It started with the ears. I plucked them off while I was waiting for my mug of water to heat in the microwave. I prefer the kettle, but our stove isn’t working yet. I didn’t know you could devour a Mickey Mouse waffle in only three minutes. A Christmas miracle? Probably not, probably just gluttony and the gastronomical looseness of the holidays.
We had moved into our home just three days prior to the holiday. We had heat and electricity in most rooms, there were boxes and unpainted walls everywhere. Our goal was to complete the living room before Christmas day. There we sat, blankets over knees, on brown leather couches, children slamming and playing upstairs, in our ‘finished’ living room. Walls painted, furniture set up, what it lacked for in lamp shades and art work it made up for in comfy seating. The past few days of arranging and re-arranging (it’s good here, but it’s better here), finding (oh, there’s our dust ruffle), and cleaning, we had slowly taken one room from construction zone to home. Tools banished to acceptable areas of the house, but dust and rubble creeping in from elsewhere, Scott and I would push back against the dust with wet rags and incredulity. Where did this all come from? Why are our hands black every time we come up from the basement?
Lest you think we are silly for moving right before Christmas and are clucking your tongue at our ‘simmer in the stew of your own making’ stupidity, we didn’t plan it this way. We had planned it in October, and then November, and then it was now or never. Now came and we moved. The timing has put a new spin on everything, enough paint to cover the trim in the living room; Christmas miracle! Cooking spray for the waffle maker that I didn’t know I had; Christmas miracle!
Christmas Eve was Chinese takeout and ‘Charlie Brown’s Christmas.’ We wrapped gifts and then I started cutting in on the dining room,
“You’re going to paint?” Scott asked. I needed something to keep my hands busy while I waited to talk to my brother about my father’s return from the hospital, he seems to be losing his year long battle with cancer. Well into my second glass of wine and feeling that carelessness that one can only feel during late night art projects I tried to think of blessings that I could write on the walls, prayers written underneath the paint for generations to come. All I could come up with was, ‘Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.’ A phrase that might be damning to the weight conscious. ‘You will be blessed among women,’ kept popping up in my head, but as I am the matriarch of this house that seemed self centered.
Scott woke me on Christmas morning with a light touch to my foot,
“The girls are awake,” I had told him that I needed him to wake me, I didn’t want to miss the looks on their faces. I think I was too tired to notice. Stockings were opened, new videos were watched, we took breaks to make Mickey Mouse waffles, and let the girls play with their toys. One relative gave chickens in our name, I have wanted to give that gift before, but was uncertain how it would be received. At first I felt mildly jipped, then I didn’t care, ‘good they need chickens more than I need another gift.’ I was pleasantly surprised at my reaction. I was thankful and relieved.
We napped through the afternoon. Christmas day always surprises me with how low key it turns out to be. All this fanfare so that we can sit around in our pajamas. All this stress so that I can sleep the day away? It always seems that we should be ramping up for so much more. Maybe we need all that stress to feel like we deserve the day off.
That evening I prepared our steak dinner by cooking in shifts on our electric skillet. A side dish abandoned because it required baking, a feat I could not achieve with a broken stove. Scott and I both poked at it, unplugged and re-plugged, it stayed resolutely dead. Scott chuckled because I poured myself a glass of wine early,
“Look if I’m going to do this,” a spatula pointed towards the skillet that is simmering brussel sprouts, “I’m gonna drink,” I declare. He saves the dinner by producing our George Foreman grill. We finish the day by tucking the girls away and watching Scott’s stocking stuffer, ‘Goldfinger.’
Unusual? Yes. Unusually quiet? Yes. Necessarily so? Yes.