so i didn’t have the typical holidays where the entire family converges at one lucky winner’s house. instead i had pieces of my family trickle through at different times during december. last year i was the one in motion, making a huge leap away from living on the northern coast for almost twenty years and returning to my home town of berkeley ca. this christmas month i stood still while relatives whirled about me on their way to new and wild adventures. i made cakes and served coffee.
my little brother passed through first, with all of his belongings tied up in a bandana at the end of a stick. he was running away to canada to marry the girl he had a crush on in junior high school. these two lovebirds became reacquainted after an over three decades gap and quickly removed obstacles from their lives so their paths could become one. truly a happily ever after fairytale coming true. his best childhood buddies and i had a party for him. we are hoping that even though he is changing his allegiance (canadian citizenship) we might actually see him more often now than we did when he stubbornly tucked himself away in the woods for so many years. his sweetie is really good at getting him out of ruts and she is an excellent traveler.
my big brother and his wife gave each other the christmas gift of a new house. after somehow co-existing for far too many years in a teeny-tiny space together, they have moved on up to a stunning apartment with miles-high ceilings, extra rooms, and two bathrooms. finally, their marriage stands a chance! except i overheard them discussing giving the second bathroom to their cat. i teased my brother that the bathroom they’ve been sharing all this time isn’t even really a room. it’s like a train compartment water closet: barely enough room for your knees after you unfold the slatted door. of course, he probably liked that. we like trains for they remind us of our train-loving swiss dad. we’ve already checked train schedules for traveling to canada.
my daughter came to stay with me for a couple december weeks. she was in constant motion; constantly engaged in social engagements. plugged in, turned on, she is a mover and a shaker. we made snowflake christmas cookies together and she is slowly but surely succumbing to the allure of coffee. my small house is very quiet again without the razzle dazzle of my superstar daughter but she still feels close by with the modern umbilical cord of phone, text, twitter and facebook. i whine about the make-over i will need when she someday soon is invited to red carpet events but how lucky am i really to have the kind of daughter who will always thank her mother when she is winning.
in between christmas and new year, my mother, my niece and grand niece blew through on their way to a month-long vacation in costa rica. we had a cupcake party to celebrate my niece’s thirtieth birthday. before big brother drove them to the airport, she ran up to the corner store. and got bit by a pit bull on a leash. not a nice birthday present. a chunk of hours were spent at the hospital emergency room to deal with the chunk of missing skin. while her mother was absent, my daughter attempted to tame my grand niece’s crazy hair. the ladies had been threatening to just cut it all off but kirya saved the day by super-moisturizing it and bribing isa with tv and cookies to let her comb through the tangles. just like i used to do with kirya! now isa refers to her hair as her costa rica hair-do. with a little hand gesture like ladies do when they got their hair did.
and then they all flew away. including my best childhood friend who had come from france to be with her father one last time. we had a wonderful coffee date at the elmwood cafe where they serve the drinks in french latte bowls. i smuggled in some eggnog rum bundt cake i had made. on my birthday i helped my brother move away. i swear i have aged a whole year. literally.