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Another Day in the Country

Unexpected pleasures

© Another Day in the Country

Everything still looks like Christmas at my house.

There still are presents under the tree — games that weren’t played while my family was here.

Santa still is hanging on the front door; he was loath to leave, remembering all the fun we had.

The Christmas tree still is up and in its place, lights on — as this one string of lights has been since December. It gives a small glow at night, down the hall, into my bedroom, that I like. It’s comforting.

Christmas cards still are accumulating. Several were sent to our post office box and languished there while the kids were here. All the other cards moved from a decorative mailbox with a too-small slot to a basket on my bed.

On New Year’s Eve, as was my custom, I blessed each lovely person who had sent a card. Now I have a couple more to add to my blessing list. You know the old saying, “Blessings never cease.”

All the Indian stuff that I collect was moved during December from front and center in the living room to the side in the office.

I kept thinking I’d arrange the old Indian chief that I bought at an antique store right here in Ramona years ago and the corn husk dolls that I made into a place of their own in the office.

Some of the Indian artifacts already are residing here — a couple of drums up high on a shelf, a ladder for blankets.

But they still are sitting like refugees, waiting for a spot to call home. Maybe I’ll settle them in today. Maybe not.

I haven’t put Christmas away for another year because I’m still basking in the glow. This may have been the best Christmas ever — or in a long, long time.

Christmas used to be my favorite season of the year, and then there was a divorce in our family.

Those of you who have experienced that oddity know what wrench that throws in the monkey works.

From then on, I had to work at Christmas. Good will and peace on earth didn’t come wafting through the air. They had to be made up, held onto, breath by breath, savored and protected, throughout the season.

This season, I tried to compose our own funny Christmas carol to the tune of a well-known one. We did it — or, rather, I should say I usually did it — every year during the 10 years before the millennium. They were funny.

This year, I started out abruptly one day to the tune of “O Holy Night,” with “O holy cow, my friends have gotten older…” when I got the mail.

I’d received my yearly card from Ray and Rosy, whom I met during their college years. This was the first year in a long time that they sent a picture.

And there they were: “retirees.” It was rather a shock. From youth to retirement is a big leap, whereas weathering — which is what I experience as I age — is a little more subtle.

Rosy looked like a sweet librarian and Ray, with his charming used-car salesman personality, had put on weight. It was good to see their faces, though.

Rosie was Jana’s first — and only — piano teacher. Jana loved Rosie and the way she could carve vegetables into wacky animals more than she loved learning to read musical notes.

Ray was the enthusiastic Campus Ministries leader with an endless array of good ideas for fostering community. (They called it “fellowship.” )

He is an avid reader and was always recommending good books to me. I’ve missed him through the years, but at Christmas I get this envelope that says, in essence, “We’re still here,” or wherever they’ve moved on to, and I send them news from my life. It’s like lighting a little memory candle.

Amazon seemed overcome this Christmas with delivery requests and got backed up. I’m still receiving things. My daughter ordered sample boxes of ramen (of all things) for Dagfinnr to try while he was here. They came today. It’ll be I sampling shrimp-wonton-flavor spicy noodles; purple wheat, soy, and vinegar ramen; and spicy smoked-fish-flavored Tom Klong — whatever those are.

They’re ramen, so you can’t go too far wrong when you’re hungry.

There also was a little package of salty licorice in the bottom of the box. I knew she’d intended that for me!

Another package came after New Year’s. It was a book — a big, artistic, extravagantly illustrated book called, “The Lost Words.”

There was a printed gift card from someone called Charlyn. She’d written that she’d met me in October, 2022, and was sending me this gift.

I wracked my brain and couldn’t remember anyone named Charlyn.

So I went to my trusty Shutterfly books called “The Wrap Up” that I make every year and looked up October 2022.

Where were we? What were we doing? And there was the answer: We were at a wedding in Nebraska. I was taking pictures for the bride, who is the daughter of our dear friend Des, who lives in California but comes to visit us in Ramona every year.

We met lots of people at this wedding, including Char, Desiree’s grade school chum who was still her best buddy.

I didn’t even know her full name or how to spell it, but we quickly discovered we were soul mates. She loved photography; I was taking pictures. She was a therapist; I’d had that intent, too. I was an artist; so was she. And we both loved Des.

The book begins, “As flake is to blizzard, as curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as one is to many, as coin is to money … as kindness is to good, so acorn is to wood.”

This, and so much more, all happened on another day in the country.

Last modified Jan. 11, 2024

 

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