Stress and delight

Christmas has come and gone. The dread turned into inspiration. First (even before the 25th) I hung all the christmas light we have that still work, everywhere: around the plants, the windows, the curtains – a tangle of wires. On the outside we also look more Christmassy than ever. I figured I would rise in stature as a homemaker in Tessa’s eyes. The lights were also for Faro of course. When I turned everything on he was mesmerized though I am not sure he even saw the outside lights that Axel tangled with.

As every year I had warned everyone about buying things they couldn’t afford and/or we didn’t need and especially those gifts that would produce more clutter in our already cluttered households (it’s a gene  we both passed on).  I think this year the message took. We gave each other either home-made gifts or clutter-free experiences (like restaurant gift certificates two nights at an inn, swimming lessons), though the teepee that Tessa made for Faro does take up valuable real estate in the Bliss’ already full house.  My present to Steve and Tessa were 6 enormous curtain panels that will keep them a little warmer in their drafty house. It took most of the Christmas week to sew them and line them and hem them, sitting in my temporary workshop set up in the basement. Tessa kept me company while she was making the teepee.

On Christmas Eve we celebrated with one part of Jim’s family, dinner and the traditional Yankee swap, though this time we returned home with several of our own presents. This included a box with the ingredients for Jamaican coffee (coffee, rum and 4 cans of whipping cream). We taught Faro one of my favorite things: spraying the whipped creamed right into one’s mouth. “”More..,more..,” he said in great delight. Now we have another whipped cream junkie in the house.Faro-cream

I had tried to give up on the Chisterklaas ritual of starting our adaptation of Sinterklaas avond late on Christmas Eve and instead do it the next morning – given that we have a toddler in the house who wakes up at 7 AM. But we fell back into old habits and started close to midnight with the preceding hours a frantic burst of activity for most: everyone was busy either writing poems, creating surprises, hiding them all over the house, or finishing projects (like the teepee) – it was, as always, rather stressful, so stressful that I kept walking around muttering ‘this is no fun’ and ‘let’s bag the whole thing.’ Tessa was in tears in the basement working frantically on the teepee with a sewing machine that didn’t cooperate. Only Axel was unaffected; he took a nap and accepted the reality that he was not ready and would not be uuntil the 27th.

And so, despite wanting to orchestrate this otherwise, we couldn’t help ourselves and had our Christerklaas that included IOUs from Tessa and Axel who had not even started their poems.  Our poems hang in the Christmas tree, a novel spin on an old ritual. Jim’s poems are of the literary type, with adapted passages from Keats or Shakespeare or the cleverly composed ‘histories of whatever the present it.’ Sita and my poems have real rhyme and Axel and Tessa’s, well we don’t know yet.

And now the house is nearly quiet with the Blisses departed for Easthampton to pay some attention to their cats since they had been a bit forgotten in the frantic Christmas prep and left to fend for themselves in Easthampton.  Steve arrived very early this morning returning from a long road trip to his family near Toronto. He has had his own franticnness up there and our post-Christmas celebration will be a bit subdued in comparison but welcomed no doubt. We will read the last poems this morning…and be done with Christmas for another year.

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