Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Martha,

Still standing? Hope not, you should be having a nap right now. It's December 30th and with god as my witness I mean to end this year as I mean to go on in 2011, with perceived control.

Thanks for the dreamy scarf this year, right up my alley, you are a genius. Also, the fact we got to visit at Sally's was a great bonus, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this, the pleasure was tripled by the fact we didn't need to discuss/adjust the plan 4 times to make it happen. Go Team!

It seems so long ago now that visit. We've gone sledding, had no less than 3 holiday meals and traveled upwards of 2000 km since December 18th. No wonder I'm feeling a bit...taut.
I had a dream on the 23rd that was the perfect analogy for how I felt on Christmas Eve when Fenner was still throwing up at 6:00 pm.

In my dream, it's December 23rd. Jason and I had just finished wrapping the last of the gifts and were finalizing our list of what needs to get packed in the car on Christmas Eve before we drive to see our families.

Fenner and I were settling down to read a bed time story and there is a knock at the door. Lo and behold it's old St. Nick himself! Fenner squeals with joy, he has 1 cookie sheet and 1 gingerbread man cookie cutter in his hand and offers them to me with a pleading look in his eye and says, "Help me! Mrs. Claus has fallen sick and there is no one to bake Christmas Gingerbread Men for all the good little girls and boys of the world!"

At which point, I say, "Seriously? Is that a magic cookie pan because from what I can tell I can't make more than 6 men at a time on that?" Fenner gasps and looks at me accusingly. How dare I say no to SANTA MOTHERFUCKING CLAUS!

These cookies...they are the source of Christmas spirit! (Internal Commentary: If so important why not started earlier? Are you sure Mrs Claus is ill and not gone?)

The dream ended with me, as the enemy of all things Christmas, waking up in a cold sweat on December 27th after as perfect a Christmas as we could have hoped for but I thought it really was a spectacular manifestation of my feelings from Dec. 1-26th.

Clearly, feeling a little raw this year. What with the influenza, travel and now a cold, I actually believe that the Christmas Spirit was trying to kill us this year. Perhaps I really am Jewish and this is the way Christianity is trying not so subtly to give me the boot.


Next year, though, is going to be amazing! I've already started planning the stockings and possible cookbooks to research. I feel that if we used another type of bird altogether Christmas perfection could be achieved, perhaps a Goose instead of a Turkey is the key.

Thoughts?

Your loving niece,

Jen

Friday, December 17, 2010

The journey of Christmas

This time of year really brings home the emotional double smoked, organic bacon from start to finish. We were lucky enough to start the season with our urban family party. It involves songs, stories, 'what's new letters and a committed start to the gorging season.

Like all families, our urban family is scattering to different cities and to the open seas so getting everyone together leads to photographic moments that have defined long term relationships for many many years.

We sang long, passionately and with gusto!
All of us together, with our children, new jobs and new loves. It was the perfect kick off.
It was followed by a smaller tree dressing party. We have a large collection of ornaments made by my family through the generations. Exhibit A would be my Poppa's Festive Manta Ray. Exhibit B, our niece's first Christmas lightbulb reindeer, she was 5 when she made it and I love it.

My wonderful Aunt Sally makes us or gives us very special ornaments every year. If you look closely you'll see this year's flower nests.
After that tree was up, Christmas began in earnest. My bio-family is also spreading out and growing and being together on Christmas day is increasingly impossible so we get together a week early for a sleigh ride in Barrie.

You can see almost everyone here but mostly, notice the snow. It was fantastic. I miss snow.
This year we almost got everyone, my sister Charlotte worked nights over the entire holiday period so was unable to attend. We have big plans for 100% attendance next year. I like these people a lot.
The sleigh ride is the brainchild of this lovely sibling. Liz is one smart cookie who knows that if we don't keep busy, trouble arises in the form of too much liquid Christmas spirit. Also, it's hard not to be in the festive spirit singing carols that one's 10 year old niece has organized!
We were so lucky that Liz and Pat got to spend so much time with us in Toronto, Barrie and Brockville. Fenner is in deep love with both of them and the seemingly limitless amount of energy they have for snow play.
We had Christmas dinner with both of our families at one table. They love each other. The table was in Charlotte's old home where she has been renovating since FEBRUARY. It was warm, welcoming and filled with laughter. Everything Christmas dinner should be and more.

Jason has perfected multiple cheesecake recipes and thus inspiring another 3 of my 50 New Year's resolutions. If my father had any questions about his son in law, the cheesecake has turned him into a committed somewhat worrisome fan.

I had no idea cheesecake was the way to the patriarch's heart.
It would be easy to say that Christmas was the smooth and seamless event that I remember of my youth but I would be leaving out fantastic stories of influenza, patient zero and whole family trees being felled by the bug brought by little Patient Zero.
It really speaks to the commitment of our entire family that I think every single Auntie, Grandpa and Grandma was willing to sit and read and snuggle with Typhoid Mary every chance they could.

After the dust of life settles, isn't that all we can hope for. Family to help us recover from what ails us and celebrate, standing together at the end of the day
My sister walking through the woods with Fenner exploring forts and finding bunnies. Thanks Charlotte for hosting one of the best Christmases ever.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Joy in the seemly mundane.

I have friend that has stuck by me through many years, personal mishaps, temper tantrums and terrible relationships. This friend is obviously the keeper of my daughter's heart and Godmother.

Weeks and weeks ago, she asked me if she could give Fenner an advent calendar because it's a great tradition. Jason and I are floundering a little on the nuclear family traditions so I gratefully accepted.

Flash forward to Nov 28th when she presents Fenner's calendar. 23 gifts beautifully labeled and pinned with felt stars and numbers to strings. It was Christmas magic. The gifts are thoughtful and beautiful. We are all in swoony love with this.

Here's Fenner wearing yesterday's gift, from waking up to bedtime, with some pauses to share the crown with her friend Ella.
The day to day grind of getting into the swing of a new office has felt less and less grindy. Thank god because I was beginning to think I would have to invest in some medication to facilitate adaptation for all eternity.

I think I finally felt that level of comfort when a coworker asked me if I might be able to darn some mittens that his Gran made him. He then whips these beauties out.

I can't lie. My heart skipped a beat. Newfoundland Trigger Mitts
He has had these mittens long enough to wear them thin on the thumb and index finger. I told him that he is the dream profile for mitten knitters everywhere.
I loved mending them. As I said to Bob, I think his Gran would have slapped me because darning isn't so much my strength but he'll get another couple seasons out of them.

My own knitting is progressing. I am heading it into the final third of my shawl and have knit a couple of Le Slouches to get my fix of finished objects. Satisfyingly easy. The more simple I make the joys I get from home the easier it is to reach a little further everywhere else.

Running, knitting, spinning, working, visiting, parenting.