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Sunday, December 27, 2009

# 6 Christmas

I could have gone to see my brother Paul or my sister-in-law and my nephews . They both invited me but I decided to stay home on my first Christmas without Clint. I stayed in the red sweater, in which I had slept, slipped into ridiculously “Holiday-ish” pajama bottoms and my old Uggs - bought back in the early ‘90s. I brushed my teeth and applied makeup and glued a smile to my face with lip stain.

For days I worried and wondered how it would be, how I would manage. Then they came, first Cuz. He had sent me a calendar from the printing company where he works, and his painting (September) is of a scene of the creek and our neighbor’s old dock from the back of our house at the beach. This year, I will have September every day because I’m going to hang it on his page.

Then Deidra and Taylor came, and we sat on the deck and talked and drank and smoked and told stories about My Dead Husband in the sunshine while it lasted. They made me happy and they made me laugh and want to cry for the sheer joy of the miracle that I was surrounded by them. I gave Cuz a bottle of vodka and Deidra a pink ruffle scarf of pale pink wool and silk knitted late into the night before with my very own fingers. She squealed and wrapped the scarf around her and admired herself in the mirror and hugged me and said she loved me. She liked the redecorating I have done, and I loved her for that.

Deegie and Taylor went to Seminole about 2:30 and he forgot to take his cheese straws so will probably give them to someone else or eat them myself. Cuz is staying until tomorrow so maybe I’ll send them with him for a snack in the car.

I prepared food for the family, who came about 4:30. Everything was good except I forgot the Madeira cream for the croutons was on high, and I sat too long on the deck and the bottom of the pot was scorched and I didn’t care. The cream was okay, just a little intense tasting which no one noticed and I think they may have even liked as much as the regular kind.

They all poured through the kitchen door in a sort of human flood. The twins at first were afraid of the dogs, so there was a screeching and whining until they got over being scared. Countng Cuz and me, there were 11, including th Debutante’s boyfriend. Everyone was tired and full and I wondered why they weren’t all at home. They were here because it was “the thing to do.” We say that in the South. We take family obligations to heart, or at least we pretend to.

Now, to contradict myself, they were also here because they wanted to be. It’s not their fault that I am the last stop. My Dead Husband was their father. Before they arrived I was terrified that I would feel the way I did on Thanksgiving when the room suddenly opened up and there was a hole where Clint should be. It didn’t happen. I think it’s because Cuz is here and because I got a Deegie fix. She brought me a box of Kiehl’s products, one of which is supposed to polish my body when I bathe in it. Others are to guarantee I have shiny moist lips and hands soft and holdable.

There was a fire in the fireplace, the first of the year. We shifted places for a couple of hours, some going out in the cold to smoke, others changing seats or wandering around the table to snack or see what the 18 month old twins were doing. The outside crowd would break off into to pieces, one wandering back into the house, maybe to escape the cold, maybe to escape the prattle of the Debutante when she broke the beads on her wrist by twisting them, then blamed her grandmother, from whom she had just received them. Even this family is not immune to inconsequential talk. So we walked around and ran from it and fed ourselves food we didn’t want. By 7:00 they had all departed for home or for better company.

Cuz and I went into the garage where it wasn’t so cold and sat in canvas chairs, the kind people take to ball games and we smoked some expensive tobacco and relaxed and talked on and on. The dogs were unhappy to be left in the house, so we put them in the car, where they curled themselves into balls and snoozed until it was midnight and we all went to bed.

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