Posted by: rocketbride | December 26, 2013

boxing day blowout

It’s been kind of a weird Christmas. Ever since I started dating Mason, and our families became one big complicated meatball of Christmas parties and other parents, I’ve accepted that Christmas will be packed, exhausting and full of thrilling little corners. This year hit several speed bumps, starting with the ice storm that began on Saturday night and effectively scuttled not just church the next morning but also our annual visit with Mason’s family. What’s worse is that everyone else in the family decided to go, while I listened to the OPP warnings on the radio and stayed home. The day wasn’t without its excitement: we lost a lot of big branches off our neighbour’s front maple tree, and we spent a good deal of the afternoon chopping brush and hauling it to the front of the lawn. Our house looked like a woodlot for a day, and we lost our phone wire for almost three days. The park behind us still looks like a hurricane went through it, and we’ve had no official clean up over the last five days. Maybe tomorrow, when the holidays end.

The next day we dropped off the kids at my parents so that Mason & I could do some shopping, but came home quicker than we’d planned when my parents texted us that Maggie was throwing up all over the place. She’s not given to sickness, so this is the first time I’ve seen her throw up, the poor miserable thing. She stayed sick for most of the day, but woke up fine in time for Christmas Eve.

We were supposed to see Mason’s sister that day, but she still didn’t have power from the storm, so we invited the family to our house, which meant that when I wasn’t holding a sick baby I was cleaning the house. Ultimately, only Mason’s parents came over, as his sister was scared off by Maggie’s sickness the day before. They visited, ate, and came to church with us to watch the kids in the impromptu pageant.

the grumpiest angel

the grumpiest angel

By the time we got home from the service, it was way too late for baths so we just put out the cookies and carrots for Santa, Blake wrote a note (he’s the official scribe for Christmas) and shoved the kids in bed. I usually sit up late making last-minute presents for the kids, but this year my heart wasn’t in it. I ended up crying on the couch, missing my grandmother and my aunt’s Christmas dinners for the first time in years.

The whole thing was hugely disappointing. It’s easy to idealize the Christmases of ones youth as effortlessly joyful, but I couldn’t help but ache for the kind of big family gathering that we used to take for granted. I had all my kids on Christmas morning, which was a blessing, but Mason & I were up half the night with Blake, who threw up semi-regularly between midnight and dawn, so we were all a bit peaked. After the presents were sorted (the boys went through theirs like machines, Maggie opened her doll and was content for the rest of the morning), Christmas Day was about tackling the mountain of pukey laundry and trying to prevent the wrapping and assorted garbage from overtaking the tidiness I had so recently wrested from the living room. My mom had us over for dinner (which Sage had to leave halfway through) and only three people outside my immediate family came over. Christmas felt like a bust.

Of course, it’s hard to judge on Boxing Day. This is the day when I lose Blake for a whole week, when I’m supposed to buckle down on the wall of marking I resentfully dragged home. (Current score – marking: 175, me: 0.) Not a good day on the best of years. Today, with Maggie eating and sleeping but not doing much on her own other than clinging to us in turns like an exhausted lamprey, it all seemed extra gloomy. Then again, I’ve been fairly seriously depressed since November, and although a lot of the anxiety and sense of impending doom has receded now that the gift season is done and I’m properly on vacation, it’s still hard to sort out the specific strands of doom from the general ones.

Tomorrow: a visit to the early years centre with Maggie, a run, and breaking the back of that goddamn marking. Oh yeah.

We did one thing of note last week, though. We went to see the Basement Review. Last year was a huge year, with Andy Kim, Ondaatje & Feist, but we didn’t have high expectations: we take what we’re given. (I still think my favourite year was the one hosted by Rich Terfry, featuring John K. Sampson. An aside: along with “And the Band Played ‘Waltzing Matilda’,” Maggie now refuses to go to sleep until Mason sings her “Bigfoot”.)

Then the first act was Margaret Atwood, backed by the Sadies, so. That.

The other acts varied in quality. aROARa came in to back Anne Waldman, who created one of my favourite moments of the night when she recited something about “unborn children turning” while she placed her hand on Arial’s pregnant belly. Arial kept singing and Whitey kept playing guitar, tho’ grinning like a pirate. My absolute favourite moment came at the very end, when Light Fires (a.k.a. Reg’s bitchy, athletic, glorious drag act) came on to close the night, and got us all dancing. I love Reg when he’s the soulful indy guy with the guitar, but I also love him when he’s high-kicking in a wig, or petting my hair. (Fun!)


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