Christmas Presence



It’s the day after Boxing Day and for some inexplicable reason I find myself at a very crowded LA house party with 28-year old Kesha Sebert, who makes it very clear she intends to party until they kick us out or, more likely, the police (po-po she calls them) shut us down.

Even though last night Kesha slept in a bath, she has just removed the dollar symbol from her name to be taken more seriously so I trust her judgment here.

Unlike me she is totally at home at this party and seems fully relaxed. But as I watch her move through the room all I can feel is tension.

The floor is a mess, strewn with party detritus and spilled drinks from cheap red plastic cups. Dozens of people are leaping up and down unable to hear anything but the wall of sound generated by the DJs in the corner. A tattered American flag hangs, upside down, on a wall dripping with moisture and the only piece of furniture in the room appears to be a vinyl couch in classic Magnolia. The designer lighting in one corner suggests at least a nod to a certain degree of taste that may be safely locked away elsewhere in the apartment.

Everyone else in the room seems as happy and relaxed as Kesha.

None of them are troubled by the noise, their choice of outfit, the inability to communicate other than through lip-reading, the lack of space, what the neighbours might say, just what damage is being done to the floors and the walls and who is going to have to clean up the mess.

While all these things bother me, what concerns me more is that I don’t feel fully present and able to just let go and enjoy it.

What worries me even more is that I am, of course, not even there. I am watching Kesha from some considerable distance – from an armchair while she is on screen performing TiK ToK

Not only do I know I couldn’t be fully present and relaxed at her party, but I am also not even present and relaxed at her video because of my focus on the periphery.

Why is this fear of engaging so ingrained in me? How did it get there?

Even as a teenager, when I was prone to the idea of crafting an occasional scene for fantasy purposes, I encountered more issues that, er, tissues.

I’d conjure up an almost impossibly beautiful woman in some luxury hotel setting. I’d deliver a few witty lines over a classic cocktail and the next thing I know she leans in, gives me a deep kiss on the lips and hands me a lipstick-marked matchbox (these were the days you could still smoke) with a note that reads: See you in Room 228 in 10 minutes, Trixie xx.

First of all I have no idea quite why I felt the need to be so cinematic, but mainly I’d get to this stage and suddenly the questions would start: How come, if she is so good-looking, she’s alone and settles for you? Is she crazy? Is this some kind of trap? What if she robs you at knife-point? Maybe she is a sex-fiend? (Would that be so bad?) What happens if you come to quickly? Will she change her mind when you take your clothes off? Is this some kind of Candid Camera thing? How much do the drinks cost? Why are you even in a hotel? And she can’t be Trixie – you don’t even know Trixie.

Sadly it isn’t just my fantasies as a teenager or the prospect of raucous house parties that cause me angst and cause me to question

I worry too about my Christmas Presence. When I should be fully engaged in being with my family, able to enjoy sleeping late, mixing a guilt-free cocktail just after noon, playing late-night bouts of Cards Against Humanity around the kitchen table, or leisurely walks with the dog, all I can picture is a large clock counting down the hours until I return to work.

Won’t someone help me to enjoy the moment, already!!!

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