Second Saturday of the month I hold a tea party. Sort of a Christmas theme this month with my usual eccentric collection of china. There was gingerbread with lemon curd and yogurt cheese. There were chicken salad sandwiches with hazelnuts and Granny Smith apples. There were sugar cookies with peppermint frosting, and hazelnut meringues, and rum balls in five different variations. And Tamara brought a huge batch of her phenomenal biscotti, still warm from the oven. We feasted. We laughed. It was especially comforting to me this month because I have just lost a dear nephew in a car crash, and I need the affirmation that life goes on. I changed this kid's diapers. He was supposed to take care of our generation in our dotage. In case of the zombie apocalypse, Kyle and I were going to go live with Chris at the cabin because Chris could do anything! He was a sharpshooter and a skilled bow hunter, a logger, a mechanic, a knowledgeable tree-farmer, a welder, a damn fine father and a kind-hearted man who would do the hard things that needed to be done. It's hard to say goodbye to the younger generation.
Chris was 52. He was a semi-pro bull-rider in his wild youth. His son is 12. It's a damn shame that Chris won't be around to help him through the teens.
But Chris is in heaven with God. All the aches and pains and sorrows of broken bones and broken hearts and mistakes made are behind him now. He is with his mom, singing and dancing and waiting for the rest of us with love.
I wish I had more chances to hear him sing. I wish I could dance with him again. I'm glad I told him how proud I am of him in the Christmas card I sent to him. I hope he got the Christmas cookies. There is so much to be done now, and nothing I can do to help. Blessings on his sister who is handling everything, and blessings on his dad who lost his best friend.
And life goes on. This tea party is a regular event and it was good to have something positive to focus on while I wrapped my heart around the hole that is left. As you can see, I am favoring the hand-painted plates right now. Unique, quirky, and playful. We hit an estate sale on the 14th and I picked up some hand-painted Japanese china that was likely sent home to a young wife by a lad stationed over there after the war. I wish I knew the stories it could tell. Six saucers and three cups, all thin as eggshell. I also picked up a couple of the pressed glass plates that used to come in boxes of powdered soap. I saw a woman pick one up, hold it up to the light, scowl at it and put it down. So I had to look, too. There were scratches on the surface, just as if it had actually been used by real people to hold a real meal. I like it much better because of that. Something that had been put in a cupboard and never touched wouldn't have near as much charm.
We also got our Christmas tree yesterday. Woohoo! As I was decorating it, I remembered the first tree my first husband and I had. His parents had come to spend the holiday with us, and she and I were dressing the tree. After a while, she said, "I think that's enough ornaments now." I was flummoxed. Enough ornaments? That's not how you do a tree. You put on the lights, then you hang every ornament you own, then you go through your coat pockets, the bottoms of all of your purses, and the sofa cushions till you scrape up enough cash, and you go out and buy one more box of ornaments. One year when I was a college student, a roommate liberated a stapler from the school library,(we returned it when it was empty) and we made paper chains with the colored pages out of magazines. We borrowed the neighbor guy's tin snips and cut spirals out of can lids to twirl and catch the light. We even hung necklaces and earrings up to make it shiny. How can you have "Enough" ornaments on a Christmas tree?
I now have a collection of Margaret Furlong porcelain angels, so I look for hearts and angels when I get new things for the tree. There are paper hearts and red Fimo hearts and glass hearts. There are cardboard angels and resin angels.
Did you know that cat urine will strip the colored paint right off your glass ornaments? We had an old cat that marked the lower branches of the tree the first Christmas he was with us. (We put the tree safely up on a small table for the rest of Bosco's life.) I took the ornaments with the paint peeling away, scrubbed them in bleach water, then said, "OK, what do you do with plain glass ornaments?"
I spray-painted them white and drew angel faces on them. So there are little faces peeking out between the branches all over the tree.
It's going to be a quiet, thoughtful holiday this year (I sincerely hope!) May yours be filled with love and laughter (Laughter is a survival tool) and may God hold you in the palm of his hand. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, right NOW. Accidents happen anywhere, at any time.