And it’s a wonder the silver dragees didn’t kill us in our sleep


I wasn’t sure we would make it out of Chicago but that’s the way it is when you travel at Christmas, isn’t it? The last hour of rushing around maniacally slapping ribbons and name tags on gifts is nerve racking. I always have to re-open several to remember what they are and who they are for. I am making sure the kitties leave their cookies for Santa and the neighbor, as his representative, has their gift-which Sophie will be revisiting, already soggy with tooth marks, since she discovered and enjoyed it twice, in the three days before we left- and screaming at each other: Did you turn the heat down? Did you give McCloud his poop medicine? Do you have those thumb drives off my desk? and so forth and so on.

But here we are in Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo, tucked in cozily between my sister’s beautiful Victorian and the B and B five doors down. This year, there are the three sisters plus spouses plus children (my two, Laurel’s one), Bud safe and sound from the U.P. and Betsy’s two cats. One of the cats has set the world’s record for longest active case of rabies and never has there been a more fearsome and crazy cat. He guards the stairs and if anyone needs to go up we have to yell, “Betsy! Come get Cujo Claus so I can go to the bathroom!” Yes, he is indeed named after Santa. Go figure. Bruce and Alison remain in Massachusetts this year, with plans to come to St. Petersburg for Bud’s 80th birthday in February. (We might go to Disney World, dammit.)
Bud made it down by the whiskers of his chin. Hospitalized for kidney problems, electrolyte imbalance and atrial fibrillation, he was released and packed on the small SAAB prop plane by the visiting nurse with the notion that he was better off under the watchful eyes of his family for a week than alone in the North Woods. Laurel had been with him for a few days at the hospital in Marquette, 150 miles from Lost Loon Lodge, but she needed to make a stop back in Wisconsin to tie up loose ends before coming down here, so he had 48 hours to get his own self organized for Christmas. We all accept, with some anxiety, that Bud has made his choice to stay at his small cluttered, beautiful cottage in the tip of the Keweenaw and we will all, Bud included, live and die with the consequences. And so it goes. I understand his wishes: there is no place else I know of where a person could get such a stunning picture of the night sky behind tall jack pines, all those stars brightly shining. I even know the precise latitude and longitude, for it’s right near the place we scattered my mother. And it was late summer, not winter- but then we don’t know for sure where and when that star was shining in the East, do we? One more thing we take on faith.
Betsy and her husband teach at Western Michigan University and last year we did Christmas in Chicago so it’s a relief to be here. It’s warm and cozy with a fragrant and fat Christmas tree, a warm fireplace, lovely stained glass windows, a brand new gorgeous kitchen with a butler’s pantry bigger than either of my kitchens (not that I’m going on and on with envy in bed last night, explaining to Rich why I deserve, in this life time, a kitchen worthy of me.). Betsy’s house feels very much like a family home.

So, this is Christmas. With five inches of beautiful new snow last night and my family and children at hand, I am happy. In lots of ways, it was a tough year with annoying concerns about health issues, worries about the state of the economy and more, the state of the world and all the usual fussing about the children. There’s never a way to protect them enough (meaning as much as I want, which is 100 percent) from the challenges and pains of life and on the other end, aging parents lead to an even greater sense of helplessness when it comes to fixing life. I guess the lesson is we don’t fix life. We live it, try to help where we can and feel blessed with what we have. And how blessed we are. Merry Christmas to all of my friends who celebrate, and to those of you who don’t- even as you enjoy Chinese food and go to see I Am Legend at the theater- remember, you’re blessed too!


11 responses to “And it’s a wonder the silver dragees didn’t kill us in our sleep

  1. Your exuberance and life-loving spirit pour from every word you write. There is joy here. I stopped by to take a peek at it and was completely satisfied.

    Merry Christmas to you and your very dearly loved ones.

  2. Have yourself a MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS! Ooooo, and I have that tea kettle too! 🙂

  3. Merry Christmas to you and all your family there.

  4. Merry Christmas, Vicki, and God Bless every one of your whole gathered family.

  5. I’m glad that you are surrounded by so much family on this Christmas. Here is my present to you: a poem that I found by accident and that I love. You will love it too.

  6. This poem falls apart,
    But it’s straight from my heart:

    You dear, Christmas fairy
    With this post, deep yet airy.

    The star seen by Magi?
    Lord, not death by dragée!

    No need to fret, see?
    Thank Heaven for Betsy!

    We’re having Seattle snow here.
    Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

    Just between me and you:
    Gros, gros bisous!

  7. Yes, having family near is what is Christmas is all about. And living life–whatever that happens to be. Accepting the vagaries of what our loved ones choose to do is a hard one for me, but I am working on acceptance. Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel to you all.

  8. Amen. Merry Christmas.

  9. “….the lesson is we don’t fix life. We live it, try to help where we can and feel blessed with what we have. And how blessed we are. ”

    AMEN, Dear Vicki. You have learned a lesson well. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  10. Merry Christmas Vicki.


  11. Merry Christmas to your and your family, Vicki.

    And thank you, Miz S, for the wonderful poem.

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