Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve and the globe is warmed. We’ve been doing Christmasey things, homey things, staying in, cooking, pulling Pyrex dishes from the oven with mitts. I baked blackberry crisp, I roasted squash. I sauteed greens. Old friends are coming and going from town, guest stars on the show, long-lost voices on the intercom, suitcases on wheels.

Christmas itself is a blissful lull in the flurry of socialization. Everyone is with their families. Most of the Jews are with their non-Jewish significant others’ families. I am wrapped in miniature down comforter, watching movies, reading books. The Hanukkah tree is aglow with lights and miniature disco balls, its skull and crossbones, its annual joint, topped not with a star but with Woody Allen. Tomorrow we enact Jewish Christmas–Woody Allen double feature, Chinatown meal. I am worried that the Woody Allen Christmas Day double feature will be sold out, but what would a Jewish Christmas be without worry?

It was a hungover day, lethargic, slow. I woke up at ten, took some Advil, tried to be alive, but it wasn’t working, so I had to give up and go back to bed until two. I used to live like this all the time, completely nocturnally, but lately I prefer to get up earlier, get things underway, take in some daylight. I didn’t drink so very much last night, but red wine all night, sometimes it makes me feel fine, sometimes it makes me feel sludgy.

I found out in Germany that my last name means “wine sediment,” the dregs of the bottle. “Emily Dregs,” everyone laughed, a fine punk rock sort of name. Today I felt dregsy, but not in an unpleasant way. It was twilight already when I went to buy some groceries. Stepping out into winter twilight is one of my favorite feelings. If I am only going out for a little while, I like to leave the house while it’s still light and come home just as it gets dark. Then even if I’ve only traveled a few blocks, I feel like I’ve been somewhere, taken another trip from day to night.

Walking home, I felt the dregs of my red wine hangover swirling in my veins the way wine swirls in a glass when you revolve its stem in a little circle. I love to catch other people doing this, looking down at their near-empty wineglasses and sliding them in circles, considering the wine for a moment before taking the final sip. I like particularly to watch men I find attractive being intimate and authoritative with their wine. I like when they are talking when they swirl their wine and they swirl it absently, and I like when they are not talking, taking leave of the conversation around them, and they swirl their wine intently.

With both the day and the year coming to an end and me full of the last sedimentary dregs of it, I wondered if I was a wineglass on a great big wooden table in a warm, firelit room, and somehwere someone was holding me by my most delicate indentations and gently swirling me, mixing me up before they drank the last of me down.

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