Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Inevitability of December

Goodness. Wasn't I just writing about October or somesuch? Next thing you know the air is full of cinnamon and commerce and snow.

I've been experiencing those pre-ruminant rumblings that normally come before a blog post; I knew it would happen eventually. Sometimes there is so much to talk about that it all becomes an inarticulate blur before I can pin any of it down. I suspect I need medication.

The tipping point was on page 4 of my holiday issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. There she is, swathed in as much religiously neutral sparkle as one can manage while keeping a silver pashmina on one's shoulders and hefting a frosted cake with five lit candles on it AND preventing one's long, perilously-close hair from catching fire. She's a multi-tasker, that one.
Page 4, the table of contents, really, suggests that for a 'quick, cracker-ready spread, stir a crushed candy cane and cracked black pepper into cream cheese'.

Excuse me, I have something in my throat. I think its my lunch.

I'm a bush-league foodie. I'm not afraid of tofu. I know what sorts of things you could cook using rendered duck fat. I know the difference between a shallot and a leek. But I'm pretty sure serving cream cheese with crushed black pepper and candy in it would put me in the company of not the Alton Brown set but the lady with all the dolls whose yard ornamentation is two seasons behind, who gives the kids bare-handfuls of circus peanuts in their trick-or-treat bags and thinks the government has put listening devices in her Lillian Vernon catalog.

I have a tenuous relationship with December. In years past it has just been the kickoff of Ye Olde Seasone of Suck, replete with weather-inspired anxieties and holiday expectation vs. reality funk. I'm disorganized, not the best housekeeper, and gift-purchasing turns me into Cindy Brady on 'Question the Kids' (more for the blank look than the 'Swiss Miss' braids). I find myself preoccupied with people who lack a social network this time of year, whose story does not have a Hallmark movie ending after two hours of gentle misunderstanding, over-magnified danger, and clever golden retrievers. (They're all around you! Try not to think about it. Ooops! Too late.)
Some Christmases past have been very dark indeed.

This December is better. I have a job I love. My obligatory bad-weather driving has been slashed to almost nothing. My house is still messy, but I do what I can and I release the rest. I'd like to have more money for presents, but since that only triggers my standing in Target with a deer-in-headlights look and a frozen brain its just as well. And I've realized just in the nick of time what I should do every year around this time-- slow down. Breathe. Look around. Take it in. Be peacefully quiet. Receive. Listen. Love with an undistracted heart.

And if all else fails, begin at the beginning.


Anonymous said...

This is great and I can relate to wishing I had more money to buy for the ones I love at CHristmas and I really DO NEED to SLOW down, breathe and just take in all the beauty and love I really do have around me. I do not have the DREAM job as of yet in my life but I do believe that it will find me someday..thanks for posting your blogs cuz they are nice to read and a lil slice of funny too =) your friend me woodland ave

Your Husband said...

Only question: what's a pashmina? :)

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

Kim, beautifully written as always. I watched the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas the other night because I needed it. I'm in a "reality funk," as you say. I want to get out of it, but in some ways I'm not even trying. I'm sort of just riding the wave to January, you know?

Anyway, I'm so glad you don't have those hellish drives anymore and can enjoy more home time with family and loved ones (and apparently cooking and baking, as there seems to be a lot of that going on according to your FB updates). Good on you on all counts!

Lin said...

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. It's being able to still yourself amongst the madness and not spending until you are broke--trying to keep up with everyone else and making some folks happy who never will be.

I'm glad you are happy--messy house and all. Hell, if someone comes over and judges you by your house, they aren't a friend anyway.

I always schedule time in December to just do a forced chill--I buy expensive tickets to the ballet, so I don't blow it off. Those 2 hours of incredible music and forced relaxation is what I need. You can't multi-task during the Nutcracker and that is exactly why I commit to things like that every single weekend in December--I need to just sit for two hours and breathe.

Glad you are back--missed ya.

BohemiAnn said...

Your post makes me want to go home and smoosh candy and pepper into my cream cheese...just to let you know what it tastes like.

Karen said...

I also think a great deal about people without social networks, or warm houses, or people who love them enough to cook for them or buy them a small gift that says 'I love you'. This has been a really hard holiday season because of problems and death in my family this past year, and remembering that there are things to be thankful for is sometimes hard to realize. Like Kathy, I am trying to ride the wave into January without being drowned in my own sadness. We did a lot of charity giving this year too, which made my husband and I both feel better about our comfortable life. I love the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Thank you for the reality check!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Pretty much all of Rachel Ray's recipes make me want to hurl. Monster-in-law got me one for Christmas a few years back -- or birthday -- or something (pretty sure she just pulled it out of a pile and said, "Here ya' go..." It was probably the last gift she gave me before her son banned her from our home and all that crap).and when I read it I almost threw up and decided I would not be drawing upon her culinary wisdom any time soon.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Woodland Ave buddy- I know the job is coming! I believe it!

Huz-- its a shawl.

Kathy-- every time I hear the words 'lake effect snow' I say a prayer of thanks. :)

Lin-- that is a really good idea. Even if we hide out in a movie over the next week I think it will be restorative.

Ann-- There needs to be pictures.

Karen-- Its funny how Christmas tends to magnify things that are out of our control. But its also interesting to me how the 'bad Christmases' make the good ones that much better.

Lisa-- I tend to like Rachael's cookbook recipes, except that she seems to have a penchant for sauteed bitter greens (kale, arugula, spinach) and I'm really not into eating something on a bed of slimy hot greens. So I skip those recipes. But her chili is good...I just thought that dip suggestion was a bizarre throwback to an era when people made jello molds with vegetables in them. *gag*

Murr Brewster said...

The entire family decided to skip presents this year. We've never been so happy. If I manage to fall in with a group of carolers I'll be all set.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...



This is a wonderful post, Kim. These lines grabbed me: "I find myself preoccupied with people who lack a social network this time of year, whose story does not have a Hallmark movie ending after two hours of gentle misunderstanding, over-magnified danger, and clever golden retrievers."

I was just thinking about this sort of thing this afternoon. Even at the happiest of times, I'm troubled by the notion that many people don't live storybook lives. I'm rarely able to shake the sad, bittersweet feeling it gives me, and the feeling that I'm the only one who feels this way.

Guess not. Not now.

And I agree with you. It's best start at the beginning.