Saturday, December 23, 2006

blue suede christmas

I've been holding off on posting because I've been in the doldrums. Several times I almost posted some serious waaa waaa waaa, but told myself to wait. Not that I minded crying here. It wouldn't have been the first time I've cried in public. I'm sure it wouldn't have been the last. The thing was, I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong, or, rather, on how to capture what it all felt like. This is a place where I like to be articulate. Even if I don't know what ails me, I need to be able to write about it with lucidity, to satisfy myself.

One day I was over at one of my favorite knitting blogs, Nik's Knits, enjoying an entry on a baby sweater she'd raced to complete in time for a shower. At one point, she described the disdain she felt upon walking into her apartment and seeing an "exploded view" of the sweater. She posted this link to illustrate what an exploded view is. I saw the picture and immediately thought, That's it, my whole life looks like that picture. Only take away the numbers that correspond to the diagram. And scramble it up some. Make it really blurry. There, you have it.

I started writing about this revelation and again a voice said Stop. So I didn't post, went on doing whatever it is I do.

The thing about shouldering on is that while you're at it, sometimes light creeps in through a side door and things start to make sense.

I think of myself as immune to the holidays. Especially now that Schmin's grown up and I don't have to run around town hunting down DuckTales, Transformers, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Bubba and I are pretty low key. I like to send out New Year's cards and some years I get to it, some years I don't. Holidays schmolidays.

But this year doesn't look like any other year. You know how you look around and wonder how you came to where you are? It's not that you reject this place, it's that you have a piercing memory of having been some other place and what you can't figure is how that time came to be over and why it's impossible to get back to.

What I'm saying is that I miss my mother. Her death is my greatest loss. What it's like to dwell in the space she left is ineffable. This is my 8th Christmas without her and it's particularly painful because damn this has been a hard year. It's been a year that's left me feeling abandoned and bereft, low right down to nothing, only to circle me back and make me know that people care, I am never truly alone, and that Somebody is hauling me up by the armpits.

This holiday season has proved to be a microexperience of the year's emotional landscape. One day up, one day waaaaaaay down. So far outside the boundaries of PMS that there's no scapegoat. Here, two days before Christmas, I've had a soft landing in a place of gratitude because, I will grudgingly admit, that which hasn't killed me has made me stronger. (Grudgingly because do we not want, just one time, our rescue fantasy to come true? Perhaps I should make a New Year's resolution to let this go.)

I have also landed on terra firma because I make things. And it is my great good fortune to be surrounded by other people who make things. From noise (see all entries containing the word "Schmin") to music to clothes to words on a page or a website. I think many people underestimate the power of The Make. I know I did, before I got down to brass tacks and started knitting and sewing. When you make things, opportunities for uplift abound. I present my case:

Even if you've never touched a shred of yarn in your life and don't ever plan to, how could this not appeal to you? All the warmth and color and play.

These paddy cakes came to be because of my good friend Ellen, whose generosity really provided me with a lot of light this weekend. Go on her blog and see what a tremendous talent she is (bask in the whimsy of the dolls she made for holiday cards). I'd bought myself a ball winder thinking I could make do without a swift (if anyone else ever wonders if this is possible, the answer is NO) and I mentioned to Ellen that I was planning to buy one. At our SnB holiday party Thursday night, she gifted me with one of hers.

I brought it home and got to winding up yarn I don't plan to knit for years. It's obscene how much fun it is to wind yarn this way. As opposed to my old system.

Ellen's swift is cantankerous and seasoned, and I love it. When she gave it to me, I got the feeling an Elvis fan would get if The King himself were to take off his blue suede shoes and hand them over. I prefer things that have history; it humbles and thrills me to think of all the incredible art I've seen Ellen make, much of which started on this swift. Now it's my turn to dance a little bit.

Like I often say, Sometimes God She Smiles on You.

Though my mother won't come around this year to cook our holiday meal, lie around with me and Schmin and Steven, be happy about whatever Christmas present we buy for her, no matter how big or small, it will be a two Schmin Christmas. My boy and I have plans, just the two of us. We're going to see Dreamgirls -- because we're not that jaded -- rent some DVDs, and scrounge for food, probably at Ralph's.

I hope no matter where you are or where you thought you would be, you have a very merry Christmas day.


shobhana said...

thanks for sharing that. i can certainly identify with what you expressed. happy holidays!

Catherine said...

I can totally empathize with you. I've been feeling blue, which means I should be seeking more of which brings me great joy: YARN! :)

Love the swift! I just have a winder and really really REALLY should get my hands on one of those. I'd be winding yarn all day long. Hee.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Ellen Bloom said...

Oh Carla! I'm so glad you love the swift. I used it for about 5 years and found it quite trust-worthy in making beautiful "yarn cakes." By the way, your yarn cakes pictured look extremely promising. Sometimes, I just like to pile up the cakes on the table and not even knit anything with them. They ae beautiful all on their own.

I empathize with you about missing your Mom. My Dad passed away 2-1/2 years ago. Every Chanukah, we'd have a big family party. My Dad was the one that handed out the gifts to all of us kids. Even though our gift giving had stopped in recent years, Dad always enjoyed having the family over for the holiday, lighting the candles, eating latkes and generally having fun with everyone. It's just not the same without him. Sigh.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family!


Adrienne said...

What a wonderful entry! YOu really have a way with words! Love the yarn!

Mrs. Mommy said...

Hi There!

It has been quite a while since I've been able to check you out here.

You've been quite busy between here and the yellow short-shorts! I'll bet that was mad-crazy fun!

Your Knitting is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!

I will make it a point to look out for your and Schmin's analysis of Dreamgirls--I am a bit jaded, however still dying to know how good it really is...

And finally May you & yours have a Blessed and Merry Christmas & may this season bring forth memories of your Mother that will soothe your heart.

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I love your yarncakes. What is it about a center-pull cake that immediately makes the yarn look a gazillion times more lovely than it did before? And when you're talking about loverly yarn to begin with, well, that's just off the charts!

To be honest, I like the plans you have for xmas. I think, maybe starting next year, we're gonna ween off the San Diego ventures. It just takes way too much energy, especially when I'd rather spend the time "reflecting on the previous year" (i.e., sleeping 'til noon).

jessie said...

You know, they say Christmas is for kids, and I think it's about more than Santa. It's because by the time you reach adulthood, you've probably suffered some kind of loss that takes the glow off the Christmas bulbs, if you know what I mean.

I think losing your mother is especially hard. (My mother, gone 4 years; my grandmother, gone 3 years). No matter who else you have around you, there is something about having your mom that allows you to always revert to "child" mode. When you are scared or lonely or frustrated, you can turn to the woman who can make everything all right. I tried to explain this to my husband, who didn't quite get it, and maybe I was a bit harsh. He is a wonderful man, but he lacks the female caretaking gene, if that's what I'm thinking of, that both of these women had for me. They loved me just for being me and they got joy out of making me happy. There aren't many people in the world who can do that for you. (You're there for Schmin like that, right?)

A month after my mother died, the adult care home called me to say that it was time to put my grandmother in a real nursing home or make other arrangements for 24-hour care. And all I could think was, "I don't want to be the grownup anymore."

It sucks to not have a choice about that.

But enough. Maybe, if nothing else, you got some perspective on this whole thing, and you can deal with it better now. The holidays have a way of bringing out stuff like this, don't they?

Enjoy Dreamgirls.

jacqueline said...

i completely hear what you are saying. thank you for so elloquently putting into words what i was feeling.

many seasons greetings to you. may 2007 bring you everything you have hoped for.

sappmama said...

You guys, I can't thank you enough for your supportive words, and for sharing some of your experiences with me. I had a wonderful Christmas with my boy, my mother's favorite person, so a day with him isn't half bad.

Mrs. Mommy, Happy New Year! I was wondering what you and hubby and the girls were up to. I've missed your visits. Much love to you!

h*AP*Py NeW *YEaR, everyone!

Darcy said...

Forgive me for not knowing what the heck a shift was, at SnB. Now I want one but there will be no purchasing of matter...until I move and assuming I find an apartment in 17 days...that is 2/3 the size of mine! Sing it with me, AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

And may 2007 wear your deamgirl wig.ox