It’s New Years Eve and I’m stuck at an airport in Ohio. A Barbie blond news anchor with bubblegum lipstick on CNN just told me that in seven hours… 2010 will be over.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
However, I am sure that a week in the sleepy woods of Springfield, Ohio was the perfect way to poise my mind for “end of the year” reflections . It started on Christmas Eve with a turkey dinner fattened with the trimmings of doughy rolls and gravy, sweet yams and eggnog . There were snowflakes outside, rum balls and wintry ruminations by the warmth of a fireplace. I thought of our week’s visit as a seven day long slow dance with the final days of 2010. It was a sweet, intimate dance; a dance which was needed to ensure I’d part with 2010 on a note of peace and of thanks.
On Christmas morning I didn’t brush my teeth until 3:00 p.m. Oral hygiene has no priority over crumbly blueberry coffee cake and juicy golden raisin and walnut sticky buns, washed down with butter toffee coffee. My in -laws and husband and dear sister, Laura Louise all opened presents.
And that’s Laura. She likes wood and drills and sketchbooks. She’s pretty great.
I ate a second breakfast of Lindt chocolates and gingerbread. I don’t know of I should call that a second breakfast or a second pound gained before noon.
I retreated to the bedroom to watch the snow fall on the window bed. I called my 90 year old grandma to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ She told me of how excited she was to eat the York Peppermint patties I tucked beneath the tissue paper in her Christmas package. Another reason I can’t wait to be 90 – York Peppermints will be enough to make me happy.
She also asked me what time and what day it was.
She lived through the great depression and a state of poverty that taught her more about life and endurance than I’ll ever know. Her maiden name was “Fudge” before she married an Italian immigrant and became “Stassano.” That’s how I got a big nose. And an insatiable hunger for Mozzarella and Merlot.
When I talk to grandma on Christmas it needs to happen in a quiet place in my PJ’s because then it feels like I’m sitting right there with her. Grandma never cares how I’m dressed or whether I’ve styled my hair.
Even though she’s thousands of miles away it still feels like I’m at sitting with her at breakfast, talking about bird watching and as she reads the newspaper with her giant magnifying glass from the 1930’s.
I finally showered before a feast of pickled herring, cold shrimp and cocktail sauce and of course for me, more rumballs and spicy shortbread.
Christmas cookies should be consumed with the utmost mindfulness because unlike you’re typical after dinner Oreo, they have soul. If the guilt of saturated fats or carbohydrates crosses your mind while savoring gingerbread or a linzer, you’ve committed a sin. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just repent and eat another. And have your stretchy pants close by.
Christmas afternoons as a kid were marked by two things: playing with new toys and thinking about how cool my friends would think I was when they saw my new toys.
Christmas afternoon this year as a twenty three year old was marked similarly by playing with new toys (a helicopter Dave bought at a Walgreens the night before) but because I no longer give a rat’s bottom about having “cool” presents, I mostly spent the afternoon feeling thankful. Walgreens remote controlled helicopters are as cool as it gets anyway when you’re twenty something and mostly ask for books, gift cards, and socks from Santa.
“Helicopter” is also the name of really awesome song by ‘Deerhunter’.
Laura liked the helicopter.
The hour before dinner was spent bumbling about like a little kid with chocolate balls stuffed in my cheeks. I started a new book and watched birds perch at the feeder on the deck.
The same girl who just described herself as “bumbling about like a little kid with chocolate balls in her cheeks” also likes to watch birds. Apparently, she can’t decide whether it’s more fun acting 8 years old or 88.
That girl is me in case I confused you.
My Midwestern Christmas will forever be marked by the smells of coffee and firewood and spicy shortbread, remembered with affection as I think back upon snowy mornings eating breakfast at the table while attempting the newspaper crossword puzzle (I am my grandmother’s granddaughter, after all).
As I stated previously, the last week of 2010 felt like a seven day long slow dance with the final days of a year of which I both loved and lamented and struggled through and laughed with. It was a sweet, gentle dance. The kind you have with a lover who’s watched you at your worst and stayed by your side though you didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t a bad year. But it was hard. I don’t expect anyone can live through any 12 month period without feeling it was hard at some point.
So in a snowy neighborhood in the woods of Ohio, I celebrated the week of Christmas with rum balls and silliness, after dinner decaf and board games and chocolate balls and bird watching. And an abundance of love.
At its end, I’d bid adieu to another year. I slowed down and swayed in its’ arms as we danced to the final tunes of the love and struggle which brought me to an airport in Ohio, watching a cheeky lady on CNN tell me 2010 will be over in a few hours.
But what has passed has passed by with grace; grace to have let me live to experience another year of love and struggle and laughter and uncertainty. And I’ll take it all again if at its end I can just have one last slow dance.