Thursday, December 18, 2008

Grateful (Humbug) Still

It's been a manic week. I'm working as hard as ever, but the nagging reality of not getting paid is starting to work on my psyche which occasionally lashes out. I'm terrible at setting boundaries so I pay the price in dread. On top of the workload, the holidays are barreling down, so I've tried to make sure things are in order before the kids arrive home. Trying to stay merry, but mostly I'm a bit frazzled, and under the weather, and worried.

This evening I committed myself to making a small dent in the clutter and mess. In the process of tossing what seemd like a ream of unimportant papers, I managed to unearth some family treasures that were simply hiding behind the mess. An old plate from France, two very old handpainted teacups from England (with some kind of fancy bird painted inside the cup!), a fist-sized ringerless brass bell bearing the names of the evangelists, a beautiful hand-blown bottle/vase from a friend I no longer hear from. Pictures of friends, children of friends, late parents and grandparents, great great grandparents.

On the top shelf of my hutch, a 1950s Pennsylvania House colonial piece that, along with the dry sink and dining room table and chairs, is a piece of wood on which is painted, "IMAGINE."

That's what we all have to do. First, imagine. Second, act.

I've chucked my Thursday evening "ER" time in favor of a computer, one small light, and in the background classical holiday tunes on WKSU. I'm sitting at the same dining room table that for so many years was host to long evenings sitting around drinking coffee or tea or George Dickel, talking late into the night and listening to music of all kinds. I know that my brothers spent Christmas Eve 31 years ago around this table with my mother, the first Christmas in 30 years without my dad. Years later, many summer afternoons and evenings were spent around this table playing cards with friends who would make the pilgrimage with us to spend weekends with my mother, who adored the company and the opportunity to make something delicious when she still could. And always, always Christmas eve, Thanksgiving, so many holidays. Thanksgiving was always homemade Mexican at mom's, and then the coffee, too much dessert, and then the drawing for the grandkids gift exchange only a few weeks later at Christmas.

Tomorrow evening this table will be called into service again, host to just a small pre-holiday, catch-our-breath dessert mostly in honor of Shannon's birthday (we couldn't make it to Vegas, but you can relive the whole thing on his blog!) and just to be together to say, isn't it good that we can be together?

So sure, I am frustated, and a little underemployed, but grateful that I can still sit around this table, with all its ghosts to lead us on into these winter evenings of quiet conversation with dear company. I wish you could all come to my table, so many of you whom I miss and so many I'd enjoy getting to know even better. My table is a place where I don't have a lot to offer but we all have a lot to say, not the least of which is how good it is, still and despite all, to be here.

My mother's favorite holiday phrase was "Bah, Humbug." It was used many times around this table. So I consider it a sign that when I went to look up a good Tim O'Brien song to go with this blog, this tune was LITERALLY the FIRST ONE at the TOP of the list. So how could I not share it with you? I even had to call my sister! It's just the kind of song that we might have listened to, sitting around this table, over and over again, like the way our parents were obsessed with "Santa Claus and His Old Lady." This is WAY better. Oh Tim, bless your heart and Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family. If you knew how much we loved you and how happy we feel to know we all came from the same place, you could fire up Stifel Center with all those happy vibes. Thank you for this. (See you Jan. 16 at the Stage!)

Ok, where was I? Oh yes, the perfect Holiday tune, from my table, to yours.


At December 19, 2008 1:48 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Well, as little solice as it is, things can always be worse. Like most people, I crab about my job but I'm grateful to have it. My health is good (as far as I know) and my nuclear family is still intact. Things are scary at times but I have it much better than 90% of the world. I need to be thankful for that.

Hope you ahve a nice weekend.


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