I'm ready for a new decade, though this past one did have some wonderful life-enriching moments: my retirement from teaching, the births of 3 grandchildren, good health, and the election of 2008. So, on this last day of 2009, I am pondering the approach of the new year. There will be no resolutions for me; I gave that up years ago, as my annual avowals were always the same and never kept for very long. You know...lose weight, exercise. Yawn. What I will do is continue to reach for little ways of bettering myself and refining my thinking. Always a work in progress. Yep.
This Christmas morning, as I sat on the couch eating my Cheerios, I found myself looking back. When I was a child, Christmas morning breakfast was always way too big an occasion, as far as I was concerned. I had already checked out all my gifts, squeezed and squished them, tried to peek inside if there was a way, and taken a wild guess at what might be inside the ribbon and colorful wrapping.
I was SO ready to rip into those packages. But no. The table had to be cleared and the kitchen tidied, which seemed to take forever, before we could finally begin what I saw as the main event. Ah, the impatience of youth.
Over the years Christmas and gift opening evolved a little bit year by year until, by the time I was an adult, a much more kid friendly plan was adopted: all gifts were opened on Christmas Eve and Santa's offerings were attacked Christmas morning, forever ousting the tedious Christmas morning waiting while the adults dawdled endlessly over coffee, totally oblivious to my impatience to get the gift opening show on the road.
Once I became a mother, I stuck to this tradition, never wanting to go back to those Christmas mornings that dragged on and on like a mile-long train. I'd get my coffee going and then it would be stocking time. Maybe there would be a tricycle or scooter leaning up in front of the mantle, a sand box or swing set in the yard. One year there was a massive dollhouse that I had painted, wall papered and furnished sitting expectantly in the living room, just waiting to be noticed. It was all about her, and I loved watching the joy and excitement. Then I would retreat to the kitchen to begin preparations for an early afternoon family dinner, usually turkey, but sometimes prime rib. Fun.
So here it is: another Christmas morning, and I am alone typing at my computer, enjoying the quiet and listening to carols, yet missing just a little bit, the glee of Christmas past. The day will pick up, of course, as I head to my brother's home for turkey and festivites. Lingering in my head, however, are visions of how it used to be. I miss it, and yet I don't. But I love the delicious memories.
So...which Bear team, ferocious or teddy, will show up in San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl on December 23rd?
I am hoping it is the ferocious Bears that were at one time ranked in the top ten and rallied at the season's end to put away The Big Game thereby keeping the coveted axe.
However, I fear the teddyBears might tumble through that stadium tunnel at game time... the Bears that suffered humiliating back-to-back losses to USC and Oregon with the subsequent embarrassing freefall in the national rankings. Season after season, the fans never know which Bear team will appear.
Fingers crossed. Here's hoping for an abundance of boldness and skill as the ferocious Bears run through the goal posts, take the field, and go home to Berkeley with a big win.
Looking back over my life so far, I realize that six events have had a profound effect on me. It is one thing to read about long-ago history in a text but quite another to live it, watch it unfold as it moves into the archives.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
I was a college freshman, away from home for the first time. As this news was breaking, I spent much time on the phone with my parents. Should I come home? Should I stay in Berkeley? I was young, scared, and wondering if the world was going to end.
The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy
The despair of dreams ripped apart was overpowering and stays with me still. What could have been? We'll never know.
Neil Armstrong's Moon
The moment did not seem real to me. I felt like I was watching a science fiction film; but what an amazing accomplishment.
The Explosion of the Challenger
I got news of this disaster as I stood outside my classroom, greeting my 4th graders in the cheerful sunlight of a typical California morning. A parent of one of my pupils came rushing up to me and whispered, "Did you hear...?" I hadn't. I turned into a statue, total stone inside my gut, wondering what to say to my young students, beginning the school day as we did every morning...with current events. Ohmygod.
Drinking my morning coffee as I watched the Today show, I could not comprehend what I was seeing. Like eveyone else, I at first thought it was an horrific accident. Speculation was rampant. Driving to school to begin my teaching day, some newsperson was glibly rattling on about rumors the Golden Gate Bridge was the next target. I was numb and just went about my day because I didn't know what else to do.
The Election of Barack Obama
Tears poured down my face as, glued to the TV, I watched the election results. When I awoke the next morning, I was afraid I had dreamed the whole thing, but it was true; and I was a witness to a huge happening, one that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.
These events are forever etched in my memory. I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and what I was thinking. The missile crisis, the assassinations, the Challenger disaster, and 9/11 caused me to feel fear, grief, and profound horror. With Armstrong's moon walk and Obama's election, I experienced joy, hope, disbelief, and amazement.
forever carved into my soul
The future? How about a woman president?
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
I am having motivational problems this holiday season. There's always so much to do and I am having none of it. I've purchased my Christmas cards and holiday stamps in anticipation of spreading joy, but that is as far as it has gotten. There is still a mound of shopping to do, but the thought of venturing out in the pouring rain and standing in long lines is not very appealing at this moment. There has been no baking yet, and I didn't even have the energy to put up a tree this year.
I have, however, put up many decs and mailed packages, so at least I am not a total bah humbug. Well, it's only the 13th...maybe the merriment will kick in next week. Do I hear ho, ho, ho?
When I embark on a brand-new dating situation, I am a sucker for a snow job. The lastest budding relationship began with so much snow, it was practically a blizzard, and I was foolishly charmed by this delightful deluge: the thoughtful gifts, the jolly disposition, the wining and dining, all of it. However, the snow eventually melted, as snow does, and reality reared its ugly head. This bewitching suitor showed his true colors. The gifts dwindled, the temper erupted, and the wining and dining turned into dinner at my place, cooked by me. It's over. Since I'm no spring chicken, I should have known better. Lesson learned. Watch out for blizzards. They can be dangerous.
I am in recovery mode today after an extremely raucous birthday party yesterday for John and Chris. Neither look particularly pleased in the above picture because the guests are yet to arrive, and the boys desperately want a piece of cake. For sure, Chris does not want to wait because, turning 3, he is unclear on the concept of party etiquette.
Once the guests arrive, however, the cake is temporarily forgotten and the fun begins. The house is alive with laughter, loud voices, and - of course - football on the television.
With lightning speed the presents are ripped open, wrapping paper is flung aside, and oohs and aahs reign as the wonderful gifts are properly appreciated by the delighted birthday boys.
Rylee takes charge of the candle lighting, and finally it is time to dig into the butter-creamed Star Wars cake, complete with light sabers that actually light at a finger's touch.
I wrote weeks ago about the coming far-away move of one of my best friends, someone I see regularly for fun and conversation...a friendship that goes back 40 years. The good news is she is no longer leaving CA! The bad news: her house sale fell through. So, while I am sorry about the lost deal, I am thrilled to have some more time with her, at least until the spring when the house goes on the market again. Yayz for now.