Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul reveals some of his quirky holiday obsessions
Forget the presents and the parties—it’s the small rituals of the holiday season that excite me. When I was a kid, my favorite part of every December morn was rushing out of my room and plugging in a rickety plastic gingerbread house on top of our built-in bar. The sight of that little light glowing through a red gel warmed my heart.
After moving to Alphabet City, I replaced Texas holidays with New York’s own December traditions. In addition to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, Rockettes at Radio City, and window displays at Barney’s, there were more personal rituals like the annual dinner with my born-again Christian Korean Dry Cleaners Peter and Paige. They were just around the corner from our East Village apartment, and over the years Angela and I had become such reliable profit generators that the husband and wife team invited us every year to a thank-you meal at Christmas time. At first, I tried to convince Angela to decline their offer—who wants to share a meal with a service-provider like their dry cleaners? Angela persuaded me otherwise.
“Turning them down seems dangerous. Keep your enemies close, and your dry cleaners happy,” she said.
Words to live by, indeed.
Strangely, for a non-religious guy, I’ve collected quite an array of nativity scenes. The collection started with mementos from my travels—the handmade Brazilian clay set that for some reason came with two Josephs, and the Argentine scene that includes a Llama and wise men carrying native instruments like a singing trio.
Once we moved in together, my Catholic-raised boyfriend Chef insisted that his own “nacimiento” given to him by his grandmother be placed far away from my own, and with some kind of odd potting soil moss to give it a traditional flavor. Chef began questioning my nativity taste level when I added such unusual scenes as a Feline Nativity discovered in a craft store near my sister in Wimberley, Texas; and later a North Pole tableau including an Eskimo Mary trying to find room at an igloo. But he really insisted I stop adding to the collection when I found a discontinued and elaborate Canine Crèche featuring a German shepherd as Joseph (‘natch) and a little white terrier as Jesus.
There is one thing in my holiday box of goodness that captures Chef’s eye every year—Texas Dancing Santa. Angela’s mom Cathy bequeathed to me several year’s ago this tacky kitschy item when she sensed I needed a little Texas charm added to my Yankee celebrations. And boy howdy does this gem deliver. Plug him in and Lone Star Santa swings his hips like Shakira while singing, “Have a holly jolly Christmas!”
Chef let out a big cackle the first time he watched Texas Santa work his magic. Now, every year at our holiday party, after a few tequilas, Chef flips the switch on his buddy from the North Pole and performs a duet. Forget the fire hazard gingerbread house of my childhood, Chef and the two-stepping Santa are my new favorite holiday ritual.
And now, with the help of a Flip given to me by Angela, you can experience this Xmas miracle…