"Ouch!" I yelp, as I take the chicken out of the toaster oven.
"You alright?" Mom asks, looking up from what she's doing.
"I just didn't expect the juice to run out of the aluminum foil," I mutter, as I quickly pull the other packet onto a cookie sheet. I pull the one I dropped onto the sheet, as well. Now I can put the chicken slices (breasts? Pieces?) out of the way.
The Pillsbury crescents that I just rolled up wait on a paper plate. I place a fresh sheet of aluminum foil over the rack, spray liberally with butter spray, and place the clumsy rolls in four rows of two, trying to ignore the prickly I-suck-at-this feeling. My hands are greasy from rolling the store-bought dough triangles, and now they're even more gross as I stick them on the sheet. Spray the tops liberally, as well.
As Mom calls everyone to dinner, I help myself. A small portion of fresh-made mashed potatoes. A small bit of ham; a small bit of chicken. I have to wait for the crescents. I refuse to let the boiled bok-choy near my plate. I'm not even perfectly sure what it is, other than sort of smelly and white and green-leafy.
We don't even say prayer, even though my Pentacostal grandfather is right there. He had a heart attack recently. We make food without too much sodium for him. We just tuck in.
It's not much, what's on my plate. Everyone else -- my three sisters, two brothers, my mother and father and my father's father -- all pile their plate. My dinner doesn't even cover the paper plate. But I manage to eat most it, except for a small bit of the ham. I don't have ham often enough to really like the taste.
Christmas is one of everybody's favorite holidays. Am I sick of the commercialization, and how this is the corporations' and businesses' favorite holidays because they want to sell-sell-sell? Yes. Am I ranting about it today? No.
In fact, I am not sure what I want to say today, at all. I received a laptop, two things of chocolate, and this crocheted book-pillow, on which I can prop my book. (My mother is a very big arts-and-crafts sort of person.) I feel kind of scooped out, with the whole smiling and speaking a thanks, the whole Christmas charade ending, and the magic of December grinding to a halt. Cold, dry days from here through the early weeks of March, with little to look forward to.
Still, at the same time, I kind of hope -- as I do almost every year -- that I could extend such magic -- such happiness and snow-sparkled dreams and closeness-to-God feeling. Through the drudge of school and homework and writing and reading, no time for staring at the ceiling, for doing nothing. Late nights, turning the lights out with my glasses still on until I remember to take them off.
Do I have a definite plan this year for such an intangible goal? No. I never do. And if I did, I probably wouldn't stick to them. It's mostly read through the fifty-or-so books on my to-be-read list, try to do my homework on time, take the free online classes I signed up for for January.
I would like to make some time for clay working. I have about 25 lb of gray clay, found at my local Michaels store (conveniently located just a short walk from my local Barnes and Noble). To make my days a little easier to swallow, I would like to play with clay, like a little kid; no artsy goal in mind, just squish it in my hands and feel absurdly pleased at the lines of gray caking in the lines in my hands.
The trouble is, I like doing nothing. I like staring at the ceiling, doing nothing, almost more than I like playing with clay or paint like a little kid, which is why that clay has been sitting in its cardboard box container since September. I just don't have that quality nothing time; I hate cutting into it.
So, here's to an ending and a beginning. The ending of a deep, special season, and the beginnings of a bridge to holding to the feelings. I'm using clay and a time for nothing. What are you doing?
Have a blessed Christmas, a lovely Wednesday, and a very merry day.
I wake up very uncomfortable at 8:00 am. This is mostly due to my sister.
Since my grandfather gets my room while he stays the night, I have to share with the older of my two younger sisters. Cosmetics, half-empty soda bottles, and junk food wrappers lay scattered with the overwhelming amount of clothes. The whole room smells septic and close, like too much perfume and moldy food crammed together.
And, of course, this is not the worst part of sleeping in a strange, smelly, crowded-with-food-and-clothes room. My sister stays up until 1:00 am. On her phone. Laughing as she scrolls through facebook videos, which I can vaguely hear through her earphones. And because she's pulled the sheet away, I'm lying on the scratchy mattress, awake until too early.
But when I finally get up, it's a relief. A minuscule amount of presents are underneath the beach-themed Christmas tree. Ma, who was sick last night, asks me to wrap the last of the Christmas presents in her workroom. I do so gladly. It's too early to read my book or watch the crime documentary softly pontificating from the TV.
When we're finally all gathered together -- 9:30 am -- Dad starts handing out presents, like he does every Christmas. A laptop; a card from Granddad, with a one-hundred dollar bill and a small box of Godiva chocolates. A leopard puzzle, a bag of mini Kit-Kats, wall stickers of butterflies. The Arabian Nights.
Everyone's rustling the wrapping paper as they rip it away to reveal their gifts; they're joking, saying thanks, exclaiming if it's a good present. Our living room feels small with nine people unwrapping gifts in it.
Everything is over before 10:00 am. I smile, thank everyone, retreat to Rebecca's room, the kitchen table, Mom's workroom; all day, wherever there's fewest people, so I can get on the laptop or read my book or knit.
The season ends just like that -- with the opening of a few presents. With the ripping away of wrapping paper, which looked pretty when we couldn't see what was inside, but now looks just crumpled and throwaway.
I want to hold onto this. I don't want this to be it, over with the exposure of what's beneath the paper; but how do I hold mystery and excitement and magic when the paper's been torn away? I guess the closest I get is to hold onto something I know little about. Clay -- violin -- books I've never read, knitting that I am new at. The possibilities have to keep going, don't they?