It was a day full of relatives and food and I’ve had my fill of both for a while, I think. I spent the morning at Christmas breakfast with my brothers and then had the in-laws and their babies and family friends and strangers they brought in off the street for the afternoon and into the night. I never would have thought my little house could hold so many! But there was one point during the night when I stood in my kitchen and looked out at the room full of laughing faces and was glad (mostly) for their company; glad at least that they were all together for the first time in a long while. I smiled at that.
I want to share two last things before wandering away for a few days: first a final example of quirkiness found at my brother’s. Do any of you remember those old-fashioned tinsel trees? Well, Brian bought this one and has it decorated with bubble lights and antique Shiny-Bright ornaments he’s bought off eBay or pilfered from my dad’s garage and we all think it’s the most beautiful thing.
Growing up, we had two xmas trees. The real one in the basement was for us kids; the one upstairs was for show and was a tinsel tree like this, but full size and with one of those color-wheel projection thingies that must have been all the rage at some point in history. God awful at the time, probably, but memory and nostalgia make my brothers and I yearn to find one like it again.
Lastly, a poem of sorts, sent by my brother Kevin. He had meant for me to include it here somehow, but it almost feels too personal to do so. I’ll post it anyway, with the idea that most of the meaning I read into it may well go right over your heads. I’m counting on that anyway.
Early morning quiet
Waits, anticipates, overcompensates
Little girls feet
Cold crisp floor
To grow up
To do without
Lights not right
Tears at night
On top or underneath?
The tinsel last
One at a time
Ends folded wrong
Blue winter jacket
Holly hobby house
Stockings to brim
With girly things
An orange way down
No coal this year
One day, I’ll be up to telling that story, maybe.
Hope it was happy for everyone and that Santa brought all that you’d hoped for.
Christmas Eve is my most favorite day of the holiday season and I try to reserve it for simple joys: watching the sun rise at a decent hour and then seeing a dusk come that is like no other time of the year, filling the daylight hours in between with cooking and preparing for tomorrow’s gathering with family, visiting with friends and calling on neighbors with homemade cookies, seeing the college kids from the neighborhood at home and so grown and changed from their short time away, the long afternoon church service with candles and bell-ringers.
Once it was dark today I took a break from the kitchen and drove through the downtown to admire the glittery lights and be glad that I wasn’t one of those people still out shopping for last-minute gifts. There’s been very little in the way of that this year, for whatever reason. Not in the mood mostly, but there’s a part of me that feels empty in buying gifts when so many need something that can’t be tightly bound with a red or green bow.
I was home in time to hear the sirens far enough away in the distance to know that I hadn’t missed Santa on his firetruck prowl through the neighborhood. Funny that I should look forward to that each year like I do, but there’s a certain childish eagerness on my part for seeing him arrive with gifts for the kids who live behind us; I can’t help but wave as he goes by and remember the sound of sleigh bells from my own childhood. Someone, most probably my brothers, made a point of my hearing them from the front yard bushes before bed on Christmas Eve. Brothers, I think, are one of those gifts that takes years to appreciate or find a use for.
So now I look forward to that particular quiet that comes only after midnight this day, after the preparations are done and there’s no traffic on the road, the house dark and quiet but for the lights of the Christmas tree and rivaled only by the shimmer of winter’s brightest stars.
– – – – – – – – – – –
is the pathway
is the temple
is the offering we bring
is the gift we are given.”
-Joan Walsh Anglund
I wish for you peace and the simple joys that only this day can bring.
(Yeah, mine, I’ll own up to it!)
A drunken Santa…
Just a little too much…
Just plain cute, I think…
Xmas bunnies… awww
Old-fashioned can be quirky?
Homemade is sweet, not quirky, I think…
The favorite… stolen from the neighborhood.
Happy Christmas everyone.
I never got around to signing the bunnies up for their usual xmas card exchange and we’re all really missing the fifty or so cards that come each year. Loads of bunny cuteness in the mail every day – imagine! – but we did get this one card today by mistake, sent by someone who forgot to remove our names from last year’s list.
Is it me or is this not your normal family xmas pic? Before you think anything too untoward, be reminded that this is my brother Kevin and his wife and daughter. And yes, those are real chickens they’re holding – their chickens! I can just imagine the scene with my SIL bringing those little banties into the photographer’s studio along with all her other *props*.
This was last year’s card and the one for this year hasn’t arrived yet, but I had some hint of the *theme* for this year’s shoot a few days before Thanksgiving when the SIL wanted to send me on a shopping run for matching aprons to complete the cooking concept of this year’s pic. I honestly don’t know how she comes up with the creative energy to think these things up and then the time to carry it through so well. How could I not look forward to receiving a card like this?
I’ll admit to being terribly bored by most xmas cards and think them to be a waste. Most I throw away immediately. (Shame on me… I know!) The ones I keep secreted away in a special box are ones like this, or those with photos of my friend’s kids, or the handmade ones, or the ones from special friends or family who take the time to actually write something meaningful. Cause, let’s face it, often it’s the only time we hear from a lot of people and if you’re going to take the time to send a card, couldn’t you also be bothered to write a little something in it as well, besides your name?
Every year I look forward to a card from Joan who mentored me as a first year teacher. She doesn’t write much besides an update on a few of the kids we taught together and the fact that she’s almost (but not quite) ready to retire. I recognize her deliberate teacher’s block print on the envelope and smile at the thought of what news her hand will bring me.
There’s always a handwritten note tucked inside the card from the director of the bird observatory where I volunteer; Pete’s sure to wish me well in the new year and thank me for volunteering for them for more years than either of us can remember.
I don’t know… I feel like cards aren’t worth the effort if they don’t communicate something beyond the standard greeting pre-printed on the inside. What do you say? Any in particular that you anticipate each year?
*My camera – it’s fine I think, just something wrong with the memory card, but that means spending money on a new one or sorting out what to do with this one and really do I have time for that now?
*Street signs – why don’t towns maintain them for dopey social workers like me who go out without a proper map? And why don’t people put numbers on their damn houses?
*I locked myself out of the house… again. Only the second time in a month, mind you.
*I still haven’t done any Xmas shopping! What the devil is the matter with me!
*It’s a little chilly here and my mother-in-law ran out of oil to heat her house and didn’t mention it to anyone. (I won’t mention the two brothers-in-law that live with her and who also didn’t mention it nor did they mention there was no money to buy more oil.) Hello? Are my relatives particularly nutty or do yours do this type of thing, too?
(And I see the ridiculousness of worrying over xmas gifts when the MIL has no heat.. I do!)
*Speaking of relatives (I should probably just stop before I really get on a roll, but can’t resist just one more tidbit) – digging around in the closet this evening looking for cookie tins, I found Xmas presents from last year for my nephew, all wrapped pretty and waiting for his dad to show up for them. I guess they’ll still be there this Xmas if he ever bothers to let me know if he’s planning to come for dinner!
Hmm.. that’s probably enough. So how was your Monday?
It’ll be better in the morning… I know.
I had trinkets to share tonight, but my camera isn’t cooperating for some reason. Hopefully it’s just a battery issue and not another electronic gadget gone permanently awry, like the iPod.
At any rate, I should mention that I’m still holding out for more quirky xmas decoration pics as I’ve only received a few. So please send them along, if you’d intended to.
Have a nice Monday!