Where I’ve been.
Assuming anybody is still there, remembering me and wondering.
Snow on the ground. Fire in the sky.
I haven’t been on-line at all for weeks (read: months) except for occasional bouts of Facebook—the conversational equivalent of Twinkies—when our service wasn’t down, which it was on the Eve of Christmas Eve. Which explains nothing about the last two months. Or maybe everything. I apologize. I hope somebody remembers me.
So I’m going to explain myself. Or try. I’m not in writing mode—everything is coming out in bricks and splurts and mashes. And it’s been like that for weeks. I can read. I just can’t lay words to paper. What follows is a mess. A TOTAL mess of confusion and bad writing and bewilderment.
I blame my condition on Etsy. If I’d never discovered the place and I’d never seen a knitted horse, then who knows what great and substantial things I might have accomplished in these last two years?
Less, actually. Much less. Of everything including friendship.
So what has been the central problem these last two months? Focus. Not that I’ve been wild-eyed and scatter-brained. It’s just, when you get down to the holidays, things have to go in order. You set your first focus point—Halloween; you aim for that; you fire. But if the focus point moves or splinters, all the dominoes fall before they’re supposed to, and you waste a lot of time having to set them up again. This makes the holidays sound like a task-oriented time. Which it is. And the difficult heart of the problem is that most of the deep focus points around the holidays are people. Who don’t hold still or behave in an orderly manner. At all.
Also, over-preparation. If you get all smug about how early you started and how much you’ve done to be ready – you can end up doing too much. If you’ve prepared only one thing, you only have to set up the execution of one set of logistics. If you have eighty things prepared, eighty sets of logistics. I am swearing off preparation. Spontaneity is far more manageable. And it cuts down the impact of expectations, which can lead to stress of the most desperate kind. And disappointment (mostly in self). And stuff.
I love how warm the house looks, lit up on a winter evening. The three wise deer are sharing the porch with the corn stalks and pumpkins of harvest.
All-in-all, I think that Halloween is the perfect kick-off in the face of coming winter. It has you putting up lights, lighting up lanterns (gourd ones, mostly), putting on silly clothes, and—best of all—it involves no presents; buy one Costco-sized bag of assorted candy bars, and everybody’s happy. Happy, loosened up, too busy doing crazy things to think about the fact that as many leafless, gray-brown, freezing months lie ahead as actually do.
Then you’ve got Thanksgiving, which is really a people time more than anything else. No presents. Only food and getting together. If your family is no fun to sit at table with, then God Bless You—because all that sitting and eating and getting together and laughing and thinking about gratitude really can and should be the best time ever. So, considering that families are organisms with wills all of their own, if yours refuses to be happy, well—I’d do myself a favor and find/choose/build/grow a brand new good family of my own and have a glorious time with it.
None of this explains my months of silence. Which I shall endeavor to do now, for those who are crazy enough to have read this much arready, but mostly for myself, as a journal entry. I wouldn’t want to start thinking I actually live a nice, quiet, uneventful life.
The people we love to have come to our house. No matter the chaos that brings them here.
November: the plan: the 4th Thursday of the month—Thanksgiving. Simple. Gin’s family doesn’t come to us for it; Thanksgiving is a huge time for dentists of children. No time for travel.
Focus point movement #1: a Very Important Dear Friend of Ginna’s has planned a wedding in our city the weekend before Thanksgiving. So Gin must come up here, at least for a few days. So, of course, we want her for Thanksgiving dinner. Kathy (Gin’s m-i-l) also wants her for Thanksgiving dinner. We switch our Thanksgiving dinner to the Saturday before Thanksgiving to let Kathy have Real Thanksgiving, which will include all her scattered kids and also other relatives of different kinds. So far, simple. And with Thanksgiving out of the way days early, I will have nearly two weeks between it and December first, plenty of time to set the stage for Christmas.
Focus point movement #2-3: Murph announces that he and L will be in San DEIGO the weekend of our Fake Thanksgiving dinner – oh, sorry!! Didn’t we tell you about that conference? And Kris cannot stay till Real Thanksgiving because he’s got to get home and work. The whole thing blows up in all our faces.
The first time we’ve had an official “kids’ table.” Max presided over it.
So we switch our Fake Thanksgiving dinner to the Wednesday before the Thursday the week before Thanksgiving, which allows Kathy to switch her entire family to the Saturday before Thanksgiving (including changing airline tickets). Kris will have to fly home the day after dinner. Gin will drive home – alone with the children and the dog. One of us wants to go with her, but there are no flights that can get us back home from Santa Fe before Real Thanksgiving Eve, and all flights will cost thousands of dollars. Why is Real Thanksgiving a consideration at this point? Because I have decided that Fake Thanksgiving dinner will be a traditional roast-and-potatoes family dinner (with tons of pie) so that Gin’s family won’t have to eat two full Thanksgiving feasts within four days of each other with a huge wedding dinner between. So the other children—the ones who live NEAR their parents, like all good children do—insist on having a REAL Thanksgiving dinner on REAL Thanksgiving.
Minor fluctuation of focus points: what exact time on what exact day Gin’s family will roll in for Fake Thanksgiving dinner. What exact time on what exact days the wedding/other Fake Thanksgiving dinner will happen. Confused yet?
The family table for dinner #1
And in the lulls between events, I must find/buy/make/finish/wrap/pack/tag all the gifts for Gin’s family so that they can be shoved into every “open” cranny/seat/space in a car that will also be crammed with stuff from Kathy and Ken.
Aunt, nephew, niece – a nice mix of families.
The table full of beloved people. I SO LOVE the way this room and these people glow.
See? Three separate unexpected climaxes to that part of the story, leading to mis-leading dénouements that put me WAY off my seasonal game (but worth it).
It’s strange – so natural to have them here with us, that when they disappear again so soon, we are left blinking, constantly haunted by the feeling that there should be more of us -
We opened the present Gin had brought up to us, so she could enjoy. This hat and scarf and mittens ensemble, doubling as a wolf disguise, was for Scooter. But he just didn’t catch the vision – until Andy fell in love with it and began to demonstrate its charms.
Cute little wolf.
Soon, Scooter will come to take possession – being a wolf was just too charming to miss.
November: original end-game plan: after having a nice fake Thanksgiving dinner (this would be the proposed Saturday one with turkey and everything—the one that didn’t happen), I’d have the boys bring in the Christmas tree, which would subsequently be put up and decorated by what would have been Real Thanksgiving, so that when Major Focus Point Movement #4 happened, the Holiday Plans would still flow on quite nicely – house decorated before December 1st, presents made and wrapped, plans charted out neatly.
Since none of that happened and we were all a little tired already—but still wanting at least a token Real Thanksgiving Family Dinner on Thanksgiving, we decided to have a Real Thanksgiving Leftovers dinner on the hallowed day – which would, in theory, be simpler and more casual: turkey sandwiches with dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy that weren’t actually leftovers (with tons of pie), but which would be scaled down in portion (except the pie). The preparation for this did not turn out to be simple, though I will tell you that cooking the turkey and making the gravy the day before the feast really takes the pressure off. It was a yummy dinner, all the same – fun, with much laughter and good will. And pie. Did I mention the pie?
Here is the Real Thanksgiving dinner. Do you notice that I tend to take lots of pictures of the laden table? This is because I am fascinated with a half-tame setting of ceremonial intent. And I want to remember the Good Old Days while they are happening.
Sons together. That used to be Just The Way Things Were. Now, I take pictures of it, a lovely and relatively rare event.
Our adopted son, John, Lorri’s brother, a great favorite around here. One compensation for the children going out to find their own lives; they bring home great surprises.
Lorri brought this. It’s a turkey made out of veg. Very clever, my girl!
Second Children’s Table
And that’s the end of this part. But I think you can see why I haven’t spent a whole lot of time reading or writing or cleaning the house or knowing what day it was. There are two other parts to follow: What I Made and the Family Christmas Portrait—which was supposed to be for the Christmas Card post, which never got put up. And after that – the ornament party and Christmas. I missed telling so many stories this year. And these are only the highlights of these months – these astonishingly crammed months. I don’t want to forget anything, but I suppose that’s life hoarding? And I always think I’m going to go back and look at where we’ve been. The only thing is, we’re so busy moving forward, there isn’t a whole lot of time to look back. And that’s a good thing, right?