Reaching for the Christmas Spirit

My mood these days remains uneven, as I deal with the anxiety brought on by the election.  So many people at risk now, both from foreign and domestic policy.  I feel like the small-minded cruelties, the “strict authoritarian father” form of rule that we fled when we left Alabama has now swept across the whole country.  I guess you could say I am mourning the compassionate and inclusive America I thought we were moving toward, not to mention the country that I caught a glimpse of where women were fully respected, fully human, and seen as fully capable of leadership and not just toys for powerful men’s sexual pleasure and domestic/administrative support.

We’re not there, and we probably won’t get there during my career.  This will be status quo for the rest of my working life, and coming to grips with that is tough for me.  I felt like we were getting close, but this set us back – it was tantalizingly within reach and then snatched away.  My chances of one day being a judge, or a law firm partner, or civil servant or an elected official are slimmer now.  My choices have narrowed.  I’m not alone – just about every professional woman I know is also reeling (and lots of women who didn’t go the “professional work” route as well).  It helps to have a crew of like-minded women who understand.  I also continue to meditate most days, am running at least once a week (ideally more), and keeping a good balance of simple escapist pleasures and good solid activism.  It’s an unnerving time – and not because a Republican won, because if this were President-elect Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney I would be sad but not nearly so horrified.  I just find Trump himself so odious.  He is every spoiled, swaggering, unqualified rich boy who was gently placed into a job that I busted my ass for, and paid three times what I was paid to do half the work I do.  It’s just hard.

But life goes on.  The holidays are upon us, and the children have expectations and so do I.  No one is going to put up the stockings or lights but me.  Somebody’s gotta roll out the sugar cookies and put on the music (that might be the Prof).  And there is some truth to the adage that you fake it til you make it.  Faux cheer leads to real cheer.  This work of shoring up our home and family becomes even more important in times like these, and even as our thoughts are drawn outward, our focus turns inward.

To that end Thanksgiving was a lovely oasis of family harmony.  Sandwiched by two heinous long drives, the “meat” of that holiday was perfect.  The weather was gorgeous, meaning the three oldest children (Jack and Liam, and their oldest cousin Ella) could run free range all over the yard without supervision.  They rode bikes, shifted leaves in some sort of game, climbed walls and wood piles and played.  Craig and younger cousin Harper sometimes joined them as well.  It was also really nice to be somewhere that looks like Thanksgiving-time – here in NOLA the seasons don’t display much change in the landscape.  The Prof’s hometown rarely gets snow, but it does get chilly and the leaves change.  It was nice.

Free Range

Free Range

Kids' table

Kids’ table

Borrowed goods

Borrowed ride

I am spoiled for sons/nieces

I am spoiled for sons/nieces

There was a lot of leaf frolicking over the holiday.  If it weren't for grandparents, my kids would never see fallen autumn leaves.

There was a lot of leaf frolicking over the holiday. If it weren’t for grandparents, my kids would never see fallen autumn leaves.

I did not purposefully pack coordinating shirts, but they ended up all in black and blue.  However, I took about fifteen of this shot and in none of them were all boys smiling in my direction, so win some lose some.

I did not purposefully pack coordinating shirts, but they ended up all in black and blue. However, I took about fifteen of this shot and in none of them were all boys smiling in my direction, so win some lose some.

And of course, we basked in the glow of family.  We enjoyed each other, chatting, making meals, having a cocktail in the evening, watching football and the Macy’s Day parade.  Thursday was a day of cooking and overeating – I swear I still haven’t recovered.

The crispiest skin, the tenderest meat.  This was a darn good turkey.

The crispiest skin, the tenderest meat. This was a darn good turkey.

Friday we had a magical experience aboard the Polar Express – a little train trip where the kids wear pjs, meet Santa, drink hot cocoa, and the score from the Polar Express movie booms and makes us all feel like we’re starring in it.  The children were totally floored.  As an adult, I was pretty charmed myself.  For the trip, Aunt Erin bought them all matching robes, D.D. (what they call their grandmother, and I never know whether to spell it D.D. or Dee Dee) bought them matching pjs, and I found snowy fluffy slippers with rubber hard bottoms.  All put together, these disparate pieces ended up matching pretty well!

Matching set of boys/girls

Matching set of boys/girls

All aboard

All aboard

Sadly for our photo taking, the sun was really harsh that day

Sadly for our photo taking, the sun was really harsh that day

These stripy legs were easy to locate in the crowds

These stripy legs were easy to locate in the crowds

This might be our Christmas card.

This might be our Christmas card.

The robes all had santa hat hoods.  Jack wears his every day still.

The robes all had santa hat hoods. Jack wears his every day still.

Mmmmm.  We got to keep the mugs, as well.

Mmmmm. We got to keep the mugs, as well.

Kids' table part two

Kids’ table part two.  The train had little tables with chairs, and little Harper was totally thrilled she got to sit with the big kids.  Craig, meanwhile, took an adult lap.

Somewhat chaotic, the kids were wired, but they loved it

Somewhat chaotic as the kids were wired from all the chocolate, but they loved it

Saturday was game day – big rivalry game, and always fun.  It was a blowout, which made the game a bit boring but at least we won!  Tailgating is great times – we took the kids on a walk among the tailgates, and they ate hot dogs while sitting in an actual tailgate and rolled down a grassy hill.  It reminded me a lot of Mardi Gras – a giant outdoor party.

Tailgating

Tailgating

They watched kick off and then went to bed

They watched kick off and then went to bed

Sunday was a terrible, endless drive home, but we made it safely, which cannot be said for the various car wrecks that we got stuck behind.  We arrived at home quite late, and everyone just fell into bed (the boys were carried, asleep, to their beds).  Monday I got up at 5am and unpacked our stuff, took the boys to school, billed 10 hours, made dinner and put the boys to bed, then billed 2 more.  I had to bill 12 hours a day the first three days of the week, so that I could get within striking distance of my target for November.  (Election malaise made me less productive in mid-November, unfortunately, and Thanksgiving also didn’t help).  I billed 10 the last two days of the week, to get December off to a good start since I have eleventy bazillion holiday parties that thieve billable time, so I have to “make up for” them in advance.  I also had choir rehearsal and a Moms Demand Action meeting, and the Prof had a meeting on a third night.  So, I’m tired this Saturday!  But we’re still getting out the holiday decorations, hanging lights, finding a place for everything.  At the risk of sounding like a total drag, this has been a tiny bit sad, too, mostly because I remember exactly where I put all these things in the old house for the last four Christmases.  I remember right where they go.  We’re not there anymore, and I’m glad, but it’s one last gasp of missing a life that didn’t work out, and feeling sad I couldn’t make it work.  Since this is my first year of holidays in this place, I suppose that little ping will hit me til I’ve got a full year’s worth of memories here.

Besides the decorations, I’m going to Costco today.  We’ve still got tons of meat in the freezer from the last trip, so I just need to get some dairy and produce and snackage.  These are the week’s meals – it’s finally a touch chillier down here so I’m really in the mood for slow cooker goodness.

Slow cooker pork chops, broccoli cheese rice, broccoli

Sausage, spinach, and white bean soup

Asiago cheese tortellini, plus carrots

Crockpot chicken chili

Sour cream noodle bake

Happy holidays to you and yours.

This entry was posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Domestic Bliss, Holidays and Celebrations, Parents and Siblings and Cousins, Oh My!. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Reaching for the Christmas Spirit

  1. joy says:

    I hear you. I also had been feeling that the gains we made were permanent, that if progress slowed at times, at least we wouldn’t go backwards. Now I don’t feel that, and it is deeply sad, and also frightening. Though I am female, I am protected by other forms of privilege, so all of this will not land as hard on me as it will on many. That doesn’t make me feel better, though, and for the many, I am afraid. I’m also truly terrified that our democracy may not hold, that DT’s destruction of norms and institutions will make it exponentially harder if not impossible to fight back against the erosion of rights and decency.

    So we called gift detente with my family and are all making generous charitable donations instead. We took the wee one to pick out a Christmas tree today and will decorate it tonight when he’s in bed so he can be delighted by the lights tomorrow morning (probably at 5, but hey, the lights will help soften that blow). I am doing my best to make eye contact and smile at fellow pedestrians and passengers when I’m out and about. I am taking a more active role in two women’s lawyers groups I’m a part of, one focused on civil rights and the other on immigration. Be the change you want to see.

  2. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review | The Reluctant Grownup

Comments are closed.