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» Tuesday, December 31, 2019My Favorite Dozen Things About 2019
1. James didn't have to go to the hospital all year!
2. After a false start, James' arthritis medicine worked.
3. Dark chocolate Oreos.
5. Finally resolved loveseat problem and moved my desk into craft room (loveseat is now a storage platform!), leaving room for toy chest in bedroom which is now blanket chest.
6. Bought all Lassie black-and-white episodes (uncut).
7. Finally found the baby monitor so I can use it when doing laundry.
8. Finally rid of that stupid Pixel phone.
9. Subscribed to PBS Passport.
10. Saw David Tennant at DragonCon.
11. Molly of Denali.
12. Pam-next-door's Christmas tree.*
*I suppose I should explain. Pam moved next door in October. She's renting the downstairs of the house, and I guess she has kitchen privileges upstairs. She has a little Shih Tzu named Diesel who is having a territorial dispute with Tucker, who imagines he owns the neighborhood. Anyway, she had a Christmas tree downstairs in her "parlor," but right before Christmas she put a real one up upstairs in the dining room window. Since she doesn't spend most of the time upstairs, most of the time there was just a little light in the kitchen and the tree glowing in the window. Well, I spent so much time staring at that tree every time I walked Tucker at night that Pam must have thought I was nuts. But instead I was flashing back to childhood and going to my Papà's house for Christmas. I've written about this several places, including in an essay called "The Magic House." From that essay:
...to slowly make my way up the cellar steps to the back entry, and thus to the kitchen.
As always it was dark, except for a nightlight, in a room that looked as if it hadn't changed since the 1940s. The newest appliance was the big white-and-chrome Roper stove with its two ovens, seated like a squat monarch overlooking a tiny kingdom. The table, looking like a dwarf compared with its big cousin downstairs, was covered with a red-checked cloth, and with the white-fronted kitchen cabinets and the homey little memorabilia on the walls and side tables, it looked like something out of a dream. Aunty never forgot the upstairs tables; cut glass dishes held ribbon candy and chocolates even here, and I'd be able to sneak a few more bites away from Mom's disapproving eye. But food was not the lure, but the light...
There was a soft glow from the dining room coming through the glass-paned door; to open it led you in a room from another century, furnished with the heavy sideboards and dining room set, and lit, like some enchanted glade, simply by the light of the Christmas tree. This had electric lights, of course, not the more dangerous candles, but these were always the original, large bulb sets, supplemented for many years by a dwindling few of the fascinating bubble lights. In those bulbs the ornaments flashed and glittered and twinkled: old molded glass fruits side-by-side with the Woolworth's balls both old--including clear ones from World War II--and new, the branches hung with the heavy old-fashioned icicles in lieu of the newer mylar ones. They danced in the little bursts of air that crept nevertheless under the cold windows and collided with the warmer air from the cast-iron radiators.
If I were truly alone, if one of the uncles had not crept upstairs to watch the big cabinet black-and-white TV and fall asleep--"I'm just resting my eyes!"--on the capacious sofa, I could curl up on the floor under the tree where brightly wrapped gifts and the manger set sat, to smooth the cotton footing under the various statues, to move sheep into their proper places, and wonder what it had truly been like in Bethlehem on that night. If you laid back on the cold floor just right and looked up, there was a faerie path between the tree branches lit by color and glitter--if you could only walk forward, you too could be a part of the Magic. There was the quiet to think, to dream, but still comforted by the sounds of the party below and the faint murmur of Christmas stories playing on the television.
Of course Pam's tree's didn't have big bulbs or vintage ornaments and lead tinsel, but lit up there, glowing multi-color against the dim dining room, seen with a stage curtain frame of drapery pulled up in a scallop on either side, glimpsed through open shutters of Venetian blinds, well, somehow, if just for a moment, that magic door opened up again and comforted me and set up longing all at once.
I miss Pam's tree.