My mother shows up for holidays like a southern California rainstorm. You know she’s coming, but there’s only so much you can do to prepare. She is the Christmas Queen, and ready or not, here she comes with her Royal To-Do List, from which no daughter (me) may divert.
To-Do Item #1: She will make cookies with her only grandson from her only child. All of the ingredients and sprinkles must await her at the ready in my kitchen, like the staff of Buckingham Palace. Here is where the Christmas Queen truly works her magic, making the house smell like a bakery.
To-Do Item #2: We will eat and drink at Las Brisas, at least once. Las Brisas is so popular with our visitors that it should be renamed Las Touristas. The Christmas Queen vetoed my attempt to try Selanne’s instead. Further, Her Majesty was so distressed from what she perceived as a “weak pour” of wine at the Montage, that we can’t go that far south in town when she’s here. Plus, she has declared hockey to be a “Communist sport,” and I can’t have the Christmas Queen proclaim that there.
To-Do Item #3: We will shop on Forest Avenue, namely the Fresh Produce boutique. She has one in South Carolina, where she lives, but she likes ours better.
To-Do Item #4: We will attend Christmas Eve Mass at St. Catherine’s Church on Temple Terrace, en route to which we always get lost. It is such a special place that it is hidden from the rest of the world, and we must be very clear of mind to find it, high above sea level.
To-Do Item #5: We will see the sunset. You’d think this could be combined with To-Do Item #2, but it never works out that way. On the last day of her visit, she’ll crash her royal scepter on the ground, calling to the household that she has not yet seen the sunset. So, usually with five minutes to spare, we peel out of the driveway and head to the beach, only to find that the sun will set further north, and we drive and drive, cursing stop light after stop light, while the sky’s dramatic colors fade away. She’ll frown at me with the same frown she gave me when I said I was unfamiliar with her favorite Fox News anchor. “He’s Catholic, Vickie!”
When we give up seeing the actual orb of the sun setting, we’ll pull over, and try to take pictures. Coincidentally, it is not all that far from Las Brisas. She’ll tell me how beautfiul things are here and how lucky I am to live here. When I ask if the Christmas Queen would like to honor her subjects by moving closer to her only child and her only grandson, she’ll say, “Oh no, Vickie! I couldn’t possibly live in a place with so little rain…or a blue state.” Merry Christmas to the Queen of all Mothers!