We attended a memorial service for Dennis on Friday. It was sweet and sad and bizarre, all at once. Never been to a memorial service in a dog park before. I think the worst part was seeing Dennis’ dog, Nika, who was very depressed and in a week’s time had already lost a lot of weight. She’ll never have another guy like Dennis.
Neither will we.
In the midst of all the mourning, there have been holiday things to do. My parents are coming to California for Christmas, so Boy and I are all a-flutter trying to get the place ready for parental inspection. Not that they’ll white-glove it or anything. But still. There is a list, and things must be checked off! (Slightly obsessed with the list-checking, that’s me.)
The Christmas tree itself has been crossed off the list rather triumphantly. It’s all green and woodsy-smelling and fabulous-looking. And it looks perfect as seen through the window from the street. (I am so loving the new house, have I said that yet?)
When I was growing up back in Illinois, we always had a fake tree. I’m not sure if it was about tree conservation or reluctance to spend money on the real thing or what, but every year, our Christmas tree came out of a dusty box that had been hibernating in the attic all year long.
For some reason, it became the Witmer family tradition for my Dad and I to put the thing together. In the early years, that wasn’t so hard. All the branches were color-coded and I could just hand them to Dad–first the blue, then the green, then the yellow and finally red. But then the paint got all scraped off and from then on it was a guessing game. We could have made a hilarious-looking inverted tree if we wanted to.
The housecats (who had better manners than the barncats) would always make little nests for themselves among the lower branches. And some of them–the dumber ones–would eat long silver strings of tinsel off the tree. A day or so later, they’d be running around the house with Tinsel Butt. (Which is really funny and very disgusting all at the same time.)
Other Witmer family traditions: Dad did the lights, then the girls (me and Jo) would decorate with various handmade and sometimes hideous ornaments, as far up as we could reach. Mom would always top the tree with the angel at the very end. Oh, and there were real candy canes that were hung on the tree, but they never lasted long, since my Dad and I are peppermint fiends. There was the Christmas Card Door, also. Every single card and picture we received was carefully scotch taped on the living room door (which led out to the front porch and piles of snowdrifts, so it was always closed off with plastic and duct tape during the winter.)
During the years when there was snow, Mom would make snow ice cream from the tallest, freshest snowdrift. Once I learned in science class that snow particles formed around dirt, the concept of snow ice cream became instantly less delicious, but still. It’s hard to resist fluffy, cold piles of sugar.
Boy and I have made an effort to establish our own Christmas traditions since we’ve moved out to the coast. For the past 4 years, we’ve spent Christmas Day alone, just the two of us, (and last year, LeeLoo, too). We open presents in the morning and then drive down the coast until we find the perfect abandoned beach. We do some beachcombing and ocean-gazing and just generally meander about. It’s the most peaceful kind of Christmas I’ve known.
There were a whole lotta years in there where I hated/dreaded/tried to ignore the whole depressing holiday rigamarole. But now that we’ve found ways to make it our own, it’s not so bad. Especially when you can watch your pup tear the wrapping paper off a stuffed penguin while it sings an obnoxious, tinny, christmas carol. When the Ler is around, it doesn’t take much to entertain me.
-Lo, who never once played the virgin Mary in any of those Sunday School pageants.