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Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to Normal

There is a photograph of Larry about 14 years ago to the day, sitting in our stark living room, glasses on, feet up, casually reading a history text.  It is pasted into one of the few scrap books that I started early on in our family life on a page following the documentation of a very merry Christmas spent in Massachusetts.  The caption reads:  "Back to normal."


Every season of the year I greet with the gladness of anticipated joy and then bid farewell to with eagerness to be done with it, to move on.  The Christmas Season is similar.  There is something comforting about decorations that brighten the corners and soften the edges of the home, about smells of baking goodies reserved for December, and about music laced with joy, deep love and gratitude.  I deck my halls Thanksgiving weekend, generally on Friday or Saturday.  There was one year, however, that I did it gradually over that week.  We were at my in-law's on Thanksgiving Day, and the rest of the week-end was free of the stress of cleaning and sorting and placing and hanging.  

Ah, and the music.  I love music.  Years that have been particularly stressful of chaotic I find myself digging out the Christmas tapes or CDs or now just scrolling down my playlist and playing carols to myself, when no one else is around, as early as November 1st.  This was one of those years.  So as blogging friends complained about premature jingle bells heard after Halloween, I secretly crooned "White Christmas" along with Bing, and roasted chestnuts with Johnny Mathis.

As seasons change in nature, there is no normal.  Well maybe in some places there is.  In the southern California valleys there is the rainy season and the rest of the year.  But in general the cycle of seasons keeps all transitions special and unique.  When Christmas is over, however, life returns to an easier, neater, slower pace.  Our Christmas Tree meets the curb on the 26th.  (I must admit to being late this year.  I de-decorated on the 27th.)  Treasured items are carefully wrapped, packed into large Rubbermaid containers, and hoisted into the attic to the tunes of Led Zeppelin, Heart, and Journey.  Or Paul Simon, Hootie, and the White Album.  Depends on my mood.

It's fitting, I think, that we usher in the New Year with a natural de-cluttering of home and schedule.  Maybe that helps us feel inspired to make those resolutions which are rarely kept.  Sometimes I am anxious to say good-bye to a particular year, thinking that somehow the passing of the 31st, the flip of this particular calendar page, indicates a renewal, a washing away not of sin but of trial.  1998 was such a year.  Larry had experienced some major health issues, #1 had had her first seizure, and maybe a second, and I declared that no one could get sick in 1999.  It would not be allowed.  But they did, of course.  

This is another year like 1998.  Some would try to read into the decade relationship, but there have been others in between.  While we have on one hand been very blessed, we have on the other been very tried.  I will not miss 2008.  And deep inside, I wish that this man-made demarcation of time were more powerful than it is.  I wish that this year could be void of heartache and worry and stress.  But it won't even be free of moving and change.  It won't be free of hospitals.  It won't be free of budgetary concerns.  It won't be free of diets.  And these are just the problems that are foreseeable.  Scheduled, even.

That knowledge notwithstanding, there is a certain comfort to getting up at 6 am this morning to wake the kids, make their lunches, and argue about the necessity of snow boots.  Today I'll be driving the little kids to school.  I'll make beds and fold some laundry.  I'll vacuum and empty the dishwasher.  I'll put the chicken on to marinate.  I'll keep felting and I'll even pack a box or two.  

This is about as normal as it gets.

25 fishy comments:

2busy said...

Love the blog. Very creative and honest. Welcome to Idaho!

Jillene said...

Here's to hoping 2009 is a good year for you and your family!!

Lara said...

I feel the same way about 2008. You are so right about the cleansing and the decluttering that happens in January. It really is wonderful!

Heatherlyn Colt said...

Oh, please tell me that you don't just sit down and this is how your post turns out. Tell me that there is some editing involved, or something. Otherwise, I'll be left to wonder either what you have done in this life or the one before to be able to express yourself so well, so beautifully not only in capturing your ideas but also in making your point, with such enviable ease. Regardless of how you got it out, you have a gift. You do realize that, don't you?

Your post was beautiful. Not because it naively embraced the hope that everything would be fantastic with no worry, but because it embraced the hope that everything would work out very well even with the foreknowledge that it would not always be easy. The way you look forward to the new year must undoubtedly be the way we would have looked forward to life itself, if we could have grasped what we were getting ourselves into.

Diane said...

2008 was like that for me also, we had many real highs and lows. I was glad to put the Christmas decorations away, and spent the morning painting my boy's closet. I really want to put my house in order on many levels. I am worried about the future, but I am trying to do what I can to make our lives better.

CaJoh said...

Glad to know you are back in your routine. I usually say that even numbered years have been good to me, but I have to reconsider what makes it good. I just hope that 2009 is better and I can throw out the "even years are good" stigma.

rachel said...

Another great post! I felt the same way about 2008 and I too will not miss it. Here's to hoping that 2009 will be better and that "back to normal" is laced with an abundance of joy for you and your family!

the letter Bee said...

I hope you have a great 2009! I still have my Christmas tree up. Can you believe it!?

PS: Thanks for putting our adoption button on your blog! I am already getting hits from it!

Kristina P. said...

I'm glad you are posting!

I was sort of sad to take down the Christmas stuff this year, but I was glad to get back to "normal" too!

Melanie J said...

There is a wistfulness about this that I find very touching. We've had two good years. I'm trying very hard to take each year as it comes, but secretly, I find myself bracing for each new year as if this one might be the bad one. But mostly I just hope that everything keeps spinning right along.

Erin said...

It always seems like we have to find a "new normal" when major changes happen in our lives, doesn't it?

(P.S. Do you have a good chicken marinade recipe?)

Oh, and I have to admit reading your french on my blog scared me. It scared me because it has been 10 years since I have spoken it, and I realize just how much I have forgotten!! Did you learn in school, or a mission, or what?

Sher said...

Getting back to "normal" for me has been bittersweet. It was so nice to sleep in and stay in our jammies all day. I was actually surprised at how good the kids were. Today felt pretty chaotic with all the driving around. And strangley, my house is messier today than it was for the last two weeks of kids being home!

ramsam said...

Ahh, the beauty of ordinary days. I love it, too.

I am sorry this year was not as great as it could have been- after just posting about my year, which I loved, please rest assured, I have had years that I was glad to kiss goodbye.... it's okay, life is waiting to you hand you bigger and better- and now you ar ready for it.

Happy New Year- and ps- you write so beautiful!

clan of the cave hair said...

I am just struggling to even find the right words right now. Everything seems trite. Just know that I love you cousin, and my prayers are with you as the year progresses.

Mina said...

Lisa, Speaking of 1998, I will never, never forget you and Mel coming up when Larry was in the hospital, bringing dinner and shoulders and ears. It was hard for me to communicate just how much that meant to me. Thank you.

Wendyburd1 said...

Have a great 2009, I look forward to reading more great posts!

Colleen said...

2009 will be better! Mina--please take this advise--write a book or something! Your writing inspires!

3 Bay B Chicks said...

I have to agree with Colleen, Mina. Your writing really does inspire. I adored this post. It is funny, human, and poignant. There is only one other writer in the blogosphere that I admire as much as you. My list of favorites is a short one!

I wish all that is normal in the new year.

-Francesca

rachel said...

Mina, I am so honored!!! A little sweet and sour is so good (especially with rice!) Thank you- you are the best :D

Sher said...

Thanks for the bloggy award. You rock!

So said...

Normal. Normal is good.

Normal at our house is a setting on the dryer. (One of my favorite sayings)

I hope that 2009 is a better year for you than the one we just put behind us.

Kristina P. said...

Thanks for the award, Mina! You are too kind.

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

You are awesome! L♥ve You L♥ts!
♥ Hugs :) Shauna

Kim said...

Mina, I'm glad you're back! I missed your posts over the break. I'm sorry about the dim days of 2008 and hope that 2009 is much brighter for you. I'm glad you're here. Love you!

Jeanne said...

Mina,

I won't miss 2008 either. It was a rocky year. Of course, we have had a few rocky years now.

However, we work hard to stay positive!

Happy New Year!

Jeanne ♥