For some reason long-gone Decembers fill my mind this week.
December is different this year than it’s ever been for me. For the last few decades, December meant cleaning, since I’d spent eight or nine months outdoors. During spring, summer and fall, I came in just long enough to eat and sleep. I’d wash dishes when there was nothing to eat out of and dress from the dryer. Then I’d try to swamp out the big hunks before the holidays.
This year, with House sweeter and cleaner than ever before, I’m free to do whatever I want for the first December of my adult life. Free to wander any trails that don’t have poison oak. Free to stretch my legs and try to get back into hiking shape. Free to begin dreaming once more of hiking the Coastal Trail.
Time was when December meant intense parenting, and I loved it. I knew then all I could take with me was memories, so I suppose it’s no surprise that they’re bubbling to the surface now, and I’m enjoying them tremendously. If you do nothing else this month, be fully aware you’re making memories and make some good ones!
We did a lot of inexpensive craft things, since there always seemed to be more children than money. We made paper chains and sugar cookies, the decorating of which left some cookies weighing less than their frosting. There were classroom parties for which I made dozens of cupcakes. These days, that’s not permitted. The powers that be either think we’re going to poison our children or are convinced our kitchens are sinkholes of bacteria. I don’t remember kids ever getting sick from homemade treats.
Some memories bring a chuckle. One year we got Lisa a Habitrail, a transparent warren of tubes and tunnels meant for small rodents — in our case, gerbils. Our Lisa was paraplegic, having been born with spina bifida, a condition that causes the spinal cord to be open and damaged. A lack of folic acid in the mother’s diet is the cause, and if all girls began taking a daily B complex supplement at puberty, there would be no babies born with spina bifida.
Lisa went to a special school, and that December she was 7. Her school bus driver carried her to and from the house, becoming part of our extended family. She needed an indoor gift, since playing outdoors during winter wasn’t an option. One afternoon Ben carried Lisa in and I showed him the thing upon which I’d been making payments for months, carefully closing the bedroom door so the kids wouldn’t see.
The children’s dad called just then and our oldest told his father, “Mom can't come to the phone — she’s in the bedroom with the bus driver.” May you make many memories this month, and may some of them give you a good laugh in years to come.