A Slippery Fish

Time is a slippery fish. Perhaps the most slippery of them all. Just when you think you’ve got a good hold, time gets away again.

But memory is a map made entirely of landmarks. As you move through year after year, your mind and body turn the corners of those landmark days, often without your conscious notice.

My niece begins her trek to college today. I will give her air hugs from my porch this evening so as not to transmit the in-house COVID case to her. So sweet. A little bitter. A new landmark growing up entwined with an older one.

Today is also the day my nephew died a dozen years ago. The last time he spoke to me was the evening his family ate pizza at my house before he set off for basic combat training. That night was so sweet and a little bitter. Today twelve years ago was swallowed in bitterness.

My niece was almost six then.

Time is a slippery fish.

I cannot tell you the fullness of this family’s story. We are all threads of variegation woven into a tapestry without fully appreciating our unique necessity to the design. I can tell you that no thread ever ends. Every thread is carried forward by connection to the others.

For one brief day, two threads hold the space. They are beautiful. All the more because they share a landmark in our family’s tapestry and our individual memories.

The advantage of age is that you’ve moved through more of the tapestry. You become more aware of the rhythms of the weaving. Years begin to glide by as one landmark after another has its turn.

Time is a slippery fish.

Life Wellbeing and Family

My Deconstructed Thanksgiving

There’s been nothing like 2020 to make me really appreciate the things I have, or still have. It was always my intention to give thanks for the people and things in my life that are good, but I wasn’t always entirely sure how that would look.

My family at large decided weeks ago that we would celebrate separately. While it was a painful decision, it actually made the holiday more pleasant not less. I didn’t feel like I was losing something so much as actively making a different choice.

We had our turkey and cranberry sauce. On November 11th. I purposely bought an early turkey and just baked it one Wednesday. It was amazing. The potatoes were soup, basically, but all else was a delicious meal. And then I made broth with the bones.

Work has been busy of late. Busier indeed than it has been for me to this point. My husband and I have been limping for a little while. We said we were limping into last weekend. Then we were limping to the holiday. Then the oddest thing happened.

I made a list. Well, no, that’s not the oddest thing. It’s not odd in the least. The oddest thing is waking up Thursday morning, having forgotten to prepare the annual bubble bread Wednesday night, and working on anything that wasn’t from my workplace. I transferred photos to our NAS, I updated Google Classroom for Book Camp 2021, I downloaded bank statements that my husband turned into beautiful ShyJot Fine Arts financials, I backed up my hard drive, made my next two-week menu and grocery list, and balanced my checkbook. And I felt GREAT! It was exactly the thing I wanted to do with the day. My kids played on devices all day, on the phone with a friend part of the day. My husband helped me out. And we managed a couple of naps, Frito chili pies, chicken pot pies, and the apple pie my boys co-baked. My husband baked the last of the fall pie pumpkins.

We’ve seen my parents half faces (above masks only) twice this weekend. Once to take them an apple pie and once to lend them space heaters. I didn’t expect to see them at all, and the brief encounters felt like an unusual luxury.

On Friday, my husband pulled down all the Christmas decorations from the attic. We put up shrubbery lights for the first time every and a few other front-porch decorations my father made. We got the inside of the house completely decorated, save for the tree(s), which I suppose is a pretty big part. But we also trimmed the hedges and raked pine needles and dusted the books and got the dining table to baseline zero.

Now it’s Saturday. I woke early. We still haven’t had bubble bread so I decided to make it this morning. I suppose we’ll eat it tonight. That pie pumpkin is being put to use today, too.

There’s still so much to do. Always. And there’s still a lingering sadness about being apart from the ones I love. Always.

But I am thankful. Most of what I’m thankful for is purely circumstance, right? What if I didn’t have a warm home. What if I didn’t have enough to eat. What if my loved ones were actively dying or newly gone. And on. And on. I fervently hope I’d still find thankfulness in some corner of my soul. And I just as fervently hope I don’t ever have to test that hope.

I’m not here to judge how anybody feels this holiday season. I’m not here to tell you that getting stuff off your to-do list will magically make life better. I’m certainly not here to tell you not to miss your loved ones, not to mourn with those who mourn, not to rejoice with those who rejoice. I’m not here to tell you to be thankful or how to be thankful.

I am here to say this: I’m thankful you’re in this whole wide world with me. You make it richer and more vibrant. You make me want to be and do better every day. Thank you for being.

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