Sunday, December 21, 2008


Shortest Day of the Year

Here we all are on the shortest day of the year. My friend Mike likes to send out an email every year on this day, reminding his friends that from now on, the days only get longer, and that December 21st is therefore the start of summer.

I think the pagans had the right idea when they first started dressing up trees with lights. In our apartment, we have a small tree and despite Georgie the cat's avidity for batting, have even risked a few glass ornaments. After a mad scramble, I found the stockings I'd knitted a couple of years ago, and hung them up by our fireplace.

Our coop, founded in 1921, specifies that each building must have a fully lit Christmas tree on its porch at the start of December. It has been nice to come home as late as I have been to see the tree blazing in the dark.

The end of the year has also taken on an unexpectedly emotional tone, no doubt highlighted by the fact that my father is gone. My husband had promised me that this year we would return to California for Christmas, but it is not to be. We are going to Scotland in search of new adventures instead. Nothing like Scottish hospitality and lochs and whiskey to wash away excess nostalgia (or, for that matter, to heighten it). All week I have been saying goodbye to friends--travel has a way of breaking off regular communication. It feels a little like the end of the semester at school. We have finished our finals. We who have had class together for weeks will now not see each other for a while. We are heading home.

Last night my mother arrived, and we all had dinner with Jillian the queen, who tried to get us into the holiday spirit with some crackers. "You'll need to learn how to do this," she said to my mom.

My mother had never used a cracker before, so Gordon showed her how it's done.

Today it was off for one more holiday meeting, this time on the Upper West Side with my agent, Irene. She looked at my mother and said: "You need a haircut." Then she confessed that she needed one too. It was a nice time and we talked and reminisced and I tried to talk about the next book, and the fact that I was wrestling with two ideas.

Later, at Uniqlo, we came across this robot, created by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Though manufactured in Japan, he does not speak Japanese, a fact which disappointed us.

My mother got her hair cut just in time for travel.

Tomorrow we fly. Passports for my little family are ready to go into service. We are heading off for the green isle--nothing like going to an even darker place during the darkest time of the year. Out in the Highlands, encircled by standing stones, one feels on the edge of the world. It's a feeling I love.

What a nice post. Love the pictures of your mom and Gordon and the cracker :)

Have a safe trip!
Thanks, Heather! They are both embarrassed by that photo, but I think it's excellent.
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