It's coming on Christmas...
The snow that is falling here is going to complicate my last minute motif here in suburban Chicago. I chose to subvert my shopping gene to enhance my decorating and visiting gene. I have no regrets, but I think the kids will notice that the gifting is constricted. I don’t think they will care- they are adults now, with significant others to fuss over them. And I am not Santa.
Detroit was a gift from Steve. He was a model prisoner, patient and happy even as the New Buffalo refrigerator was upchucking water. Hallelujah!
Steve makes fun of my Christmas excess, but I explained that it is part of my pagan-aligned ritual to hold back the gloom. December is so devoid of light that I add the brightness to keep from being crushed by the darkness. He finally has a Christmas trim explanation that he can get behind. Now he will want me to dance naked around a solstice tree or something. I think not. (We did not get to Rochester Michigan to see their renowned light show- but I swiped the picture below from my niece’s blog. I have a new role model for future displays! Do you think Steve would wrap the house?)
Despite the glory of Christmas, December is a desperate month. Steve was fired twice in the Twelth Month- once from WDAI, on Christmas Eve, and last year, from CBS. Good things evolved from the WDAI departure; who can predict what will happen in July 2011, when he is off contract? He knows this is an opportunity- after 35 years of work, to have a paid leave. But he misses the formatted day, and the engagement of a live broadcast. He misses his radio family, and gets somewhat apoplectic when people cannot figure out how to listen via his website or podcast. Time shifting via DVR and TIVO is the new norm in TV, and undoubtedly it will be the same in radio. Internet listening will be like cable was to TV. Steve worries that the adoption gap between conventional and digital listening is too big for him to bridge- that he is “in the gap” so to speak. That is why he suffers some gloom during this month. Now I can bamboozle him by saying I am decorating to lift his spirits. It works for me. I will continue to attempt to distract him with artificial light until I can pack him up and send him off to sunny Florida. He can go as soon as he helps me stash the pagan glimmer in the arctic attic. It is a fair deal.
Florida is less of a draw for me this year. Come to find out, I do not embrace change. We bought a small condo in my parents’ building in the late 80’s. Steve took refuge there when he left WMVP, and after 15 years, my Mom finally became fond of him. I think it was the Bloody Marys he fixed for her that turned her. The kids spent time with their grandparents there, and I had concentrated time with my folks. After Mom died, I worried that Dad would be lonely there. Nope. He spent his first bachelor winter with a new girlfriend, and traded her in for his a younger, more fun model, my Aunt Sharon. They kept company until he died. Last year, Steve’s emancipation let him drift around Dad’s Pompano airspace, watching Dad and hanging out. He would transmit daily updates to me. In three months, Steve went from dining companion to hospital driver. To griever. He helped Marie and Paul make the final arrangements. Now Dad’s condo is a family asset, with my family members escaping the Midwest in shifts. I will buzz back and forth a bit this year, and instead of hovering over Dad, I will regroup with my siblings. It will be different. I need to be more like my Dad. Steve can winter there, but unlike my Dad, he is not permitted to have a girlfriend. There are limits to by largesse. And as I said, I do not embrace change.
My Detroit weekend glowed. The last time I left Detroit, my brother Mike was trussed together like a Thanksgiving turkey. He has had some hiccups in his recovery, but his body is knitting itself together. The hard work, of rehab and reconfiguring his life is ongoing. Siblings see the sadness, and the uncertainty. Our hearts rejoice in his progress; it is our wish to give him strength, fix all the frayed parts of his life- but we cannot do it. These are solitary jobs. We can just love him and cheer him. That is what family does. In the 5 hours we spent, all blabbing and just being together, I watched all my sisters and brothers being themselves. We are all different, we have married different partners. We are like a puzzle- the pieces fit together. Once we are locked together, we are mighty.
Leaving is always hard for me. We drive down Southfield- a street where Dad’s office once was, where Steve and I had a fancy pants date when we were first dating, where my Grandmother’s hairdresser still does blue hair- and it is like I am in It’s a Wonderful LIfe. So I cried. Steve drove. There was a block of silence while I filed my sadness away. My history is ephemeral- I want to speak of these places, these memories, because they will die with me. To Steve, the things I remember and point out are random and insignificant. To me, they are roots. This weekend, he returned me to my past. This past is all swaddled in who I am today, and for better or worse, he has me now. Steve linked my years together in one 600 mile sojourn. It has made the holiday rich.