Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ahhhhh. . . .

It is 11:10 AM on Christmas Eve.

For many many Christmas Eve's in the past, this was the time when my table would be set and decorated and we'd either have a few guests here for brunch or be waiting for the first ones to arrive.

I had been feeling a bit sad about the loss of this tradition. This year my office's holiday schedule felt very stingy. We get only tomorrow off--and only New Year's Day off-not the days after nor today, the day before. It was making me feel cranky and a bit persecuted--never mind that it was happening to all the rest of the people not getting the holiday either. Thankfully, I have paid vacation days.

But right now, I'm sitting with my feet up, laptop actually on lap, listening to Christmas music, with the tree lit (thought the day is now bright enough for the lights to no longer have much of the required backdrop for best viewing). And, you know what? It may not be the tradition, but right now it is feeling pretty good.

I've been sick. I need the break. I need the relief in my head from the anxiety of this crazy economic time. Is anyone else experiencing anxiety from all the layoffs and lack of shopping and mortgage issues? My overall feeling is just this impending doom and hearing over and over in my head, "what to do? what to do?" Cutting back on Starbucks isn't going to be enough. . . .

Brushing that aside. . . sweep . . . sweep. . .

Here are a few random holiday memories, feel free to share yours too!

Memory 1
I remember one Christmas in Missouri at my Grandparents' house. My sister and I had gotten walkie talkies for Christmas. It was snowing lightly. Two of my uncles took off in the neighborhood in different directions, each with a group of cousins in tow. Up hills, down hills around corners, it was like a 20-year early (more?) premonition of the cell phone commercials: "Can you hear me now?" So much giggling, for such mundane conversation over the wires. . from David St. to Leroy, to Masters Drive. . .

Memory 2
Our first Thanksgiving in Boston was my first one as an "adult," where I didn't go to my grandparents'. It made me very sad. Hubby & I awoke to a foot of snow, feeling grateful then that we'd bought a duck to cook and didn't have anywhere we needed to drive. The field across the parking lot from our apartment complex was a big plane of ice--a solid, crunchy layer on top of the snow. My sweet Katie dog was light enough to stay on top. To her delight, when I crunched through, little balls of ice cracked from the surface. One piece skated a bit away from us. . . and that was the start! Ice hockey! I'd throw an ice puck and she'd run across ice and slide, spinning tail first to catch it, then poof! Head first into a snow bank. Hubby said he could hear even the echos of my laughter from inside our apartment. We played for hours.

Memory 3
One Oct. my friend, Karen , and I took a road trip from Boston to her home in Turbyville, SC then to my mom's in Atlanta. While in Turbyville, I got a glimpse of one of her family's Christmas traditions.

All the way down 95, eating bologna sandwiches in the car because Karen was determined to stop as little as possible, she told me stories of her elderly cousins Lurleen and Dicey. Yes, their real names. I'm not sure if they were her mother's cousins or her grandmother's or maybe not even true cousins at all.

A few days into our visit--after the surreal night at Grandma Reena's who was watching Lawrence Welk when we came in, who lived across from a cotton field, and whose house was the darkest I have ever been in at night with absolutely no ambient light, we took a drive to Lurleen's and Dicey's.

As we passed the kitchen, we spoke to the cook who came in every day for them. Were we going to stay to eat fried pork chops and black eyed peas and greens for lunch? To my surprise and dismay, Karen said no. . . we didn't want to intrude. (One of the things I love most about Karen is how she intrudes into families. . . )

Dicey & I sat on Dicey's double bed, and Karen sat next to Lurleen's side on her bed, which she never left anymore, and that was directly across from Dicey's. It was one of the largest bedrooms I've ever seen. There were 2 bedrooms, but the sisters had always shared one.

We chatted about Karen's family. And she told Lurleen and Dicey stories about me--spats we'd had in the car ride down (she claimed I drove like Mr. Magoo--oblivious to the devastation I left behind me); how she'd eaten the last pieces of bologna at my house before I could say anything--even though we were leaving hubby without a car for more than week; how her niece had sucked me in with tall tales about baby chickens on their chicken farm.

After lots of laughter and some tears from both joy and sadness, Dicey asked Karen if she would be able to come back for Christmas. Karen apologetically told her no that she didn't think she could afford another visit so soon. And while we expected a sad response, instead, Dicey clapped and brightened and said, "Well then, you get your Christmas Lipstick now!"

"Oh, you're in for a treat," Karen said to me.

Bags removed from the closet had their contents poured onto Dicey's bedspread. Piles of tubes of lipstick. Every color. Every name. Every brand. Pick the one you like, Dicey tells us. Some like 'em bright, some don't. Take the one you want.

Karen tells me this is what they've always done, these 2 sisters. All year they collect lipstick. Enough lipstick for all the women in the family, all ages of females--girls and grands. Mostly all Southerners, and a few displaced ones, like Karen and now me. They can't afford more, but they want to give this. This bit of a lady's indulgence, this bit of seduction or church polish, this bit of bonding between only women.


  1. wow.

    powerful words. powerful post. totally 'get' your pre-memories feelings of the impending doomsense as well.

    how was your day? how are you feeling about having to get back to it and work today?

    all that...

  2. I hope you had a lovely Christmas!


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