08 January 2009

Hazy shade of winter

Friday Mom's Night Out! You deserve a little "me" time! Leave the kids at home and buzz on in with your latest project and crop, knit, or crochet the night away! $5. Friday 7 p.m.


Somehow, I just don't see myself in that picture. I'm more the "Leave the kids at home and fly to New York for the weekend" sorta girl.

Though I might consider taking my knitting on the plane with me.

(The kids are, incidentally, completely freaking out about my travel plans. "You don't love us anymore," they are wailing (these two are nearly 15 and 12?). "What are you going to do? You're not even going to a concert..." The spouse, however, is sanguine. After all, he's planning another Dad's Weekend Out playing on landslides. Their male parent's travel has never engendered the sort of nonsense I hear. And I am working on turning what I've been up to into work...)

But for the moment, a breather.

(And what is up with the fog? Forget hazy shade of winter...I can't see across the street. It was clear two hours ago when I hauled the son off to the bus stop!)

Everyone (except me) mourned on Monday as they headed back to work and school. I was elated. I love them, but it's difficult to accomplish much with them (and the cat) all underfoot. The cat I'm accustomed to dealing with, but when I'm tripping over two kids, the spouse, and the cat (usually while I'm trying to get a meal on the table) for two weeks...aieeeeee.

The breather is temporary, however.

I sat down with my calendar on Monday, and this month is full. Completely full. When I wasn't looking, it became full.

How the heck did that happen?

And why won't my cold go away? It's progressing, oh yes, it's progressing, but sheesh...the longest cold in history.

Yesterday, in between three hours at the grocery stores and dragging the daughter to the pediatrician (vaccinations, regular physical, sports physical...and, heh, basketball starts next week. Two games a week...yikes), I had to take the Christmas tree down. Never a fun job, but I attacked it after giving everyone dinner last night (the pediatrician took 1-1/2 hours, late in the day). The main motivation is that Thursday is trash today, and I wanted to get the tree into the green waste this morning.

So I began to strip the poor thing of its baubles while its lights bravely flashed, and it feebly put forth what was left of its evergreen scent. It was a slightly scrawny tree this year; in desperation, I finally sent the spouse to the tree farm to pick one out two weeks after the place opened because our weekends tend to be so used up.

I'd decided this year that some of the ornaments and some of the other decorations have to go. We always receive ornaments, mostly from my mother, and while our decorated tree is eclectic at best, I can't get everything on it anyway. So I found myself thinking about each of the items as I removed it.

We have carved wooden animals...bright and slightly wacky: a swooping bat, a barking coyote, a bellowing elk, a shark, a bison. The spouse and I found them at MOCA shortly after we were married, and they've been Christmas fixtures ever since. As well, an enormous glass ball we bought at an art gallery near our La Canada house. Elderly and fragile glass ornaments from the former West Germany, bought at a People's Drugstore the year I was born; I have six of the 2 or 3 dozen that once graced my childhood Christmas trees, as well as a tiny elf, the last of what was once an elfin band. Crystal garland that has long since replaced the tinsel I used to love (I didn't care that it was environmentally appalling and a complete mess...it looked so pretty! I hoarded little boxes for years, but finally, the cat won the day. What he didn't throw up from one end had to be forcibly pulled out of the other, and once you've seen that, tinsel loses its luster), and two strings of train garland that are a long-standing family joke. The kids' first year ornaments, and clay ornaments made by my mother. Tin toys, and Winnie the Pooh collectibles (again, my mother). Shiny brass nativity scenes we bought in Garmisch Partenkirche, hand-crocheted snowflakes from the UNICEF store, a golden Capitol building given the son for his first Christmas by a relative now in the final stages of ovarian cancer. I held it in the palm of my hand last night, my heart breaking a little to know that it's unlikely she'll be with us next Christmas. So many memories in each of these little things, that go along with the general noise and chatter we revisit every December. As I wrapped and put them all away, I heard the voices of my own children as they decorate every year:

"I made that!"

"This is my favorite ornament."

"'That's the last one.' Mom, tell that story again!"

"Hey, that's my ornament!"

"It's my turn to help with the garland."

"Dad, which Star Trek ship will we hang this year?"

And finally me, channelling my mother:

"Don't forget to decorate the back of the tree."

Go listen to some good music: "Hazy Shade of Winter" from the album the Essential Bangles by The Bangles. As I rapidly head in the direction of 500 posts, I'm really starting to worry about repeating myself.

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