Merry Lead-Up

I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out at my festive and merry living room with its golden light cast about by the white ones on the tree and the standing one in the corner and the frosted ones in the Dickens Village houses and their reflection off the yellow painted wall. I am under a kind of spotlight from above the counter-bar behind me. The kitchen window is open a couple of inches to cool the house down from its stuffy 72 degree temperature after having the oven on for the last four hours. It reminds me of winter holidays at my grandparents’ house, when they did the same thing.

I am so damned tired. I yawned tremendously, four times in three minutes while folding laundry a little while ago.

There. I did it again.

But a it’s good tired. (Except for writing. I had “it’s” and “a” transposed in that sentence just then. And then I tried to spell “except” with a pound sign.) I’ve been on vacation this week, which is glorious. I mean that fact itself is enough to make angels burst into song. Fine, the angels don’t give a crap. I’m the one bursting into song. The angels are working overtime right now and kind of resent my absence with pay.

So first one of my besties from college, Joey, came to visit. We dined late on Friday after his arrival, at a cute little French bistro where the onion soup named for its nation was over-salted (and that’s saying something), but the ambiance was lovely and the boeuf bourguignon was divine. The next morning we sipped coffee as he flung open my front door and sang a song to the neighborhood.

I’m not kidding.  He’s like that. Gay playwrights are like that. Not to generalize.

We baked his grandmother’s thought-to-be-complex-but-actually-only-four-ingredients cookies and strolled through the park to the kicky little hipster coffee shop on the other side for a cuppa joe and a grand conversation with the baristo.  We traipsed through a couple of sections of my fun city, popping into shops along the way, trying on fetching and/or ridiculous hats, for example. We perused an appropriately grungy and hip record shop. And then we ducked into a restaurant for dinner, which was fanfreakingtastic as I expected.

I love love love finding new places to eat in tucked-away locales with friends. They are so impressed with me when I do this, because I’ve planned to go here, I’ve mentioned the name. But really I’m totally just using them as guinea pigs for my gastric galavanting. Win-win.

When Joey left on Sunday, I had a day with relatively little to do.

Just that one.

I watched football and read. A book. Lots of pages of it. It’s really good.

Monday and Tuesday I baked and waited for the various repair-type people to come repair things. On Monday night I watched “The Polar Express.” Twice. Because I needed some transportive magic, and that one does it for me every time. Tuesday I had friends over for dinner – my fettuccine Alfredo from scratch, which I make once a year and only once a year because if I make it more than that my arteries will slam shut and I’ll die. After my friends left, I put on “Elf,” saw the first ten minutes and fell asleep through the rest of it. How is it that you always wake up right when it’s over and the DVD is playing the menu screen on a loop?

Wednesday, Sister 2 came with Youngest Neph (BIL 2 was working), and we hung out and went to see crazy Christmas light displays that I’d tried to take Joey to but he’d pitched a nutty about sitting in traffic and we turned around and went home. Sis and I ate up the wonder on my nephew’s sweet toddler face while he “whoaed” and “wowed” and “dis is amazinged” down the street. Then we had dinner and watched “While You Were Sleeping” because we love that movie and we always laugh out loud at the very best part, which is like five seconds of a newspaper delivery kid riding his bike, flinging a paper and falling over. She drank ah glass of pinot noir, her 32-week-pregnant self very happy to sip it slowly with the doctor’s permission.

When they left this afternoon, I resumed baking and doing laundry (washer’s working! Huzzah!) All baking comes with Christmas music from either Pandora or the cable TV channel or CDs. And that comes with me snap-scatting around the kitchen with Frank and Johnny and Michael Buble’ (they play way too much of him on Pandora). I was just pulling a dozen oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies out of the oven when there was a knock on the door and the declaration of a UPS man’s presence. Holy Fast Delivery, Batman: it was the two replacement wine glasses I’d ordered from Crate & Barrel Tuesday night after I’d shattered a second one of the four I had. They arrived in less than 48 hours.

Clearly, the folks at Crate & Barrel are aware that the world is ending tomorrow and some of us need our wine glasses pronto.

The UPS guy commented on how great the cookies smelled, so I offered him one. He totally wanted it, but he checked his watch and said he didn’t have time.

I don’t know what that meant. When I say, “Do you want one?” do you take that to mean “Please come in, sit down and have a leisurely chew?”

So instead, I ran back to the kitchen, grabbed two from the cooling rack and handed them to him through the door, with a “Merry Christmas” and a smile. He took a bite and groaned with pleasure as he walked away.

UPS guy was kinda hot, by the way. And so I fleetingly wondered what Brown can do for me as I walked back to tend my oven.

And now I’m sitting. Sitting and enjoying. And thinking. I have one more day off before it’s back to the usual grindstone, working through Christmas and all. I still have some Christmas gifts to buy, and I have cookie trays to assemble and deliver. And I have a few more movies to watch in order to complete my holiday traditions.

But that to-do list makes me smile. I’m glad I find so much pleasure in the things that lead up to Christmas, since I so often have to work on the holiday and miss that one day’s shining moments. More and more, it’s about the lead-up, for me.

Merry Lead-Up, all.


10 thoughts on “Merry Lead-Up

  1. Now I want to know what Brown can do for you. Props for introducing yourself with cookies – can’t hurt the cause. Now perhaps you just need to order a small item from Amazon on a weekly basis and see what happens. Or maybe I’ve watched too many romantic comedies?

    • Well here’s the serious problem: I’m almost never home when they come a-knockin’. I’ve ordered boatloads from Amazon and other places recently and always had to schlep to the delivery center to fetch them before they got shipped back, because the fellas always come when I’m working. But I like where your head’s at.

  2. Nice. I’ve finally hit my lead-up, in spite of my serious or melancholy posts. What got my lead-up was going out to buy stocking stuffers. Once we were all past Santa, our tradition was for everyone in the family to buy stuffers for everyone else, often weird or peculiar. These days, the most fun is buying for Muri and the grandkids. Anyway, once I’m out among the folks, I try to be the happiest guy in the store and after a while I am. We’re leaving for AZ tomorrow. Hard part … my son chooses not to come so he’s home alone. Best part: grandkids and I’m with my daughter who loves Christmas like I do. I still need to watch Polar Express and A Christmas Story. So, Merry Lead Up to you, too.

    • Your serious and melancholy posts are part of your humanity and sensitivity, Bud, and I like those things about you, as you like (or worry about) those things about me. I am glad you are in the Lead-Up, and I wish you a very merry Christmas. I understand that it’s hard with the choice your son has made, but I’m sure he’s grateful for parents who allow him to make it. Watch those movies. Magic is real,even for grown-ups. It will do your heart – and your head – good. May you feel much magic in coming days!

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