Monday, December 20, 2010
CHRISTMAS - VERY ODDS & ENDS
In our apartment complex (which sits on lots of acreage with lawns, bushes and trees), we luckily don’t have many outside critters to deal with. We get a few possums, a few feral cats, the ubiquitous attic/tree rats, but no squirrels or rabbits. In the summer we often get ants trying to find a place to cool off and who make their way inside our apartment – through an electrical outlet, an AC/Heating vent, around a window sill or up the bathroom drain. They are creative critters, totally unwelcome and extremely hard to stifle. We get them in the winter too but usually only when it rains.
It is raining.
This morning I came out of the bedroom and saw Squeaky looking up at the living room AC vent. That was at 5:30 a.m. She is still sitting there and it’s now 9 o’clock. She is not a stupid cat, but I would be a stupid person to think she doesn’t know what she is doing. She knows we are going to have, sooner or later, an influx of wet ants. I DO NOT WANT ANTS DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. However, the rain prediction is “rain through Sunday.” So when they come I hope they use the vent and not via our dish and glass cupboard like they did last year. That was NOT a good Christmas present!
When I was staying at Kerry’s house in LA while she was having surgery, her girls were in the process of celebrating Hanukkah. When I arrived in LA the family was at their other grandma’s house eating brisket and latkes and other traditional Hanukkah foods. When the family arrived back home where I awaited, the little girls were laden with Hanukkah gifts.
In school Justine’s class has been working on origami for their art sessions, and Grams had given her several kits containing really lovely papers for making origami figures – along with instructions. Justine just turned 8 in November. She has a very analytical mind, and before the girls could get their gifts put away, Justine had created the most wonderful array of tiny dimensional stars. She didn’t bother to read the instructions; she simply looked at the diagrams and whipped them out like a production line. I looked at those instructions and crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t ask me to make one! One kit makes 100 stars – and she got two kits! She’s well on her way to doing the “thousand crane” bit, I’m sure. (I think she’ll probably be good at higher math, too!).
That reminded me of some stars that I was given by a boyfriend’s mother back in 1952. Dick Fifield was my first real boyfriend and we went steady my whole senior year in high school. He had two older married sisters and their families living nearby. His mom and dad were like second parents to me, as mine were to Dick. But his family had traditions and mine didn’t, so for the most part that is where my memories of just about the best Christmas I ever experienced came from. I was welcomed into their family to bake cookies, make fudge, wrap presents, decorate trees, go caroling – all the things my family did not do. Don’t think my own family did not celebrate Christmas; we did, and it was always abundant – but really no traditions ran up to it, and once the wrapping papers were torn off the gifts in a mad frenzy of delight, it was finished. Over. Done With. Nothing to do but put the presents away and vacuum the floor. Not even a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner. The adults did get egg nog, we kids got nog-less egg nog and that was it. So it isn’t unusual that I would remember the Christmas of 1952 with such fondness.
But there was a little more than that to it. As a present, Dick’s mother gave me 10 folded colored paper stars that she had made in secret. They were probably 2 inches in circumference and were three dimensional. They were dipped in wax and quickly sprinkled with glitter. A gold thread was attached for hanging them on the tree. I loved them. I think probably she was hoping that they would hang on the first tree that Dick and I would have if/when we married. He had gotten quite serious quickly but since I was going away to college after graduation I was fairly reserved about committing to anything. I did “love” Dick, but as it happened our relationship did end after I went to college as I feared.
I didn’t think of the possible significance of those stars back in 1952. But over the years and after becoming a mother-in-law many times, I understand how easy it is to love the boyfriends and girlfriends that your own children will consider as they grow into adulthood and be sad when they disappear out of your life.
All that was 60 years ago. Some of the stars have broken down, others disappeared. But here I am all these years later and I still have 5 of them. Of everything I have on my tree, those are my most priceless ornaments. All of you who are “of an age” will understand when I say that it is hard to accept that little things like these stars, things that are so imbued with warm and fuzzy memories of your own growing up, will not likely hang on your children’s (or grandchildren’s) tree after you’re gone. Margaret Fifield’s stars were not art pieces, nor exactly origami as I understand it; They were just a paper craft and are of no value to anyone other than me. But they hold a year’s worth of teen-age love in their folds and at least a ream worth of warm memories of that very special Fifield family of Long Beach who I will never forget.
And on a gross note, but because it is Christmas and even the grossest creatures get their due, for some strange reason whenever it rains every earthworm in Mira Loma crawls onto my front porch to escape being drowned. It’s a fruitless crawl because they die quite quickly. Something makes them stick very tightly to the cement so at any time during the rain and after, there are dead earthworms affixed to my porch. They are really difficult to get off. Because we are now in about day four of rain with at least five more to go, my porch is now LOADED and likely to get worse. I told Jer last night that when the rain is finished, I am going to call our Maintenance Department and implore them to bring over a big cement sanding machine and clear my porch of desiccated earthworms. They had better do it, too, because this morning I looked down on the carpet and there lay a dried worm that had traveled into the house on Jerry’s shoe this morning when he retrieved the newspaper.
I am going to spare you a picture of our porch. You all know what a worm looks like. Probably not a Christmas worm but I’ll guess you’ll even pass on that.