Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

Okay. The house is clean, clean, clean. Straightened, dusted, vacuumed, mopped. Bathrooms clean. Our sheets clean (as of Sunday). All guest beds made, except the blow-up mattress. Might need more blankets, although the pellet stoves can really heat a room up. The fridge is stocked, and the extra seltzer, cider, extra vegetables, etc., sit in the garage, along with the defrosting turkey.

We put the tree up on Saturday, thanks to Lily, who unwrapped every ornament and hung almost all of them. Stockings are hung. The presents are all wrapped and under the tree, including the Yankee Swaps I picked up. Laundry is washed, piles of it. We have enough chairs, although I don't think we have enough table space. Eating the big meals will be interesting.

Last night, in the bitter cold, Dave and Lily hung some icicle lights in front of our house, bless him. Not his idea of a good time, but ever since we moved here, and maybe even before, Lily has been begging for decorations. No matter the holiday she wants 'em, although Halloween and Christmas are the two biggies. Our neighbors do lovely lights this time of year. I can't be bothered--last year we didn't even have a tree--but I know it's important to Lily.

So last week she and I picked up two 10-foot strings (we're talking very modest lights) at the local Goodwill for $2.5o each and Dave got some electric cords and hooks. It actually looks kinda nice. Oh, and they were on all night because we didn't remember to turn them off until 10pm last night, when we were in bed and going to sleep. No, we didn't get up to turn them off. So this morning he set it on a timer so it goes on at 4pm and goes off at 11pm.

About the tree. I asked my extraordinary gardening neighbors where to get a tree, and they sent me to Northeast Trees in North Hatfield. We could have a pre-cut one or cut one ourselves, or they would cut it for us. They like the Fraser firs they get every year. So we walked out onto this snowy field with lots of stumps around, found our fir, and called over the guy on his tracker, who pulled out his chainsaw. Apparently we are still city folk, because none of us was interested into borrowing their saw and hacking away at it--and carrying it in too. Not even Sasha Ingalls Wilder here.

We waited for our tree back at the gate, inside a greenhouse with a woodstove that kept the heat at least above freezing. I bought a homemade bouquet thing of boughs and bows and pinecones. When the tree arrived, it was shaken vigorously in this funny machine to get off the loose needles, bundled in string ($2 extra), and handed off to us. We bungied it to the roof and drove home, carefully. Worked pretty well. And I know it's fresh, right? Now we just have to remember to water it.

And now we wait. Right now the three of us are in Dave's office, our backs to each other, on our computers. Frank Sinatra is on the iPod: For once in my life, I have someone who needs me. We'll have some dinner, maybe watch one of the movies I borrowed at the library for the week, go to bed early.

Tomorrow morning we'll load up the woodstove and sip tea and hot chocolate while we open our presents as a family, the three of us. We'll eat something yummy for breakfast, and later, get whatever groceries I forgot to buy today. I'll make some corn bread to go with my niece's turkey chili, and wash lettuce for the salad, and fret about where everyone is going to sit. I might go for a swim at the Y, or at least a walk. Dave might make pie.

Lily will undoubtedly play with her presents, especially the new Wii games she's getting. I will try on my the New York sweatshirt I bought myself at Union Square the weekend before Thanksgiving and wrapped on Sunday. Dave will hang his bird-call clock, after rolling his eyes at me for getting it, but I will remind him that everyone who lives here has to have one and it's probably the law. My sister and kids and dog, and my mother and father, and stepmother and stepfather, will arrive in the afternoon, and at dinner we'll toast another year gone by.

I suspect I have crossed the line where I have now lived more years than I have remaining, but I intend to enjoy the passing of time, watching the snow fall, bringing in wood for the fire, feeling the bitter cold in my bones and then soaking in the Japanese tub to revive them. With a luck I'll get to watch the days grow longer, knowing this too shall pass.

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