Saturday, December 24, 2022

Saturday 9

(From the archives)

1. As you can see, when Sam Winters was a little girl, she loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. If you could ask Santa for anything at all, right now, what would it be? Another pair of Mukluks like the ones I bought last year. EXACTLY like them. Unfortunately, they have been discontinued and no one has them in blue in my size anymore. This may be a job for Santa's elves.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there? I am on the Nice list, because I try.

3. Are you traveling this Christmas? If so, are you going by car, plane or train? Alas, I had to cancel my annual trip to Key West this year. But being here in Chicagoland has its advantages. I have a white Christmas and  I'll be worshiping with my own congregation this year.

4.  Did you send any presents out of town? If so, what was it and how far did it travel? I sent my oldest friend a mug that has "angry" Midwestern phrases on it. She's been fighting with her landlady lately, and I told her she can casually wave this at the woman during their next encounter. According to Google Maps, it traveled 1,934 miles to Southern California.

5. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? Yes. I got myself a new toilet seat! It was only $24 (including shipping) so when it arrived chipped, I just got out the super glue and made due. Yes, my Christmas toilet seat came chipped. Kinda fitting for this not-very-storybook-Christmas.

6. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie or TV special? Have you seen it yet this year? Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is my fave. It's on Peacock, so I'll stream it today or tomorrow.

7. Which do you prefer: a hollow chocolate Santa or a chunk of fudge? I wouldn't refuse either, but the hollow Santa would be my preference.

8. Close your eyes and tell us the first carol that comes to mind. "The Lord's Bright Blessing." It's from Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. And so I wish each of you a Christmas far more glorious than grand.


 9. What's your favorite winter beverage? This year, it's pumpkin spice tea.


3 + 2 = 1

3 phone calls + 2 pizzas = 1 Christmasy Gal. I spent a week slowly unraveling. It started last Wednesday, when my dear friend in Key West, Henry, couldn't wake up from an afternoon nap. His pulse was faint and there was blood on his mouth. Paramedics were called and took him to a hospital in Miami. His condition has deteriorated precipitously this past year, so I was counting on seeing him this Christmas, perhaps to say goodbye. But that is not going to happen, which breaks my heart.

Then there's the storm. Snow, bitter cold, and wind. Everyone is cocooning, which makes new holiday gettogethers difficult. So I was resigned to having a blue Christmas. 

But then this happened:

First my friend John called. I've gotten emails, IMs, and texts from friends and former coworkers, but John called. It was good of him to reach out to chat ... especially because he hates talking on the phone. He invited me to be his "plus one" for a formal Christmas dinner with his family. This family dinner has been in the works since September, when his uncle died. This uncle was the last member of that generation to go, and John and his cousins are honoring their late parents by having the kind of Christmas dinner they'd appreciate: lots of tiny portions, cut glass crystal, etc. I declined. This is not my scene. Plus his family is mourning the loss of their patriarch, and I've been surrounded by enough sadness lately. The important thing is that John called and offered to include me. We have been friends over 40 years and I treasure that.

Then Henry called ... TWICE! He's OK. He had a grand mal seizure and was in the hospital for 5 days as they tried to regulate his medication. I didn't ask him about this, though, because he thought his hospital room was his office at Florida Keys Community College, where he hasn't taught for years. His relationship to reality is that tenuous. But he's comfortable and reasonably happy in his own little world. He has no recollection of our spending the last 10 Christmases together. On the one hand, that's sad. On the other hand, it's comforting because it means he won't miss me. I realize -- and it becomes clearer with each passing day -- that my Christmas 2022 trip to Key West was really for me, not for Henry. He is slipping away rapidly. The important thing to me is that he is not frightened, nor angry, nor scared. I am reassured that he is none of those things.

And then there's the pizza ... My niece, her husband, and my nephew made it out to visit me before the storm hit. She and hubs are Michiganders now and don't get Chicago deep dish pizza anymore, while my nephew is a very picky pizza purist and only likes thin crust. That makes Lou Malnati's the perfect choice, because they do both well.

Our holiday lunch extended four hours. Amazingly, we had the place nearly to ourselves because we got there just as lunch hour was winding down and the shopping/dinner crowd hadn't arrived yet. 

Spending time with "the kids" was a balm for my soul. They are happy and funny and sweet. My nephew got me a Funko Pop Anthony Rizzo, my niece gave me a box of goodies to give myself an at-home spa day.

The result is that I've now got the spirit. I finally put my cards up. Seeing them makes me happy. Everything makes me happy right now. I feel loved, and I know that those I love are OK. That's really what I was missing: connection. I am an introvert by nature, very comfortable with my own company. Too comfortable. Which is why I'm going to church tonight.

Because of covid, the flu and the storm, my congregation is making our Christmas Eve/Christmas Day services available online. It's tempting to worship from laptop (after all, it's 3ยบ right now and I can hear the wind outside my window). But this is my first Christmas with my own congregation in a decade. So I'll put on the big coat and the heavy boots and wander on over there tonight. It feels right.