On Christmas Eve morning, I wrote: there is a feeling of the jiggling of a snow globe, of not-quite-righted-ness, possible-upsidedown-ness of the day, and also feelings of those shape shifting holidays of the early years after David died when we were untethered from what had come before and striking out, however clumsily, reaching for something that was akin to honest hope.
I had no idea when I wrote that overlong sentence that I had captured this holiday week spot on.
It began on the Thursday evening before the Friday, last day of school which was called off due to the possibility of wind, rain and ice, a storm that never materialized. Friday morning was gray and chilly but only a little rain and a a few gusts of wind. And I put 20 bags of cookies into the freezer, 20 bags that Julia was going to bring into teachers and staff of her transition program that day, 20 bags that I had spent the best part of week baking.
Then came the Christmas plan. Cheshire, Justin and Wilbur were scheduled to travel to Colorado in the early evening of Christmas Eve. Earlier in the day, we celebrated Christmas, opening presents, with a bit of Hanukkah slipped in so we could light candles together. The plan for the rest of the day was simple: after late lunch I dropped the little family at Logan Airport, and Julia and I went to the VNM’s family Christmas Eve celebration. And much later, Julia and I went to church in time for choir rehearsal and the 10:30 pm service.
The plane did not take off at the scheduled 6:30. Instead, they were delayed from hour to hour. I texted with Cheshire around 8:30 and she expected to board any minute. Then, as choir was rehearsing close to 10, their flight was cancelled and Cheshire tried calling and texting me. Unfortunately, my phone was in my coat pocket back in a pew. After we rehearsed, and Julia and I were settling into our seats for service, I took out my phone and saw the texts and phone calls.
Cheshire, Justin and Wilbur were stuck at the airport. They had no way to leave, couldn’t even take a cab to Newton or home because I had their car with the car seat in it. We had debated during lunch about their taking the car seat with them, deciding against it because there would be a car seat waiting for them to use in Denver and it was easy for me to drop them off and pick them up when they returned. We hadn’t thought about taking a cab somewhere.
My VNM was just walking into the church and our first solution was for him to take Cheshire’s car to pick up the little family, drive back to Newton and join us in church at the end of the service. Almost a great plan, but I realized that I left the keys in the car and there was no way that the VNM was going to find the car that was about a block away on a dark street without some way to make the lights flash.
I had to pick up Cheshire and family.
I went back to the pew where Julia was sitting and asked her to gather her things and leave with me. She wanted an explanation and I tried to explain but I could not make myself clear enough to her as quickly as I needed to. She was still asking why we had to leave when I found our choir director, told her I had to leave immediately and asked her to let our minister know that I would not be able to do a reading.
We made it out of the church just as the service was beginning. From there it was straight forward. I drove back to the airport; VNM followed me. Cheshire, Justin and Wilbur climbed back into the car they had left 5 hours before, ready to make the drive home. VNM took Julia and I back home, saving Cheshire and Justin from having to drop us back in Newton.
On Christmas day, Cheshire and Justin, and probably Wilbur too, recuperated from their aborted travel adventure and Julia and I went to VNM’s big family Christmas dinner. The day after Christmas, Julia and I went with friends to a Sound of Music sing-a-long, and the next day, the little family came over for “Christmas” turkey dinner that I had planned for Julia and myself. It was just a turkey breast, but I made potatoes and stuffing and there was plenty for all of us. Almost as if I knew we would need it.
I had small plans for the rest of the week, Julia’s last winter break—walking around and shopping in Chinatown, a visit to the Salem Peabody Museum, an evening movie at the library with the anime club and a morning at a possible day program. However, with all those plans pending, I woke up on Wednesday morning sick.
I knew it was flu as soon as I woke up—sore throat, stuffy head, head ache, body ache and chills. I waited a day before calling my doctor, just in case it all cleared up, and Julia and I did Covid tests for three days. All negative. My doctor prescribed an antiviral med, and today, day 3, I am on the mend. However, three days at home with nothing to do but nap was too much to bear, and so, Julia and I started packing.
We move on February 1, and I know I am going to need every minute I have to pack up and later set up the new place. So between naps, we started on books, packing up all of Julia’s books and games and toys and art supplies. Then, we moved onto my books. I’ve been culling the nonfiction all day today—getting rid of old travel books, books about autism and meditation that I can bear to part with, cook books I haven’t looked at in years and gardening reference books. I had done a pretty intense culling when I moved here three and a half years ago. The work today, more sensible than the previous culling, cut deep.
The goal is to travel lighter in the world and by no means, have a deprived myself of anything I truly want close to me. Still, it feels like I am ripping apart everything, destroying a simple order I had established. And I am making a mess. After three days, there is a pile of boxes to donate, two piles to be moved, and stray boxes waiting to be filled scattered in different rooms. I started taking down Christmas, but the tree is still up and cards are still taped to the china cabinet door. Down in the basement, I pulled out four boxes of pictures books, two big toy boxes and a clothes box. My aim here is to have Cheshire go through those boxes, take what she wants and donate the rest. The contents of those boxes are so dear to me. I don’t need any of it and all of it has been in boxes for a long time, most longer than the three and a half years I’ve been here. Still, I look at the picture books, the tiny wool coat that Cheshire came home in as a newborn, the flying stork that hovered above her crib and I both know for sure the time of those things is long past and I am able to let them go. And, at the same time, I want to hold everything tight to me.
And so, this was the last week of my 2022 and the way I am sliding into the new year. Day 5 of this flu and I am still muddle headed. Even a sum up sentence, let alone a paragraph, feels beyond me at the moment. I am grateful for the wonders and surprises of this last year and hope to enjoy every minute of this new shiny 2023, that is, as soon as I don’t need naps and cough drops and boxes of Kleenex.