Now that Christmas is over, I’m thinking of some seasonal truths I want to take with me into the new year. There are (of course) some standard old saws about over-indulgence, and children liking the boxes presents came in as much as the gifts, and how to keep Christmas all year long in your heart.
As my wife and I were strolling through the neighborhood this week, we noticed a group of people walking toward us along the street. Most were teenagers, and they all seemed to be carrying sheets of paper. I said, “They must be Christmas carolers.” My wife said, “People don’t do that anymore, do they?” But as they were passing us, one of the adults said, “We’re going caroling. Would you like to join us?” He was obviously the youth minister, and it was clear to us now that they had come from the church at the end of the block.
Thirty-five years ago, my Grandmother Graber - from Goshen, Indiana - sent me a birthday card. A simple yellow card with a picture of some flowers and a duck. Inside was folded a well-worn ten-dollar bill. For some reason, probably because we were living in England at the time, the card was put aside, together with its contents, and came to rest in a box of old family letters. And there it stayed. For decades. Only this fall did the card, and the money, finally make its way back to me.
“What am I going to wear?” could well have been Mother Eve’s thought as she prepared for her hasty foray from the flora and fauna into the larger landscape. Since the invention of those of the female persuasion, this has been the question. So, there Eve was, presumably with no good ready-to-wear boutiques, with the probably unhandy-as-dressmaker Adam, and with that damned talking snake having slithered off and now nowhere to be found. Nothing for good old Eve to do but construct the world’s first home-sewing project!
My pay per minute cell phone rings at 2 am. It is Cindi calling, her voice is soft and tired. I’m her doula and she is calling for some moral support. She’s been uncomfortable for a day or so with contractions every 10 to 15 minutes. Unable to sleep she is desperate for the contractions to either stop or really start in earnest. My Spanish is fairly choppy at this hour of the morn, but I am able to reassure her that this long start is fairly normal.
Starting in 1967 and for many years, a bunch of us who were single and courting and subsequently married folk, gathered for Thanksgiving. We divided the food preparation almost by status, with the host gaining the honor of cooking the turkey, and others the subsidiary fare. I started out making a baked onion casserole. Sound strange? It’s delicious. You take Vidalia onions—very sweet—peel and slice them in half, and put them in a glass baking dish with some “cream-a”: cream of mushroom, chicken, onion, celery, or broccoli soup, thickened with flour and some milk.
It was two in the afternoon and I had been awake since four this morning. I had planned on going to the mall, hoping to find a new pair of baby-pink high tops, to celebrate the coming of spring and my second child. Alas, this was not where I ended up.
Here’s a tale of a feminist mother’s fantasy gone off the rails. Spoiler alert: I am that feminist mother. And the fantasy was the plan to give a talk at an academic conference with my own college-aged daughter and a friend at one of the hallowed sites of herstory – Seneca Falls. All good. In theory.
Combat veterans are a famously reticent bunch. Some of them won’t tell their stories to just anyone, and some won’t tell their stories at all. And in the stories they do tell, you have to listen for clues because they have witnessed things that nobody can fully tell another person. A friend of mine who served in the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II shared just a few episodes.
They say less is more, but I’m a girl for whom more is more. I like things a lot. I am zealous and easily obsessed or excitable. I live my life well most days, but my obsessions can make me a little crazy. I guess I am a binger. I’m a little bingey. I bingeth. I am a women bingeonified. Of course that was a word before I used it.