Dear Family and Friends:
I begin this second Christmas letter of the year to the dirge of Jingle Bells, being played on newly acquired instruments by the music class of Blackrock School. I’m here to wait for my bevested daughters to emerge from Girl Scouts with new iron-on patches earned for breathing at the meeting.
Why the “second” letter? Well, the first was imprisoned by the dying drone of our computer, locked forever as megabytes (?) in a heartless harddrive. And frankly, on 4.25 hours of sleep, I can’t remember what socks I’m wearing, let alone what happened in March. (Let me check…. Red and white stripes, with Santa faces. Excellent. Goes well with my Hello Kitty bandaid on my thumb and my Twinkle Twinkle little brain cells...) So, for whatever flashes of genius are lacking here--or if this is “just not that funny”--blame technology. J
The very technology by which many of you are receiving this Christmas card. Why an impersonal email? You ask. Typed was bad enough. To which I reply—you are very inquisitive today, are you not?—your address joins my original (and much better) Christmas letter in a similarly dearly departed cyberspace grave. (And yes, I have heard of pendrives, thank you.) Please believe that part of me deeply desires to handpen these annual letters with a flamingo quill dipped in chocolate scented ink. Truly. However, this is sadly impractical, and cruel to tropical birds. I suppose I also have a renewed affection for trees this year. And I save trees by emailing, right? I was, after all, voted “Most Likely to become a Tree Hugger” in college, and it’s natural to live up to what is expected of me…
Although that vote might well have been swayed by my origins in the Liberal North from Whence All Evil and Nonsense Cometh. This year has seen the exodus of dear friends from RI for that very reason, and more friends planning the migration as I type. Yes, I bear an unreasonable affection for this politically corrupt state. Just this week, I ate at a restaurant on Federal Hill from whence the mob was run some decades ago (I would tell you where it is, but I am not enamoured of a personal visit from "Joey Onions" Tagliaferro). I am used to anyone I vote for losing in elections. I’m staying to keep the pleasant people company, including my family.
Speaking of family… there are five of us now, and we are all well. In case you did not know, I spent most of this year pregnant, a state which less than half of you have been privileged to suffer… Cecilia is a smiley three month-old bundle of coos and chatter, with a mellow personality. Of course, life is much busier with her around, though I try to enjoy every irreplaceable minute. I’ve found, for instance, that babies are really, really cute when they are waking up. Little grunts and snorts accompany a chubby face going side to side, joined by stubby little arms stretching over an enourmous head—in Cece’s case at least—and then waving around. Unfortunately, this adorable moment is usually marred by some form of, “Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap!” from yours truly, whose vain hopes for an early shower just vanished in a storm of squawks. Or, alternatively, I do manage to sneak up before the baby, only to have her presented to me by my darling mothers' helpers—mid toothbrush stroke—with, “but she was waking up!”
Cecilia is every bit as enjoyable as her incubation was horrible. In fact, anything I have to say about this year revolves around a pregnancy that led to the worst pain I’ve ever been in. Severe morning sickness gave way to whiplash—brought on by a seizure-like allergic reaction to nausea meds—combined with back and hip pain, compliments of my ever-faithful scoliosis (i.e. a slightly crooked spine). I now really know what it’s like to be infirm, having learned how walking from one end of the room to another can be an effort-filled and impressive—at times impossible—achievement. I spent many days sitting on the coach and planning voyages to the kitchen or the bathroom, staring helplessly as chores piled up, watching my dear husband do twice the work and my children learn to make their meals. I did get out on good days, my brand-new, shiny red, Lawrence-Welk-watching walker in the trunk of my little white Escort. I fondly recall at least two instances of loading and unloading my walker—slowly, painfully, while hugely pregnant—while able-bodied men strolled by. And yes, at those moments, I considered moving away from RI to some mythical Southern state where inherent civility and chivalry would have made such struggles inconceivable (and provided a nice glass of iced tea as well). Always open doors for the pregnant and elderly, people, always!
Oh good, now you’re all pitying me! Don’t, Cece is so easy she’s actually fun. I completely intend to repeat this experience; I want her to have a playmate. Yes, I’m insane. Let’s move on.
Of course, my friends and family were supportive. For instance, they never failed to tell me that I “looked great!” (!!!!!) You have perhaps never realized that “You look great” is a most annoying compliment. At least it has been this past year. (And, oh yes, some of you are guilty of thus annoying me! I'm keeping a list!) And for reasons unknown—yes, you DO want to know this—I only gained weight in my stomach this time, when in times past being with child inflated everything from my cheeks to my ankles. At first I’d respond to the “compliment” by saying, “I would happily trade some fat for feeling better! I never take medicine, but now Percocet is not enough, my nausea laughs at Zofran, and Tylenol is a joke.” Eventually I just said, “You’re absolutely right. Thanks.” J
This all culminated in a night-long triage experience on September 17/18—rush hour, apparently, for baby delivery in RI—and my first epidural, after I was threatened with discharge if I did not accept medication, since beds were needed for those whom they could medicinally help. (!!!!!) All’s well that ends well…
On to other things besides baby… does anything else exist, really? We did go to Hilton Head, SC in February, which I enjoyed and recall (fondly, dimly) through a haze of morning sickness. We did see our first “wild” dolphins though. Dan and I celebrated eight years of marriage in June. In reckless celebration, we brought out our homemade wedding video (life lesson #65 Never, no never allow your nuptial memories to be captured solely by a friend with a videocam, no matter how dear he or she may be… pay good money for it instead…. Don’t have something you will wince at 'till death…). I truly did not remember that I had danced to “Wind Beneath My Wings” with my dad (?!?) nor that my first dance was “Could I Have This Dance For the Rest of My Life"…. Rest assured...our whiz-bang 20th annivesery celebration (save the date--Saturday, July 10th, 2021!) will be much more enjoyable.
In August, Dan and I became “Coorporators” of Opus Dei; it helps me to remember to pray through my work, since days of quiet meditation are gone for the moment… Also had my first baby shower—third time’s the charm!--over the summer. Cecilia now has five times the wardrobe of anyone else in the family.
This December, Annemarie got to dance in the Nutcracker—as Spring Fairy number 6, but still, pretty cool. Both Annemarie and Claire are now good readers, and enjoy the little neighborhood public (gasp!) school they attend. They are known to be very nice children, despite their non-homeschooling (for now) education.
I hope this was almost as enjoyable as letters of yore. (What the heck is “yore” anyway? Is it quantifiable ["I'll have two yore of jelly beans, please"]? Is it a place ["Opening this week, in Cinemascope, 'The Man from Yore'"]? Does is bear a relation to “lang” and “syne”? Ah well.) I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and New Year—when else can we wish anyone a “Merry” anything, you know? Neat. The reason I don’t write more is that I tend to be mostly in various states of semi-consciousness…while cleaning up spills, taxi-ing kids to lessons, and engaging in deeply serious baby chatter with my infant. It’s so wonderful to have a baby around Christmastime. It’s miraculous even when it’s not divine.
Hope you all are well. In any case, you all look fantastic!! J
Lots of love,