Monday, January 2, 2012

Next Time a Party (Babble)

It was hard after the break rousing everyone in the morning and getting them bundled up for school.  There were some tears about socks and dawdling over snow pants.  Ian walked the dog and made breakfast and I gathered my stuff for swimming and we thought we were running late.

But we were early.  Like, a day early.  Nothing quite like going through all the trouble to get the kids off to school only to realize you are the only people who thought the school was open.  Heh.  So, we apologized to the kids (who were surprisingly kind about our mistake), took them with us to the Y, and I got in my swim while everyone else batted balls around the racket ball court for an hour.  It was fine, and they were all happily building some sort of lego city in the living room when I left for work.  But I may be seeing the progress on their creations sooner than I expected because the violin store has no heat.  I’m still in my coat and am losing feeling in my fingertips as I type, so if the landlord doesn’t call back soon I’m going home!  (Blogging seems less hazardous in the cold than trying to use knives, so the instruments on my bench will have to wait.)  2012 is not off to a very organized start.

We had a great winter break.  Too short, as usual, but we packed a lot into it.  Christmas itself was quiet again.  I got to play some lovely music, and the kids liked all their gifts, but they kept telling me it didn’t feel like Christmas and I know what they meant.  For most of their lives Christmas has meant lots of family visiting, so trying to make a day with just us seem exciting to that level is hard to pull off.
But the tree looked festive, and my kids are finally tall enough that the ornaments aren’t all at the bottom anymore!

The irony is not lost on me that while we owned a home half the size we were the epicenter of holiday fun and everyone came to us, but that once we moved across the street where there is plenty of room for hosting the masses, circumstances changed and now we are alone.  Christmas here used to be noisy and silly and full of quirky traditions like casting hands and feet in plaster and my brother donning a smelly Santa suit and walks across the park to the bakery.  Now we are no longer the relatives with the youngest children who are hard to transport, unfortunate rifts have developed in parts of the extended family that make certain combinations of relatives unworkable in a gathering, and most importantly my dad’s health since his fall on Christmas day last year has continued to keep my parents tethered in Michigan.  So the day after Christmas we went to them.

I love visiting Detroit.  I know for many people who don’t consider it home it’s just some scary urban ruin, but there are many interesting things happening in and around the city and some of the best people I know are there.  The theme for this visit turned out to be puppets.  My mom got us tickets to a downtown puppet theater production of the Snow Queen which was followed by a puppet making workshop.  Then the next day we went to see some of my mom’s art books on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts and stumbled upon a one man puppet show also followed by a puppet making workshop.  The day after that my kids and their cousin put on their own puppet show, which you might expect to have included any of the puppets made at the aforementioned workshops, but instead featured one of Quinn’s shoes dangling by a wire and wrapped with bells.

My mom cooked amazing food, I got to spend time with an aunt, uncle and cousin I seldom get to see, my brother and I walked out to one of our old schools (that’s a whole post in iteself), and I played Scrabble with my husband, dad, and sister-in law.  I think my favorite part of the visit was seeing all of my kids and their cousin piled into a heap like puppies to sleep every night.  It doesn’t get sweeter than that without maybe adding actual puppies.  Now, all of that?  That felt like Christmas.

And just because it’s cool and I’m proud of my mama, thought I’d mention she’s featured in this month’s issue of Artist’s Magazine.  Check it out if you have a minute.  My mom is good.

We could have used a little more time at home just being at home, but I’m very glad we spent as much time in Detroit as we did.  We drove back to Milwaukee on New Year’s Eve, and the kids were determined to stay up until midnight this year.  They finally made it, too.  I wasn’t up to planning anything fun, so I just unpacked and let the kids watch the poor excuse for holiday programming our local stations put on.  Mona cried at midnight because she was so sad to see 2011 end.  It’s been a good year for our little family, so I understand.  We’re all together, we bought a cottage, we got a dog, everyone’s healthy…. Lots to like, but I told her there will be great things in 2012 as well, including more being together, visiting the cottage, continued play with the dog, and if we are lucky more good health.

The one thing we really missed this holiday season was my brother, Barrett, and his girlfriend who are currently living in Germany.  We had hoped to at least see them on Skype or talk with Barrett on his birthday, but his phone and internet all went down around Christmas day, and he was relatively cut off from family.  He really seemed as far away as he actually is, and it was sad.  I already missed my grandma pretty acutely, so knowing my brother was out there and not part of the fun was hard.

It got me thinking about how when I was growing up New Year’s Eve was our big family holiday.  It was different every year, and creative and wild.  I miss that.  I wish we hadn’t let that slip away from us.  I told Barrett he can’t be so far away next year.  I don’t know how much control I can exert to gather people together for it, but next New Year’s Eve I want a party.  Even if it is just my own little family again, I am doing something.  We will break out the mirror ball and come up with some games and I will make fun snacks.  So I guess if I have a New Year’s resolution that would be it.  Next New Year’s?  We’re having a party.

In the meantime the landlord got a guy in to start the heat going, and I should be able to feel my fingers again soon.  Funny how these violins didn’t fix themselves while I was gone….  Happy 2012 everyone!

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