tinsel times, two


more than enough

I lie awake at night counting gifts instead of sheep, and know that I have more than enough.


with care

I'm not sure how to handle it, our chimney-side exchange.

He’s just learning to read, but I’m fairly certain he doesn’t have to sound this one out.
Celia, he says, with a question mark at the end. He whispers her name like he wishes the word could do more than fill the air between us.  I hear it with the same hunger.

Her stocking stares up from the storage tote, a silent rebuke of his sisterless state.  This should not be our dilemma, what to do with an oversized, monogrammed sock.  Our concern should be over what to stuff it with, which shade of lip gloss she'd want, whether she'd hope for polka-dot tights or practical jokes, how the hell to store all those tiny rainbow loom rubber bands.  But I wonder what I should do with it - hang it up, throw it away, sleep with it under my pillow, save it for posterity.  I find myself feeling indecisive.  And feeling vulnerable, the way that loss still strikes unheralded and vicious.  I am shocked at the ferocity of my envy, my misery, my missing.

Surely it’s not about her being dead, I tell him, but about how alive her memory remains.
I'm trying to convince myself as much as my son.

I had already written most of this post when the computer pinged to make me aware of a new email message.  The note shared several ways the author was reminded of Celia this season, just a short, thoughtful list to show that other people remember her too.  I've decided to print it and put it in her stocking.  Filling it with good memories may be the best option.


Peace in the making

Family meals and rudimentary gifts
aluminum space suits and really fast race tracks
 a little bit of mischief and maybe even some memories


All is calm

Except not, really.
Christmas is only a week away, and there's still so much to do.  I literally climbed out of the middle of a pile of wrapping paper and ribbon and glitter and gifts in order to write this post.
I could rattle off reasons for the uncalm, but they'd pretty much sound like everyone else's.
Wait.  Let me try:
The boys are in the back of the Jeep, bundled and buckled and belting, in unison over each bump: FAAAAST.  There are three rumble strips on the way to preschool, and they’ve timed the words in order for their voices to vibrate.  The game proves pretty hilarious to everybody in the backseat.

They were in a hurry to get to the holiday party.  And I was trying to remember to carry in teacher gifts and classroom snacks, trying to keep track of errand lists and pickup schedules.  Everything was calling so loudly, the cookies, the cards, the other cars.  The boys.
Everything feels fast this month.  Everything is calling loudly.  I answer all the calls, except for the one inside, the one that might actually calm the noise that makes it impossible to focus fully on any of the things I'm hearing.

I wrapped all six presents for the boys tonight.  Spoiler alert, three of them are books, one for each and one to share.  Part of our "quieter and calmer" strategy.
Earlier this week:
The boys are behind Poppy’s four wheeler, bundled haphazardly and unbelted but for big brother's arms. Their delighted squeals stop only because they’re hollering over the hum of the motor, FAAASTER Poppy! Faster, please!!

Eventually I hopped on too.  It’s easy to lose all sense of adulthood, to contract the innocent wonder of my children.  It may be easier still to lose any sense of advent, though, to rush, to hustle, to hear loud and feel fast.  From the back of the sled, I just wanted to yell Slower, please!  SLOW down.

It really is busy, December, as slow as I try to make it.
I can hear the quiet voice that's telling me to go to bed now though.  And I'm listening.


In Tollie's words

Tucker narrated a trip to Poppy's around the time he was Tolliver's age, so we let Tollie narrate this one.

He would not take off the hat he found, and carried the club around all evening.
Meem golf ball.  Meem golf ball club.  Meem Buck-Buck hat.

He walked past the dining room, all decorated for dinner, and said, with wide eyes, Nice room.
And then he got stuck under the table with his golf club.

He came in from being pulled on the toboggan behind Poppy's cycle and retold the adventure over and over again.  Meem like sled.  Poppy go fast.  Meem pass cows.

He had a soft pallet on the floor next to Tuck's bed on the couch, but he was not interested.  At all.  Meem sleep with Datuck.


tinsel times


of note

A total close to $5000 was collected at the Battling Batten 5K last month, and will be shared with BDSRA in memory of Celia.  Thank you, again, to all who participated and contributed.

This holiday season, if you happen to be looking for alternative gifts, please consider a potentially life-saving gift to BDSRA.  Every dollar donated through December 31 will be matched through this year's annual fund campaign.

Another good way to give to BDSRA is to complete virtual transactions via Shop for your Cause.  We selected BDSRA as our beneficiary through SfyC and, for example, 3% of each Amazon purchase is reserved for research.

So much work remains.  Thank you for helping scientists seek a cure, and for looking, with us, toward a more hopeful future.


foggy night

I put him to bed and he yells from his room, "Soo-gee, Mom-mom.  Soo-gee!"  Suddenly he's fighting sleep.  Our child who has always been so easy to put down - a book, a big big hug and a big big kiss, lights out, eyes shut - is not.
Excuse me, Mama?  He calls for my attention for minutes on end.
Do I go, or not?  How long should I wait to go?  Wait, I shouldn't go...
Although he's our third, parenting-wise we still have no idea what we’re doing.  We just happen to have lot more experience doing whatever it is.
EL Doctorow compares writing to driving a car at night in the fog.  Parenting is like that too, isn't it?  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can, hopefully, make the whole trip that way.


A moment of metaphysical speculation

So if Celia hadn't died, Tollie wouldn’t be here?
Fortunately he is not accustomed to me having all the answers.


golden days

There are ten Swiffer refill boxes lined up at the bottom of the basement stairs, an economical bulk purchase turned Rube Goldbird project. "Ready to watch?" Tuck wonders, standing beside them, poised to roll a matryoshka Santa down the backside of a puzzle to set off the giant dominoes.
Later he hollers from the other room, muffled words from behind the tree where he’s apparently checking plugs. I walk past Mary —who’s standing on her head on the coffee table, with Joseph balanced on her feet, just part of their circus act, I’m told — to see what he’s pointing at. He’s worried there’s not a GFCI outlet for the twinkle lights since there’s water in the stand benext to it. "You know mom, water and electricity are a recipe for disaster."
Tollie stands on his bar stool, done with lunch. "Meem eat apple. Meem eat crackers. Meem eat..." And then giggling from behind sly hands covering his mouth, "Meem eat Mom-mom’s feet."  I’d just teased him about nibbling his toes if he kept his feet on the counter.
Later Tollie squats in front of the fireplace. I’ve told him ten times already today not to get too close, demonstrating where it’s safe to stand. Andy gives him the same reminder. "Mom-mom’s bottom too hot?"  he asks. "Yes," Andy agrees, "Mama’s bottom is hot."
We’re as hot as a mess comes, all four of us, a veritable performance art rendition of Dante’s Inferno. A circus act, a recipe for disaster, whatever we are, I feel like we might be smack in the middle of the good old days. Is there a way to know for sure before they’re gone?