It’s a grey Boxing Day and I’m in my office, listening to one of my favourite pieces of music, Borodin’s exquisite string quartet No. 2 in D. I’m able to listen here because yesterday my son gave me a portable CD player for my office. He also gave me a small portable Bluetooth speaker that’s now remotely connected to my computer, so I can carry music with me wherever I go. AND he gave me Macca’s new album, now top of the charts everywhere, which is available on Spotify but nice to have in physical form.
One of my great regrets, for years, is that I haven’t listened to enough music except what’s on CBC. Somehow the CDs were always in one room and the player was in another, or I was; the only CD player is also a radio in the kitchen, where CBC is almost always on. And I’m new to Spotify, it just doesn’t occur to me to log in and have a selection of anything I want and to cart my computer about the house. But now I will be able go through my many CDs as I work here and then cart a little speaker around the house.
One thing I learned from my brilliant uncle Edgar in New York is that music is company. Especially after he was widowed, his great, beloved, constant companion was Johann Sebastian Bach. And that may be the case for me also; right now, in my house, it’s just me and Borodin. My tastes are more eclectic than my uncle’s and include the Everly Brothers who I just listened to while trying to move my body.
Which is a necessity because of the feast of yesterday and the giant pile of leftovers I just had for lunch. Massive. The brussels, a new recipe with pistachios, were hard and bitter, and the turkey was a bit overcooked, but the gravy was delicious so no one cared. Leftovers went home with the gang and I’ll be eating them for days.
It was the best Xmas yet for our merry crew. Perhaps because of lowered expectations, perhaps because we were so aware of how lucky we were to be together, to be well and housed and fed, and also because I the hostess was relaxed, I’d had time to get everything ready, so there was no last minute rush. It snowed overnight so the garden was stunning, with the icy hush of a thick new snowfall.
A quiet morning listening to the Messiah as I prepared. The gang arrived in the early afternoon, we opened presents, we ate a huge meal…
and we lay around in a stupor except of course the boys who rocketed through the house with the walkie-talkies I’d given them, chased by Uncle Sam; we had a long FaceTime talk with my ex their dad in the States and his family, and then they packed a vast amount of stuff into Anna’s rented car and went home. I finished the cleanup, though the wonderful Holly had done all the dishes, and watched Call the Midwife‘s Xmas special, which was sublime as always and made me – as always – cry. One big plot point, beautifully handled, was the grief of miscarriages – how women were encouraged just to move on briskly and never think about that vanished human life again, but that women do. I am grateful to have had a miscarriage in November 1983, because otherwise my Sam, conceived in January 1984, would not be. But those losses do haunt us.
Weeping happily on the sofa – the perfect end to the day.
Anna gave me framed family portraits that will go up on the wall. Friends had delivered home baked goodies and cards. My cousin and other friends emailed, my brother texted.
Now I am back in the kitchen late afternoon as it grows dark, drinking the rest of the nice bottle of Amarone from last night, a gift from my tenant Robin, and being kept company by the Bach violin partitas played by Itzhak on the little speaker at my ear. I will read “Braiding Sweetgrass,” which I bought to give to Anna and will do so just as soon as I’ve finished reading it myself. It’s a superb and important book, bringing Indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge together in an evaluation of how we live in the world.
Onward to the next pile-up of merriment, NYEve, and then into the new year with its new president, thank Christ, and its vaccine, ditto. They both can’t come soon enough.