Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today is the Best Day Since Yesterday

“Awake ye and come to our house
Come running – fly if you can

The doors throw themselves open
The name for this part is hearth

Today is the best day since yesterday
We share – a sense of rivers

Amazed at what we saw
We thought we were dreaming…”

C.D. Wright, “Girl Friend Poem #2”

Recently, I had some discussion with the handful of women I grew up with. We were six sisters against three brothers, unenlightened nuns in medieval religious schools, and the entire history of Western Civilization. We survived more or less sane well into our various and sundry dotages, and mostly without either heroism or martyrdom.

Now that the season precludes all but emergency gardening (hand watering as necessary to make up for Mother Nature’s lapses, replacing fences knocked over by rabbits who were hungrier than I thought etc) I rely more than ever on contact with my sisters to keep myself balanced. Conversation with geographically dispersed sisters in, chronologically, California, Michigan, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Arizona helps us to beat the Seasonal Affective Disorder that afflicts some of us more than others.

I have come to believe that the subject our e-mail conversations matters less than the fact that we can do this. We talked about how it might be time to schedule our traditional biennial group therapy sessions/day spa and shopping excursions, aka, Sistertrips, more frequently. Planning these trips brings its own joy because – like our Daddy taught us all – anticipation of happiness is such a big part of happiness realized. We talk about which of us Mom loved the most; about who got special privileges like preferential use of the family car; about what makes each of us like our parents, for better or worse. About how we miss our folks.

We also talk about the varying degrees to which our families are making us crazy. About the stresses of having kids still in school, about having them on their own and far away, about how they are making the same dumb mistakes we made at their age.

Recently, I tried as best I could to duplicate Dad’s eggnog recipe (the best nog you can afford, and a lot of Southern Comfort in lieu of a little rum.) I had to recreate it because, though promised by one of my loyal siblings, they have yet to provide the recipe. While it doesn’t exactly suck to be me, I miss Dad’s eggnog – my drink of choice while sitting on the floor next to the Xmas tree, wrapping presents and listening to the Messiah. By the time I was singing along with the Amen – my favorite, even better than the Halleluiah chorus – I wasn’t missing the recipe as much, and most of the gifts were wrapped.

Whether we commiserate about our spouses, a rant about vulgar in-laws descending for the holidays, brag about accomplishments of our respective progeny, it helps to share. Inevitably, we conclude that our children are as likely to survive as we did, and to grow into interesting adults with their own traditions, and ways of staying sane. And we generally conclude with wishful dreaming – inspired by the above poem – of our next reunion.

One of the sensory pleasures of gardening I often forget is touch. I love the smells, and the light and shadow. I love to chew a tiny mint leaf or rub some sage on my hands and inhale it. But, this time of year, I find that I also miss the lovely texture of the potting soil I mix, adding some homemade compost with worms, some bone meal and blood meal. When I’m potting plants that won’t have a dedicated drip emitter, I love the way the tiny white crystals bloat up in water and become like tapioca, only clear. So, when deprived of these things by the season, I commiserate with my sisters and that is better, almost, than gardening, and than my nostalgically enhanced memory of Dad’s legendary eggnog.


Martha in Michigan said...

Well, what a fine Christmas present this little essay was!
In my remaining nuclear family, we finally downsized the gift-giving this year, and I don't think anyone felt deprived. The real gift is each other's company.
Although I spiked some egg nog for us (the terrific stuff I had delivered from a local dairy), I can also pass along a killer recipe from Joy of Cooking: a dozen eggs, a pound of powdered sugar, a half-gallon of cream, a fifth of liquor, nutmeg. Add in this order: well-beaten yolks, sugar, liquor and cream, beaten egg whites. Doesn't matter what kind of liquor, because a day or so later you don't even taste it. I haven't made it since the year I gained seven pounds on it alone, but I can verify that it's to die for (literally, I suppose, as well as figuratively). Love you!

Weeping Sore said...

Thanks for the nog recipe, and the love. Back at you!

kate said...

It's great that you have lots of family -even if living far apart, there's a comfort in knowing that others have known you for a lifetime... sisters really can keep us balanced.

I like the idea of having biennial sister therapy and I agree, anticipation plays a big part.

I liked the C.D. Wright poem and the line, 'We share - a sense of rivers'

Blackswamp_Girl said...

What a lovely, lovely post.

If it makes you feel any better, I am convinced that we can never quite attain the perfection of those well-remembered, much-loved special foods and beverages ourselves. I can follow my grandmother's recipe for sauerkraut balls precisely, and they still somehow never taste quite as good as they do when she makes them for me.

I am also convinced that other people must also feel that way about some of the treats that I make for them--at least, I hope they do. :)

Annie in Austin said...

This was a wonderful post to read, Weeping Sore, especially amusing since Southern Comfort is my choice for both baking and sipping.

Best wishes for the New Year -

Annie at the Transplantable Rose