The fiscal year has ended with the calendar year, not quite neatly packaged but absolutely balanced, cross-balanced, backward, forward, upside down and inside out. Every year I dread it. I don’t know why. I reconcile accounts daily, check my monthly and quarterly reports and still I am exceedingly nervous that things will not add up.
The conclusion of this fiscal year has been especially difficult. I miss knowing Joe is in the world with us. He was a plumber. Our power has been intermittent through the holiday ice storms so today, when it went out, I thought I’d call him on my cell because he’d know if I could squeeze a shower out of the hot water tank. He’s not home. That sucks.
The thing is, I’m one of those highly functioning people. Joe died at 4A, I was calculating payroll at 11. My broken heart can wait. I don’t feel martyred or sorry for myself because I’m still alive. Now that I can finally breathe, because I’ve done what I need to do, I guess I can get right down and wallow. Maybe I’ll wring my hands and wail. Maybe I’ll gnash my teeth.
Interesting events have transpired over the holiday season. My husband and I took the “boys”, with their girlfriends, to spend the weekend in a decent hotel so we could see the symphony’s holiday show. We took them to a ridiculously popular restaurant for an overpriced meal. I made the reservations 2 months prior, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten a table, and I knew it would fuel the aspirations to grandeur the kids have.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up a delusion or two of my own. I have had the same heavy winter coat for 18 years. It is still serviceable but the sleeve edges are beginning to wear and it’s time for something new. I took a notion that if ever there was a cape/cloak person I was IT. The garment in question was not full length or what could accurately be described as warm but it was a lovely, soft, woodsy green, wool with a velvet lined hood. Just imagine me at the symphony in my new garment. I bought it and rushed back to the hotel to show my husband.
His eyes rolled around in his head like loose marbles. A jury of my peers will NEVER convict me. I can’t believe he was daring enough to utter the words that shattered my illusions, “You look like the Grim Reaper” and he smirked. Really, WTF?!! I am having a peri-menopausal crisis here, indulge me or suffer the consequences!
Thus began a string of Christmas miracles. I wanted to be a cape/cloak person, it had pewter clasps… I returned the garment the following day, after my husband got me up and hustled me off to Bean’s at 5A and indulged my waffling as I tried on every outer-garment in the store, all to no avail. When I returned the cape/cloak with the velvet hood, I explained to the woman who owned the shop and made the garment what had happened, how my husband couldn’t see me the way I’d like to be seen and what he said-she had to bite her lips to keep from laughing. I told her it was okay and we both laughed. She told me the universe would make it up to me and it did.
In hopeful desperation, I went to a boutique where I never find anything for me but always manage to talk some unsuspecting woman into buying the marvelous creation she is trying on. I should get a commission. I walked in and looked around, eventually inquiring about outerwear. Oh yes, they had one wool coat left, it may not be what I was looking for but I was certainly welcome to try it. You just can’t imagine. It looks like a sausage casing on a hangar, truly. The coat was made for me, a woman of a certain age, refusing to grab and clutch for her vanished youth. It is a navy and black wool tweed with a luxurious rounded shawl collar, a brass zipper sewn on a slight diagonal and trimmed with black leather, and pockets that are hidden in the seam-my favorite-it falls about 3″ below my knees and is positively royal. Yes, just like The Queen. The first Christmas miracle.
I hoped to become a Frye boot person too. I’m not. I never will be. I am a utilitarian person with romantic ideas. I went to another little shop where there was a whole table of greatly reduced Frye boots. Not paying a tremendous amount of attention, I picked up a pair that looked sturdy for actual wear in snowy, wet weather with treads to prevent the slip-fall that could take out a hip prematurely. I put them on and admired them, they were lovely, well suited to my hodge-podge tastes. I mentioned to the sales girl, she was a girl and she was just adorable, that I was so lucky to have found them on sale like that- Good for ME! She looked most apologetic when she told me that they shouldn’t have been on the Frye table. It’s okay, they’re a quality brand and she discounted them by nearly half (!) for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me. Another Christmas miracle.
You know I am a reluctant stepparent. Those kids drive me up a wall. Now they have girlfriends and there is a silly competition for my favor. Who ever would have imagined? Anyhow, one of the girls is going to marry the oldest next fall, if we all survive the planning. I am all for the destination wedding, with just the bridal party at the destination. I don’t have a lot of patience for excess. The other young lady is sweet and smart but she tries too hard to garner favor. There is nothing special here, ladies, ingratiate yourselves with The Mother.
The fiancée earned my disfavor, she tried hard to get it and she was successful. You know, I like to carry a grudge like a box of rocks. We have been very polite for months. During the weekend, I had a little talk with her. I told her that I was profoundly hurt and offended by her behavior. She hugged me and she said, “I didn’t know what was wrong. I just copied someone else’s announcement. I love you. Don’t be mad, it was a mistake.” In her announcement she made it seem as though my husband was still married to his former wife. Quite frankly, I think it’s tacky to mention all of the new spouses, domestic partners, mysterious strangers, etc. but it is also insensitive to make it seem as though the divorced parents are still married to each other. We made up, another Christmas miracle.
Another young couple joined us at the hotel lounge and the young man, whom we’ve known forever, introduced his intended, “Molly, I’d like you to meet the Joneses. Whenever I think of parents, I think of Beauregard and Elroy.” Can you imagine? Me either. I do not see myself that way. It just went on and on. The morning of our departure, we had several simultaneous conversations at breakfast. We decided to invite my niece and her boyfriend next year. The oldest boy piped up, “Why didn’t you have kids, Elroy?” Could it be another Christmas miracle, kids growing up, paying attention to how things get done and who takes care?
We drove through an ice storm to get home, in a convoy. My husband worries. We got up first and he scraped windows and filled gas tanks, warmed engines, and just made sure. We led and the kids called when they wanted to get off at the exit. I took pictures of everyone. My husband and I were ice storm refugees when we returned to the Hinterland, fallen trees on Hippy Hill and no power or phone. We spent another two days in a local hotel. We checked out at 5P Christmas Eve, the manager only charged us for one night’s accommodation. Another Christmas miracle. My husband and I had dinner all by ourselves the following day, we agreed it was the best one ever.
Everything comes to an end. Our weekend ended, Christmas ended, life has gone back to normal, which means that one or another of the kids has felt slighted over something inconsequential, and now the year is ending. I look forward to 2014, to the same level of familial reluctance and dysfunction and the undying hope that we will all wake up one day to live harmoniously ever after.
To you, my indulgent dear blogging friends, Happy New Year.