Thursday, December 27, 2018

Joy, both Effortless and Hard Won

Let me remember some other tidbits of joy before the season slips away.  Some of these are traditional tidbits, while others may be the last time I have this joy.

Oh, that sounds apocalyptic, doesn't it?  But we did get the kitchen cabinets ordered on Friday, Dec. 21--the shortest day of the year, and finally, we get the cabinets ordered.  Will we ever do a kitchen remodel again?  This ordering of cabinets may indeed be the last time we do this.

Of course, the universe may laugh at me and eventually reveal that there will be 5 kitchen remodels before I die at the ripe old age of 102 in the midst of yet another home remodel.

I hope I am vigorous enough in old age to bend over to wash big pots and pans in the kitchen bathtub and to walk around ripped up floors.

Will a poem emerge?  I've already written a short short story about a woman who decides to live with her unfinished kitchen because it's so much more spacious.

Our washer and dryer, displaced for 6 weeks in this remodel, gave up the ghost.  It had been having problems since summer:  it wouldn't complete a wash cycle unless the dryer was running--and then, the dryer stopped heating, except for every so often when it does heat. Happily, we had a appliance repair person who was honest and told us that the problem was an electrical issue, a design flaw that wasn't fixable.  He was a repair person, not a salesperson, so we got the one he recommended and from a store that could deliver this week. We're getting a Whirlpool machine this time, not the GE machine we had before.

During the week before Christmas, I did the final proofreading of part of a dissertation.  Why is this significant?  Because the Ph.D. candidate was once my student in a first year English class.  I've taught thousands of students during my decades of teaching, but I rarely keep track of them.  Most of my teaching was done before social media would make that possible.  It's a treat to know that some of my former students are doing well.  Statistically most of them are likely doing well.

I had some downtime on Christmas Eve between services, so I read all of Ada Limon's The Carrying.  It's not a traditional Christmas Eve choice, but it made some sense, as so many of the poems revolve around issues of incarnation--not the Divine type, but the type we all face, the questions of how to be in our very human bodies which may or may not do what we need them to do.

But what I will remember most fondly:  the hours we've spent on the porch, eating our meals, enjoying the twinkly lights and the candles on the Advent wreath.  One night my spouse and I sang "O Holy Night" together--our porch has great acoustics.  But I loved how our voices sounded that night.  I don't always hit every note, but that night, I did.

That's the beauty of holiday music for me--I've been singing it longer than any other type of music, so it's easier for me.  Most of the times when I sing, I'm concentrating intently, which is the only way I can hit the notes, and even then, it may not work.  I'm often so afraid of missing the notes that I doom myself to bad singing.  Holiday songs don't carry the same risk for me.

I feel lucky that so many of our holiday traditions are fairly effortless, just the way that singing holiday songs is effortless.

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