Wednesday, December 27, 2006

One year

One year ago today we buried my Dad, still feeling relief that his suffering was over. I wasn't quite feeling emotions such as sad. How could I? Just three, four, days earlier I was praying for him to die. How could I not? How could I even consider being selfish enough to want him to live just one more day?

So we stood at the gravesite as family tradition dictated. My brother and I were presented with American flags in honor of Dad's service in the Coast Guard. How surreal to hold the perfect triangle and stare out over the grey box before us and see the faces of everyone who mourned with us. My knees felt weak, and for the second time in my life I felt as if they would buckle. The first time was just days earlier when they took his body to the funeral home. And I stood in the door and watched them wheel him away, and I felt the new emptiness of the living room for the first time.

I didn't fall then, nor did I fall this time. I leaned back against my husband and used his strength until my own returned. I don't remember ever crying, just wanting to.

We watched them lower the casket, incapable of leaving until it was completely over. Another family tradition.

Relief has since faded. Am I angry? A little. Resentful? A little. I'm too human not to feel those emotions. But you persevere, you still go on. Wake up each morning, go to work, raise your family, and make new plans for the future. And you forgive. Though I'm not sure who needs to be forgiven. It's not like Dad asked to get cancer. Raging at the fates doesn't do much. They never answer.

What a blessing to have my son.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Captain Chaos and the Eight-Foot Wonder

I plan to make my own Christmas cards this year. I have the stamps, the ink, and the paper. I even have glitter and some fancy-smancy markers to boot. They're going to be lovely red, green, and white creations. A wallet-sized picture of Master Gavie will be featured on the front. It will be wonderful.

First, however, I need to save the cat from the toddler of terror. He's taken it into his head that he needs to save her from herself because she keeps chewing on my Christmas tree, the Eight-Foot Artificial Wonder. She's been gnawing on that thing for years, and she's still alive. I'm not particularly worried about her. I am, however, worried that he'll give both her and me a nervous breakdown with his attempts to protect her as they usually involve shrill scoldings and an attempt to chase her out from under the tree.

(Note to my fellow young mothers: never -- ever -- think you can just pull a three-year-old out from under a tree once he knows you're there. He can take the whole tree with him once his little hands are wrapped around the base. Don't ask, just trust me on this one.)

The inner Martha Stewart will emerge soon after I rescue the cat. Wait, no... sorry. The entire manger population went a.w.o.l. again. The Ghost of Christmas Chaos apparently decided to hide all of them, from Baby Jesus himself to the oxen and the lamb, in the tree. Ever try to find a 1/2" tall statue of an infant in an eight-foot tall, five-foot wide artificial wonder?

(By the way, the tree is also a great hiding place for pacificers, favored toy frogs, and other important items that you can't afford to lose or that your child wants to keep "safe.")

Chistmas simplicity, in the form of cards... excuse me. I have to go find out why the musical ornaments are playing. We hung those a minimum of five feet up on the Eight-Foot Wonder.

Yep, there he is. Gotta love stepstools. (Note to self: hide it in the basement tonight.)

I'm going to make those cards tonight, as soon as I find all of the blue plastic Christmas bulbs. They're gone. Opps, nevermind. They're all on the far left of the tree in one big blue cluster.

"All blue, Mom!" He sounds so proud of himself as I stare at the latest design. "All blue!"

I tell him it's lovely and give him a hug. Our Eight-Foot Wonder -- or at least the bottom three feet -- has been continually re-arranged and re-organized by Captain Chaos from the day we first put it up. The part he can't reach, so long as the stepstool is out of sight anyway, is decorated with the breakable, sentimental ornaments. (I can't wait until Gavie comes home with a felt snowman decorated with Froot Loop buttons, or the little cardboard tree covered in poster paint and sequins that says Merry Christmas in childish handwriting. Those will have places on honor on the Eight-Foot Wonder)

Okay. I think it's time. Let's the creating begin! A red card with white and green accents, some glitter on the snowman. Time for the picture. Damn, I'm good. This looks professional! Martha, eat your little felon's heart out!


Last week Santa came to "inspect" our Christmas tree and put the rest of the ornaments on it. Since Gavie was such a big help to us, Santa left him a present: Tinkertoys!


He comes running in with a handful of the little wooden toys. Apparently he's having trouble getting some of the sticks to connect, or at least that's what I innocently think. He takes my hand and pulls me into the living room to see his handiwork.

The Tinkertoy tin has been emptied of its contents and shoved into the tree. It's roughly four feet of the ground, eye-level with Captain Chaos. It's laying on its side, the open end facing out. The entire nativity set, including a few little froggies, now lives in a Tinkertoy container-turned-treehouse.

(Is "The-Eight-Foot-It's-A-Wonder-It-Hasn't-Fallen-Over-Yet Tree" too long?)