Meg's father came out from New York State on Saturday, and Meg's sister came down from the hills, and we had a last little Christmas. (Some years we've had the last Christmas in Feb or Mar at my folks', but this year I think we aren't planning to.) At the last minute I shirked some other responsibilities to stay with them. I made some ad-hoc fried rice, tofu triangles, Chinese-style tofu and carrot curry, braised winter squash with Szechuan strange pepper, and we all ate and were happy.
Sunday morning Meg's father fixed our sink, let the choir of angels sing thanksgiving, and then we drove down to Springfield. The Springfield museum quad had a 1-day sneak preview of their Indian motorcycles exhibit under construction, and Meg's father collects and restores Indian motorcycles, so it was the thing to do.
The Springfield museum quad hits each of us square in at least one of our passionate interests. We used to come down to it all the time, when I worked in Springfield every day.
Meg commented again upon an odd fact of her life, which I'll try to put delicately here because it's not really mine to share: on paper, she has a better relationship and a worse relationship. But in real life, the better relationship is the one with too much drama, and the worse relationship is the one with comfortable mutual acceptance and peace.
On Christmas day, back from Serena's party, I fell asleep before Julia's party when I should have been making cream puffs, then made cream puffs when I should have been going over, and so went over late. I sat in kind of a stupor throughout. I could barely follow events. Fortunately, they were events like "I think there's some goose left for you, Vincent" and "let's have dessert now" and "dada, can I be on your team for the yankee swap?" Just my speed, I mean; not much following required.
Julia and I have a deal. It's a good deal and I'm normally very happy with it, but just this minute I'm inclined to go back on my side. Maybe I will next time I see her. I bet she'd forgive me.
Before Serena's Christmas party, I was one cranky butt. I kept picking fights and denying I was doing it. Eventually I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and that solved it.
The topic at Serena's, all weekend, was what happens to you after you die. I listened to everybody and kept silent myself. On the Saturday following (at party #4), Serena asked me point blank. I told her, and she said "really? Even after your dad died?" But the conversation moved on instead.
It turns out that I don't think that anyone is stupid, which I wondered if I would. I've been at times the kind of jerk who thinks people are stupid. Now though, seriously, after all this? I would have to be some kind of jerk.
Far more importantly, I sledded down the hill at Serena's on my belly in a plastic toboggan, with snow in my face, Tovey perched upon and clinging to my back, and Elliot in his own sled behind me holding onto my foot.
In the first few days of December, I tried to cancel my family's solstice party this year. Come to find out, though, my kids have celebrated solstice with a big sleepover every single year of their lives. If it was once mine to cancel, it's mine no more.
In years past, I was often the only one, or one of the few, to stay awake until dawn. They couldn't stop me from canceling that part! I was first to bed.
They also couldn't stop the snow from coming. Because of the snow only a few people came, which was a relief, although I was happy to see each and every one of them. They weren't all happy to see each other and they weren't all happy to be sharing space. There were bad feelings, awkward holes, pointed ignorings, unintentional slights, intentional slights, outright attacks, and (in the youngest cases) crying and crying. I was happy to see them all anyway.
The last conversation I had with my dad before he died was about fireflies. The second to last, we were back at my folks' for some holiday so we had a family meeting. It was kind of a rough one. It broke up amidst hard feelings, and my dad and I wandered into the kitchen together.
Me: I just wish he were happy. I wish I could give him what he needs.
Dad: But he doesn't seem to like us very much.
Me: I don't care about that. I wish he were happy; how he feels about me doesn't make the least difference.
Me: I love him. He doesn't get out of it just by not loving me.
Dad: Heh. You're right. That's right.
1. On 2008-12-31, Matt Wilson wrote:
Sledding did me a world of good too. There is a somewhat humbling video on facebook of me sledding down my parents' driveway (first time in the 25 years they've been in that house) and crashing into a tree.
I thought for a minute that I'd sprained my wrist, and my thumbnail is all black underneath, but it was the most fun all week.
I wish that all the people I like could live in the same town with me.