Boxing Day. Julia and I say ‘Happy Boxing Day’ to each other without any idea of what it means. So, I looked it up—It isn’t the day people make bonfires of the boxes that their Christmas presents came in. Neither is it the day to return all the boxes containing ill-fitting or ill-styled gifts. Those were pretty lame guesses but the best we could come up with. Google revealed (with some disagreement) that Boxing Day was British, which we knew, and traditionally a day off for servants. Servants received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the ‘master’ and then were allowed to go home to give the boxes to their families. Umm, but that’s not what happened on Downton Abbey, my British manor house reference point. Having no servants to gift with boxes, we will read, write and draw, then go to the movies. I miss friends who host game playing parties on this day. Maybe next year.
In Newton, Boxing Day is a clean and decorated house—so nice to have the goal of a few more pictures hung and a general holiday clean up accomplished—, leftovers and too many cookies in the fridge, a bundle of holiday cards in the mail box—thank you, dear friends, who were so kind to send your cards after they received mine with our new address. Julia has a new lego-like robot to build. My first in MA co-facilitated mindfulness workshop, just a stand alone 2-hour affair, was posted this morning. And I am sitting down to write which did not happen much, and to some extent, at all, during the lead up to the holidays.
And we are still in our PJs.
Christmas in Wisconsin. I found this song a few years ago and put it in our holiday spotify song list. Last week Julia was singing it—a nice break from the chorus and one line of “Sweet but Psycho” that she has been singing full voiced over and over. (I’m not supplying a link to that one!) Over the month, Julia told me many times that she misses our old home and asked me how much I like the house we are living in right now.
How do you compare? A more apples and oranges question there could not be. This is a good house, we are making it our own, but . . .
Victorian homes are made for winter holiday adorning and little by little, I dressed the front rooms with our eclectic mix—the little fake tree, the larger but not gigantic real tree leaning slightly to one side, lights, garland for the arch way between rooms, hanging Chinese zodiac calendars, winter lanterns and the silvery Chanukah garland that really needs to be replaced but I didn’t want to take the chance that I couldn’t find more this year. Taken together, it is a bit garish, a bit over the top.
And I don’t care.
I broke another of my grandmother’s 5&10 cent glass balls. There are very few left and most of them have lost their glitter and some of their color. They are fragile beyond using and I still insist on hanging them. One day the last one will break but not this year. I also broke our glass Christmas pickle. One of my favorite finds when Cheshire was a little girl. The Christmas pickle has its own story but I told Cheshire another one about a little girl who lived in Brooklyn who had a grandfather from Israel who came to spend the winter holidays with the small family of three. He arrives on the last night of Chanukah and they light the candles and eat Daddy’s special latkes. Then the little girl teaches her grandpa about Christmas because it is his first Christmas. He goes along with and even enjoys the preparations until the little girl tells him about leaving cookies and milk for Santa. He tells her everything that is wrong with leaving such a treat for an old man who is up all night delivering presents all around the world. He convinces her that they should make him a hearty deli sandwich with a pickle on the side. They do and Santa leaves her a Christmas pickle in thanks.
A final holiday story—Last year I bought a new tree stand to replace the metal one that I had used for far too many years and was kinda’ falling apart. The new one is plastic and supposed to handle a tree much bigger than I usually buy. It was adequate, not great, last year; however, this year it did not working for me at all. On first attempt, the tree leaned to one side. With Julia holding the tree, I loosened the nuts, we straighten the tree, I tightened the nuts and she let go. The tree still leaned and what was worse, the tree was unstable and ready to fall. Scared that anyone of us brushing against a tree limb would unbalance the whole thing, I got out my fishing line and tied the tree to the window lock. Unless the sun is shining in that window, the line is almost invisible. The tree stood, still slightly leaning, but steadfast.
A coda to this story—I ran a google search for “best tree stands” and the one that I have was recommended for fake trees only. So, it is not me, unable to handle a tree and a stand by myself—it is the stand! Some slight curse on the guy who sold me this one for a real tree!
We kept busy in a small and quiet way—Solstice service on Saturday, carol sing on Sunday. We decorated gingerbread houses with Cheshire and spent a lovely, unremarkable afternoon and evening with her. This is the gift of the year—time with Cheshire that is hardly planned, 20 (or 35 minutes) away, and without need to do something memorable or talk about everything on our minds. Julia wanted to watch the Star War cannon before we see the new one, so, we’ve been working on that even though I’ve heard from a reliable source that the new one is not very good. I sang in choir at the midnight service on Christmas eve and Julia dozed a bit in the warm, darkened nave.
And we slept, woke up late, breakfasted with Cheshire, opened presents, entertained bravely for a short time, had supper and watched more Star Wars. A pretty wonderful first Christmas in Boston!