Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas efficiency

Christmas if over, and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. I went to Frisco on Christmas Eve to be with Jamie and his family--Mel, 7-year-old Maddie and almost-four Edie, along with Mel's parents and brother, Brent. Christmas Eve we had turducken for dinner, at Brent's request. When his mother saw how much a ready-to-cook turducken was, she decided she could do that herself. (For those that don't know, it's a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey--I'd been wanting to taste it for a long time and was delighted.) Nancy brined the meats (breast only), boned them, layered them with stuffing, and trussed the whole thing. Then she announced, justifiably, that it was the only turducken she was ever doing, so everyone had better enjoy it (I still think I'd like to do one but I'd get a ready-to-cook). Brent took over the cooking--it was delicious, moist, just a bit salty but not too much--and it made great leftovers (I ate turducken sandwiches the rest of the time I was there). I think Jamie was skeptical--he fixed a pot of chili, which was an odd accompaniment. We didn't go to church, which I missed but then I miss that every year.
Christmas morning was as it should be. The girls got American Girl dolls and were ecstatic--they've been carrying them everywhere since. We lingered over present opening--I'd already had family Christmas but was surprised with lovely gifts--and then a lazy afternoon. The girls played contentedly with their toys--Nancy (Nana) is good about getting them crafty things. I did what I don't often do enough of--I just sat and watched my grandchildren play. All three grandparents seemed to be of the same mindset--we were there when the girls came to us, but we didn't beg and smother them. Mel fixed a marvelous dinner--beef tenderloin (she worried about the responsibility of such an expensive cut of meat, but she and Brent did a beautiful job), scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole--she meant to do green beans almondine, but Jamie wanted the traditional. The next day we hit bookstores (always a hit with all of us) and I went to Coldwater Creek for the sales. Then Wed. I was lazy while the kids, big and little, were busy with all sorts of things--lots of time at the computer, working on my Oprah project, and lots of reading--I'm enjoying another Deborah Crombie mystery and am afraid I've about ready the body of her work. Wed. night Jordan and Christian met us at a favorite barbecue place in a mid-way suburb--turns out it was closing the next day--and they brought me home. I was as always glad to be home, no matter how much I'd enjoyed my stay. And I was glad to see my dog and cat--we'd had an alarm crisis, complete with police coming, and a cat crisis--my neighbor found my always-indoor cat on her front porch one morning--so I was glad to get back to my household.
There's something about that post-holiday/end-of-the-year period that inspires efficiency in me--I did a zillion errands today, then came home and finished thank-you notes, made a Christmas card list for next year (I didn't have one this year and was awful about cards!), cleaned up a lot of loose ends, and started on my tax info for the accountant. Tonight I am feeling righteous and tired. Tomorrow, it's the closets!
Talked to Jamie tonight, and he's still worrying with why Christmas isn't like it was. He thinks now it's because he always has one part of his mind on his business and things that should be done. I think the difference is that we were away, out of our routine, sort of transported to a vacation land. When you stay home, you do worry about all the things that need to be done--I didn't do that at his house, but he did. On the other hand, he wants his girls to wake up in their own house on Christmas. Maybe it's a contradiction in terms. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas is different when you're 34, even than when you were 18 or 19 and not just when you were four or five and overwhelmed by a mountain of packages. Maybe too we all remember it as more magical than it really was. Jame said tonight, "I don't want it to be just another holiday, like the 4th of July."
I wonder if others are struggling with the meaning of Christmas and capturing the magic again, as we move on with ever-changing lives and, maybe particularly, in the world today when peace on earth seems a remote impossibility. I still think we have to believe!

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