New Year’s Eve Just Ain’t Right This Year

last nyeWhile I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy Thanksgiving and Christmas were this year, I suspected that New Year’s would be hard.

2013 was a truly awful year. Doug was hospitalized beginning in November of 2012 on an off, including several stints in ICU, culminating with his death in June. While still reeling from that, the Beautiful Babette died in October and before I could catch my breath from that, the shelter dog I adopted died within a month.

I learned a lot this year, but mostly I learned that anger is both destructive and constructive, love never dies, memories get sweeter, and people are basically good. I learned how loved I am and how blessed I’ve been.

Still. It’s been an awful year and I’ve eagerly looked forward to 2014.

4476179214_d8c0edb61dI knew I had to get past this night though. Doug and I didn’t always have Christmas together. Only after he moved here did we have Thanksgiving together. But we usually managed New Year’s. We always had live Maine lobster and copious amounts of champagne. Sometimes we’d get silly and dance. Sometimes we’d gaze lovingly into one another’s eyes. One time we watched a Twilight Zone marathon and I laughed at how none of my womanly ways could distract him.

This holiday seems wrong without him. I have the champagne, but couldn’t bring myself to order lobster. I’m not listening to music or watching television though I am poking my nose into Facebook. I don’t want to wallow, but I do want to acknowledge these feelings of loss.

This is the holiday he most should have been here for and is not. I’m a little lost with what to do with myself. I miss him a lot tonight.

 

So? What’s the date?

Happy-New-Year-HD-2014I am just all discombobulated. I think it’s because I worked Thursday and Friday of this week.

I have not worked the stretch between Christmas Eve and New Year’s since 1988. Because of this and that, I went back to work on the 26th and plan on working every day but the 1st. My internal clock and calendar are just whirling about in confusion.

This past Thursday, I was convinced it was January 2nd and was trying to figure out what happened to the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Now it’s Saturday and I’m trying to enforce some downtime on myself as I have every reason to be exhausted, but my mind is whirling with all the things I need to do to have the house ready for the arrival of Carruthers (my sort-of step-daughter) on January 7th. By my clock, January 7th is upon me, but all the others indicate I’ve got some time.

You can’t just do something one way for 26 years and stop willy nilly. I will not be working this week next year – it’s just too hard on me.

So, if it were indeed the new year, I would be prattling on about resolutions and the lack thereof and assorted and sundry topics related to such. And I feel like writing, but don’t have anything timely to say.

I am really out of step. The answer may be wine.

Happy Solstice

winter-solstice-signI’m in the calm before the storm.

Chef Boy ‘R Mine arrives Sunday evening and before then I have to tackle a grocery list that consists of one word: everything. I also have to run around the house and do mundane stuff like de-clutter, dust and vacuum. Since I hate those activities, it will take me all weekend to do it.

I’m in procrastination mode as we speak. Rather than deal with putting the laundry away, I am importing CDs into iTunes and blogging. After I get done with this, I will no doubt be so proud of myself I will take the rest of the evening off and enjoy the new tunes with a bottle of wine. With any luck the laundry will get put away as Chef is rolling up the hill Sunday evening.

This is how I roll.

Even so, I will somehow pull it off.

While absolutely not essential, I did clean the study desk off. I feel quite virtuous. It looks so much better and spurred me to write this posting so it had to be a good thing. Right? RIGHT?

[Really. I have three desks and am required to identify which one I’m talking about. Does one person need three desks at home? What does need have to do with it.]

I have enjoyed this holiday season. I started with the decorating and shopping well before Thanksgiving so it’s been a long season for me. During all that, I spent a lot of time meandering through memories.  My goal this was to do whatever it took to get through the holidays and I succeeded way beyond what I thought possible. Nonetheless, I will be glad to get back to a normal house and normal schedule come January.

While too much of a good thing is wonderful, it becomes distracting after a while and I have plenty of projects for the new year that I’m almost eager to begin. Oh, yes, there will be whining and I will rue that word eager, but that’s my feeling today.

I have enjoyed this period of prolonged nesting and plan to continue it sans the trappings of Christmas and the distraction of online shopping. (Amazon will surely send out a search party when the spree ends.)

But before that, I get to spend 5 days with my son and then another 5 with my step-daughter. I am so excited to see the both of them. Their visits don’t intersect which is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because I get to spend uninterrupted time with both of them; a curse because they don’t get to spend time getting to know one another better.

It’s been a rough year, but is ending on a high note. I wish peaceful days for all of you. And me. I am planning on enjoying these last of  the longest nights and further reminiscing.  Laundry be damned – the sun is coming back soon.

Happy Solstice to all!

 

It goes crunch.

Walnuts3I was 9 or 10 the year I bought my father a gift with my own money.  I remember it fairly vividly.

My brother and I were alone together in a grocery store at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu.  My parents were elsewhere, no doubt procuring Christmas gifts hence my brother and I being trusted alone.

My father liked nuts.   And there, stacked in a high heap, were bags and bags of walnuts.  I can’t remember for sure, but I think they were 88 cents which seems high for 1969.  Then again it was Honolulu and walnuts were not, I don’t think, indigenous.

I whipped out my money, plunked it down and walked out with a gift I was sure would delight my father.  I was sure that newspapers across the land would herald the story of the good daughter who bought the most fabulous gift of all time for her father.  Walnuts.  From a grocery store.  In a shopping center.

broandmeI pledged my brother to secrecy.

Now my brother was the youngest and a whiny brat.  I was the oldest and a bossy brat.  I all but beat the need for secrecy into him.  And I wouldn’t have hesitated to do so.

So we all get home and I’m prattling on and on about the fabulous gift I have procured for my father.  I have even wrapped it and put it under the tree.  My father, a character, is teasing both my brother and I unmercifully.  Even at a young age, I knew Christmas presents were for Christmas.  I never wanted mine early.  The surprise and delight were the best part and delaying that just added to the joy.

But my dad starting working on Little Bro.  And to my brother’s credit, he held under hours of barrage of Daddy asking for just a hint.  He finally cracked (pun intended) and said, “All I can say is they go crunch.”

And the heavens rained down wrath and sorrow.

I sobbed.  I shrieked.  I wanted to kill my brother.  Really, what else would go crunch besides nuts.  He might as well said, “Father, my sister procured walnuts for your holiday gift.”  The surprise was ruined.  Ruined.

I was bereft.

My father wrapped me in his arms and cooed that he had no idea what the gift was.  He assured me.  I wasn’t buying it.  Between sobs, I plotted my brother’s demise.

Of course, it all turned out fine.  Of course, my father was shocked and delighted at the great surprise of walnuts.  And to this day, we say, “All I can say is it goes crunch.”

walnutfinalI don’t need  more ornaments and I’m limiting new acquisitions to the truly special.  This year I was enticed by a vintage style Kurt Adler walnut.  When it arrived, I remarked to the cat that it didn’t look much like a walnut, but the memories surfaced nonetheless.  And that’s the point of everything on my tree – memories and stories and the weft and weave of my life.

At my age, Christmas is more about memories than presents although I still strive to find presents that will knock their socks off.  I hope your Christmas finds you wrapped in lovely memories of all the people you have loved and do love.

Christmas Guests, Memories and Memorials

doug's tree guest room 016I’ve spent the day finishing HMO’Keefe’s Christmas tree.  I’ve been working on this for more than a week now.  It’s a pre-lit tree, but whole sections refused to light.  I checked bulbs, cords, fuses, the alignment of stars and planets, and everything else and nothing, nada, zip, could persuade the lights to work.

I decided to put up HMOK’s tree in the guest room primarily so his daughter could enjoy it when he comes to visit, but also because it is a slim tree and fit into the room like it should always have been there.  He was mildly annoyed when he got it home after buying it to discover it had colored lights.  He and I both prefer trees with either white lights or a solid color.  This one has red, blue, pink, white, green and gold.  It’s grown on me over the years and the multi-colors are great in the guest room.  I’m right fond of it.

But I was not fond of its refusal to work.  So, I trundled off to the Lowe’s and found an exact match for the lights.  Now, really, what are the odds?  So, I added more lights to the sections that aren’t working.  (Maybe next year I’ll take off the non-working lights, but I didn’t feel like wrestling with cable ties this year.)

doug's tree guest room 038I was so afraid that celebrating the holidays this year would be hard that I resolved to begin early so that if I did end up in the pit of sadness, my obligations to the family and friends would be taken care of.  Funny thing.  The more ahead of the game I got, the more I have enjoyed the season.  I’m still mourning HMO’Keefe, but I think I’ve moved to the acceptance stage of things and spend a lot of time reminiscing about our years together — particularly our Christmases.  We had a long-distance relationship for years, but regular as rain, I went to Boston or he came here.

He particularly loved the spectacle that is my house at Christmas time when I put everything out.  I felt I owed it to him and to me to make sure the house is at its Christmas best this year.  I’ve had a ball doing it.

doug's tree guest room 023Today, I fixed the lights and got out the boxes of his ornaments.  He was fond of Santas, kayaks, chili peppers, cowboys, and his daughter.  His tree reflects those things.  It’s a beautiful, funny, eclectic memorial to the man I loved.  I’m so pleased that his daughter is going to be able to sleep in this room with that tree when she comes to visit.

I’m also excited that Chef Boy ‘R Mine will be here for 5 days this year.  I can’t remember the last time I had him for 5 days.  So, I’m in a frenzy to have the house clean and orderly, to make cookies, to celebrate all the time-honored traditions of an American Christmas.

doug's tree guest room 042The guest room is almost ready, and boy-howdy I’m glad my two guests don’t have problems with cat hair.  I’m pleased with how the room turned out.  I bought the furniture this past summer upon realizing it drove me crazy that my son and step-daughter didn’t have a proper bed to sleep in when they’re here.  The suite of furniture is gorgeous and suits the room perfectly.

Upon excavating and decorating the closet, I got the hidden writing closet up and running again.  I can’t wait to spend some serious time in there writing secrets and memories.