(GK: Garrison Keillor, SJP: Sarah Jessica Parker, WB: Walter Bobbie)
Tonight's show brought to you by Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
SJP: Christmas is not an easy time for David and me. He comes from a family that does a sort of smaller version of the Radio City Christmas show, everything dazzling and cheery and if it didn't snow, they'd probably hire small children to sit in the trees and drop white cornflakes.
WB: Amy always says, "One of these years, it'd be nice to stay home and have a quiet Christmas, the two of us." And I say, Fine. Whatever you want.
SJP: Twelve years in a row we've gone up to Putnam County for the big Armstrong Family Christmas spectacular. And I just don't fit in. I sit with David's family around the piano and I sort of hum along on "Silent Night" - and I can hear my grandmothers moaning. They say, "Oy. Amy. Twenty years we've been dead and in the ground and you wake us up. Why? Darling. The tree, enjoy! - the turkey, enjoy! - but Silent Night? Enough, already. These are the same people who came through our village in Russia and threw paint at the house. You want to marry one of them? Fine. But don't sing about Jesus. Don't even hum."
WB: I mean, if she'd rather stay home and have a quiet Christmas, that's fine with me. Not a problem. But we can't spring it on Mom at the last minute.
SJP: I grew up in the Berkshires - my parents were in a commune. They didn't celebrate Christmas, but for the winter solstice there was a potluck supper and dance with a couple hundred people and fifty earthenware bowls of vegetarian casseroles - most of which involved various kinds of beans - contradancing - about twenty musicians playing, who didn't believe in tuning, they were more into how it felt. A lot of dogs running around and kids yelling and all these very highly educated people like my parents who were trying to impersonate rural peasants. I was only twelve, but I sat in a corner and thought to myself, "When I grow up, I will wear a size 6 dress from Chanel, black, with a string of pearls, and go to a restaurant and eat veal and listen to a man in a tuxedo sing Gershwin."
WB: I admit that last year at my Mother's was a little bit intense. Too many people and - it got a little tribal.
SJP: Growing up in a commune in the Berkshires, I learned a lot that helped me get ahead in a large Manhattan law firm and this year I made full partner. To celebrate, I suggested to David that we spend the Christmas in Paris. He was aghast.
WB: It's entirely up to her. If Paris is what she wants, fine. We'll go.
SJP: He feigned interest but I could see it in his eyes, how confused and angry he was -
WB: My mother is 70 and Dad is 72 and who can say how many years they have left to celebrate Christmas in their own home? But if she wants Paris - fine.
SJP: He pretended to go along with the idea. He got out a guidebook. We picked out a hotel in Montmartre. We called the airline and made reservations. They asked if I wanted to guarantee them with a credit card - I said, "No, I don't think so." Because I knew he wouldn't go. I knew it.
WB: I told Amy, "It's no problem. I'll call up Mom and tell her we're not coming. It's probably best that I call her in the morning, that's her best time, right after she takes her medications."
SJP: He called her to say we couldn't come to Putnam County for Christmas and she got very quiet and she said, "I am sorry I went to all that trouble for all those years and it was not appreciated." At first they thought she had a stroke and then they thought maybe low blood sugar. They tested her for everything. Unfortunately, they don't have a way of testing for spite, so -
WB: She said she had been under the impression that we enjoyed it. She said she would never be able to celebrate Christmas again. She said she would rather sit alone and eat a frozen turkey dinner and watch TV than force her children to take part in a ritual they no longer enjoyed.
SJP: I cancelled the reservations to Paris.
WB: My sister called me that night and said, "How can you be so selfish?" My other sister called and said, "Bill and the kids and I - we're all sitting here crying - I hope you're happy."
SJP: David said, "How about we go to your parents' for Christmas?" But my parents are both fasting in protest of the bombing of Iraq.
WB: So we're on our own this year.
SJP: For the first time in our lives.
WB: A chance to invent Christmas.
SJP: A very nice green salad, a bowl of linguini with garlic and shrimp, and bread, and a bottle of very good Pinot Noir, and a rhubarb pie, of course.
WB: Of course. (THEME)
GK: It wouldn't be a real Christmas without rhubarb pie. It's the secret to the good life as we know it. Bebobopareebop Rhubarb Pie ...
(c) 1998 by Garrison Keillor