Santa was more generous to me this year than ever before. Frankly he went so overboard I wonder if he has a bit of a crush on me. And the ones I received from Eddie the Cat were too well wrapped and the writing was too clear for someone with no opposable thumbs, so I'm thinking Santa had a hand (har har) in those too. Makes me a bit uncomfortable, what with Santa watching every move I make and all. He does seem to know me well, though.
On a related note, isn't it interesting that our culture has developed a tradition where we deliberately tell stories to kids we want them to believe, knowing there will come a time that we have to tell them it was just a story? I hear my atheist friends snorting a bit, but this is still different; the Santa story is generally told by people who don't believe it themselves, but want their listeners to. Dad says his mother didn't think it was fair to the people who actually bought the presents not to get credit for them, so she always said Santa was just the delivery man. I guess then the magical reindeer become the key element of the story. Seems like finding out the truth in that situation wouldn't be too traumatic. Mary and I were trying to recall if we ever believed in Santa; we think we did briefly, in a sort of absent-minded way, enough so that finding out the truth came with no pain. At least neither of us can recall ever being upset by the facts, and since I'm six years younger than she is, she would have at least remembered if I got upset about it. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, have there always been imaginary creatures we wanted kids to believe in, with the understanding that finding out the truth was a right of passage? Some sort of initiation ceremony? There have been fairies, gnomes, ghosts, poltergeists and other mythical beasties that both adults and children believed in, but that's not the same dynamic at all.
Just thinking onscreen. No real point to my meandering.
I deliberately sat in James' usual spot during the gift exchange so I wouldn't have to look at it. Don't know if that made things better or worse for the rest of the family, but we all seemed pretty festive. Unlike other years, when she seems largely indifferent to it, Fang actually seemed excited about her jingle bell collar this year. When it was brought out she pranced right over to have it put on. She does a lot of prancing, actually. Another thing I love about her. I'm reaching an age where I'm not embarrassed to prance or skip in public, life being too short and all, and am still physically capable of doing them both more or less. So I got that going for me. Seems like a key point in development.
Fang's present this year was a very sturdy stuffed octopus, with squeakers in the head and each of the eight legs. Mary loves tormenting Mom and Dad with squeaky toys for the dog, since said dog is fondest of squeaking them during tender, quiet moments on the TV. Mary was confident this toy would be too tough for Fang to disembowel with her usual alacrity (the dog will play with her toys forever, but she prefers them as pelts), so Mare accepted Mom's wager that Fang would have two of the squeakers removed by the time we sat down to Christmas dinner. Within fifteen minutes Fang had joyfully ripped the stuffing out of the octopus' head (nobody disembowels with more brio than she) and removed the biggest squeaker. She's got another thirty minutes to make Mom look good, but Mary already feels like she lost. Since Quakers frown on gambling, they bet each other some turkey, with the implicit understanding that the winner would share some with the loser. Okay, so not much of a bet, but there was a handshake.
As I've said before, grief is deepening gratitude. James crops up in all sorts of ways, especially in trigger words or situations where he would have trotted out some of his shtick. James had a lot of shtick, and as is usually the case with such things, loved making us all groan or roll our eyes, so his delight increased with each repetition. I'm sure he'd be thrilled to know how many of them we find ourselves repeating, inspite of ourselves.
Mary created an accent light for Dad's office that involves a glass brick, two strings of Christmas lights, and and god's own plenty of corks. It is inspired. She also created a rather handsome garland for their outdoor tree with another pile of them (photos when I return to NYC). That leaves only about 45 million corks left in her 'collection.' Oh, at the Italian restaurant on Friday, we actually saved one of the two corks. Mary is maintaining her cork collection now. I can hear James chortling gleefully over that development.
Feelings about love, about the dynamic power of it, of the way I've felt myself surrounded by it, a channel for it, these thoughts are percolating about in my head right now, but are not forming into articulate thoughts just yet. Maybe I've said all I can on the subject for the time being. Certainly there are ways in which old cliches feel new-minted in my life, but that doesn't mean they'll sound new-minted coming from me. For now, let me just say thanks for the love I have received from you all this year.