I’m getting a slow start this day, as yesterday I cooked all the things. One weird compensation of getting older is that i can pull off three course meals with everything done on time and properly. Well… the lamb was a bit overdone because I underestimated the time it took to cook. I was using an unfamiliar (brand new when we moved here) countertop oven. Better next year.
The day after Christmas — or New Years or any other big celebration (like landmark birthdays) for which you prepare for years — always seems a little sad. You see, you’re coming down for a “special” world to the ordinary one.
That tree that looked magical sparkly is now just a dead piece of greenery with some baubles.
It’s a good thing my allergy to pine (I get migraines every day while one is indoors) constrains us to an artificial tree. I used to get very upset to see the branch (there were no Christmas tree lots in the village, and dad refused to kill a tree for Christmas, so he’d shimmy up and cut a 3 to 4 foot branch.) which had been decorated and made so much of suddenly consigned to the compost tree. Since I anthropomorphized most things as far back as I can remember, I used to imagine its bewilderment at being suddenly trash. I have a vague idea I wrote a story about it, but maybe I just read one. It’s not an unusual piece.
Our tree just gets packed in its box and put in the basement (not today, I have a book to finish, but probably Wednesday/Thursday, the day after the book sails into my publisher’s office. It occurred to me today while cleaning the kitchen (Dan did a few loads of dishes yesterday, but I put the last load in this morning. Now I’m soaking the burnt roasters in dishsoap, hot water and a dryer sheet — did you know it removes all the burn after a couple of hours. It’s like magic. I love it — for scrubbing later.)that this is sort of time capsule and an act of faith. The time capsule is not as pronounced now, as we saved the bubble wrap from moving for the ornaments, so it’s not newspapers and rough drafts of my manuscripts. It used to be opening the ornaments next year was a trip “I was working on this? Really? Oh, and look, remember that thing where they had a duck race?”
The act of faith remains, though. Every time we wrap things up and put them away, we’re saying “I trust that next year we’ll be well enough and have a home, and be able to put up the tree.” It’s failed once or twice, when I was too ill, or Dan and I were too busy, (you have NO idea) or we were moving. And it will one day fail completely, as it does for everyone (I hope the boys keep the unusual and collectible glass ornaments. The indifferent “balls” many of them starting to show 30 years of age, can be donated. Actually we might do that when the kids move out or I should say “have independent households” since both have more or less moved out, but still come back for stuff. They should be in their own lives, and possibly out of state in two years, and I told Dan we’ll get a little five foot tree for just the special ornaments, and donate the rest. And we’ll go to Christmas dinner at Pete’s and spend the day doing laid back stuff we enjoy. (Hey, it’s a dream. It’s not what I “Sense”. Even though I have clue zero where they’ll come from (other than the adopted ones, who are already here) I suspect Christmas’ will only become busier with children and inlaws and grandchildren, ending up in what my grandmother had until she was eighty and didn’t have enough energy to deal with it, with about 40 people around three tables. And that too will be okay. But the fact is we can’t guess, and each putting away of the seasonal stuff is “I believe there will be a next year. And I’ll be here to deal with this.” Eventually it will fail, but 2016 and the thingy in the brainy and unexpected collapses nowithstanding, I’m hoping it’s not this year.
The thing with “the day after” — a holiday, a wedding, a special time for a family — is that you’ve moved from a space set apart to the normal world again.
I’ve watched my wiccan friends do rituals, and carve out “a sacred space” with words an ritual. In a way annual things, rituals, prescribed actions, are ways to cut a space out of the normal world, to set us apart. Humans are creatures like that. We need the everyday and the mundane. That’s where we live. But we need the special, the set apart, the cut away, that which reminds us that not only of bread lives man (but of grandma’s Christmas doughnuts, which I made yesterday. Eh.) We need the special, because when the world gets slow and dreary like cold molasses — as it does for all of us at some point and for some time — we need to remember the special world, the special time, and allow it to give meaning to everything we do.
Which reminds me of the other thing I do. Writing is, in a way, all in the special world. And done right, it too, it also gives us something to get us through the dreary work-a-day world. Oh, sure, the characters go through fire and blood, but in the end, it is a grand thing and full of meaning, and it pulls us through our world that is often not meaningful at all.
Which reminds me I have a book to finish. And you too need to get to your every day pursuits. But I’m grateful for you, and your visits here. You too are all part of my special world.