Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Greatness That is the Robertsons on Boxing Day

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, New York Ci...Image via Wikipedia

Our Christmas tree this year is the hugest of the huge because E. has spent the last four Christmas holidays in Florida with Moms Landrith, and thus we went treeless since it's a job of work to hang the many lights and ornaments we own. You need time to do it, and you want time to enjoy it.

But Moms died in September so not only were we home together for the first time in several years, we also needed a bit of a morale boost. It's a strange messy unease when a parent dies who is very old -- Moms was 98.5 -- and a drain both financially and emotionally but still sporadically alert, even vital. One is sad, but one is also just a little glad, and one's accountant breathes a sigh of relief.

So I thought this year's tree must be a landmark or at least a hallmark. We hit the lot at East Bay Nursery, and in the first 30 seconds I said, "That one."

That one was a big one, a full 12 feet we later figured out, and thus about a foot too tall for our downstairs study, which is a pretty tall room as you may have noticed in the video from earlier today.

I am quite in awe of our tree, possibly the greatest tree ever but certainly the biggest tree ever because I will measure more accurately in future years. So impressed was I with our tree that I talked E. into scheduling a Boxing Day party -- which would be your December 26th -- so people could see as soon as possible The Greatness That is the Robertsons' Tree.

But after the invitations were sent, I began to wonder if anyone would show the day after Christmas. The day after can be a time of physical and emotional exhaustion since with some frequency Christmas is not what it could be, should be or -- perhaps most vexing --what it was. Even if actually it never was what it was.

However, Yoda I must be, for the party last night very good was it. I felt a special gratitude to those who showed up -- and not all that ungrateful to those who didn't, since we had 30 guests, about as many as our house comfortably holds. And Yoda Squared I unknowingly was because the quantity of food and drink the guests brought you wouldn't believe. That's the prism through which to look at the day after Christmas, a day when the crumbs of abundance overflow, all the stuff you couldn't eat or drink and welcome the opportunity to get out of the house.

A special gracias to Peter and Anita, who brought trays and boxes of leftovers from their traditional holiday feast to which the foodies throng, festooned with booze and tasties. Peter brought the remnants of this Alsatian thing with six (or maybe nine) kinds of pork, including blood sausage.

Also, a bottle of Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 that somebody gave Peter, which Peter said was a "cult favorite" and worth tens and dozens and possibly even hundreds of dollars. I sipped. Sigh. My tongue is as ignorant as ever.

It was fun. It was also apolitical. For years I did not explicitly recognize that all our parties had a political undertone, the politics of the workplace. That is, our party guest list was always larded with coworkers, by definition those from whom you want something or those to whom you pay obeisance or those who for one reason or another should be paying obeisance to you. I knew this without quite knowing it, though I certainly was aware I paid court to various people and resented it when certain people did not pay court to me, particularly years ago when I was an editor at Atlanta magazine, and I did not so much invite as summon Atlanta freelancers to our apartment on Lindbergh Avenue, convenient to several of the many Peachtree roads, boulevards, courts and terraces.

But now I have quit inviting those from whom I want something, and God knows I no longer have anything anybody wants, not the good folks I work with for sure, and we are pleasant but distant, and what's wrong with that?

So at party time we are content with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. It certainly is less urgent, and now I can drink as much as I like.

Now you can? Now?? my wife says.

Hmmm. There are things I still want from her, so let's leave it there.
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Peter Moore said...

Turns out the Clos du Val, is not so pricey as I thought. More in the $70 range. Still it's nice to be able to bring a $70 bottle to a friend's house just because it's lying about and not to think twice about it. Wonderful evening in many, many respects.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

It tasted like it could have been hundreds of dollars if I knew what wine that tastes hundreds of dollars tastes like.

lyle York said...

I too don't do anything that might bring anyone to do obeisance to me. The Robertsons' parties are always non-obeisant and so damn interesting. People from various decades, various lines of interest, various planets. You can't beat that with a stick, and you won't need to. I realize I've been enjoying your parties now for 3 decades. Holy cow, I must be 30. Happy New Year!

....J.Michael Robertson said...

An aspect of all this that I have ignored is that one thing that makes a party attractive is the foreknowledge that people with whom you would like to lay the groundwork for future advantage will be there. The politics of the thing thus seem tangential, almost accidental, can make it more powerful than the direct approach, that is, doing the actual inviting. The fact that you and they have been invited is already a shared value, and if you can both dump on the host...paradise.

Anonymous said...

Obeisance??? Ignorance is bliss...chomp, chomp, chomp... Slurp, slurp... The Robertsons make it all fun and convivial... They don't care if I can't play games or if I am ignorant about politics... They are gracious and invite me to eat and drink up anyway. And Henrietta, she enjoyed the Robertsons and the parties. We're going to miss her.