Sunday was perfect. In spite of waking up with a headache, it was a relatively mild one and a single fioricet did the trick. It didn’t hurt that I took it with a cup of coffee, either. Within an hour, I was zinging around the house getting ready for Aubrey to come over and help with the Christmas decorations. We put up the outside lights and the tree, although we might have saved a lot of time and heartbreak if we’d remembered to test the damn lights first before hanging them from the eaves and bushes.
We got off to a bit of a rough start, with my chattering like a monkey and her monosyllabically responding. After an hour of my trying to make conversation and being met with, “Fine,” “OK,” “Yes,” No,” and “Sure,” I had a momentary flashback to my second marriage. I remember that I really did want to love Jon but he just irritated the fuck out of me to the point that I didn’t want to be around him, leading to our divorce. I wondered if one could divorce one’s children, and realized my mother divorced me years ago, so yes. Fortunately, I flashed forward again to the lessons learned during this, my third, marriage; sometimes it just takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of love to get back to where you love them again. Wait, you have to love them in order to love them? Yep. It’s not so much a fake it ’til you make it thing as it is an investment of time and self; of letting the other person know you think they are worth your love and attention. Especially if they are angry because they think that you don’t love them or want to be with them; it’s important to reassure them that you do love and want to be with them. To let them know that while home has changed, it is still home.
After we finished the lights, we were both freezing and had runny noses. I suggested hot chocolate and watching Love Actually, which if you read my blog, you know is my favorite Christmas movie. By the time the movie ended, we weren’t necessarily chatting, but things were better. We decided to put on Armageddon while we assembled the tree (I am soooo allergic to real trees), since we didn’t need to necessarily watch it as we’ve seen it several times. We hung the ornaments then I made pancakes and we blubbered and snuffled our way through Bruce Willis blowing himself up to save the world. Sugar, tears, and Christmas cheer all combined into chatty goodness. We stayed up until almost 2am watching Leverage and talking about school, Christmas presents, and the hot British guys that came into her restaurant a few days ago. She cross stitched and I knitted and life was wonderful.
The only thing that made me sad was realizing how many ornament stories I’ve forgotten. Most of our ornaments have stories behind them; the who/where/why/when gets told each year as we either put them up or take them down. This year I found myself looking at so many of them, wondering when and where I got them. I took for granted that I would always know such things, that I had plenty of time to get around to writing them down. Now I know what a lie that was.
Thinking about the ornaments got me thinking about so many other things that my children don’t know but should, because they may want to know later or their children might ask them when I’m gone. While I don’t have grandchildren yet, there has to eventually be at least one, right? I mean considering the Vegas odds? By the time that kid gets here, I will be lucky to remember my own name.
There are a few things that have already been passed on. Now Aubrey makes my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and my spiced hot chocolate even better than I do. Both kids have been taught how to crochet. I taught Aubrey to cross stitch and dye yarn. But there are recipes that exist only in my head, like my split pea soup, potato soup, sour cream pancakes, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin bread…or in Ron’s head, like his chicken and squash soup, or his mind blowing gluten free pizza. These are things the kids love but don’t know how to make, and I (we) have failed to teach them.
I have reached an age where memory loss is no longer a distant possibility, but is instead a fact of life. I can no longer trust that I will remember. I’ve come to realize that my life is not just MY life; it is also the lives of those around me, specifically my children. The things that I’ve done are the memories that their lives are made of. The places I took them, the foods I cooked them, the clothes I bought them, the games we played, all make up the people they are. That is my immortality. And they are what must be preserved.