It's been a year. A real doozy. It started out with what we have since coined The Hellacious Winter of Hell. Then we got married and had a couple of lovely honeymoons (that was nice!). We had a fine and pleasant summer. And then this fall an old nerve condition of mine came back with a vengeance and has forced us to coin this winter The Winter of Pain (notice my absence around here? Doubt it. I'm a terrible blogger. Well, if you did I had good reason). So when it came time to start making Christmas plans I proposed something RADICAL. CRAZY. UNBELIEVABLE. I proposed that we not see any family, that we claim the Christmas as Matthew and Sarah's Christmas, a Christmas for making new traditions, new wonderful memories to replace last year's God awful ones, a Christmas for connection and appreciation of each other and our marriage and one that celebrates the strength and perseverance we found, together, this year. Matthew, a Christmas Hater, whole-heartedly endorsed my idea immediately, probably sure that I would come to my senses and revoke my offer in the next 10 seconds. But I did not. We told our families, who were disappointed but lovingly supportive, and we made some secret plans for us, and only us, to look forward to.
We had thought we'd just be at home by the fire. We'd dress our fiddleleaf fig tree up with some ornaments and drink eggnog and listen to records and sleep late and wear pajamas all day. Dreamy, right? But then our friends Rob and Laura told us they always to to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs on the day after Christmas (leave the kid with grandparents in LA, drive on over) and unexpectedly Laura said, "You should come!!!" It was her obvious enthusiasm for the idea that made me actually consider it. Normally I'd think, "That's so nice and you totally don't want us to come so I won't even consider that sweet offer you are hoping I decline." But Laura is a no-bullshit kind of lady, my favorite kind, and I knew I could trust her invitation was sincere. So we said we would think about it seriously, having discovered Palm Springs this past summer.
We considered the fact that we normally spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets and car rentals and gifts flying to family every year and that this year we'd be spending almost nothing (I did spend a significant amount on cat tshirts for Zane, but that's another story). We considered the fact that the Ace Hotel is a hotel that both of us have been wanting to stay at for as long as we've known about it, even if it's like a satire of a parody of a Disneyland show called Hipsters In Their Element. We pat ourselves on the back heartily when we realized that the decision we had made in the beginning of the year to get a Virgin credit card meant that we would have free direct flights to Palm Springs and looked at each other and said, "Why the fuck not?"
As if it couldn't get any better than that I asked myself, "Why not go for Christmas? Like, wake up in a hotel room on Christmas?" I proposed this to Matthew anticipating a lengthy budget discussion and disappointing answer but instead I got, "Sure!" So I booked everything immediately, anticipating that he would come to his senses and revoke his answer in the next 10 seconds. And, fyi, we still spent less than we would have visiting our families. More importantly, I was so so so looking forward to a Christmas with just my sweetie; we so so so needed it.
As Christmas got closer I realized that Matthew probably thought that he was off the hook for presents, his least favorite part of Christmas and my favorite, but he was wrong. So I let him know how wrong he was and gave him a list of local stores he could go to, my girlfriends' numbers for guidance, and reminded him of my handy and helpful Pinterest board Presents You Can Buy Me (you should make one, it's kind of awesome to have). I had been getting him stuff for months, like I do, wrapping as I went along, getting giddy about waking up on Christmas morning with just a small pile of stuff for the two of us. Happy sigh. Once we got straight on the expectations we had only to wait for Christmas Eve and our flights.
The flight to Palm Springs from SFO is less than an hour and half. As soon as you are up in the air you hear, "We're preparing for landing." But we did manage to have one drink before touch down, aided by my first gift to him, the Carry On Cocktail Kit. It makes any overly priced airplane whiskey into a decent Old-Fashioned with only a slight amount of embarrassment to swallow with it. Such is the price of being a person who likes cocktails. We landed in the desert in the evening on Christmas Eve and got a cab to take us the 2 miles to the Ace (Palm Springs is very small and the airport is right on the edge of town).
This is not going to be a post about the Ace, Palm Springs, or anything you probably actually want to hear about. It's beauty is not capture-able, in words or photos. The ridiculousness of how on the nose the Ace gets what hipsters want is not something to be described or illustrated. Google image that shit. Just believe this, it is a terrifically accurate compound of design, services, food, drinks, and people that appeals to people like, um, I guess, me. I don't actually think I'm a hipster, but I think I have the aesthetic sensibilities of some of them. The good ones. The ones with taste. Moving on.
We checked into our room with a patio and fireplace. We perused the mini bar, which we swore to not indulge in and which was half empty by the time we left. We giggled. We unpacked. I noticed that something was wrong. Something was terribly terribly wrong. It was Christmas Eve and we didn't have a Christmas Tree! How had I overlooked this glaringly obvious mistake? How could I think through this whole week and not consider the fact that we wouldn't have a tree? Not one to ever let anything get in my way when I want it, I started collecting things from around the room that I could turn into a tree. Matthew passively let me, knowing that it would do absolutely no good to suggest I do anything otherwise with my time and energy. He's sweet like that. This is what I came up with.
Let me break that down for you. That's a $75 dollar walking stick that Ace keeps in your room just in case you might want to pay them $75 for a stick. Thanks Ace! Perfect foundation for my tree, no? The linen was a little blanket for the patio, the hooks were already hanging on that conveniently slatted wall, the star is made of Kleenex, the garland is my scarf and the tie to a robe the make you wear when you join their cult, um, ranks, um, fan base. The round white things are Matthew's cotton swabs which he generously "donated" to the cause, the base is a wastebasket, and the skirt is a mesh bag nicely shaped like a half moon. I was beside myself as I put our gifts under the tree.
Having accomplished that I felt much better. Time for dinner. The Ace makes sure you don't need to leave the compound if you don't want to, and they also make sure you won't want to. We went to Christmas Eve dinner at their house restaurant called King's Highway. The whole compound is on the grounds of an old HoJos, so the Ace loving kept lots of the original HoJos restaurant intact, like you should, while adding a brilliant and perfect hipster layer over everything. It's embarrassing people, but it's stunningly awesome too.
We had, I'm not kidding, a kale and quinoa salad for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was so good damn that I just don't care that you are laughing at me right now. I'd do it again, you jerk. We had excellent cocktails. We looked around at all the families who come to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for Christmas and at all the beards. So many beards. The people watching was so good that we forgot to talk to each other. We looked at our map of the compound and felt like we were in a movie about hipsters and did some serious soul-searching. I'm gonna use that H word a lot, have you sensed that yet?
We went back to our room, sat by the fire on the patio, read, snuggled, and eventually went to bed. When we woke up it was Christmas. And it was beautiful and we were in the desert. And we went and got Stumptown coffee at the restaurant and the Times at the front desk and sat on our bed in our pajamas and opened our gifts. You guys, it was perfect. Neither of us went overboard, we both bought thoughtful and meaningful gifts, and again, we so so so soaked up the much needed aloneness and togetherness the trip was bringing us.
Does it seem materialistic and shallow to squeal with every opening of every gift he gave me? I don't care. Gifts that people think about, even if they are tiny or inexpensive (especially if they are tiny or inexpensive), mean so much to me. My therapist say it has to do with my need to be seen and understood. I love her. For someone who would rather do almost anything than shop for gifts, he did good. So good.
This picture is upsetting, I know. Do you hate me? Sorry about that.
After we got tired of being so awesome we went to breakfast where we ate whatever the hell we wanted, which for me was elaborate french toast and mint-honey fruit and for him was probably something annoying like tofu scramble. There were an alarming amount of Santas sharing the dining room with us.
Next it was time for adventuring, as in meandering around the grounds for 10 minutes. It is gorgeous and perfect but both Matthew and I had do a significant amount of leaving our college degrees behind and sank into the experience without being bothered to be critical about it. My 20-yr-old self cringed, my 39-yr-old self felt happy and relieved. Oh well.
Whew! That was exhausting. Back to the room!
We spent the next couple days sleeping, doing puzzles, eating, reading, not watching the television, visiting with Rob and Laura, playing Scrabble, drinking, and doing more puzzles. I was in a considerable amount of pain due to my stupid face nerves and the dumb cold in my head that lingered the whole time, but doing puzzles got me in a zone where it all melted away. Wearing their cult robe probably helped too.
When it came time to check out we reluctantly did so in this awesome lobby with its stuffed coyote and perfect leather chair. We didn't bother looking at what the mini bar cost us.
Days like these remind us that
It better be.
Happy 2015! Couldn't be worse than 2014.