Sunday, December 24, 2006
The Dead Can See Everything
Cemeteries have always relaxed me and last Christmas Eve, I visited my friend Hank's grave. It's a pretty fair hike from my deceased parents' house, right off of a road named Joy. That's the thing about Christmas in Texas -- it's almost always warm enough for outdoor activities. I stood there for a good bit and tried to think happy thoughts about the year. It wasn't easy. The proverbial attitude of gratitude usually pales in front of tombstones. There were Christmas flowers by his stone and decorations in the chain-link fence blowing in the wind as if placed by central casting. But they weren't -- I suspect his lovely mother put them there and perhaps some other visitors as well. The place had a beautiful forlorn quality, and I found myself warming to it and was grateful for the time and the peace. I thought about how every time Hank would pass a cemetery, he'd yell "Hi, dead people" out the window in a gleeful way, happy to acknowledge their presence.
My parents urns rest in their old bedroom on top of the dresser they shared for as long as I can remember. The dresser holds old clothes and bathing suits, their wedding cake topper, some stray jewelry. I don't mind having them close even though it gives some people the creeps. Hell, our house always did. As a child, I'd bring my friends over only to have my mother say, You want to see a snake? None of them believed her when she said she had a live one in the kitchen. They learned when the rattlesnake struck the top of its container, usually a diaper pail. Or she'd show them the frozen ones in the freezer. I think it's safe to say that she wasn't like all the other mothers. The kids soon found out that spending time with my dad was far safer and might include a short plane ride or two. Now I sleep in their old room and can wake up and tell them anything I want, although I suspect they know far too much already if that whole the dead can see everything holds true. My friend Angela always joked that she hoped God was doing some big-time editing for her grandparents, and I can only hope for the same in my case. The years have passed and everything changes and nothing changes, and I find myself saying, How can it be another Christmas Eve? In this way, I know I have grown up because when you're a child, it can never come fast enough.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Isaiah 49:14-16
Christmas Eve drink suggestion: Combine champagne with a tiny splash of scotch and sugar. It's a lovely combination and perfect for opening presents.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! The picture idea was stolen from the cover of Paris Match featuring Monica Belluci. I love her and love that someone over the age of 25 is featured in such a beautiful provocative way! Thanks to my wonderful sister Beth for shooting the picture -- she's always pushing me to be brave. Society often encourages women to shut down all their sexuality at a certain age. One of my women students once said to me, I've learned about writing, but I also have watched what you wear and your jewelery and I have decided not to cut my hair just because I have recently turned forty and that's what everyone says you should do. Alas, liberation comes in all forms!