Saturday, December 24, 2005

The activities begin

The rush has finally started for our family, and not surprisingly, our feelings are mixed as we move from the disjointed slowness we've all been experiencing. The particular pleasure of commission based income means my shopping started Thursday night. I worked in retail for years and know that as long as I don't have my heart set on anything specific, last minute shopping is really quite effective. I learned quite a few lessons from the men I saw complete all their shopping in one trip on Christmas Eve. A few little surprises are all I have to pick up today.

My in-laws gathered for our holiday celebration yesterday. His grandmother had always been the chief cook for family get togethers, and her daughters didn't have the heart to prepare a big meal without her there with them this year. I don't care how old you are, the first big holiday after a parent dies just sucks. Nanny always gave cash envelopes for Christmas. My mother-in-law picked them up at the bank again this year and distributed the last bit of her mother's checking account to her sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren with tears in her eyes. She and her sister have been squabbling for years, and this Christmas, they united in their grief and love for their mother.

Before we opened presents, we all got together at Olive Garden at the largest town in our region. While waiting for a table, the adults all ordered Bloody Marys, and I got carded! It was an absolute pleasure to open my wallet, spill my business cards and show my driver's license proving that not only am I of legal age but on the shady side of my forties. My husband earned coal in his stocking by pointing out that Alcoholic Beverage Commission has had undercover agents working our area. It couldn't be that he was jealous because he looked younger than me for years.

My nieces are still in the age when Christmas is a glorious miracle, and seeing them was the highlight of my day with the cuteness of coordinated Christmas outfits, the joy of tearing paper and the wonders inside. It tickled me to hear them reminisce with the womanchild about the "old times" they'd shared together at the farm.

Speaking of the womanchild, she looked stunning yesterday, even though body image issues didn't let her think so. Her hair has been cut into a sophisticated longer in the front short bob, and she's very good at doing a subtle, age appropriate makeup. She wore a mid calf length, full black skirt decorated with widely spaced single rows of sequins (just enough to look festive, not so many that it looked costumey) with her new black boots and a brown shirt of intentionally crinkled cotton with a flowing cuff and a broadly cut neckline that highlighted the delicacy of her collar bones and the length of her neck without revealing cleavage. With her dark hair and compelling eyes, you couldn't look at her without hearing gypsy violins.

She has been dealing with her own seasonal mood funk as well, and last night, I had to cut some "me" time on the computer short because she really needed to talk. The hard thing about being a mother for me is not being able to fix everything, and for once I got smart and just accepted that. I shut up and listened, until she asked me to talk. I said nothing that helped, but we fell asleep together as I rubbed her back. Little comforts and quiet moments together can mean a great deal.

Tonight, we plan on going to the candlelight service at our old Methodist church. It's a service that never fails to move me as the flame from the Advent wreath Christ candle is passed from one congregant's candle to the next, and the church is illuminated only the glow of the candles we hold. Later, we'll attend Midnight Mass with a dear friend and her family. We've done this together for years. Afterwards, we'll return to her house for hot chocolate and brownies and a little silliness before we all collapse from fatigue. We'll go to our church tomorrow morning. It's been a long time since we've had so many religious activities so close together for Christmas, and for once I'm looking forward to all of them.

I'm cooking for an evening meal tomorrow and though the meal will be casual, I'm planning on using the "good" china and crystal and my grandmother's lace tablecloth. We'll open the presents for each other and probably watch a movie afterwards. I'm hoping it will be a calm and gentle evening. I'm hoping that I find that miracle of quiet joy somewhere in the activities we have scheduled, and I'm hoping that all of my friends, regardless of your beliefs, find that joy, that hope, that light in the darkness somewhere for yourselves.

13 Comments:

Blogger Nelle said...

What a beautiful entry. I could just picture how lovely your daughter looked. I am in the midst of baking but took a break to see what is going on with my online family. Glad to see you had such a lovely evening. Merry Christmas to the three of you. OX

December 24, 2005 8:21 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

My Christmas is mad better reading this, Cynthia. a Merry christmas to you and yours.

December 24, 2005 8:43 AM  
Blogger Celeste said...

Merry Christmas. Get out the good stuff. Use it and remember.

December 24, 2005 9:28 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

Merry, Merry Christmas Cynthia.
Candace

December 24, 2005 10:08 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Your family celebrations sound just lovely. Merry Christmas, Cyn!

December 24, 2005 10:19 AM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Merry Christmas, Cynthia. I can see your lovely daughter and your peaceful home -- beautiful entry.

December 24, 2005 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

God bless you and yours with a joyous, warm and wonderful Christmas!

December 24, 2005 5:10 PM  
Blogger ckays1967 said...

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2005 5:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

A very Merry Christmas to you, Cyn. God bless us, every one!

December 24, 2005 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anne/ksquester said...

I really enjoyed reading this tonight. May the joy of the season be with you and your family. I wish you health and happiness for the New Year. Anne

December 24, 2005 11:54 PM  
Blogger Solitary Dancer said...

Merry Christmas, Cynthia.

May you have a wonderful, wonderful day.

Deb

December 25, 2005 5:08 AM  
Blogger Gabreael said...

What a great family Christmas post.

Gabreael

http://gabreaelsbodymindandspirit.blogspot.com/

December 26, 2005 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cynthia:

I have been gone too long, with much catching up to do. This is a lovely peek into your family life. You were CARDED!!! How cool is THAT???

Have a peaceful Christmas and New Year's - warmly,

Vicky

December 26, 2005 1:10 PM  

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