Christmas 2020

Our Christmas was a less lonely one than some of our other friends and family had. Both my parents and my husband Jordan’s parents live in town, and we quarantined with extra care for the couple weeks leading up to Christmas so that we could see them. We did Christmas Eve dinner with my parents–a prime rib roast that Jordan made following an Alton Brown recipe–and we checked in on Zoom with some of my siblings. My mom’s losing her hearing and my two children were running wild. Two things which added to the already inherent chaos of a group video chat, but it was nice to see the faces and hear the voices of everyone who tuned in. My mom is also on medicine that makes her tired and appears to mess with her memory, so that every time she talks about the call she seems to entirely forget the presence on it of one of my sisters. I haven’t had a chance to tease my sister about it yet, but she should be aware that teasing is definitely coming.

Christmas morning, we follow a tradition of my family’s from when I was a kid. We line up in our upstairs hallway, the kids each hold one of our sets of jingle bells and shake them as we sing a carol and make our way downstairs to our living room where the presents await.

(Two children in Christmas-themed pajamas hug each other and laugh. One child holds a menagerie of stuffed animals.)

After opening presents and leisurely getting ourselves ready for the day, we went to my husband’s parents’ house for more presents and food. My son’s favorite presents seem to be his several LEGO sets and his video games. He was not impressed by the books he received, but he does love reading and being read to, so I anticipate he’ll enjoy them more as the year goes on. Our youngest–nearing two years old–still wasn’t old enough to entirely understand what was going on, but she picked up on the concept of presents almost immediately and was excited and entertained by everything she was gifted.

(Two books. On the left, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls in black and pink and green. On the right, Circe, in black and gold.)

Unlike my son, I was incredibly pleased with the books I received. Circe and The Gallery of Unfinished Girls from my husband, and How to Read a Suit from my in-laws. This last one will come in handy in research for both my writing and my sewing. I also got some games I used to play with my family when I was a kid, and I’m excited to play them with my own family now. We already tried out Labyrinth, and it was as fun as I remembered. Next will be Rummikub. A classic.

(A hand holds a copy of the book How to Read a Suit: A Guide to Men’s Fashions from the 17th to the 20th Century. Its a brownish maroon with an image of a man’s figure wearing a mustard-colored suit from the 17th century.)

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I think I’ve always loved the build-up more than the actual day itself. At least, the come-down from the high of the season tends to start toward the end of Christmas Day and always leaves me feeling a bit of melancholy. This year it waited to hit until the morning after. Partly, probably, due to the help of the show Bridgerton, which I binged in less than 24 hours and which I… almost loved? (Maybe I’ll write more on that later, but my qualms lie in the presence of a sexual assault scene–why???!!!–for which the character never seems to feel remorse, and which the show seems to want us to feel is justified?) Aaaanyway, it’s hard to fully give into melancholy when I’m immersed in a sweeping period romance, but once the melancholy did hit, I let myself indulge in it for a couple days, and now I’m ready to start doing real life again. Which is good, because tomorrow is Monday and real life is coming whether I want it or not.

In a Year

My son turned one this week. That’s right, I’ve been a parent for over a year. I still don’t really think of myself as a mom. Not the way I think of other people who are moms. I mean, they obviously know what they are doing and I am totally just winging it. Some days I feel like I’m doing pretty well. Other days…well…at least he’s still alive and relatively healthy. 

I thought finding time to write was going to be really hard once the Bitty was born. It is. But also, surprise surprise, I’ve been a lot more committed to it. Like now that I only have half an hour (or much less) in a day to give to writing, I had better make the most of it. I also have a lot more time to think about my stories while I’m not at the computer (for instance, while holding a sleeping baby who still refuses to nap in his own bed) so I’m more prepared to write when it comes time for the actual writing. I’m nearly (only nearly) as excited by where my book has gone over this last year as I am by how much my baby has grown, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for both of them.

 

The Wee Tiny when his eyes could barely even see what the world had to offer him.

  

Wee Tiny now, able to walk and make the whole world his playground.

  

Defenses Against the Dark Arts

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I’m not saying that since moving to our new apartment we’ve actually been infested with cockroaches, and I’m not saying that now and again seeing the rogue roach crawling to its lonesome death in your living space is the worst thing that could happen to a person.

What I am saying is that stepping barefoot, in the dark, on a roach and feeling its insides squishing out against your naked sole flesh might be the worst thing that could happen to somebody — it’s got to be, right? — and that only narrowly escaping this experience even once is enough to change the way you think about walking around barefoot at night. And narrowly escaping it more than twice is enough to make you take regular precautionary measures for your midnight hangouts with your tiny baby:

1. Always wear footwear if you remember where you last left it.
2. When sitting, keep your feet off the ground.
3. Most importantly, before taking any steps on the ground, be sure to employ the flashlight on your phone to scare away any monsters that might be hiding under your feet.

I call it all — especially the flashlight part — my defense against the dark arts. It’s almost as good as a wand.

(As a side note: I would take a lone cockroach sighting every few weeks over even one scorpion encounter, so color me grateful here. Living in the desert. Who needs it?)