What countless amounts of words photos relieve me of! And yet, I still have to write stuff. Peckity Peck Thwack, the sounds of my free time.
Christmas is being dismantled today - it's been around long enough that we've had enough, kthxbai. I had so much fun wrapping this year - brown paper packages tied up with things, for the most part.
It was fun to grab the "things" from around the house and use them to embellish the packages. It was not fun to have to fend off the cat, whose fondness for pouncing on moving strings extended to swatting the wrist strap from the camera every time I tried to capture him during a charming kitty moment. So, no Boo Boo for you.
Other episodes leading up to Christmas Eve have been covered, pretty much. And Christmas Eve was so full of food and fun and friends and family that it's all only a happy blur. Looking back over the images, one of the sweetest parts was when Josephine opened up a present from some of the people she most admires, Tom and Tara, (Tara is also one of the few people in my real life who reads this blog and it doesn't make feel slightly skeevy about it), and found among other things, a large stuffed unicorn - the Mini-Me to her Halloween costume - and so began the cosplay.
Another favourite gift?
Food is always a favourite thing to receive - yay consumable gifts!- but when it comes from this particular friend, it is particularly good. I was able to subsist for days on nothing but the nutbarkbrittle business, the little spicy bundt shaped cake, the cookies... So much so that soon I craved real food, and thoroughly enjoyed making a simple dinner with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans by the 27th.
This season is always a little hard on my "system" - and as I sit here typing, sipping Mimosas and debating whether I could heartlessly take that last cold breakfast sausage off the plate, swipe it in the maple syrup and deprive the drooling hound of it - I know that instead of being a deprivation, the new eating plan for the New Year will feel pretty darn good.
Later, on Christmas Eve the toddler was carried off to bed, while the guests carried on a bit longer.
Up came the presents, and the elves got to work. At our house, Santa leaves the presents under the tree unwrapped (Josie has enough to unwrap from friends and family all through the season, so she's hardly deprived of that rite of the holiday) so that on Christmas Morning, Mommy and Daddy Good have only to sit back and sip our lattes and unwrap our gifts to each other.
The family of cows all arrived from their various origins all over the continent in time to be grouped under the tree. The bull's anatomically correct "package" drew gasps of horror from all the adults, yet remains to this day unremarked upon by Josephine. Her little red shovel she'll use today; the books have been read and the pretty blue skirt now hangs in the closet. The Last Unicorn DVD is a favourite; Shark Tales notsomuch. The Sound of Music DVD was for her, but became my Boxing Day treat, though I gave up on it after watching about six hours of extras. Other things we now find we/she could have done without. The little pig that acts all "real" died after the first day, twitching with a horrible clicking noise and grinding gears. The nesting dolls are fine enough, but have been relocated to Grandma Nan's house, because they just can't compete with the Littlest Pet world o' stuff and the Calico Critters minutiae that others gave. She's a happy girl, because most of the gifts came from people that know her well, and so good choices were made.
Again, I curse the shitty camera, because this is all I have of my favourite moment of every Christmas: when Josephine just sits there in front of the tree, taking it all in.
I imagine the presents shimmer there in front of her like a mirage. The lights of the tree shine in her large dark pupils, and her toes clench and unclench as if they're keeping her rooted to the room. The rumpled pajamas and tousled hair call for me to grab her and inhale the warmth and childness of her - but I must also restrain myself, seeing that for that brief passage of time, for Josephine, it's only her and her new presents that amazingly magically appeared, some Christmas magic clinging to them, all alone together in that ring of space where the tree lights glow on the wood floor.
And in the days since, Christmas becomes tatty and tired. Our fingernails, formerly festive, are now chipped and worn.
The tables, all bedecked with charming vintage Christmas decorations just seem cluttered.
Instead of having fun bickering sessions about how my elf ornament is disproportionately huge in comparison to every other ornament on the tree, in the house, in the world... Steve and I just look at the tree and groan at the thought of dismantling it.
Instead of straightening up the little plastic reindeer, arranging them around the tree and snowman Steve made from vintage construction paper, I just packed them away the last time Josephine left them in a heap.
I'm always glad to see Christmas' smiling faces around our house - but I'm also just as glad to say buh-bye.
And then there remains the stuff I don't know what to do with. Like these:
My mom bought them for Steve, who does not care for sweets, and especially not ones like this. Sure they're kind of funny, and we laughed about them last year when they debuted. We laughed at her, not with her, because the conversation went like this:
N: Guess what these are!
S: Peanut Butter Cups that have banana in them.
N: Do you know why?
S: Because Elvis liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
N: They were his favourite food!
M: Mom, we know a little bit about Elvis, you know.
(Does anyone want them? I'll send them to whomever emails me first and tells me they're wanted. And I'll include something charming and homemade, because I owe a Pay It Forward thingy, and because I can't believe anyone really wants to eat them. Maybe you just want them for a joke? Something for the Elvis fan in your life? )
There was also a visit to my folks, to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday. We were supposed to eat at Salvatore's Italian Gardens, but they were completely booked, for which I am still grateful. While it was a fun place to have my First Communion party, now it exists as merely a cultural reference point/butt of many jokes regarding how tacky my childhood was. So we ate at another place, the San Marco Restaurant, where there is honestly, nothing I can complain about except for the decor. In this case, it was because of Buffalo's tendency to decorate with layers of beige textures, and I get claustrophobic in small dim rooms with lots of people and four patterns of wallpaper plus patterned carpets and three layers of patterned drapes. Yet that couldn't put me off my food, which was stellar. Josephine behaved. Again, I can't say enough how the food was a poem. And we were my parents' guests, so I really shouldn't be such a rotten daughter sometimes because we can't often afford to eat out in that manner.
And that was the last visit to Buffalo for a while, and I'll be glad for the break. There are horrors there, such as the set of six angel dolls that Josie calls "the Fairy Sisters". They were a gift to my mom from her best friend years ago, and cleaning out their basement brought them to light.
See? Six of these, all identical except for their different coloured polyester dresses. Also, their horns don't really reach their mouths, so they sit there, mutely awaiting something to do with their orfices...
Josephine was sick all through the holidays too, with something I've heard called "the Hundred Day Cough". I think today is the first day she's felt one hundred percent well - her sleep has been off, and at one point she spiked a worrisome fever out of the blue which disappeared as rapidly as it came. There was a lot of rocking and soothing, and well, she's not the littlest of little kids...
It meant she had a bit of a cough all through the Nutcracker...which she otherwise enjoyed until she fell asleep near the end.
But that let me enjoy it, and I got a bit misty seeing all the little girls in their dressy dresses decorating the stairs in the beautiful lobby. While I don't think we need to do it again for a few years, I'm so glad that Steve treated us to such a lovely afternoon. Grandma Joan went with us, and it was a lovely echo of all the years when she took her daughters and other granddaughters to see the ballet while Papa Glen and little Steve went to look at the boats in the harbour.
Another visit to Steve's side of the family gave us a chance to pick up our newest family member, and to enjoy his cousin's saltwater aquariums. They're crazybeautiful. And while caring for Machiavelli is going to be a new adventure, it in no way compares to the daunting task that befalls his cousin soon - she's going to have to move three enormous tanks to her new home this year.
Machiavelli has settled in. He's beautiful, and he feels amazing. Steve has always wanted a snake for a pet, and I am charmed a little by his story of how as a kid, he used to buy books like "How to Care for Your Boa Constrictor" and carry them around, hoping that his folks would take the hint. I also mock him for that, because that's such a pathetic little kid thing to do. Machiavelli came out to hang with us on the sofa last night, and explored us, crawing up sleeves and under pillows. I really hope we can do well by him, and while I don't mind the extra responsibility (I do mind the fuzzies) (that ball is in Steve's court, for the most part) - I do mind being stuck with some smarmy college kids's smart-alecky name for the pet we've inherited. They live 15 - 20 years, you know. That's a long time for people to think we'd name a snake Machiavelli.
He really likes crawling under the sofa cushions. It's pretty warm there - the last snakes that visited the house preferred that spot too. But don't worry. If you visit, he probably won't be under there. It's not so much that we care about our guests being freaked out - its that we wouldn't want him to get hurt.
And I'm just about done with the peckity peck double thumb thwacking today. I have stuff to do. Rummy Claus has to go away until next year...
Christmas decorations galore remain to be tucked away...
This past year, some things called for arrangements in different tableaux and configurations due to space and new additions and grabby little daughters.
The decorations were out long enough to get dusty. That's long enough. Now that they've been removed, I'm reminded that the whole house needs a dusting and de-cluttering. The busyness of the season called me away, and I'll be glad to get back to the day-to-day.
Yesterday, when driving around the West end of Toronto on the way home from IKEA, we spent too much time looking for a liquor store that didn't have a line a block long at five pm (proving that Parkdale and a few points North of there are still slightly skankier than our own slowly gentrifying neighbourhood in the East end, where we did eventually stop) - we had perhaps our last bit fun doing something out of the norm. I couldn't understand why Steve was so set on the crawl for some cheap-ass bottle of Freixenet, when we had other perfectly good bottles of celebratory drink at home - but I soon found out.
New Year's Eve at home with Steve was a treat, even if we couldn't get the kid who napped through that whole search for a store where he could buy bubbly in under an hour's time to go to bed. And so we can at least be happy that Josephine's first sip of champagne at midnight was of a good one - and that she was adorable as she winced and wiggled her nose and made a bad face at the "stwange" taste. She curled up and fell asleep between us as we watched an old Fred and Ginger movie, and all I could think was, "Well, this is just how we are."
And now, I really really do have to get up and get going. I have more to put away. The lunch dishes! The Mimosas (for he did get a bottle of Freixenet too) are now just dregs. The damn Furby Baby that held Josephine's attention for a whole 48 hours has been sleeping on the shelf for days now and needs to be put away, somewhere where it won't accidentally awaken and bleat "FEED ME!" like it does. There's also something right there next to it that is demanding from me a little time, and attention and the space to get to know it - a wonderful gift that may well be one of the best parts of my New Year.