to rid yourself of depression is worth the fight,  I  feel it not so much for myself, but for those I hurt–B. and my few close friends. 
      Don’t ever give in.  You are not alone.  At all. 

      Love, Mr. W.

      2:50 pm | December 27, 2011
  • rick gould

    Let’s see…what could have made Mr. WoW laugh during the Christmas holidays?
    “Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!”
    Lucille Ball’s baritone intoning “We Need A Little Christmas (Cigarette Break)!”
    Dressing your tree in one of Elizabeth’s more elaborate caftans…or perhaps that “Boom!” kabuki gown and headdress…think of the time you would have saved decorating ; )

    Seriously, you’re not alone in the issues you are honest enough to discuss. I chose a quiet Christmas to think similar matters through. All I can say is keep working through it and let’s see what 2012 brings!
    Good health of mind and body to you in 2012, Mr. W!

    1:42 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Rick…

      Thank you, Neely O’ Hara.  (“Neely, you shoudn’t  drink and take those pills.”    “Eh, they work faster!”)

      Why isn’t “Valley of the Dolls” an annual Christmas movie?

      Thank you, Rick,  for your good wishes. 


      2:59 pm | December 27, 2011

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    the  constant in your columns  is your appreciation for B 
    I have a B too, whos Jewish and he can celebrate Christmas with the best of us
    he cooks puts up lights buys  the tree and puts it up for me to decorate

    Thankful for my B too !!! 

    2:36 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Small Town Girl….

      B. is the lifelong Christmas light of my life.   We have been through a lot. Are going through a lot.  Will continue to go through a lot. 

      I am so glad he had the good sense to “force” me to celebrate Christmas.   Even if it was more need on his part, than good sense. 

      It has reminded me of how much the season really means to me.  And how much I love B.

      xxxxand Merry/Happy
      Mr. W

      3:09 pm | December 27, 2011
  • LandofLove

    Yay! Mr. wOw’s Xmas decor in all its glory–and a handsome feline as well. Maybe next year we can see the owner, too?

    Best wishes for a healthy and interesting 2012, Mr. wOw. We know going in to the year that there will be a lot of political nonsense, so brace yourself for that. Bury yourself in your books, TCM, and the love of B. and your friends at wOw, and all will be well.

    3:34 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear LandofLove…

      Believe me, I wanted to show myself this year.  But the powers say I am more “interesting” as a faceless thing.    So flattering. 

      Can’t WAIT for 2012 to begin, politics-wise.  What  a ride it will be.  I love that the year has ended with Trump threatening to run as a third party candidate and Ron Paul’s old newsletters re-surfacing. (I wondered when people would remember all that!)

      I love you all and hope we can all ride out the year without going mad!

      3:44 pm | December 27, 2011
  • lsmyers

    Thank you Mr. WOW, even feeling as badly as you have – you still brought Christmas to WOW!

    4:02 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Linda…

      Feeling badly—I don’t  work in a Chliean mine!   I always need to get over myself, and luckily I have B. and a few smart friends who remind me of all the good things in my life. 

      As I said above–oh, poor me, condemned to decorate a Chirstmas tree.  Horrors!

      Thank you, Linda,  Happy New Year! 

      4:08 pm | December 27, 2011
      • lsmyers

        Usually, I decorate in early November and spend two months in the Christmas spirit, this year it was after the first week in December and I struggled with it even then. Just could not grab unto Christmas as in years past.

        Finally, I made an incredible wish – as if it was out of Miracle on 34th street and got busy. In a strange way, that wish just might come true in 2012 – so I am looking forward to the New Year.

        4:29 pm | December 27, 2011
  • Lisa Cornell

    Mr wOw, whenever I read your all too rare columns, I feel as though we are kindred spirits. All too often, I find myself thinking that I am not alone, he feels exactly the same way I do. Depression has also been my constant companion for the last 30 years or so. I don’t like to say I suffer from depression, but like all depressives, the truth is I don’t know whether I suffer from depression, suffer with it, or just plain suffer. More probable than not, those who love me, just find me insufferable when I am in the grips of it.

    I used to always love Christmas. Growing up in Canada, one could always count on a good snow. Since moving to Florida, seven years ago, the most one can hope for is the low 70′s. That said, I brought all my Christmas ornaments that I had been collecting for years and acquired more. I bought a 14 foot artificial tree with thousands of lights on it and each year I would decorate the tree with a couple of thousand crystal ornaments and would try to create a winter wonderland. This process would take me a week to do. Two years ago, I said to hell with it and wouldn’t put up the tree. My mother, who was visiting saw this as a sign of depression and she and my housekeeper put the thing up. I grew to hate the monster and its too perfect look. I longed for a small tabletop real tree that was crooked and bent and one which only Charlie Brown would love. I wanted homemade decorations and nothing store bought. That was vetoed and my mother would call every day to nag me to put the tree up. She would even call my housekeeper to get her to help me. This year I stood my ground. I always do a very nice tabletop, which I enjoy doing, and so I decorated the entrance to our home and dining room. I chose non-traditional colors of teal, bronze and platinum and I purchased a small tabletop real tree. I decorated with homemade paper chains and popcorn and I made all my decorations. It was fun. My husband and I spent Christmas eve surrounded by our seven cats (all rescued) and watched our Christmas movies. Christmas Eve wouldn’t be complete without watching Alastair Sim as Scrooge.

    Christmas Day we always have a small gathering. With my son living in Seoul, our family is small. We invite several of my husband’s clients for dinner, as most of his clients are unemployed and many without family. Everyone pitches in and we have a great time. This is the one day when I feel everything is right with the world and pinch myself that I am so fortunate.

    I too am not overly religious, but I enjoy the company, the fellowship and the goodwill. At our table, are Buddhists, Jews and Christians and I think this is exactly how Christ would have liked his birth celebrated.

    So I too am grateful that I was forced into making “an effort” and most of all I am grateful for another good week.

    4:13 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Lisa (and hubby and seven  cats)…

      The best Christmas movie is the George C. Scott versionof “A Christmas Carol.”   I am totally undone by the time Ebenezer visits his nephew.    After that?   I must be sedated. 

      love, Mr. W.

      All our cats are rescued too.   We have three.

      9:09 pm | December 27, 2011
      • rick gould

        Mr. W–
        My Mom and I were just talking about this on the phone Xmas day. She loves the Alistair Sim version…I reminded her to watch the George C. Scott version sometime. It really is lovely. For me, the “future” scene, where the wonderful Susannah York as Mrs. Cratchit, tells the children they must be brave for their father, after the death of Tiny Tim, just slays me.
        I watched a childhood fave, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” after not seeing it for about 15 years. I must admit some of the surprisingly dark scenes, where George Bailey/Jimmy Stewart, is at the end of his rope, brought a few tears to my eyes…so I am not the next Scrooge…yet!

        10:53 pm | December 27, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Rick…

          Apologies to your mom, but get her to watch the George C. Scott version.  It is sublime.  And the  recently  late Miss York is magnificent.

          I also watched “Going My Way” and had my usual breakdown when Barry Fitzgerald’s 150-year-old mother shows up at the end. 

          I am just a big puddle of mush under all this bitchy dishing.

          12:32 am | December 28, 2011
  • Rho

    Glad you are feeling better Mr. Wow, I’d like to wish you a Happy Holiday season, and for me it is still Chanukah, so I wish you a Happy Chanukah too. :)

    4:32 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Rho…

      And a very Happpy Chanukah to you, too! 

      All my big crushes and boyfriends and my  lover of 35 years have been Jewish.    What can I can I say but Oy, oh boy!

      9:24 pm | December 27, 2011
      • Rho

        Today is the last day.  Shalom, Mr. WoW :)

        1:39 pm | December 28, 2011
  • Haunted Lady

    Your home looks exuberant and joyful. I’m so glad you found whatever you needed to do your usual job of fabulous excess. I haven’t put up a tree in 14 or 15 years because I’ve usually been alone at Christmas and it’s too much mess and hassle. I’m back home now and adjusting so maybe next year …
    Your cat is lovely. Not as lovely as mine but close.
    I wish you and B a lovely New Year and hope you have nothing but good happen to you.

    7:07 pm | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Haunted Lady…

      My cat objects.   He says he most lovely. 

      We’ll let them discuss.

      Thank you for your good wishes…

      9:01 pm | December 27, 2011
  • Chris Glass`

    Mr. Wow, Glad to see that you had your tree up and could enjoy it once done. The picture shown was much better than the small tree we had this year. I might have been more in the holiday spirit if I’d put up a large tree early in the season.

    I was amazed to hear of so many others having the same struggle with getting ready for the holiday this year with Christmas decorating. I couldn’t get in the spirit as I was taking one of my best friends out for appointments with her oncologist. She had a CT scan, bone marrow extraction and then a PET scan then was told to go home and enjoy Christmas he would give her a treatment diagnosis after the holidays. My 92 year old father-in-law came down with a virus and my husband had a large skin cancer removed on the 23. I did manage to put up a four foot tree with white lights and angel decorations. The cat absolutely loved it.

    Christmas was peaceful for us. We went to the Veterans Home to spend it with my father-in-law and have lunch with him. It wasn’t a traditional holiday but an evolving one. I am grateful to have had this year with my family. I wish you the best for the coming year and hope that your New Year is filled with wonderful experiences.

    9:30 am | December 28, 2011
    • LandofLove

      I feel for you, Chris. Earlier this month I had to put my beloved 89-year-old mom into a nursing home, due to serious memory issues. That pretty much took care of holiday joy for me. But, you do what you have to and find peace and comfort where you can.

      10:15 am | December 28, 2011
      • Mr. Wow

        Dear Chris and LandofLove…

        See?  Real issues.  That’s why I had to stop feeling so down and put that tree up!

        My prayers are with your friend, Chris and you and your mom, LandofLove.  (Yes, I do pray–tho I dont know to what, really.  I figure it can’t hurt.)

        11:35 am | December 28, 2011
  • Daniel Sugar

    Lorrell: You got the same wig I got?
    Effie: Yeah.
    Lorrell:You got same the same dress I got?
    Lorrell:Then shut up!

    Hope you and B. have a wonderful 2012!



    11:00 am | December 28, 2011
  • NSH

    Thank you for your wonderful Christmas column. You are a national treasure, Mr. WoW.

    11:24 am | December 28, 2011
  • Baby Snooks

    I got “anonymous, untraceable, and unblockable” about 8 pm on Christmas Eve. Someone singing “Silent Night.” Silently. To themselves. In their demented little mind. That was the end of Christmas for me. The answering machine went off along with the phone ringers.  I have Facebook. So I am never totally alone. A scary thought actually. I wish you were on Facebook with me, Mr. Wow, simply because there would be something more than just the latest “quotes to lve by” from the latest gods and gurus.  Some of which are “recycled” from previous gods and gurus. Of course then you would know who I am. And I would know who you are. And it might not be as much fun. Something about anonymity. Quite nice. Except at 8 pm on Christmas Eve.  I do feel as if I know you. Of course as you pointed out having led the lives we have led, we probably do.  We might not remember the names, but, well, definitely “dollinks” as Eva Gabor always called everyone she remembered but didn’t remember their names.  I got depressed on Christmas Day thinking about the fact that I am pushing 60 but realized I was born at the right time because I remember so many people who are worth remembering. Who’s worth remembering these days? I have nothing but memories at this point. But what wonderful memories. Some of which I share on Facebook. To the usual “how many times are you going to tell this story?”  Another year. Some more stories. Hopefully another year. And more stories. And another “Christmas with Mr. Wow!”

    11:38 am | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Baby…

      Not only do we probably know one another, we are the same age. (I’ll be 59 in a week.)  And I know exactly what you mean about being born at the right time.  I, too, love my memories of the times, places and eras.  (It helped that even as a child I was disturbingly–to my family–interested in old movies and their stars. So my appreciation was fine-honed as an adult.) 

      Although I’d like to look 29 again, I am happy as a clam to be 59. 

      12:50 pm | December 29, 2011
      • Baby Snooks

        They were just nicer times.  Even the scandals were nicer.  Everyone seemed to marry someone else who made them happier.  Except for Debbie Reynolds. She’d have been better off having affairs.  I think we all were entranced by the movies. And the movie stars. I of course got my first and last autograph from Martin Milner. I forgot to bring even a pen.So he wrote it on a little grocery sack. Of course he also answered the door in only a towel. So he probably wanted to get rid of me quickly. I actually got two autographs from him. He was in town filming an episode of Route 66 and a friend’s mother was in it and my mother mentioned it to her mother, I suspect mainly because of his answering the door in just a towel,  and so she bought me a little autograph book he had signed as well.  I never forgot that. I had a couple of fantasies as the years went by. Of Martin Milner in just a towel.  At the time, however, I was very embarrassed.  And realized I had intruded so to speak. So I never felt the urge to have an autograph again. Of course as the years went by there were some other movie stars standing there with just a towel on,. The towel didn’t stay on long. The poolhouse years. One of the books I will never write. The Great Poolhouses of Bel-Air. Although some would subtitle it Confessions of the Siena Way Slut. Although I wasn’t really a slut. It was the sexual revolution. And I was just a revolutionary!

        6:16 pm | December 29, 2011
        • Baby Snooks

          That sounded mean about Debbie Reynolds. She may have been very happy in the other two marriages. Although I suspect she wasn’t too happy when she realized they’d bankrupted her. At which point, well, I suspect she wished she’d just had an affair with them. But, well, unlike someone else who shall remain nameless so I don’t sound mean again, I suspect Debbie Reynolds really did marry the men she slept with.  

          6:32 pm | December 29, 2011
          • Deirdre Cerasa

            Baby Snooks,
            Don’t think that sounded mean at all. I think many people feel that Debbie Reynolds looked the wrong way 3 times. She has alluded to that many times herself.

            11:30 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Ah, there it is! The Mr. Wow tree! Now my holidays are complete.

    I think we do know you, Mr. Wow, even if it is via a pseudonym and a tux-clad avatar. At the heart of things, it is neither the name we go by nor the shell we come in that matters; it is the sharing of experiences, and others’ interest in our experiences, that form the root of who we are.

    And again… Happy New Year to you and B! Looking forward to more Mr. Wow dispatches!

    12:16 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Lila…

      Thank you, honey!  I’d love to do a weekly Mr. Wow, but my schedule does not permit.  However, who knows?  Times are hard, and could become harder.  My schedule might free up.

      Happy New Year!

      12:54 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Obediah Fults

    Dear Mr. wOw,

    I’ve enjoyed your column since the beginning but have rarely, if ever, given any input or feedback. The topic of Christmas, depression, etc. has ignited a small fire under my butt, though. I want to share “my story” with you as briefly as I can. I’m afraid it’s a long story.

    I’m the same age as you and am the “end of the line” as everyone in my family has preceded me in their transition to “The Other Side”. Any spiritual feelings I have are certainly not traditional and tend more toward Wicca than anything; but I can’t divorce myself from Christmas and all its trappings. After my father died (age 35 in 1963, from complications of diabetes), my mom tried to continue our Christmas traditions — burning our “Christmas candle” for only an hour on Christmas Eve “so it would last forever”, saving tinsel “because, you never know, there might be a war next year and we wouldn’t be able to get any then”, putting every glittered tchotchke and gegaw in the same place it was every year, and on and on. Shopping for the perfect Christmas tree with my mother was the stuff of Christmas parody! Often, it involved three evenings of after-school shopping from lot-to-lot, standing one against another, getting on hands and knees to confirm the trunk’s size and verify its straightness. Then, just about when my brother and I thought a decision had been made — a bare spot suddenly appeared, one that nobody had noticed before! So, the search continued until — nine times out of ten — we ended up back at the first sales lot, where we started the search three evenings earlier, to buy the first tree we had looked at. (Why do I wonder where I get my OCD tendencies?) Placing ornaments — big ones near the bottom, smaller ones toward the top, and no two red ones too close to each other — was another ordeal altogether!

    What was my point? I knew this would happen if I ever started sharing with you. Oh yes: Evolution of Traditions.

    As hard as she tried, Mom couldn’t make it the way it was before Daddy died. Then Grandma died and another chair was empty on Christmas morning. When my brother died (of AIDS, in 1992), I told Mom, “We have to stop this. Our fun and festive traditions have become sad rituals!” She agreed and we started doing things differently.

    (I’ve neglected to mention that my life, to that point, was the cliché of a gay man in his forties…still living with his mother while deluding myself that I was “taking care of her”.)

    A miracle occurred in early 2001 when I found my “B”, Bill. He was eleven years older and, while we were a-courtin’, I joked that someday he’d have me to get his shawl and push his wheelchair.

    When Mom was dying (in 2003, of Alzheimer’s Disease and Uterine Cancer), she asked me to “keep Christmas going, even in [my] own way.” She knew I’d have to change it even more after she was gone. She died on December 6, 2003. Bill and I got a “toilet brush” tree from the Dollar Store that year and had bologna sandwiches on Christmas Day. We started packing immediately, put the house on the market, and got the hell out of Fresno within three months. Our happily-ever-after was to be on the rocky coast of Maine.

    During the move cross-country, I was diagnosed with muscle spasms in my back. At times, the pain was excruciating and I even passed out twice. I was losing weight — but the new house had fourteen stairs to climb every time I needed to use the bathroom. I thought I was getting some good exercise. The weight loss continued…and, oh, those aching lumps on my back!

    In December of 2004, during a rehearsal for the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus’ holiday concert, I fell off the risers. I hurt all over and was sure I had broken a finger — at least. Three concerts, several holiday parties, a visit from Bill’s cousin, and all the Christmas & New Year obligations later, I finally saw my doctor on January 5th. X-rays, bone scans, and multiple other tests revealed — not only MANY broken bones, but — advanced prostate cancer that had metastasized throughout my entire skeleton. Those grapefruit-sized lumps on my back weren’t muscle spasms!

    I was castrated immediately to starve the cancer of testosterone, its “food”. For a long, long time, I got healthier and stronger. At Stage IV, it couldn’t be cured but there were Band-Aids I could keep slapping on it for a while. Bill and I were able to enjoy four wonderful years exploring Maine, climbing lighthouses, and entertaining company “from away”. (When I got the cancer diagnosis, everyone I knew bought a plane ticket to come and see me!) At times, I felt like I was running a Bed & Breakfast. Life was good and we were living our happily-ever-after, cherishing each day — indeed, every moment.

    On December 3, 2009 Bill had a heart attack followed by a quadruple bypass. He recovered. Then, on February 25, 2010 he had surgery to clear a blocked carotid artery. He had a stroke during surgery. With daily therapies (physical, occupational, and speech), he recovered from the stroke! By late spring, he was driving again as well as working out, three times a week, at Planet Fitness (something he never had done before) and walking two miles every Sunday.

    In May of 2010, he was diagnosed with anal cancer. He went through two rounds of chemo and I drove him to Portland every day, for six weeks, to have daily radiation treatments. The Energizer Bunny survived the cancer…and kept on going! The radiation treatments ended on September 3, 2010.

    On October 3, 2010 he had “silent seizures” at the site of the stroke and was taken, by ambulance, to the hospital. What followed has been a nightmare: Respiratory failure, intubation, ventilator, feeding tube, and eventual dependence on the ventilator. After two months in ICU, he was transferred to a hospital in Boston that specializes in weaning vent-dependent patients. I live on a social security income of only $839 a month, so I thought I might never see him again. I could never afford to make a trip to Boston except, maybe, once a month! Angels stepped in though; our oncologist and her staff bought Amtrak passes for FIVE MONTHS so I could travel to be with him any time! I commuted (at least) every other day for the entire five months he was in Boston, travelling ten hours (round-trip, door-to-door, by car to Portland, train to Boston, subway and trolley through the city, and uphill two blocks to the hospital on foot…all winter…to spend five hours at his bedside before walking down the hill to catch the trolley for the journey back to Maine. Eventually, he was weaned from the ventilator — but I was getting weaker, using a cane, and losing weight again.

    In April, 2011 he was placed in a rehabilitation nursing home only 25 minutes from our house. Now I can spend every afternoon and evening with him. He has suffered multiple setbacks (mainly sepsis) but recovered and is doing well. The decubitus ulcer, which I haven’t mentioned until now, is almost fully healed. All of his bad teeth have been removed and his beautiful smile will be restored when he’s fitted with dentures in only a few weeks. After all this time in bed, he has lost the use of his legs and probably will not walk again. But he’s fooled everyone so many times that I wouldn’t put it past him again.

    After Medicare ran out, MaineCare kicked in and took all but $40 of his social security income to put toward the nursing home cost. I’ve maintained the house on my $839 for the last four months, but this has to end. I’m bringing him home at the end of January and will care for him myself. My joke has come around to bite us: I’m fetching his shawl and pushing his wheelchair.

    In the meantime, naturally(!), I finally had to start chemotherapy; the cancer was growing again at an alarming rate. By May, I was bald and wicked-bad weak. The first treatments didn’t work and my despair reached a new depth. What would become of Bill if I were to precede him? Then, just in time, a new chemo agent was approved (Zytiga) and it’s having a dramatic effect on reducing my symptoms and numbers! I take four pills at home every morning at 5:30am and have had NO side effects. My hair grew back (curly, this time!) and I’m fat ‘n happy again.

    What does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, I’m getting to that. This was one of our happiest Christmases in several years. Yes, we spent it at the nursing home, but we were with the nurses and CNAs who have become our friends. They showered us with gifts and, after all, Bill and I were together. That’s ALL I wanted for Christmas…and I got it. On top of that, health is improving for both of us and we’re making plans for him to come home very soon.

    I took a small shrimp ring, a couple cans of V-8, and some Egg Nog for us to share before the nursing home’s “special” Christmas Dinner (Roast Beef, Baked Potato with Sour Cream & Chives, Grilled Tomato, Vegetable Medley, dessert, and coffee) — which Bill was able to eat without assistance. (He’s come so far!) After dinner, he was put back to bed and we spent the afternoon and evening by the light of the much nicer “toilet brush” I had decorated with bells and candy canes. He got to call his cousin and, later in the day, had a tearful ‘phone visit with his 84-year old uncle. And I got to spend another Christmas with my Bill.

    It was a wonderful day!

    1:36 pm | December 28, 2011
    • LandofLove

      Thank you.

      It’s all I can say.  

      2:23 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Baby Snooks

      Thank you for the reminder of what Christmas is really about. 

      6:41 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Deeliteful

      Yes, thank you! I am typing this thru tears your letter brings. Best wishes to you and your Bill.

      7:01 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Obediah…
      Because your harrowing saga ended with a beautiful uplift, I will add this, as Thelma Ritter remarked in “All About Eve.”     “What a story.  Everything but the bloodhounds yapping at her rear end!”    No disrespect intended.  You appear to have a good sense of humor.

      Please stay fat, happy and healthy—for a long time. 

      Happy New Year
      Mr. W.


      1:02 pm | December 29, 2011
      • Obediah Fults

        Thanks Mr. W., LandOfLove, Baby Snooks, and Deeliteful. I’m still laughing about those bloodhounds. What a great way to put it!

        Did any of you happen to see “Make Way for Tomorrow” on TCM (Christmas night)? I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I turned it on — but, by the time it was in the second reel, I had already gone through half a box of Kleenex! What a movie…what a movie! After I saw it, I read that Orson Welles had said of that picture, “It could make a stone cry.”

        Happy Fifth Day of Christmas and best wishes for a fabulous 2012 to all of you!

        2:22 pm | December 29, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Obediah..

          Yeah.  I did.  My emotion–as always–is almost as extreme as my reaction to the kid having to shoot his deer in “The Yearling.” 

          I only think I am a stone.  Actually I’m just a gooey marshmellow. 

          Mr. W

          3:55 pm | December 29, 2011
    • Deirdre Cerasa

      Oh, Obediah and Bill….

      11:40 pm | December 29, 2011
    • Haunted Lady

      I admire your ability to hang on and keep going. Christmas isn’t in the stuff, it’s in us. I hope 2012 will be good for you and Bill and I’m glad you have each other.

      11:29 am | December 30, 2011
    • Pdr de

      What survivors you both are – my lord! I’ll think of the two of you, Obediah, and what you’ve weathered when I begin to feel depressed or hopeless about the future of this country. You and Bill share a depth of love that few are privileged to experience. That you would both endure and survive the grueling treatments you’ve undergone just so you could stay together is humbling in a country where many people change partners almost as often as they change furnace filters. I wish for you much more quality time spent together. Thank you for reminding us what is really important in life. I hope there are some earthly angels “out there” who will help you help each other. God bless!

      4:27 am | December 31, 2011
  • Miss Lee

    I managed to miss this year’s depression and I decorated.  I even put up the string of lighted snowmen outside.  I haven’t put them up for four years since that year I left them up until April 15th. It was too hard to find the energy do anything else but laundry and groceries with what little free time I had that tax season.  My neighbors found my omission very amusing so I haven’t had the urge to decorate outside since.  I am going to make a point of hauling them and the little lighted deer inside on Jan 1st.  Or maybe not.  The neighbors do need some cheering up in March.

    2:18 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Miss Lee…

      I’m a big believer in Christmas decorations year-round (like at the old Russian Tea Room in NY.)    Just add more, each year. 

      1:03 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Mary

    I have been wondering if we were going to see a tree this year and so happy to see the pictures today.  I love your cat!  Looks so sweet in the picture among the decorations it fits right in.

    I haven’t been much in the mood for Christmas for a few years.  Mom passed away on Thanksgiving and Dad on Christmas morning a few years ago so that kind of bums me out for Christmas as I remember all the happy times with family and know it won’t occur again.  Sorry for the lost past and my heart aches for them back again so I can appreciate better what I had.  But this year I decided I would make a attempt.  So I drug out the little artificial tree from the garage and cleaned it up.  It is rather primitive and tall enough with it’s slender shape.  I put simple ornaments on it and some lights and put it in the window with the drapes at a slant.  I heard from a lot of my neighbors that they liked the look.  I always feared that my two furboys Bill and Chip would tear the tree apart, but they were not interested in it at all.  Chip got rather scared of it and Bill would rather sleep the Winter days away.  

    I even made myself a little Christmas dinner and made a few attempts at phone calls wishing cheer.  My heart wasn’t in it but I congratulated myself at my attempts.  Christmas is over and I rejoice, thank goodness is all I can say.  I do love your pictures and am glad we all made it through the day.

    Now I am looking forward to the New Year.  After 9 months of trying to get to a doctor who knows ( or has a reputation for knowing) what he is doing for bad backs, I finally have a appt. for the 2nd and am for the first time in my live  looking forward to going to a doctor.  The politics are amusing and entertaining for me and I cannot wait to see what the year will bring. 

    I wish you all a Happy New Year!


    3:51 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Mary…

      I am so glad you made the effort.  I know I am.  It does make a difference.  Even if its small and relief is the overwhelming feeling as the season ends. 

      Even though my cold has returned with a vengeance (I actually missed work yesterday) I’m feeling optimistic—today, anyway–about 2012.   And, so far, I have no reason not be optimistic.  Look, if Obediah  (see his post above) can rise above it, I sure can!

      1:08 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Dan S.

    If there really is a corelation between mustering Christmas cheer from the depths of depression and one’s general happiness, I’m in trouble. I don’t even own Christmas decorations; not one bulb, not one strand of tinsel. I loved the holiday when I was a kid and it was nothing more than a vacation away from school that reached apex with a Roman orgy of presents. When I became an adult and it turned into a bunch of hassles and obligations, my demeanor toward it became less-than-Christmas-y. I live alone, which has its perks right along with its disadvantages: I try not to tally up that ledger though because I suspect I wouldn’t like the result. But for the purposes of this discussion, it means that I don’t have to erect a tree or dangle any strands of anything.

    There are plenty of places where you hear people decrying the displacement of “Christ” from “Christmas”, but I generally just shrug my shoulders in such conversations. While it’s true that the holiday is becoming more secularized than some people are comfortable with, it’s merely Christianity ceding territory that it had forcibly taken anyhow. As you have alluded, virtually every practice performed for Christmas has Pagan origins instead of Christ-y ones. While biblical scholars still debate the actual date of Christ’s birth, many have concluded that it was probably in the Fall sometime, and for the first couple hundred years of Christianity, it was actually celebrated in January. What they tend to agree on though is that it is most likely not on December 25. It just got moved to that date so that the Christians of the time could piggy-back it on all of the Winter solstice celebrations that virtually all of the northern hemisphere was celebrating every year. I would say the evidence is pretty strong that no such person existed anyhow, but that’s a completely different discussion… a much longer one. But that’s why I shrug my shoulders instead of making it a thing. To me, it’s a holiday derived from a bunch of myths either way, so nobody’s enjoyment of it should hinge on which set of myths it’s taken from.

    Once again, I suspect I’m coming across as more antagonistic than I mean to.

    I’m glad you were able to squeeze what joy that was to be had from the Christmas holiday. I spent a good chunk of the day with my parents, who, unlike me, aren’t bashful about decking the halls. But to me, that’s what the day has to be good for – sharing a gleeful moment of time with loved ones. Anyone who can do that should consider it a win.

    3:56 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Dan S.
      You don’t sound antagonistic at all.  My own beliefs run a similar road.  But I do appreciate some aspects of faith.  It can be a great comfort, I am told.  And I wouldn’t want to take anybody’s faith away.    Just don’t dump it on me, with dire warnings of hellfire if I don’t give in.    I like a lot of what Jesus–man or myth–said. 

      I also like a lot of what Oscar Wilde said.  

      I’m glad you spent a happy day with your parents. 

      Happy New Year.

      1:21 pm | December 29, 2011
  • O E

    Dear Mr. Wow,

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas decorations and thoughts. I’m so glad you defeated depression if only for a moment and went ahead and brought out the beads.

    After “doing” Christmas for more than 50 years (the husband, the children, the grandchildren) this year I served notice to the children that I would not decorate or have the gathering at our house for Christmas. In other words, I pulled the plug. But my youngest son has never been one to obey. He showed up with his concubine and we had a wonderful lunch of chicken fettuccine that I cooked in no time at all. After they left, I settled down to watch “Midnight in Paris”. I don’t always “get” Woody Allen and have been known to stop a movie halfway through and return it to Netflix, or walk out of the theater if I’m tempted to watch a movie by Allen there. Nothing to do with his personal life and peccadilloes, because I keep that separate from the talent of the artist, unless they murder someone. The only thing I find enticing always in Allen’s movies is the musical score. It is my kind of music.

    “Midnight in Paris”, well, I watched it twice. I think Allen has poured his feeling for the city and its Bohemian past in this one. Beautiful! And for a writer and art history lover like me, it is a feast. I so enjoyed my quiet, peaceful Christmas, that I overindulged on the brandy-soaked fruit cake (those monks know what to do with alcohol), caramels, chocolates, all those things that improve movie viewing by yourself. Woke up in the middle of night, stepped down from the bed and collapsed. What came after had me asking God to please make it quick and painless. For the first time in my 79 years (yes, Mr. Wow, to me, you’re a youngster) I watched five hunky paramedics in uniform carrying heavy equipment walk into my house and do all sort of reassuring things. Those guys didn’t need paddles to get my heart going. They were hot! Hey, grandmothers can appreciate nice specimens of the human race, even when they feel they’re about to check out for good. The ambulance ride to the ER was not as exciting since the siren was silent, but the attendant was excellent at her job. After 4 hours and a plethora of tests at the ER, they released me to my son and his concubine, fully hydrated and recovered enough to sing along with the CD by the winner of “America’s Got Talent”. I’m so glad I voted for that guy until my phone run out of juice. Oh, yes, the diagnosis: severe dehydration and elevated glucose level. So I’m back on my diabetes mellitus diet, took all the sweets to the nice guys that run the post office in my neighborhood and I’m draining the city’s water resources. I’ll see 2012, after all, and I thank the Most High for not calling my card yet. I want my chance to vote for Obama again, after the GOP circus goes bankrupt.

    I wish you and your beloved B a 2012 bountiful in blessings, health, and love. Like we say in Spanish: Salud, dinero, y amor y el tiempo para gozarlos. Translation: Health, wealth, and love and the time to enjoy them.

    3:57 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear O.E.

      Good grief, you finally really enjoy a Woody Allen movie, and then collapse a few hours later?   And Mia Farrow thinks she has a gripe. 

      I hope you are feeling better.  Come on, O.E.  none of us can go in 2012.  (Unless the Mayans were on target)   Too much at stake.  Too much grisly fun to be had watching the politicans and the idiot talking heads carry on.  

      Oh, “his concubine?”   You made me laugh.

      Happy New Year! 

      1:28 pm | December 29, 2011
      • O E

        I’m back in fighting shape, Mr. Wow. Keeping up the liquids and staying away from the sweets does wonders.

        I call her his concubine, because these two are a “modern couple” living together without the legal paperwork of marriage. I just can’t see calling a 38-year-old woman a “girlfriend”. She’s a wonderful woman and they’re both quite happy in their concubinage. That’s enough for me.

        3:03 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Jon T

    Mr. Wow, I always enjoy your columns, but this was especially sweet (even with your liberal sprinkling of “boobies” throughout). ;-) So glad B. “forced” you to get into the Christmas swing of things. Judging from the photos, his prodding really got you into full steam decorating mode. Thanks for sharing!

    7:41 pm | December 28, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Jon T.

      Boobys.  Not “boobies.”  (You are thinking of one of Patty Duke’s great lines from “Valley of the Dolls.”)

      Oh, yeah.  Once I get going, it goes baroque.  In fact, I’m still adding touches! 

      Happy New Year

      1:31 pm | December 29, 2011
      • Haunted Lady

        Where can one find Boobys? Googling them brings up what you might guess but not the cute stuffed Boobys you have.

        By the way, one of my cats is a tuxedo named Teddy. He reminds me of your avatar but not as suave.

        4:31 pm | December 30, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Try the website for The World Wildlife Fund.   They are blue and red-footed Boobys.  Endangered species. 

          xxxMr. W

          It’s my avatar that is suave.  I’m sure your cat has it all over the real Mr. Wow.

          12:48 pm | December 31, 2011
  • Frannie

    I don’t always comment but I look forward every year to your Christmas entry. Sorry you had the blues – seems like everyone is fighting them as the world takes on changes that we are powerless to do much about. I had some hard Christmas’ when my son was deployed, but there was always something about decking those halls with all the old decorations and getting that tree up that would help change my mood. We get nice large ones and they seem to bring the freshness inside with their fragrance. Makes me feel like a kid again.

    My tree is my once a year art project (if you could call it that) and I love it when the neighbors want to see what I have done. The tree lifts my mood – kind of a renewal of the things I love. With the ornaments I try to put things on there that represent the infinity of life. From glass birds and seashells to a Buddha and a bellboy, lots of colorful glass pine cones and acorns, fruits and vegetables, Santa’s watch eternally set at 5 minutes to Midnight, beads and icicles and any other thing that I can get on there. A tree to express love of life – a gift that we forget we have on our bummer days, because a lot of days I forget how lucky I am (Thanks Obediah for reminding me. Also, I can’t imagine you in Fresno – I wave at Fresno on my way to Yosemite).

    I love your trees Mr. W, for me they are an expression of humor and fun that you share with all of us. I would miss not seeing them every year. You make me laugh and you have made me laugh on some of my bluest days and I appreciate you for it.

    4:33 pm | December 29, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Frannie…

      You expressed more eloquently than I ever could, what “the tree” means—that sense of renewal.   And the fragrance.  When I got home tonight and opened the door, it hit me again.  It’s beautiful. It lifts me higher.  And I’m nicer to B. 

      Happy New Year. 

      6:44 pm | December 29, 2011
  • LuckyLady n/a

    Greetings Mr. Wow:  I have never had the Christmas Blues until this year.  Don’t know what caused them (everything perhaps) but I forged ahead and one simple thing made me glad to be who I am, where I am, what I have, etc.  I was making my last foray to the grocery store and when I pulled into the parking lot looking for a parking space and grumbling to myself I saw all the beautiful christmas trees being hauled away and a sign on the fenced in area that said “all trees $5 dollars”.
    Standing and holding hands and looking through the fence were two little boys, probably 7 and 9 years old.  They reminded me so much of my own little boys that I walked closer and heard the 7 year old say he had 38 cents and was asking his older brother how much money he had.  The brother said he only had 2 dollars.  How do I know these kids were brothers–they both had Christmas red hair. They both looked forlorn and I engaged them in a bit of conversation about Christmas Trees–which were the prettiest and the tallist –just chit chat.  In one minute I was ashamed of myself and handed the 7 year old a five dollar bill (he then looked me in the eye and said he couldn’t take it)and I said I had lots of 5 dollar bills and didn’t need that one.  I then asked them how they planned to get a christmas tree home.  They said they would carry it up the hill.  By this time, the men hauling the trees away were chatting among themselves.  The man selling the Christmas Trees was telling them they should carry the tree with the stand at the front and the top at the back.  It was becoming obvious the kids probably couldn’t carry it up the hill.  By this time, a group had gathered and my electrician was coming out of the market and walking to his truck.  I asked him if he would take the boys and the tree up the hill and he said sure (by this time those kids trusted my judgment which was probably not a good thing).  The market manager asked them if they had ornaments for the tree.  They did, they said, because they had made them at school so Mr. Market Manager told everybody to wait and he brought out more ornaments and Christmas cookies for them.  As these two happy boys went off up the hill I looked around and tried to count the number of people who were smiling and happy and I lost count.  I guess it sounds too sweet but believe me it made me think that I was a Lucky Lady and that people in general had good hearts.  I think it was the pickup that we all needed two days before Christmas.

    7:13 pm | December 29, 2011
    • O E

      You’re ARE a Lucky Lady. And I hope you are in the neighborhood when I go to buy a new car. Just kidding… Your kindness with the two boys lit the fire of the Christmas spirit on the others involved. Thumbs UP for you!

      7:33 pm | December 29, 2011
  • Deirdre Cerasa

    Well, just like everyone else, I had been waiting for your Christmas issue! Love the pictures of the tree and love more that precious “B” insisted that you decorate! Wish there was something to help more with depression. Even when you know you have many blessings, it doesn’t minimize the pain you feel. My wish for you for 2012 is that the cloud will lift permanently so that you and “B” will have more fun time with the Boobys and you lovely cat. I also wish for more columns here! Happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!!

    11:48 pm | December 29, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Deirdre…

      I have a few very dear friends and I have B.  I still have my health and a job.  These good things don’t combat depression when it really grips.  But I am never unaware that I remain blessed in many ways.

      And I must say, I have this outlet and all those who respond to me, all of whom I feel I know and care about.  It has a surprising gift in my late middle-age. 

      Happy New Year!

      8:08 am | December 30, 2011
      • Mr. Wow

        It has been a surprising gift…

        I should not write before my first cup of coffee.   

        8:11 am | December 30, 2011
    • LandofLove

      I agree, Deirdre. It also sounds like Mr. wOw needs a new 9-5 job. Something in the entertainment industry perhaps? Or writing movie reviews at TCM…?

      8:12 am | December 30, 2011
      • Mr. Wow

        Dear LandofLove…

        I’m in the entertainment business.  It’s 9 to 5 and it’s not that entertaining…anymore.  (I’ve held my current position for about 30 years.)

        On the other hand–I’m not working a Chilean mine.  One must be realistic.

        8:48 am | December 30, 2011
        • LandofLove

          I see your dilemma, Mr. wOw.

          I guess that means you’ll have to go ahead and write that best-selling memoir. 

          12:49 pm | December 30, 2011
  • Deirdre Cerasa

    None of us are Chilean Miners ( I assume). My joys are my wonderful husband,children,grandchildren and singing. I also find fun in this part of wOw. The group of dedicated followers of your column are interesting and obviously love to hear from and about you and B. We all worry when we go too long without a column and most likely would show up on your doorstep to check on you if we knew where to go in Hoboken! Probably best that we don’t, as it would be a very large and boisterous group disturbing whatever peace you have! In the so called impersonal world of on line communication, you have people who really feel close to you and want to know that you are chugging along! Seems pretty special to me and you make it happen. Add that to the things that make life good.

    11:52 am | December 30, 2011
    • Dierdre, hear, hear. I second all of what you have so perfectly captured here.

      3:42 pm | December 30, 2011
      • Deirdre Cerasa

        Thank you. So many of the people who write her are so eloquent! Often after I have replied, I think of 10 other ways I could have said something that might have sounded better or made my point better. It’s nice to know that I “did good” this time.

        1:42 am | January 1, 2012
  • Frannie

    This depression thing is baffling. I have really tried to understand that “grip” that gets you. I have been there and know that pit and it can be a fearful thing. I thought if I could only understand what was causing it in me I could eliminate it, well not so easy as I thought. I think mine had and has a lot to do with having had to go through cancer treatment a couple of times.

    The last time around my son had just left for the army in January of 2002 – I knew where he would end up and it worried me more than the medical challenges, but I think the malaise started as I sat in front of my TV and watched the Twin Towers collapse. The effect was profound for all of us and I hurt for New Yorkers and loved ones lost, I hurt for my nation as well as a deep concern for the fate of my son. It’s like that “grip” took hold right then and with the re-diagnosis in February of 2002, it felt like something trying to pull me down to where I didn’t want to go. I would get immobilized.

    So everyday felt like a battle to not go there but the problem was – I woke up there. It would start before I was conscious of it doing it’s deed and I felt lost to do anything about it. I feared waking up to it. I have trouble with medication so that was out (it gives me bad headaches) so it just seemed like day after day of trying to stay above it. Anyone who has suffered from it knows that isn’t always doable, the “grip” of it is a pain in the ass.

    Oddly, it has changed for me in the past year. Maybe it is because menopause is over – I don’t know. I know that Essential Fatty Acids help balance the brain hormones that can cause depression, as well as aerobic exercise -but I always took good walks – so I don’t know, but lately there has been a sense in me that everything will be okay.

    Funny thing is our business is on a slow slog through this economy, both my sons are back home and I feel like I live in the land of 3 Swedish giants in my little house and they have no regard for the messes they leave behind. I feel crowded, have less privacy and more work to do around here – less time for the things I love to do, less of a budget to make things meet, so you would think I would be struggling the way I used to, but I’m not. I think I just accepted my aloneness with it (does that sound weird?) I don’t know any other way to put it. I looked at it, said “well screw you – you’re not going to immobilize me in my own life anymore.” It works for the most part, but keeping the energy up is the most important thing.

    The important thing is, when I was re-diagnosed I got very scared – it’s like your worst fears realized and I knew if I didn’t get a handle on myself things were going to get much worse. One night as I was climbing out of the bathtub, I asked myself what is the worst thing you fear about this? I feared I would die, it would be painful and I would leave my 10 year old son without a mother. So Those were the kickers. So standing there naked in more ways than one, I kind of “looked down to forever” and said okay, if I die then I die, sooner or later everyone goes -it is part of life. If there is pain they will give me drugs -and I knew that would be as much as I wanted (I’d seen it before) so that seemed like the easy part. Regarding my youngest son, I knew how much his father and brother loved him as well as the love that many of my friends had for him. I kind of felt my oldest, if he survived the war (which he did) – at almost 20 would be okay without me. I do believe in a power greater than myself so I figured, well they were God’s before they were mine so I will trust them to that, I had no choice, there was nothing else I could do, and that helped ease the walk on that journey. Funny how life always pushes you to the lessons that you need.

    I think it is facing the powerlessness of it all and realizing that I am doing the best I can in this situation. It will never be perfect and although I feel like I am 25 inside, I probably will never again do many of the things I used to do that I defined as what made up my own little “me”. I don’t have that young and energetic body that ran for miles, climbed mountains, rode horses, played tennis and was fearless in many of the things I did, but I am still here and there are other things I can do. Hopefully this doesn’t sound to cliche-ist – well, what can I say?

    So now I am finding out who I am with a different perspective on the road forward instead of where I feel I failed on the road behind me. There is no where else to go.

    1:38 pm | December 30, 2011
  • Dan Patterson

    Dear Mr. Wow,

    What a great column, and what a lot of interesting comments! I too watched BEN-HUR and part of TGSET before we had to leave to join family for supper. I saw all those movies you named in their original release, at theaters or drive-ins. A few of those 50s epics, like THE EGYPTIAN and THE ROBE, came out before I started going to movies, but I caught those on TV on Saturday Night at the Movies. I still enjoy watching those old spectacles.

    Two movies I recently saw for the first time are worthy of comment and recommendation. BEYOND CHRISTMAS is a different sort of Christmas ghost story, with a rather vague cosmology, but delightful performances from Charles Winninger, Harry Carey, and C. Aubrey Smith, and especially from Maria Ouspenskaya. (It also has Jean Parker, an actress I find very appealing – she was Beth in Hepburn’s LITTLE WOMEN.) Well worth a look.

    The other discovery was Leo McCarey’s MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW. A shattering, thought-provoking experience and a superb movie. This must be Beulah Bondi’s greatest performance – and she doesn’t play “lovable” in this one. If you haven’t seen this, I urge you to give this a try. Orson Welles said of it, “It would make a stone cry.”

    Happy New Year!

    12:30 am | December 31, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Dan…

      Oh, I loved “The Egyptian” with Mr. Zanuck’s girlfirend, Bella Darvi, as Nefer.  As a child I was much impressed by Nefer’s handling of her men friends (“I never asked you for this trash!”) but I was truly upset at the end, when  good doctor Edmund Purdom tells her “we can save your life, but not your beauty.”  Not her beauty?!  Why live?  I was a shallow child.   The first time I saw “The Three Muskateers” I was undone when they lead Lana Turner off to her beheading.  “Oh, why did they have to do that?!”  I exclaimed.   My mother–already wary of my  interest in Great Ladies of the Movies–said, “Now, young Wow, she killed June Allyson.  She had to be punished.”

      I replied:  “But Lana was so  beautiful, she deserved to live. June Allyson wasn’t as pretty. And that voice.“ 

      I was about 11 years-old.  I think I saw all hope drain from my mother’s face. 

      Happy New Year!

      12:43 pm | December 31, 2011
  • mary burdt

    Today is Dec,30th and I am just viewing your blog today. It has been a challenging year for me. My brother, whom I adored, died on Dec.28th of 2010. On Christmas day last year my cat, Rosie, died suddenly from an enlarged heart. As if this wasn’t enough, my husband of 52 years passed away after cancer surgery. I have never in my life lived alone. I am terribly depressed but do receive treatment. I miss him so very much. However, as this Christmas season approached I found the deep need to put up a tree and decorate it with the help of my daughter and grandson. They too miss grandpa but also wanted to continue a family tradition. I have always loved the Christmas season but must admit that this year was a difficult one.

    I love your posts and feel close to you especially this time of the year when you show us your tree. I laugh at your decorating sense and love your over-the-top style.

    Happy New Year to you and your beloved B.

    2:15 am | December 31, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Mary…

      Once again, I am humbled by real problems that don’t (yet) beset me.

      You know, I’ve never lived alone.  Ever. Years ago I used to think I yearned for it, and romanticize a sense of independence.   But my own particular personality, set of circumstances, well-meaning enablers, etc., kept me rather childish.  Now, the idea of being alone is terrifying.  I know I would survive.  But I would suffer coming out on the other  side of it.   I hope your daughter and grandson can relieve at least a little of the pain. 

      It seems almost grotesque to wish Happy New Year.   But I will.  Your losses can never be replaced but you can find happiness.  Not just “peace” or “contentment.”   I’ve resisited it so much, but I know happiness is always within reach.  And even if the time came when that reach exceeded what it is now–just across a room–I must believe I would be strong enough to find it again, in some form.    

      And forgive me, Mary.  If Rosie didn’t have a companion, get another cat.  Perhaps you have, since last Christmas? 

      Mr. Wow

      11:36 am | December 31, 2011
      • mary burdt

        Thank yo so much for your kind words and understanding. The New Year started out great. My daughter and grandson took me to brunch today and also brought me flowers. Isn’t that lovely. We are all hoping 2012 will be a time for us to heal and once again feel joy in our hearts.

        I haven’t gotten a cat yet. I seem to only have the energy to take care of myself for now. Maybe sometime in the future. Who knows.

        Thank you again for your concern. It touched me deeply. Mary

        1:17 am | January 2, 2012
  • Pdr de

    Mr. Wow, every week I look to see if there’s an article from you – awoke at 2:30 this morning and after tossing and turning, got up, went into the study and clicked on the computer and then typed in and there you were. I think Christmas can be a very challenging time of year, perhaps because people keep using words like “jolly” and “happy” and “merry” and it isn’t always that, especially these days. I’m sorry you’ve not been feeling well and am glad you managed to become infused with enough energy and determination to put up the tree (and it’s very pretty, as is your gorgeous cat). It was lovely to have glimpses of your the home you and B share.

    It’s been a big year for me – I sold my dearly loved home in Wisconsin where I’ve lived for the past 21 years and left it and my dear friends and moved to Virginia. At 73 I can no longer cope with winter. It’s been a huge “wrench” leaving everyone and everything familiar to me; I’ve lived within 90 miles of my birthplace, all my life until now. Leaving old, tried and true friends some of whom I’ve known and loved for 50 years or more and knowing I’m not likely to be returning is so hard. The grieving process which was delayed by the simple process (well, not so simple, really) of “getting settled” and finding my way around, with the help of my beloved GPS, the multiple and confusing freeways filled with heavy traffic to which I’m totally unaccustomed, hit me full force as Christmas approached. I cried a lot for a couple of weeks, aching to be with my friends to celebrate the holidays as I’ve done for many years. Living here has been challenging. There are pluses – going to Lowe’s and seeing Christmas trees and pansies being sold side-by-side made me smile. Waking up nearly every day to a blue sky and lots of sunshine is lovely. No matter how cold it gets at night – it always warms up during the day. Another plus is having my senior apartment sandwiched between the first and third floor with sunshine pouring into my living room in the afternoon. It’s going to be January in one more day and I have only had the heat on a total of 6 hours since winter began. Heat rises and the elderly lady downstairs always has her heat at 75 degrees – she may be cold but I’m toasty. Before I went to bed last night my thermostat registered 73 and as usual, my furnace is off. I had to open the door to the patio to let the apartment cool off before going to bed.

    Summer is something else and I moved here on the hottest day of the year. As my lungs struggled to “suck in” the hot, humid air, I screamed silently to myself, “What have you done????” Just after I moved in we had an earthquake which was rapidly followed by Hurricane Irene. I didn’t feel the earthquake though others here did but I was certainly aware of the hurricane. Knowing that as global warming continues to heat up and hurricanes will be stronger and there will be more tornadoes in our area is disquieting to say the least, but I’ve decided to table my anxiety and just enjoy these golden days. Winter in the Midwest is GRAY, DAMP, COLD, GLOOMY and oh yes, SNOWY, VERY SNOWY!!!! I’m making new friends while still missing those I had to leave behind. My house sold in 3 days with two bids so I guess that’s a sign I’m supposed to be here. People are friendly, I have my little bichon to make me laugh and to snuggle with and I’m better off than many people.

    I hope you are able to “take down” your Christmas tree without feeling too sad, Mr. Wow. I’m sorry your job isn’t what you’d like it to be – I stayed in a job 15 years that I really, really hated just for the benefits. I had a terminally ill husband and a child in college so I couldn’t just walk away. I know how hard it is to make oneself go to work under those circumstances. I hope a miracle happens and just the right job drops in your lap.

    Let’s pray some kind of sanity returns to the political arena because I tell you what, I’m very, very frightened at what’s going on right now and what has been happening or not happening for the past 3 or more years. Our country is up for grabs, environmental protections are being tossed aside like so much used tissue paper and many animals are in danger of extinction, including mankind.

    Instead of wishing everyone a happy new year, I’d like to wish everyone a “sane” new year – wisdom needs to prevail. Good luck to all of us!

    5:05 am | December 31, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear pdr de…

      Thank you!  I won’t feel too sad taking down the tree.  By then, I’m grumbling “why did I put this damn thing up anyway?!”

      As for for the right job “falling in my lap.”  It did.  The one I’ve got.  I just stayed too long at the fair, never made what I could have of certain opportunities, allowed the too-intimate atmosphere  of my workplace to overwhelm me.  The proper sort of motivation and discipline I needed, I never had, leaving home and school at 15.  Still, I’ve done better than anybody who knew my story would have expected.    I always use the anology of approaching  a beautiful beach. I walk into the surf.  The ocean looks so tempting.  I know I should dive in and swim, make the most of it.  But I don’t.  I stand with the water lapping at my ankles.  The undertow of ambition, success, true adulthood–taking control of my own life– are too frightening.  I made my choice to allow my ankles alone to glisten.   Some people never have the opportunity to do even that!

      Yeah, the political season is pretty scary.  Always is, actually, with everybody pandering to the worst elements of their parties. 

      I agree–a “sane” New Year to us all!

      12:01 pm | December 31, 2011
  • Harriet Shoebridge

    I haven’t posted on the wow site forever … because … ah, does it matter … a new year and anyhow … and just for you … I want you to know that your blogs put a smile on my face … edgy and sometimes snarky and intelligent and sweet and funny … without apology … and hasn’t political correctness used up it’s infamous 15 minutes of fame yet, for God’s sake.  That said, thank you for you.  All the best in the new year, all the peace and happiness that your heart can hold.

    5:54 am | December 31, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Harriet…

      Thanks and good to hear from you!   Honey, I’m with you on politcal correctness.   There is a point to excercising some sense of self-control and civilized good manners, but now we’ve gone totally over the edge.  You’re fired if you call somebody a “bad name?” or tell an offensive joke?   And to what purpose?  The haters are just as hateful as ever?  Moreso. 

      Happy New Year!

      12:08 pm | December 31, 2011
  • Mr. Wow:

    So today is the last day of the year and I wanted to thank you for sharing all your wows and woes on this site. We are all here to sympathize, applaud, chastise, agree, disagree and marvel over you.
    Wishing you and Mr. B a happy happy new year. We love you both.

    xox, JONI

    (P.S. Did you get a flu shot?)

    10:42 am | December 31, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Joni …

      Thank you. As I mentioned above this outlet has been a  great gift.  And much less expensive than therapy.

      I did get a flu shot, which is what has made this lingering cold so frustrating.  My arm ached for a week for nothing!

      Happy New Year.

      11:19 am | December 31, 2011
  • Deirdre Cerasa

    Happy New Year Mr. Wow and B!! Looking forward to reading a new chapter. Until then, thinking of you and buying lottery tickets for the “great train ride”. I will never give up on that one!!

    1:53 am | January 1, 2012
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Deidre…

      I won’t either.  Just the idea–the train full of us.  Us full full of food and drink…speeding across the country. 

      Happy New Year!

      10:33 pm | January 2, 2012
  • rick gould

    I keep coming back and reading everyone else’s stories in response to yours, Mr. Wow.

    I’ve enjoyed them all…and yours.

    Well, fasten your seatbelts for 2012! Hopefully, it’s not too bumpy!

    12:46 am | January 3, 2012
  • christine woodley

    For some reason, I have not been able to find your columns for some time. I’m really glad I read this one. I think many people feel less than festive at xmas but are afraid to admit it. My son left for a 5 month overseas stay right after xmas so I was kind of dreading the whole thing. I turned out fine of course. But underlying is the fact that xmas is changing for a 52 YO mom whose kids are growing up. That can be tough to accept sometimes. Anyway, I used to get email alerts for your columns but they stopped. ?? I just signed up again so I hope to not miss any more. You’re terrific. Happy 2012.

    12:35 pm | January 8, 2012
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