Thursday, December 9, 2010

Losing It

I lost a glove today. I know, I know . . . good thing it's Christmas and now I can tell my husband exactly what I need, right? A new pair of gloves.

But I don't want a new pair. I want the other half of the one sitting all lonely like on my kitchen counter.

I got the gloves more than 10 years ago when we lived in Connecticut. They're a cream knit with a shearling (fake, I'm sure) lining and a leather palm. They're warm and comfortable. I wear them when I'm driving and when I'm just out for walks. I wear them to shovel snow, to go sledding with my kids, and when I'm sitting in the car waiting for them to hurry out after school. They're dingy and stained in spots from where I thought picking up leaves with them would be just fine. They've been through a lot with me and have held up--the dinginess and spottiness notwithstanding--remarkably well.

And I could honestly cry over the loss of one. I even went back to the store two hours later just to see if anyone had turned it in. I left my name and number with the floor manager just in case someone sees the sad little thing and realizes it must have a home and an owner who misses it.

Christmas is a time for holding on to things--of not wanting to let go. It's nostalgia, sure, but it's even greedier than that. It's more than the wistfulness of fond memories. It's the clutching at them and clinging to them and throwing iron chains around them in an effort to make them stay. We can call it "tradition," but that's just shorthand for "please, oh, please, let's not ever change a single thing about this moment, because I can't bear to let go." My oldest child already knows he's getting a guitar for Christmas, and he asked the other day if he could just open it first. I almost screamed at him. "No! You can't open it first. You have to wait until the end, let the anticipation build. I want to see you excited about all of your gifts--even the $10 t-shirt from Target--not just the 'main' one!" I'm clinging to him, throwing my iron chains around him, wanting to keep Christmas the same even if I can't reduce his 5'10" frame and make him the little boy he used to be at this time of year. If I let him change then how will I ever keep the three children that follow him from changing?

So I didn't scream at him. I said, "No. That's not how we do things." Much more sane of me.

When I was a kid, my grandmother had this plastic gumdrop tree. She preferred the spice drops, which weren't at all tempting to me, but the chance to decorate the tree? The very definition of Christmas to a seven-year-old. I can still recall the way the plastic pricked if I pushed too hard. I can feel the squish of the gummies between my fingers and the sugar they left behind. My husband and I somehow ended up with one after we got married. We used it once. It just wasn't the same. Most things aren't.

Now I have to go drown my sorrows in a bag of Cadbury Christmas Balls, which are supposed to be the same thing as Cadbury Mini Eggs, but they're not. Really. They're not the same at all. I prefer the original. It's just how I am.


AngryBaker said...

How come I did not know there are Cadbury Christmas balls?! Not at all the point of your post, but we all know where my mind is usually at. Another food related thought - nobody likes those spice drops, except little old ladies. I have a theory about tastebuds getting old and why old people like the strong tasting weird stuff. I'll spare you.

mnmsalyer said...

Reading this, I could laugh out loud and burst into tears all at once. You're writing about my life - using more skillful writing than I've got in me right now.
Lily's been asking me to tell her stories that I make up lately. She especially likes the ones where I tell about Christmases from my youth. Her subsequent retelling of them to the boys is priceless. This is one tradition I don't mind adding to the old ones I try to preserve.
I'm sorry for your loss, by the way. Perhaps your glove has found its way to knitwear heaven and is enjoying its afterlife with my favorite knit hat.

Val said...

Beautiful post. I find myself caving to every one of my daughter's holiday expectations, figuring that I need to enjoy every last bit of her enjoyment while I can. And, Angry Baker, I happen to be fond of those spice drops. My favorite is the orange ones (are they nutmeg?). Does that make me an old lady? I think it just means that I've always liked almost anything that's sweet.

Bobbie said...

AB, I find that only old people like black licorice as well. And black jelly beans. bleh. Or do you like those, too, Val? We won't call your taste "old" . . . just "sophisticated."

Marian, I tell my kids lots of stories from when I was younger too. When Owen (now 11) was having his kidney issues, the only thing that would distract him from his bouts of vomiting were stories from my childhood. He remembers them all.

And as an update: I FOUND THE GLOVE. Okay, so TJMaxx found it, but I had to keep going back (three times! I was determined!)to nag them about it. The recovery of the glove and finding the perfect Christmas gift for one of my kids made for the start of good day.