We spent Christmas Eve at Aunt Polly’s house; all seven of the Duff children (grown-up now), assorted spawn, and Meema and her husband Donald. A potluck dinner was followed by the passing out of gifts. There were no small children present, and so it was all rather civilized compared to previous years.
On Christmas morning we drove to Jemesii and Jamie’s apartment, stockings, gifts for them, and a coffee cake in tow (my Mother’s recipe–thanks Mom!). Their little chihuahua puppy, Olive, provided entertainment.
We said goodbye to the kids after a couple of hours (Pete wanted to hang with his sister…well…Olive really) and David and I drove over to his Mom’s old house on the water, now just about completely vacant. I did a quick (and chilly) search for glass on the beach, and then took a few photos inside the house.
David and Buddy and I then got in our respective cars (we hadn’t thought we’d be going to the same place) and drove a couple of hours to Longmeadow, where our friends Melinda and Kihan live.
The bunnies are Christopher and Lizzy on Christmas morning (their family is a fan of A Christmas Story, and Melinda thought this would be really, really funny, which it was).
Kihan was recipient of the iconic leg lamp. And I was given the most beautiful pillow in the world; Melinda and I had stroked it in a shop on Newbury Street some weeks earlier. Awesome friend, Mom and giver of gifts.
It was a wonderful but brief visit. Dinner, Lizzie’s photos of Argentina and Christopher’s tutorial regarding his Kindle. Shots of sipping tequila paired with dark choclolate, blackberries and clementines. A Nor’easter was on its way however, so just before noon on Sunday we headed north, right into the storm and a traffic jam on the Mass Pike.
Eventually we took an alternate route, and were able to evade the traffic and outrun the storm. Next stop was Amesbury, where Pete had traveled with his sister to visit Jamie’s family. After scooping him up, we had a yummy meal at Flatbread pizza, and another long drive home.
What a day. Once home, we opened our own gifts under the tree. Or rather, David and Pete did.
Ok, I exaggerate. My sister Bink sent along some lovely parcels. Best of all was a wee bird nest, lovingly woven from grass, horse hair and dryer lint, complete with two little eggshells (one is tucked inside the other). Magical.
The boys enjoyed their gifts, and then David fetched a smallish box for me. I opened it up and there was a jewelry size box inside. This was getting interesting. Inside that was a small silverish cube. Guess what it is, they both said. No idea. Look deeper in the box, they said, I did. There was a not quite clean kitchen spoon.
Our dishwasher has been pooping out, and so that was my Christmas gift, a new dishwasher.
Here’s the thing about Christmas. It’s about giving, not receiving, right? In which case, I had a stellar Christmas, as I can’t tell you how many gifts I carefully selected and wrapped (we both have big families). I think I helped make Christmas a little brighter for quite a few people, and that makes me really happy.
But, it’s still really great to feel like somebody put some thought into making sure my morning was special too. Like that bird nest. And I count on David in this respect, and for reasons I can’t understand, but which seem rather passive aggressive, he usually puts it all off until the last moment. Which means he then has to scramble, and comes up with something less than inspired.
So, I was hurt. And mad. I imagined breaking every ornament on the tree, and then pulverizing them to a fine powder. Putting it all in a jar and calling it ‘Compressed Christmas’. I resolved that next year I would send out a few checks and then go on a trip by myself somewhere; skip this Christmas business all together. I have this theory that hamsters were put on earth to break little children’s hearts; they fall in love with these cute little mammals and then a year later they die. We’ve been down that road five times now. Well, sometimes I feel like I’m still a kid and Christmas is my hamster.
David has a set of plates that belonged to his Grandmother. He loves those plates, and they are used only for special occasions. Should anyone offer to help wash up after such an occasion, I demur, advising them that should they accidently break a plate, they would have to leave and never come back. When wishing to express my displeasure with something David has said or done, I have (on more than one occasion), threatened to break those plates.
Well, the day after the day after Christmas, we had yet to make peace. I was laying on the couch. I heard David open the china cabinet. He brought me a plate.
It was the sincerest form of apology. I resisted temptation.
I had to leave early the next morning for my monthly appointment in Boston. A blizzard was still raging outside. David asked if he could come with me. Under the circumstances saying yes seemed like the best thing.
On Tuesday morning we both drove to Boston. At the conclusion of my appointment, David asked if I would go across the street with him. He led me to my favorite store, Good. Once inside, he said I could choose anything I wanted. This was way better than a dishwasher. I found a pair of earrings, shaped like anchors. A ship safe in the harbor; I liked the symbolism.
Truce declared, we agreed to try to get it right next year.
In the meantime, we are hunkered down at home as Pete’s had a whomping fever and a nasty cough for several days. We might not be attending any New Year’s Eve parties.
Oh, and I asked David if I still would have gotten the earrings if I’d broken the plate. He’s not sure.