We come together today for Christmas as we have so many times before. Christmas is a little bit different each year. Sometimes we share gifts and sometimes only hugs. Sometimes there is permeating cheer. Sometimes sadness and resent. Sometimes Grandpa is grumpy. But usually he is the life of the party. The kids grow bigger each year and await their day at the grown-up table, even though there is never room. New guests come and sadly never return. But with all of the changes and the occasional struggles, I love this day. I anticipate with child-like giddiness the abundant decoration, the wealth of food, the sound of laughter, the games, the political jokes, the presentation of pictures of new babies in the family, the sharing of news, the wine, the nap, and the leftovers. But most of all, I love the people at this table. (And the kids' table too :o)! )
This past year in particular has been tough for all. We've endured more than our share of heartbreak. We have worried about our finances and our livelihoods. We have closed the doors of our dreams. We have felt disappointment and betrayal. We have had houses falling apart beneath our feet. We have had our hearts broken over loved ones. We have wept over the ailments of others deserving of better. We have had too many hospital visits that ended with tragedy. At times, we've lived breath-by-breath and day-by-day. And we said goodbye way too early to George, a beautiful soul and a warm, generous man who I believe still sits with us here in spirit. This year has been too much, too often. And I for one am ready to let it go.
I am ready to let go of that heartbreak and to give thanks. To give thanks for healing, for getting to know each other again, for the support, for the warm hugs, for the shared meals, for the middle-of-the-night phone calls when we just couldn't make it to morning on our own. For the ribbing, for the honesty, for the good and bad advice. For all of the sacrificed weekends of electrical repair & landscaping advice, for the recipe exchanges, for the kids' youthful airs. For trying to be better people. For the inappropriate discussions of Julia's sexual prowess at Thanksgiving dinner, for the election that ignited hope across the world. For nights of gay karaoke and tears in smoky bars, for living in the same house all year (that's me!), for forgiving each others' faults (except for Mom who tells us time and again that she doesn't have any), and for trying to forgive our own.
I pray on this day that we are able to recognize that we are part of a bigger plan and a larger world and for us to give thanks that we are not alone in our journeys. I pray that we can have faith that we will heal, that we will be prosperous, that we will continue to love and to find love, to laugh until our sides ache, and to seek out the beauty and inspiration that life brings even though it seems impossible to find at times. I love you all. Merry Christmas.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
On the first day of school, I sat at my desk dashing through paperwork while the kids were at specials. Another teacher came in the classroom carrying a spectacular bouquet of flowers. My heart beat a little faster, but I modestly asked if they were for my team teacher. When I found out that, no, they were in fact for me, I squealed and my heart melted. The most beautiful flowers and the most perfect card. The most lovely first day of school. And the most thoughtful boyfriend. Thank you.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
After an exhausting day of pre-back-to-school preparations in a classroom without air conditioning and a bunch of other extenuating circumstances that would bore anyone except other weary, bitching teachers dangling along my school grapevine, I took a nap. A sweet nap full of that blissful REM stuff. And I had a dream. A dream about this delicious cherry coffee cake that I haven't eaten or even thought about since I was a young child. At least, er twenty-something years or so. In my dream, it smelled and tasted just as warm and sweet and delicious as it was then. It even had been nibbled a-la-spoon-in-the-pan style by my mom. Just as she loves to do. And now I love to do. I was so confused by this buried memory that I called my mom in a fog right away upon waking to confirm that, yes, this very cherry coffee cake existed in my childhood and not just in my "dream childhood." She told me that it was my grandma's recipe and dug it out for me to record.
So tonight, while I should be writing my first week of school plans, I'm baking instead. I mean everyone needs a little sustenance while working late, right? No duh. (Another reversion to childhood. It seemed appropriate.) Of course it doesn't matter that this recipe has the fat/calorie content only of recipes from half a century ago. As I whisked ridiculous quantities of oil, eggs, and sugar together I reminded myself that my grandma is still alive. And she's alive despite having prayed and begged for death since my grandpa died in the late 70s. And I have a will to live so I should be fine.
So I placed the anticipated indulgence in the oven and as it baked the house filled with the aroma of childhood and Sunday funnies and of being tucked into bed at night. And here it is. Waiting for me to eat. A treat that has brought warmth and comfort to at least 3 generations (this must be the reason why my parents stayed married as long as they did!) and has been decades in the making in my head.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
On Friday in the late afternoon, I was taking a break from cleaning and decided to jog through the IKEA catalogue. I savored the eclectic living rooms and the shiny kitchens and the restful boudoirs. I relished the - wait! Maybe I should redo my kitchen. After making several calculations, I thought, maybe I can redo my kitchen if I plan carefully, save up for a couple of months, and sell a lot of my stuff, including my current cabinets and cold, granite counter tops. So yesterday, I posted a listing for these items on Craigslist at a price I felt too high . . . umm . . . you know, just to see . . . and this is what my kitchen looks like at 7:00 in the morning on Sunday. I have yet to pick out flooring, back splash, counter top, cabinets, sink, and faucet. Maybe not my best laid plan. But definitely an adventure. An adventure! Yes! An adventure. Hmm. Adventures are fun, right? I don't think John thinks this an adventure.