Where we are

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This is where we are at the moment — an out of focus, undecorated Christmas tree. But it is in the house, which is something.

I’m stepping out now to try to take care of a few things, including that tree. Who knows –I may even clean the stove.

I’ll try to make it back before Christmas, but in case I do not, let me wish you the joys of the season.

Merry Christmas, or whatever you chose to celebrate!

Plans, best-laid and otherwise

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My god, this has been a day.

All kinds of crap with this professional association I belong to. It feels like they are dissing us, and I’m the person who’s in the position to deal with it. So I will, but it’s not exactly fun.

I think I have to do it in a way that’s not screechy. Or am I just thinking that because I am a complete pushover? I think I have to adopt a non-pushover tone — Some people are really good at this. They are just in your face until you give in. I’m going to have to channel those people, I think. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I’m going to have to be strategic and non-pushovery and also non-screechy, but definitely firm as the Berlin Wall.

It’s a challenge.

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However, on the positive side, I think we’re getting Christmas figured out. I think I may get M to come cross-country skiing with me before N and K arrive. This is a Christmas miracle.

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And we’ve figured out a day to go see K’s brother’s farm, which I am excited about. I think it’s all going to work out.

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And I got one rather horrible task done. Only three more before the end of the week, which comes on Wednesday.

All right, I’m going home now.

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Have yourself a merry little Christmas

I love Christmas. I know all the reasons for not liking it — excess and forced jollity, and those are the reasons I hate New Year’s — but to me it’s the perfect seasonal holiday. It’s full of lights and greenery when those things are in short supply. It comes at the darkest part of the year when we’re turning back toward the light. I like that it has a baby, and animals, and magical kings from the Orient and cookies and layers and layers of tradition — pagan and medieval European and Victorian. I like that while it involves going out to myriad Christmas parties, at that at the very heart of it you mostly get to stay home. I love the way no matter how people fight against it, finally, on those days between Christmas and at least New Year’s, it’s as if the whole world has fallen off a cliff. No one can reasonably expect you to do anything over Christmas break. I like that it ends with Epiphany. I like that it causes you to bring a tree into your house, like an enormous cut flower. I love that its colors are red and green. I love that part of the tradition is singing carols, and that the carols range from medieval to modern.

I remember learning all the words to “Jingle Bells” when I was in kindergarten, maybe, and feeling very proud of myself, and also very pleased to be singing a song that people must have sung in the days before cars, when there existed very clear vocabulary regarding exactly what sort of sleigh they were in. It was a link to the past. When I was 5, my mother married a man with 5 children and our Christmas traditions had to merge, and a song that they sang, which I had never heard before but liked, similarly, for its historical information, was “Here we come a-wassailing.” I didn’t really like “Deck the Halls,” I suspected it was phoney, but my stepbrother’s class sang it and I learned a clever harmony for the “fa la la la la” part of which I was quite proud. (Ours is a family that harmonizes “Happy Birthday.”) Later, my stepsister liked to sing Silver Bells, which I think had a similarly fun harmony, but which I rejected as too modern. I favored “Good King Wenceslaus” and “O come o come Emmanuel.”

My mother loves Christmas, too, which may be partly why I do, and she had a good selection of Christmas albums which we played a lot. I remember that each year a different carol would catch my attention and I would spend the season learning it. I sang in a choir for the Christmas party at work one year and learned “In the deep midwinter,” which I still love. Another year, an internet friend sent me a CD of modern Christmas songs, which I think worked on my family the way my mother’s Christmas albums worked on me. “Baby, it’s cold outside,” “Sugar, rum, cherry,” “Christmas night in Harlem,” “I’ll be home for Christmas,” and especially “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” became favorites, and I think it was probably that year that we first watched “Meet me in Saint Louis,” which cemented “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as the carol, or song, really, of the year.

“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” although undoubtedly modern, has what all the best carols have, which is some sadness. A lot of carols, “O come o come Emmanuel” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child” — are in a minor key, and they’re always balancing this fallen world with hope in the form of a little baby, for whom you know painful things are destined. I’m not a religious person, but it’s a powerful metaphor. “Have yourself” has this sadness in spades. If you remember the movie, Esther (Judy Garland) sings it to her sister Tootie on Christmas Eve, when Tootie has broken down in sadness over the family’s imminent move from St. Louis, which, in the eyes of this family, is the most glorious place in the world, and also the place that they know and where they are known. It always makes me cry. In the movie, the father relents and the family does not leave Saint Louis. In real life, of course, you know they would. I think it resonates for me because I moved often as a child. But that’s how life is — things end and you move on. It was my daughter M’s favorite song and movie, too, and I think I also like it because it has to do with raising children. “Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Sometimes the fates do not allow. Children do go off and leave you, as they should. This year, we all will be together, but is it perhaps the last year? The song has a feeling of putting on a brave face — that things perhaps are not always as gay as we wish. It touches the sadness that’s right there, in the dark.

The list:

Harriet at spynotes
Hugh at Permanent qui vive
Jeanne at Necromancy never pays
Cranky at It’s My Blog!
Dr. Geek at Dr. Geek’s Laboratory
Lemming at Lemming’s Progress
Readersguide at Reader’s Guide to…
Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown
edj3 at kitties kitties kitties
My Kids’ Mom at Pook and Bug
joyhowie at The Crooked Line
Magpie at Magpie Musing
Dave at The Ideal Dave
and back to Harriet at spynotes

Golden

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My head hurts, and I’m getting nothing done on my list, and I’m starving, but I’m trying not to eat anything. I’m ready to throw in the towel and sign up for an exercise class if it will mean I can eat things and not gain weight.

I’ve started making hats for a niece and nephew, though, and my niece’s is nice. I hope she likes it.

It may be that we can buy a new car — or a new used car. (Although wouldn’t a completely new car be amazing? It would.) Our newest car is 14 years old and the oldest 23, so I feel appropriately non-consumerist. My god, it would be nice to have a new car.

And then there’s the horrible news from Connecticut. I grew up in Connecticut, and the school in Newtown looks a lot like mine, with the ball field carved out of the surrounding woods. N thinks that Connecticut is the worst place in the world, although a fair number of her friends are actually from Connecticut. There are things about the state I don’t like — too many people with too much money is the main thing, really — but it absolutely has some lovely woods.

I have no illusions that this incident will lead to reasonable gun control any more than any of the previous ones have, and that’s the part that makes me angry, mystified and bitter.