Wash the Dishes

by

Wrap it up.

Bid adieu to Christmas.

Well, not quite, it’s still here, it’s still happening, the day has not quite ended, but I am back at the house sitting gig, my hands slightly softened from washing the dinner dishes at my friend’s house, the cat fed, the garbage taken out and another Christmas for me, put almost to bed.

A day of reflection and gratitude and sunshine.

Warm sunshine.

I took a walk this afternoon after doing my routine, that’s the nice thing about a routine, no matter what day of the year, I do it.

I don’t break away from it for my birthday or Christmas, or any other special occasion, I used to think that I could not afford to, but now I know that I do not want to.

My life, in great part, evolves because of the time I take in the morning to write, read, sit and be still, eat a good breakfast, and be settled in myself before going out into any day, any situation.

Christmas, then, being no exception.

Well, excepting I slept in a little.

The cat did wake me up to feed her, but I went back to bed after I did and that was luxurious and the nice hot shower after I woke up was lovely and the nice leisurely breakfast and writing and meditation.

Actually, said cat disrupted said meditation.

I was sitting in the big stuffed chair by the window in the back room, one of the only places the house gets any direct light, and there is a cat tree next to the chair.

About five, six minutes into my nice warm silent get right with God, the cat started washing it’s paws.

Yick.

Have you ever heard a cat clean it’s paws?

RASP, slurp, click, click, click (chewing it’s toenails), slurp, RASP.

Oh my god.

I stopped meditating right then and there.

But I received what I needed and I needed to get outside for a while, so I strolled up and down Dolores Street, enjoying the sunshine, the palm trees, the lack of traffic, the plethora of parking, and the occasional greeting being shouted out by other folks on their way to or from their holiday gatherings.

“Merry Christmas!”

He shouted, weaving around the sidewalk, “Merry, Merry, Merry!”

I crossed over to the other side of the street, definitely not engaging.

Although, I did find myself relaying a brisk, cheerful and bright “Merry Christmas” to a couple underneath the highway overpass who were torching up some rock.

It just sort of popped out.

And it was a better interaction than I had feared.

Which, all in all, most of my interactions are, even when awkward.

I think they are going to be awful, but they end up being fine, or good, or even great.

I don’t like taking CA Bike Route 25 because of that underpass, but it’s the only way to navigate Bayshore and it was the only way to go unless I wanted to go more than a mile or two out of my way and up and over Bernal Hill, and I still would have had to be on part of the wonky anyhow.

Made my hyper grateful that I was just there “visiting” that I did not have to take that kind of bicycle commute again.

I knew the underpass from years ago when I briefly worked in the Bay View wholesale vegetable and fruit markets doing some real basic data entry at wholesale market that a room-mate worked at.

I disliked the commute then, and I didn’t fare so well this time, but I got back and forth in one piece and the middle was lovely.

The house was warm and smelled amazing, in fact, it might just be the best meal I have had at the holidays in the last nine years.  The host had made the majority of the food to all the dietary restrictions of her guests–sugar and gluten-free–for all the mains and side dishes.

I had an amazing, beautifully cooked, home cooked, abstinent meal.

Now that is a Christmas miracle.

Of course there was amazing dessert for all, but I partook of  an adorable little raw fruit plate my darling host set down at my side without even asking.

I felt sweetly spoiled and taken care of.

That’s what the holidays for me are about and what, in my opinion, I miss about them from an earlier time.  Christmas was holy, special, a day were things weren’t open and places were shut down, where Christmas Eve was about the grandparents house and you had to make plans.

That it was not instant, effort was made, and when the effort wasn’t made it was really obvious.

The effort was made tonight and I felt really honored.

I also felt like I needed to show my gratitude and help where I could.

Which meant before the meal basically lighting candles, and having catch up conversation with old friends who had moved over to the East Bay.

But after the meal, meant washing the dishes.

And I don’t know what it was and I don’t know why I had my Christmas moment there, but that’s where I had it.

Normally, I have my Christmas moment in front of my Christmas tree at night watching it with the lights off, I get swept with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and rightness coupled with sweet nostalgia for all past Christmas trees.

This time it was over the dish pan.

Maybe it was the little kids, three of them, two boys and a girl all around three years old, being coaxed to say “Merry Christmas,” for the camera.

Maybe it was the pattern of flowers on the eggshell china.

Maybe it was the smell of the meal being wrapped up and put away for delicious left overs or the wife of a friend saying, “let me get a dish towel, I’ll dry.”

But suddenly, I was in the kitchen at my grandparents house in Lodi washing dishes over the sink, looking out the back window at the golden light falling onto the snow from the bay window in dinning area, listening to my aunts gently gossip, my hands plunged in the water, washing a plate, being quietly swept up into the adult dramas as the younger cousins sat huddled impatiently around the Christmas tree waiting to unwrap presents.

Dinner dishes always were done before the presents on Christmas Eve were opened.

And I was there, in Lodi, in Wisconsin, smelling the turkey and ham, hearing the fire crackle, listening to my uncles talk gruffly with my grandfather and wishing I hadn’t had the sticky popcorn ball my grandfather had made–dyed either bright red or bright green, wrapped in clear cellophane, made with thick, gooey heavy corn syrup, heated up, then mixed up with the popcorn that my grandfather grew–and yet, I can still taste it and am grateful to it.

Rituals.

Traditions.

Routines.

They bind me to who I am and where I came from.

I can never decide if I am more Californian, having been born here, raised my first formative years here, having spent nearly the last eleven years in here.

Or Wisconsin, having moved there at the age of 5 and staying, with a few detours, for almost 25 years.

I suppose I am a mix of both and I can be grateful for that too.

As I navigated the pee smelling streets and passed the crack couple having their holiday hits, I realized that I can perhaps make a hybrid of the two parts of me here, that I started by allowing myself a Christmas tree this year.

Maybe next year I make some traditions for me.

Or I visit Hudson, Wisconsin.

If I want a taste of that Midwestern thing.

That’s something to think about next year.

For tonight, a cup of tea, a cuddle with the cat, Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special, and I say thank you Father Christmas, it’s been a wonderful day.

Thank you, too to my friends who made sure I was included all the day long.

I feel loved and that, any day, Christmas, or otherwise, is a gift.

 

 

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: