Self Sufficient

by

I was thinking that it was glorious to feel the wind on my face, despite it being chilly, and the load of groceries on my back, despite them being heavy.

It feels really good to get done with work go do the deal then get my butt to Rainbow to fill the messenger bag up with healthy food and then ride it back “home”.  Perhaps it is a part of being more and more of the bicycle culture, now that I work in a bicycle shop, but I felt a moment of pride for myself.  I get around quite well and it feels damn good to be taking care of myself.

Especially after a day of taking care of everybody else.  Everybody else that is freaking out about getting their Christmas gifts across country before Christmas.  I have been wearing the proverbial Santa hat for the last couple of weeks at work as I rush about the store packaging and posting and wrapping and taping presents up and getting them out via UPS and USPS.  Who, by the way, USPS, are sneaky and would rather not deal with taking our packages and parcels even though we book them to make a pick up.   I got a “we received your pick up e-mail as the shop was about to close today, and I was sitting there looking at the mounds of packages I had wrapped and boxed today.

Uh, no, you did not.  I saw you go by Mister Mail Man, but you did not stop for me.  It was funny too, I had a feeling you were going to skip coming by today.  When I saw the truck idling a 1/2 block down I was tempted to grab a bunch of the packages and go careening down the street after you, but I had a customer in the store who I was helping and another on the phone.  I let you go.  I should have run after, oh well.

Not to worry though folks, the mail will go out and your presents will be there under the tree in no time.  In fact, you still have until the 19th to get it before Christmas.  I have already answered a lot of e-mails to this effect.  I want to shake the person on the phone.  Do you not see the huge billboard sign on the website that tells you exactly when and where and how you can get your gift?  You are no slouch at reminding me to make sure you get the free shipping with the holiday code, nor are you above asking me to gift wrap your present.

Where’s my tip jar, mother fuckers?

I laughed out loud today when some one asked me to gift wrap a Click-Multi tool.  Granted, it is a pretty cool little gadget, it’s a tiny little screw driver set that hangs from you key chain and I use mine all the time, I got it for my bike, but I use it on everything.  Very handy.  But for an $8 gift I don’t feel like bending over backward and making it über pretty for you.

Especially after your card got declined.

Oops.

I have to admit, however, I do take a certain kind of joy in wrapping and packaging and shipping out all the gifts.  I am not in a place to have Christmas.  I am not in my own home.  When I moved into my one bedroom I had visions of a big Christmas tree.  I love getting a fresh tree at Christmas.  I carry around a box of ornaments wrapped in tissue paper that I have been lugging around since I lived in Madison.  It is an old box that I got from the Angelic Brewing Company that used to house Star Lite Peppermints.

Every time I move that box around I think about the Angelic.  It think about how I would spend the entire day after Thanksgiving working on decorating the restaurant and the bar.  I would hang huge wreaths and string them with Christmas lights.  I wound lights all around the brass bars and pillars.  There was a lamp-post, an old-fashioned one that resembled an old lamp-post in London or Paris, in the middle of the dining room and I always loved twirling the lights around it.  I would hang ribbons and garlands and huge glitter snowflakes.  The decorations would stay up until New Years Eve.

I would work all day long, hauling around the ladder, contorting myself around angles, stringing lights, and listening to Christmas music.  I think my staff thought I was nuts.  I also went nuts making Christmas cookies and candy.  I made roll out sugar cookies with home made frosting that I would color myself and sit at my kitchen table for hours icing and decorating.  I made fudge.  I made Brazil Nut Toffee.  I made plates and plates and plates of treats.  And I would wrap them in colored cellophane paper and put them in Christmas tins and wrap them in tissue.

You know that scene in Elf where he spends the entire night turning the department store into a Christmas wonderland?  That was me.  I did it every year for six years, and two years prior at the Essen Haus.  Although the Essen Haus was a spooky place to hang decorations and way creepy to decorate.  I always felt like Marley’s ghost was about to pop out from behind the dark stage curtains.  It was probably just a rat scurrying by, but the place never failed to give me the willy’s.

I miss it.  I am a Christmas dork and I haven’t gotten a lot of my Christmas dork on this year.

I have a secret to tell you.   Sometimes I dream about moving back to Wisconsin and running a Christmas tree farm.  The fantasy also includes a large apple orchard.  And a big kitchen garden.  And a renovated barn where I will write and make round rag rugs when the mood strikes me.  I will have a large wood burning stove and I will burn apple wood in the grate.  I will have a Christmas tree farm and always be surrounded by the smell of evergreens.  I will hang lights, the old-fashioned ones with the big bulbs.  I would have a little store that would sell you hot spiced cider while you look for the perfect tree and candied apples with sea salted caramel and rough chopped peanuts.  I would also have popcorn balls wrapped in bright cellophane tied with little red and green ribbons, just like my grandfather used to make. There would be mistle toe hanging from the rafters.

Oh fuck, I am starting to get weepy.

I miss home.  This is the one time of year that always gets me.  I get homesick around Christmas time.  I miss the smell of wood smoke and the crisp cold bite in the air.  I miss the way the night sky vaults into the heavens and the stars are bright high pinpricks.  I miss seeing the Christmas lights.  I miss wrapping presents.  I miss stringing popcorn and cranberries on thread.

HA!

I just remembered the first year I was living on Franklin St. with my boyfriend Justin and our room mates Matt and Naboja.  I couldn’t find a needle to string the popcorn and cranberries with, and I was bound and determined to do them that night.  I went across the hall way and asked if the neighbors had a needle they could spare.  The woman stared at me with absolute horror, “we don’t do that here.”  I had no comprehension of what she was talking about.  I looked at her and said, “you don’t sew”?

She shook her head at me and said, “oh, like needle and thread?”

Uh yeah, I held open the door, pointed to the tree, the bowl of popcorn, and the cranberries on the table, I’m making a garland and I can’t find my packet of needles to thread the popcorn and cranberries with.  She blushed, turned around, and returned a moment later with a sewing needle.

I found out a year later that Naboja was a heroin addict.  Guess I was  little naive, eh?  Certainly explains why he was always late with his portion of the rent.

Yeah, I like Christmas.  I like rituals.  I would like to continue doing those things.  I am not going to lie, I faced a lot of difficulties through the years around Christmas time, but there was always this moment, this moment of sheer magic and bliss when I would be sitting in the dark with just the glow of the Christmas tree light and everything was all right, time was suspended and I was suffused with the glory of Christmas.

I miss that.

I miss that a lot.

So when you open that box on Christmas day I hope that some of my cheer rubs off on you as I got a little goofy at times today.  There may be more than a few packages that I tossed a candy cane into.  I may not have a tree this year with a big pile of gifts underneath it, but I will have a little Christmas glow in my heart when you open up your package of brown paper and twine and it is exactly what you wanted to get–be grateful that your mom called in to make sure it was wrapped and addressed to you with love.  Be grateful that your girlfriend made the effort to pay extra for shipping and asked that you put it under a different name so that you wouldn’t guess it’s from her.  Be grateful that your dad actually paid a bicycle mechanic to lace up racing wheels for your new fixed gear.  Or that your fiance is going to propose to you this Christmas Eve and present you with not only a ring, but a brand new bicycle that he designed for you (the ring’s going to be in the basket, fyi).

Happy Holidays!

Now, go get your glow on.

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