Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Packing Away Christmas

I finished taking down the tree today.  I put it up December 15, which is early for our house.  I wanted the house ready when family arrived the weekend before Christmas, and that meant weeks of clearing and cleaning and making ready to get the tree up by mid-December.

Today I finished packing away ornaments and rolling up strings of lights.  There weren't many other decorations this year.  We needed space for gathering and eating and sleeping and enjoying the baby.

For the first time in many years there was a baby in the house this holiday season.  What a joy it was!  Every day my grandson was a delight from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed.  His birthday was three days before Christmas, which added to the magic of his time here.  He played with toys that belonged to the generation before him and was delighted with all of his own gifts.  His love of helium-filled mylar balloons prompted all of us to cheer and clap.

This light of my life sat in the high chair while I worked in the kitchen, and we "chatted" and compared notes the entire time.  I showed him how to smell cinnamon and vanilla.  He snacked on Chex cereal while I made cookies and bits of bread when I made French toast.

My grandson and his parents left Sunday for another week in Boston.  They will be back for a brief time this coming weekend.  I don't know when I will see him after that.  I hear second-hand that there are changes afoot in his travel plans in the coming months, so I need to ask about plans and schedules.

So Christmas is packed away for another year.  Who knows what next year will look like.  I know that I am grateful for the time I had with family this year.

And tonight is the eve of a new year....

I have been preoccupied this week with a post written by Carolynn at A Glowing Ember about her choice of a word for 2014.  I wracked my brain but could not remember the word I chose for this year or, to be more precise, the word that chose me.  This afternoon I went into my archives to look and then I remembered.  The word stayed with me for months; I wrote about it in my journal and worked with it until it was literally worn out.  The word was "release."

It sounds harsh, but the word did its job.  By mid-year I had let go of just about everything.  I have heard over the years that life is easier if you "let go" but I have not found that to be true.  Nothing has been easy this year, not my relationships or my marriage or my job or my everyday life.  Not one thing has been easy....

Except my love for my grandson. That is easy and natural and true.

And that I will hold onto forever.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


We had a different kind of Thanksgiving this year ~ my younger son hosted the day in Boston.  We had eight fresh inches of snow on the ground in Maine, but that didn't keep my husband, daughter, and I from leaving early with the turkey in tow.  It was the kind family day the four of us enjoy, which means sharing good food in good company with a board game on the side.

Then I spent Friday and Saturday at home puttering and catching up.  It was much needed.

Monday night I was finally able to reach an oil guy who came highly recommended.  He has installed and serviced boilers and furnaces for 30 years and had plenty of time to talk.  He assured me that the sounds I described are the natural sounds of pipes as they heat and cool in a house that is still settling.  We talked about heating in general and he had some good ideas.  I'm sure we will talk again. 

The ice arrived Wednesday morning.  There were meetings at school and no students until 9:30 so I waited to leave for work.  I am not often in the car at the right time to hear The Writer's Almanac on NPR, but I'm glad I was yesterday.  The poem that Garrison Keillor read was a salve for my anxiety and the message has stayed with me: stop struggling and wait.

by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.