mnartists.org asked artist Nanci Olesen, to provide us with a holiday essay that we could create a collection around. This one is for all the Moms out there.
IT WAS THE SODA BOTTLE THAT DID IT
It was the soda bottle that did it. I’m a waitress at a fine restaurant. I asked the assist for two sodas the other night, for an eight top in my section. He put up one normal looking classy little soda bottle, you know the one I mean, and another that was “dressed” for the holidays. I gasped. “No no, they’re going to the same table. I need two that look exactly the same!” I was shaking. He looked in his little bar fridge and found one of the few remaining “normal” sodas. He placed it on the bar and looked up at me.
“I just can’t serve that thing,” I said, “Look what it did to me.” I delivered the sodas and came back. I had a moment between tasks. “Let me see that thing,” I said. He brought out the holiday soda. It was red, with a sort of white SNOW effect on the side.In big Fancy cursive it said : HOLIDAY 2005. “It’s still November,” I screamed. “And I don’t ever need a soda bottle to remind me of the HOLIDAYS.”
The next day I was waiting for my mom’s flight to come in. I was waiting next to a coffee stand, a big franchised coffee company, you know the one I mean, near Baggage Claim. It was advertising its Christmas Blend. And it said “Be Merry.” Period. Like a command. I started to shake again. What do they mean? “Be MERRY?” Like I should just right then get jolly and merry? And oh, what a different emotion I would portray if they spelled “Merry” like MARY, the mother of Jesus. Then... oh then, yeah, as a tired, confused eight month pregnant woman, carrying the new son of god in her belly... you sure wouldn’t want to ask that of your average coffee drinker. “Be Mary” indeed.
So from here on in, every product I buy, every soda I deliver to my tables, every box of tissues or package of paper towels is going to wish me a happy holiday or tell me to “be merry!” I might just decide to spell it the other way and act like a cranky woman in her third trimester, getting ready for a big old donkey ride to my hometown in the cold, with a husband who didn’t father my baby. “Be Mary!”, indeed.
Don’t worry. I will still be a kind mother to my children. I will still buy presents and put up a tree. About two or three weeks from now, I might add. I don’t need a SEMESTER to get ready and I really wish I wasn’t expected to be happy and merry and full of the “spirit of the season” for longer than the few days that the thing actually lasts.
I’ll be okay. I always am. But there’s no preventing my tremors, each time some familiar product appears to me, dressed up and commanding that I holidize my every sip, my every bite, and my every task.
NANCI OLESEN is an independent radio producer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nanci has produced 4 hour long MOMbo specials for Public Radio International, featuring her blend of mom attitude, music, commentaries, interviews, and sound collage. Nanci won a Golden Reel Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters in 2001.
Nanci works as a mom, a waitress, a performer/musician, a radio commentator and reporter, a freelance writer, and as the director of MOMbo, Inc.