Ready or Not It’s Here

straightjacket xmasWell, SOME of you may have been ready for December. You know who you are. You’ve had your lights up for weeks. Goodie-goodies.

Most years I don’t get our lights up ‘til our youngest child arrives home from whatever faraway place has beckoned him that year and I’ll admit it: that practice makes me nervous.

One year I just couldn’t wait and got taken in by a catalogue ad for trees that are supposedly harvested only hours before shipping and what a mistake THAT was. When the thing arrived it looked like a giant Q-Tip –  and kept on looking that way even a whole week after I’d liberated it from its plastic mesh hairnet.

“W-h-a-a-t?” our son exclaimed  when he got home on December 23rd and saw it all decorated in our living room. He’s burdened by what I can only call your ‘artist’s eye’ : your crooked trees, your trees half bald on one side are a torture for him to look upon.

Gently, swiftly he took off every ornament and string of lights, dragged the poor tree out back and drove straight to the nearest nursery for a realer version, shaggy and flouncy and still smelling of the piney woods.

But preparing for the holidays is just part of what I have to face come December. For me there’s also the glove problem.

Every fall, I buy two pairs of black winter gloves that are sort of nylony and hug the hand so nicely. Then, not two weeks into the cold weather, I lose the one for the right hand.

Always the one for the right hand. Never the one for the left.

I don’t know how it happens but at last count I had on the shelf in the front hall closet exactly seven identical black gloves, all for the left hand. And because they have these nice little gripping ‘pads’ on the palm surface, you can’t just flip them. You’d walk around looking like somebody took each arm off, switched it and hung it from the opposite shoulder.

It’s a problem for a person like me, who can’t leave the house from November to April without gloves on. Last winter I bought five pairs, just to keep that right hand warm.

And finally in December I face the issue of storing the car, since, where we live, they fine you in winter for parking in the street.

We do have a driveway, though it’s narrow. We also have a garage built circa 1915 when a car wasn’t much bigger than a sewing machine.

But somehow this garage gets filled during the warmer months, this year with items from a deceased uncle’s house, boxes of our own mismatched china from Dallas and Dynasty days, and a broken old Nordic Track.

You have to empty a garage enough to get one of your two cars inside but where do you begin?  Especially when you really loved the uncle and can’t part with his furniture? Especially when you’re the kind of person who remembers so very many of the thousands of meals eaten off that china?

Every day I go out there looking to see what I can pry from the pile and discard.

It’s painful. Worst case I’ll find that cast-out Q-tip of a Christmas tree. But best case, who knows? I just might come upon seven right gloves.


Shake Not Thy Gory Locks at Me!

“Shake Not Thy Gory Locks at Me!” That’s Macbeth, talking to the bloody ghost of Banquo who shows up at the palace just after Macbeth has ordered the death of  his old best friend. Scary, that image of a split scalp and bloodied hair..

And speaking of scary, here are some images to stop you in your tracks: Pictures of how kids used to look when they went out on Halloween. Worse than any creepshow mask you can buy today eh?

haunted 1

old time halloween 2

Hope you all got through the big night safely and are happily enjoying your loot today. Don’t forget to brush and floss after, is all! 🙂

Good Haul

visible-womanI’m as happy with what I didn’t get for Christmas as what I did.

  • I got a white high-neck long-sleeved nightie. Psych!
  • I got a book by Jonathan Kozol one of the last of the American heroes. Psych again!
  • I got four sherbet glasses from the early 1920s that I’d fallen in love with at an antique store in November. They cost $25 for the set and are the color of a peacock’s wing. One has a chip in it and what could be nicer than that?
  • I got a camera from Old Dave. I got this only after I found out he thought we were no longer exchanging gifts after all these years. No longer exchanging gifts! When I had just finished wrapping three sweaters and a new bathrobe for him since the old bathrobe has under the left arm something resembling a hash tag – you know, the symbol for number – only it’s 8 inches around. Pretty drafty for the cold nights when the wind is up. When he saw my face he said “Poor T! Go buy yourself something!” (This reminded me of when an old flame of my sister Nan said of her ironing that it certainly didn’t look like any shirt his mother would have ironed. Her response: “Does this meat cleaver that I’m about to bury in her your head look like anything of hers?” ha ha. ) So I did “go”, right to Best Buy where the clerk told me they no longer carry the Nikon D-90 that I have been burning to own but she looked it up on Amazon for me, she was that nice. She found a reputable seller, made sure it was a new one and not a rebuilt one and had me email the link to myself. Two hours later I had ordered thing and sometime next Monday it will land on my front porch.
  • I also got a funny little cube of a radio with that little slot-like mouth into which you can set your iPhone so you can wake up to music OR news OR your own playlists and podcasts. Joy! This came my way only when because one of my kids asked for it as a gift and when I saw its awesome properties I asked for one too. (Well that’s not QUITE what happened. In the pre-Christmas chaos I ordered the darn thing twice from Amazon and so talked myself into wanting since an extra one was coming to my house anyway.)

I was happy about all these things and happy too that I didn’t have to talk myself into wanting a bunch of stuff I never heard of before, like a belt you can wear that gives you periodic electrical shocks to reduce your love handles or some such.

So a nightie, a book, some glassware from the old days, a clock to mark the passage of time and a camera to record it with. It was almost as good a Christmas as the one when I got that model of the naked lady AND the see-through frog… And really Dave is a pretty good guy. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. Here’s a picture of him that I’ve always really liked. (And now he even has a decent bathrobe :-))

dpm when dcm turned 3

The Squirrels Know

feel for this guy, who I found trying to raid the hawthorn tree for berries before the poor birds could get to any.

They’re running out of food out there!

It’s been mighty mild for these parts but still: The critters know what’s coming.

I hung around in my bedroom for almost an hour to get this shot. (I have 20 lousy shots.)

There were four squirrels in the tree at the time but this guy seemed the perkiest. And then he turned and gave me his handsome profile.

And I was just close enough, my breath fogging the cold windowpane  – though if you click on the picture to enlarge it you’ll see the mesh of screening.

Just look at him, shoveling it in with those slim little fingers.  

I suppose he’s offering a lesson to us all, but with the holiday aftershocks still bouncing against me, I’m still too fried to figure out what it is. 

When the Big Day Comes

You wait and you wait for that elf to arrive.

Looking out this window and that but



finally he does come

and brings those toys and clothes

some of which are so scary that the children won’t put them on.

So the grownups have to wear them instead..

which is initially terrifying,

but then not so much

In general people seemed to like their presents around here,  especially the one who got a giant abominable snowman jackets.

In general it was like this today around the tree (though the video is from two years ago.)  I just like that little one’s quiet way as he looks around in his webbed Spider Man PJs, taking it all in.

Hope you take it all in too, and are warm and happy and safe as the sun does its quick winter  fade and we rush around fast to light the candles.

A Less Than Joyful Noise? Complicated Feelings at Christmas

The boy is standing halfway up my front hall stairs. He is a little boy and his speech is still imperfect.  The “s’s” at the beginning of his words come out sounding like “t’s” but I can understand him – most of the time. Right now he has paused on the way up my hall stairs to ask me something.

“What are you going to get me for Christmas, TT?” (He calls me TT.)

“Oh!  Well I’ve already gotten it!”

“What is it?’ he asks, twisting his hands together in front of him.

“Ah now I can’t tell you that, can I?”

“You CAN tell me!” he cries with a sudden anguish. “TT, you can!”

Stalling for time, I then do what grownups so often do: I fib.

“Um, let’s see if I can remember. Oh I know! I got you every single thing on Santa’s sleigh!”

“No, you didn’t!” he nearly sobs, even as I am asking myself what on earth I think I’m doing, teasing a four-year-old.

“I’m only fooling,” I quickly say. “What kind of thing would THAT be, putting Santa out of a job?”

“So, what DID you get me?”

“A jar of pickles.” (Gad, I’ve done it again!)

“Not really!” he cries, his expression turning desperate.

“No, not really. I’m sorry honey. Do you really want to know what I got you?”

He sits down on the fourth step like a man exhausted by life.

“Shall I tell you in your ear so it’s a secret?”

He nods.

“It’s a bank that counts your money as you put it in,” I whisper.

At this he turns from me, closes his eyes and leans his little forehead against the wall, a bit of body language that comes through loud and clear.

“You don’t want a bank that counts your money as you put it in?”

He shakes his head no as the tears begin to brim.

“Then I’ll give it to your brother, why don’t I? He loves banks, come to think of it! And you love stuffed animals, isn’t that right? Should I be thinking about a stuffed animal for you?”

He nods his head. Of course! How many times have I seen him arranging the occupants of that toy doll carriage!

“And what would be the best stuffed animal, do you think?”

He tries for a brave smile but he can’t seem to speak.

“Do you have a favorite animal?”

He nods.

“What kind then?”

“A raccoon,” he says in a very small voice.

“A raccoon is it?” I repeat after him.

“Yes!” he now full-out sobs.

He falls into my outstretched arms and there we stand, two people balancing on sharp point between laughter and tears, two people caught on that sharp point (a) because these long weeks of ad-fed hankering stand in opposition to every stated spiritual impulse of the season, and (b) because, thank God, they are


Almost …