Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My December Girls

Many years ago, as a young pre-teen, my friends and I used to giggle inside of a tight-knit circle as we calculated—based on our birthdays—when each of us was conceived.

"Valentines Day baby, Valentines Day baby," we would squeal in delight and curiosity at one born in November. (After all, we likely didn't know how exactly a baby came to be.)

"Ooooh, New Years Eve, Oh la la," one would say to the other.

I sat here today at my desk quietly, half doing tasks, half eying the calendar, but mostly thinking that this year, for the first time since my own birth, you won't be here to celebrate your day. And as I scatter to plan for your daughter's (my mother's) birthday which falls tomorrow, just two days before yours, I couldn't help but strategize ways to keep her mind off of the fact that now hers is the only December birthday. Your mother, my great grandmother Honey, came first on the 19th, then you on the 17th and then my mother on the 15th. How amazing that three generations were born within 5 days of one another, only separated by the 20-year age differences between you. The closeness always felt special to me. I could easily group the three of you together: conceived in March, early springtime babies, all spring showers and lilacs, and roses. How fitting for the three of you, I thought, always with a song underfoot, a twinkle in your eyes, a little bit of something special on a tough day. Three peas in a pod, you grew from the same seed, the same attitude, hope, love (and poor planning).

My mother remains. Solitary, she is the lone December birth. I'm not surprised she's boarding a plane on the day that separates her day and yours to flee this coast, to hide out beneath the warm California sunlight for a few days, wearing a new face, an old dress and, undoubtedly, one of your scarves.

So, I guess I'm just here to say I'm missing you, and thinking of you on this windy December day. And I'll sing a little Happy Birthday tune every day this week to fill in the spaces and the new-found emptiness in this silly old month.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Grace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Who's Got Spirit?

Here we stand, two weeks from Christmas, and while it's simply freezing out, it just doesn't feel like Christmastime. Maybe it came too fast, maybe it snuck up on me while I had my back turned; but after a long, stressful, sometimes heartbreaking year, it arrived and I am still standing, despite cold fingers and toes, but left reeling.

Christmas, this year, feels like heavy workbooks—my father's—that are too big. I've got th
em on though, I'm trudging, my feet sliding forward and back with each step. Something doesn't feel right, the fit is off. But I don't want him or anyone else to know it. I've got a smile on. This is fun, it's just a show. Everything's going to be all right. Falling is impossible. I guess I just wonder if someone can pick up on the traces of fear hidden on my face—fear of being found a fraud.

There are lights in my front window, and a colorfully decorated tree in the corner of my living room, but it all feels like a set dressing. Props inside of four walls that come apart at the corners, and can be packed away for next year's display.

I blame myself. I don't spend enough time with family. I don't plan fun,
festive activities on the weekends. I don't bake enough. I don't get outside enough. But no one's to blame, and I guess I'm realizing that now. The only thing to blame is the notion that Christmas has to mean the same thing for everyone. It doesn't have to be painted red and green, or be summed up in a few kitschy lines; it might not even be worn with a smile and a "ho ho ho." So, maybe I'm growing, or grown, now finding my fit. My Christmas. And I'm finding it's more of a bluish gray, but with an overwhelming warmth to it, too. Mine is less of a "party" and more of a time for reflection of the numbered days behind me, the memories of the year. What we've been through. Things gained, and lost.

So here's to: starting gates and finish lines, jumping off porches and almost breaking your foot, hungover breakfasts with best friends, crowding in fo
r family pictures, Grandad Bill's "1, 2, 3," air conditioning and clean water, big screens, fireworks and flavored Sake, new acquisitions, losing someone you thought would always be around, thieving dogs, turkey trots, "Amazing Grace," marathon tears, spoiled brats, The Arcade Fire at Merriweather Post Pavillion, waist-high snow, shoveling, butt dials, weight loss, the South Beach diet, two weddings in a year, becoming a wife, rallies on the National Mall, Treme, 7-year-old break dancers, date nights at Hooked, Hilton Cancun, Lou's monthly visits, LOST, Mariah's soccer games, dinner dates with Callie, accomplishing goals, our Israeli HM friends, free Christmas trees, generous bosses, "kanye reupholstered my p*," getting wine wasted, Cullan getting too tall, wedding ring debacles, a Judge Idol star, The Social Network, becoming "old news" on facebook, dramatic readings of Kanye's tweets, "special time" with mom, no longer living in sin, calling Whit and once in a while having her answer, the knot obsession, business trips, internet friendships, shaun john and al, bridal showers, nail polish, turkey sandwiches, Donald Draper, bankrupt airlines, generous parents, "right in front of your eyes," having money again, stingy wedding guests, gay or straight?, human kindness, Williams Sonoma shopping sprees, utis, Win Butler's Air Force Ones, house-hunting, carpet stains, back rubs, "missing you," happy tears, 3 cups of coffee, polite 5-year-olds and "Roo Roo," married friends, cooking confidence, pre-wedding beach house, Michael Scott's last season, losing touch, letting people you love down, stoners, SP is an idiot, kissing for fun, running tights with a pee hole, masters theses, long-distance relationships, book clubs, work spouses, Marley and Me, "The Force is With You, Katie," dive kisses, gremlin dogs, breaking records, Cabanas Copal, Real Sports with Bryant Gumble, Ree Drummond/Pioneer Woman, recipes, fibromyalgia, Kanye on a stick, tinky Mar, rummy, jalapeno corn bread, the Biltmore, "Types of Bitches," radio mixes, Bibis, "the cars that go BOOM," having kitchen-table chairs.

And here's to a Merry Christmas, and to next year and all that it promises. And to everyone in my little life and this enormous world: wishing you more hope than you can even stand.