Saturday, December 24, 2011

And To All A Good Night

So here we are - Christmas Eve. Another year is about to end, which means I have to relearn another set of numbers for the new year. I've just gotten used to it being 2011. A lot of people reflect on different things at this time of year; others simply enjoy being with family and friends for dinner and opening gifts. Being pagan and following Native American spirituality means that I don't celebrate or believe the same as the greater majority of the population; however, I set aside my beliefs for the sake of my family and celebrate along with them.

When I was a kid (and still a Catholic), my favorite part of the entire holiday process was being with my family and friends. Don't get me wrong - the gifts were great (I'm a package shaker and have it down to a fine art), but it was always tremendous fun to go from house to house, eating a little at each place, being with everyone (some people you didn't see except at Christmas), and coming home to a big meal of linguisa and macaroni salad at midnight. This always took place on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we opened our gifts, and then I helped Grandma prepare Christmas dinner. A shitload of people would descend on our house, and the celebration would go far into the night. Those were great times.

When I was in high school, I added my best friend's family into the mix. They're Italian (I've had the same best friend for 40 years) and began the celebration a day or two before Christmas Eve. It would run until a day or two after Christmas Day with one long party. People would get drunk, pass out under tables, and whoever was the most sober in the morning would make breakfast for everyone. As people came to life, they would begin all over again. I would bounce back and forth between my house and theirs, and I always ate two Christmas dinners. Those were incredible times; I have memories which will last me for the rest of my life and bring a lot of smiles and comfort.

As people in both families began to pass away, the celebrations grew smaller and took less time. When I got married the first time, things had pretty much died down completely. I began having Christmas dinner every year and would do up my house as festively as I could. And so a new tradition was born. I had hoped to pass the torch to my daughter, but you see how that turned out. And all this brings us to this holiday season.

We were going to go to Black Angus this year (which I think I wrote about in my last entry), but at the last minute, my cousin called and asked if we would be willing to come to his house for dinner tonight. I was delighted. It's the first time he's done any such thing, and I know it's because of Grandma. So we're bringing dessert and spending the night, which I think I also wrote about in my last entry. Hubster and I have already opened our gifts to each other - we did that at the stroke of midnight - so we could have our own little celebration. I got him some Rush DVD's he wanted, and he's treating me to a day of pampering at a spa in Brentwood (massage, mani/pedi, facial). We got the kids their first watches, some books, and a few other small things, and I had a beautiful necklace made for Mom. To say that we really feel like celebrating anything toniight would be ludicrous; I would just as soon ignore the entire thing. However, it will be nice to be with Glenn and his family for the evening, and I am looking forward to it.

I'll write about my anniversary trip in my next entry, but for now, I just wanted to say a few things about Christmas. I want to thank all of you for reading what I had to say, for being friends, for sending me all kinds of loving letters, for just being there. You've all been a tremendous source of comfort during my Grandmother's decline and eventual passing. I'm grateful for having all of you.

So I wish you and yours the happiest of Christmases. May you enjoy being with your families; may Santa bring you the gift you wanted most. May your night tonight and your day tomorrow be the best you've ever had.

Until next time - Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh Boy - The Holidays Are Here

I haven't experienced a holiday season this bad since Grandpa died. It's taken me 20 years to be able to say that he died. I used to say that he was on a business trip; then it was that he had passed. I never used "that" word. I suspect the same will be true of Grandma. She's just gone. Where, I have no idea.

With that having been said, we survived the viewing and funeral (such as it was). The only people who came to the viewing were me, Hubster, the kidlets, Mom, my cousin Glenn, and his wife, Yvonne. I wasn't sure I could handle it, but I decided that I had to say goodbye. Otherwise, I might regret it, and there would be no way to rectify the situation once she was buried. So I clung onto Hubster's arm, crept into the room, saw her in the casket I selected in 1989 (we were looking for a casket for Grandpa, and I happened to spy this particular one and thought it would be perfect for Grandma. It was.), and promptly fell apart. She did look beautiful - very peaceful and like she was going to move at any second. I kissed her forehead, was shocked (as I always am) at how cold and hard her skin was, and fell apart again. Once we left the little room, I fell apart for a third time out in the lobby. My mother, who isn't known for being a touchy-feely sort of person, came over and hugged me tight. It was a truly horrible and traumatic experience.

I need to backtrack here. When we first arrived at the offices, there was nobody at the desk. We waited for almost five minutes and nobody appeared, so we walked down a hall looking for some help. There was a rope halfway across the hall with a sign that said "Employees Only", but since it wasn't completely across the hall, we thought it was okay to enter. Apparently it wasn't, for an employee suddenly materialized and said, "Apparently you didn't see the sign". Hubster took one look at her, stepped in front of me (I was standing there hanging onto my walker", and said, "You're a very rude woman". She protested, he began to argue, and I butted in, saying that we were there for a viewing. Her tone immediately changed, and she showed us to the room.

Then, just before we were to walk over to where the crypt was, another employee came in and said that the stone had been moved and a curtain put up in front of Grandpa's coffin (he had purchased a double crypt for them - my wishes). I immediately lost it and began yelling at the guy, for my mother had specifically instructed them to have the stone in place until we left. There was NO way I could handle seeing his coffin as well. So the guy hustled outside while the family tried to calm me down. The end result was that the stone was put back in place, and we proceeded to the crypt.

We sat there for a short while, and then I walked up to the coffin, laid my head against it, and talked to Grandma for the last time. Glenn, who is more like my brother than my cousin, was at my side the entire time. Hubster knows how close we are and stood aside. I spent most of the time with my arms wrapped around Glenn and my head buried against his shoulder. We cried together, and then we all said goodbye and left to go have lunch. It was as bad - or worse - than I thought it would be.

The thing about the casket - Grandma's favorite color was purple, and when we had gone into the room which contained all the coffins, I saw this casket with a purple tint to it and porcelain caps set around the sides with purple lilacs. She would have loved it, so we bought it that day. I know it sounds kind of weird, but you have to remember that I was crazed that day and didn't know what the fuck I was doing. I was also hopped up on a shitload of Valium and Percdan to dull the pain.

We buried her the day before Thanksgiving, so needless to say, none of us had any sort of Thanksgiving dinner. What the hell did I have to be thankful for? I now had no grandparents, and the holiday season seemed like a joke.

So here it is, with Christmas looming in a couple of weeks, and we have to be somewhat cheerful for the kids. They don't really understand what's happened other than Grandma isn't going to be with us anymore. The whole thing seems so pointless, but we have to go through the motions. We're also having Christmas dinner at Black Angus. I used to see people in restaurants at Christmas and feel sorry for them, that they didn't have any family to spend the day with. Now we're the displaced, the sad and lonely, and will be eating shitty food instead of the usual spread I put on. I did order a ham from Burgers Smokehouse (they have the best hams in the world) and will give half of it to Mom for her and the kids. I'm also baking her an apple pie and making a couple of other things so she has some homemade food for the days to follow. It's a surprise, and I think she'll be pleased.

Now I sit here all day, alone (well, Emma is with me), while Hubster is at work. I hate this part of it. For our entire married life, he's telecommuted. Now I see him for about four hours at night and early in the morning. He does get to stay at home on Fridays, so that's something. In fact, he's on the porch having a ciggie. I don't give a shit - I smoke in the house. I do, that is, until I paint the walls, which I had wanted to get done by now, but I just don't have the motivation to get it done.

So what do I do all day? I knit, mostly. At least I'm being really productive. I'm almost done with a test sock which I'll use to get an exact fit. Then I can compare future socks to it so I don't have to continually remeasure myself. I do have a binder with all those measurements in it, but I don't have a clue as to it's whereabouts. This will be nicer - I can just put a new sock up against it and see it if matches. It didn't start out as test sock, but since I can't find the other skein of yarn to make the second one, that's what I've decided to use it for. I'm also known to wear two completely different socks at the same time, so I might wear it once in a while, too. I'm also working on a hat to wear when I go bike riding. It's been too windy for me to go out, and since it's all I can do to keep my balance on the best of days, it's safer for me to stay indoors and just work on my shit.

There was a bit of excitement last week. I was out in the backyard checking on my orange tree, and the next thing I knew, I was floating in the pool in the deep end. I passed out and fell in, so I think the shock of the cold water brought me to. While I was paddling to the side to get out (not an easy task because of how cold the water was), I was dimly aware of Emma going crazy in the house. She knew I was in trouble. Anyway, she managed to shove the screen door aside and came bolting out. She must have gone airborne at the end of the patio overhang, because the next thing I knew, I was halfway out of the pool and got slammed in the chest by a 70 pound flying bulldog. The impact sent me flying backwards into the pool, and Emma bounced back onto the patio. I got to the side again, managed to get out, and Emma didn't leave my side for the rest of the day. In fact, she hasn't left my side since then. For those of you who aren't familiar with how bulldogs operate, they don't swim - they sink. Their stocky bodies just aren't built for swimming, and she's usually afraid of the water. But her fear left her when she saw me in the water. I guess she knew I wasn't in there for a swim, because she doesn't act that way in the summer. I'm amazed at the size of her heart and am in awe of her love and loyalty. She's been getting a lot of treats, but we have to cut back on that because she's getting a little pudgy. That's not good for her short little legs, so even though she's a hero and we adore her, we can't be sharing our dnner with her anymore. She will not be pleased.

So that's my joyful blog entry. Once I finish the sock and/or hat, I'll post some pictures. The pattern is called "Apollo & Artemis" by Through The Loops (if you want to see it, you can find it at the Loopy Ewe). That's the sock. The hat pattern is under a yarn bowl right now and I don't feel like digging it out, but it's from the Sanguine Gryphon. I'm using their yarns for both projects - Bugga for the sock and Codex (a fabulous silk/BFL singles) for the hat. I'll keep the colors a secret, but they're absolutely gorgeous. I'm sad that the company is breaking into two entities because it's one of my favorite yarn companies, but I'm hopeful that the yarn will stay at the same high quality it's always been.

Hubster has just left to get lunch for us, so I'll bring this really happy post to a close. Sorry about the morose tone, but I'm anything but joyful lately. I'm sure you understand. I'll be back before Christmas to wish you all a happy one (or whatever holiday you happen to observe).

Until then... knit on.