The little tree is still standing, but it’s no longer the center of the room or of upcoming festivities. Now, it’s the tree of Christmas past and waiting only to go back into storage until next year. Poor little tree. It has such a brief moment of glory. Who can blame it for moping this time of year when it can feel deep in its polyvinyl core, that the end is near. So let us give one last, final cheer for a doughty little tree whose life is darkness for 11 months and glory for but one!
The house looks festive. Lights are lit. The sun is shining on the sleeping dogs and there are Christmas cards spread across the coffee table. It definitely looks like Christmas.
After wrangling the lamb roast from another dimension and the rest of dinner for five yesterday — including two contiguous days of grocery shopping — by the end of the evening, I was beyond dead on my feet. I had moved into that Neverland of “everything … absolutely everything … hurts.” No drugs I have would touch it. There are entire classes of drugs (say NSAID twice, quickly) I can’t take.
They are the ones that help, but they turn my stomach to rubbish and are on my “never allowed to take” list. I cheat occasionally, when I feel bad enough. One prescription-size ibuprofen makes a difference. It’s ironic that narcotics help a lot less than aspirin, but I can’t take aspirin. In this I am far from alone since many people can’t handle aspirin or any of the NSAIDs, but it makes dealing with pain incredibly complicated. And annoying. Because this particular issue always pops up at exactly the time when I most want to be functional and active.
It’s the morning after the night before. The night before was tame by anyone’s standards, even mine. If I was previously unaware how my life has changed, mornings like this remind me. We had plans for today, but I woke up coughing, too.
That did it. I threw in the towel. I had been wondering how I was going to get through the day before the coughing started, but that was the straw that did me in. I call, apologized, and cancelled. I don’t even think I’d make it to the car today. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to cook later. Are you surprised we have leftover lamb? No? Bet you’re not! I wish I had kept some of the gravy, but that horse has left the barn.
It was a great Christmas Eve, but this day is recovery, recuperation, and trying to breathe. In a seasonally festive way, of course.
From Kim Harrison, a happy Hollows Solstice!
‘Twas the Night of the Solstice
by Kim Harrison
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.
The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.
So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.
When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.
Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”
I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold. We were in it thigh deep.
‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.
His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed
The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.
“Morgan, you witch. You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church. There’s no place to hide!”
Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.
But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.
“You loser,” I shouted. “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.
Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”
With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.
I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’
“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.
My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.
The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.
So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.
But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”
– – – – –
Kim Harrison, December 14th, 2005
(Last-minute gift givers, I’ve got your The Turn is coming card for under the tree right here: http://www.kimharrison.net/BookPages/TT/TurnSignedCopy.html )
I could talk about the bounty of the dinner table. I could talk about the generosity of strangers, the bounteous joy of the season. But I can truly, with utmost sincerity, speak to the merits of this greatest of paper towels, Bounty.
The Quicker Picker Upper comes into its own during the holidays. From spilled gravy, to that slimy trail left by dogs dragging bones bigger than they are, nothing cleans better than super high-quality Bounty paper towels.
So today and tomorrow, as you sit alone with yourself and the television or computer, or you are breaking bread with loved and not-so-loved ones — or you find yourself sharing the holiday with other fine folks wherever fine folks gather, remember this. Just one sheet of Bounty is worth three or four of those cheaper paper towels.
Values. It’s all about values. Don’t settle for less.
By Clement Clarke Moore
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.