Our Christmas tree towers in the dining room corner. The starless top is drying, browning, but the lights are still strung delicately. (The cranberry garland off to the birds long ago.)
I haven’t been able to take it down, and not for lack of want. The space will be nice, I think. The pine needle mess not to be missed.
But all else? All else is.
It was a good holiday, is all. This was the year I released my death grip on the influx of gifts, vowed to hold my tongue as I witnessed happy relatives handing over drum sets, rocking horses, all manner of battery-operated everythings.
This was the year we lit a fire and napped on the floor, woke to shredded gift wrap in our hair. This was the year I didn’t change out of sweatpants until three days later when Ken whisked me away for the best gift ever.
When the annual calendar flipped, Ken and Bee fled south for the beach, Scout and I flying close behind a few days later. We celebrated a new season together over feta and pepperoncinis, played living room baseball with a hairbrush bat. We hiked a lonely park, spent a week filling the car mats with sand. One afternoon, Bee found an oversized clam shell in perfect tact, cradled it like a proud mother who’d born a miracle.
And when we all came back here, reunited again, the tree still stood.
Seemed best to bask in the glow a bit longer.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Delicate Edible Birds, and Other Stories, by Lauren Groff
The Brave Learner, by Julie Bogart
It’s been quiet here, me losing touch with the world in general as Other Goose flew beyond my front door. The whole process has been a welcome shift, gaining back a deep focus I hadn’t realized had been missing. Cocooning into thought, challenge. Losing myself in the best of ways.
I once read a short story about a chef who loved to work. He waltzed around the kitchen singing to his vegetables, juggling pears, kept a record spinning with Brahms next to the deep freezer. He’d work for days and days alone, nary a thought toward the innerworkings of an outer world until he’d notice a tomato had gone soft, a zucchini bruised.
He’d know then that it had been 7-9 days since he’d left the house. And so: wrapping a trenchcoat over his apron and topping his bald head with a hat, he’d slosh over to the market to restock his kitchen. The neighborhood butcher, noting the chef’s infrequence appearance, inquired every time: Where ya been?
And the chef would – every time – offer the same answer: On holiday.
I don’t claim the world of site launches to be an island in the sun, and of course, work is work. But to offer a dream a chance, right here in the midst of lost teeth and lost socks and lost tempers? To juggle pears and then some?
Well. I suppose I know a gift when I see it.