Hello, good people,
My word, what a party you all have been having here on the superhighway this weekend. Since I have one of those accounts that allows for moblogging, I should really just go the extra mile and get myself one of those newfangled phones that lets you post to your blog, take naked pictures of your sweetie and order a takeaway curry, all by pushing a single button. (The phone I have is five years old and is reminiscent of that enormous box that Mulder used on season 1 of The X-Files. Small children point and laugh at me when I use it.)
After all of my mewling and puking—“We have to go to Penn Station! There are too many people! I hate it when there are too many people! There’s an Orange Plus Alert! I hate Orange Plus Alerts!” —I am both embarrassed and pleased to admit that the trip to Philadelphia, the train trip down, the train trip back, the feasting and playing and wine-drinking and couch-potatoing, was everything a Christmas holiday should be. We did not have to fight any crowds at Penn Station on Wednesday, or at 30th Street Station in Phila. this morning. (I did, however, find myself greeted by a giant De Beers fabric banner at 30th Street Station as we emerged from the platform up into the station: “GOD CREATED WOMAN. THEN, AFTER A FEW MILLION YEARS OF PRACTICE, HE CREATED YOURS.” Sigh. It made me wonder if there really is a God, and if there is, if He does not have anything better to do with His time than read my blog and decide to stick it to me personally.) We made all of our connections. Our fellow travellers were more forbearing and capable, less clueless and bellicose, than in previous years. My stepdad was waiting at the train station for us, so we did not have to wait outside in the rain and wind. Much of the weekend was spent in the kitchen with Mom, helping with Xmas Eve dinner, making dinner on Friday and Saturday, puttering about, reminding myself once again how well we work together in the kitchen, what a well-oiled machine we are.
Christmas Eve dinner was at the parents’ house, the four of us plus my brother and sister-in-law, after which we exchanged gifts. We have always opened our presents on Christmas morning, but after this year, I’m switching to the 24 December party. I know that if/when we have a child we won’t have the luxury of sleeping in on Xmess, but for now, I love sleeping in on the 25th and waking up knowing that I have some shiny new presents to play with. This year’s haul included a David Sedaris cd and the mighty nifty Rollpat. When I opened it up I felt a happy little buzz of anticipation: time to go home and bake bread. I have been told that I actually cracked my knuckles as I read the care-and-maintenance card, but I’m sure that that was just an exaggeration on Mom’s part, for comic effect. Xmess dinner was spent in the beautiful village of Kintnersville, PA, at the house of my Auntie Nan, who is not actually my aunt, but my mom’s best friend. Mom was born the year before Nan, and the going story in our families is that when Mom was born, she spent a year in her playpen, waiting patiently for Nan to join her. Nan has always been in my life, always calls me her favorite child (even though she has a favorite child of her own, her son Blair, who she adores, as do we all), always makes me laugh, always loves me no matter how badly I screw up, always treats me with the purest, unqualified, unconditional love, the kind that I never quite feel like I deserve but am always grateful and glad to have.
Because my brother and sister-in-law gave my parents a combination DVD/VCR, Friday and Saturday were spent indulging in retail therapy, getting the ‘rents’ DVD collection off to a rollicking start. After the second hour of watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, my mom announced that she was never leaving the house again.
Although I know it is unseemly to brag, I must indulge in a bit of bragging. For years I have been convinced that I could not do puzzles. Every once in a while I would get lucky with a long word in the New York Times crossword puzzle, but in general I thought that puzzles were for other, better, smarter people. (Last winter I read In Code, the autobiography of the Irish teenage math whiz Sarah Flannery, and I was pleased with myself for figuring out one of her puzzles, in which you use a 7-liter jug and a 9-liter jug to measure out water in measurements from 1 liter to 9 liters. Then I read that Sarah Flannery’s father had given her this puzzle to solve when she was five.) Then I found this puzzle on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times on Christmas Day. I read through them all and blanched. Then I thought, oh, well, I can’t do any of these but maybe I can do this easy little one here. And this one, this one doesn’t look too hard. Shock and amazement, I cracked the code on all six puzzles, and was thus able to solve the seventh “master” puzzle at the center. I am so surprised by this sudden act of violent competence that I want to carry the puzzle around in my wallet and show it to disinterested strangers on the subway. Much in the way that David Sedaris wanted to carry around his first completed NY Times Monday crossword, show it to people and hear them say “You mean you’re only 41 years old and you did that all by yourself? Unthinkable!”, I want to hear people say, “You mean you solved the whole thing and it only took you three days? What a clever girl!”