Here's a less embarrassing holiday tune than the one I posted last week (not that I apologize, because no matter what I will ever admit in public, I will always enjoy a little dose of Last Christmas, however cheesy that may be, this time of year). It's not as weepy, and yet it's not overly exuberant. In short, I like. But then again, I like any songs that use the word ampersand, effectively or not.
In addition to baking up a frenzy this weekend and completing one glove (humiliating picture pending), I became so well-acquainted with the folks at Trader Joe's that they started remarking on my purchases. This is pretty much my worst nightmare, for the cashiers to judge what I am putting into the old piehole. But in this case, I let it slide, since 90% of what I was buying would be heading into my oven. I did, however, purchase a big jug of spiced apple cider. I've been heating a mug of it every morning since, and it is probably the only right-headed thing I've done for ages.
A cup of warm, faux-mulled apple cider tastes so close to the real thing that it turns me into a ten-year old, sucking this stuff down at the orchards in the fall, giving myself a stomach ache from drinking too much at once. Or the orchards in the winter, covered in snow- you would perfectly follow the tracks with the glide-glide of your cross-country skis. It seemed so effortless, not at all like trying to stumble about on downhill skis, fumbling from where the slope leveled to the short but sputtering trek to the lift. You never got cold cross-country skiing either- no feeling your ears stiffen and burn as the biting wind smacked you in the face on the lift ride back up the mountain.
But the glide-glide was not effortless. It just seemed so. There was a reason you didn't feel cold. You ended the course damp from your body's heat. You had to be careful, had to keep going. You could not stop to admire the orchard graveyard or the sun dancing on the crusted snow. If you did, you would find that it was no warmer on the ground than it was on the lift. The wind would hit you the same way, and you'd catch a bad chill, much worse than anything you could catch from the slopes. It's not so meek, the solid ground compared to the heights of mountains.
I've had to face the fact that I'm simply grumpy this time of year. I have had to face it or I would have misinterpreted some moments. I've had to draw a sharp breath and shut my mouth the past week or so. Things, people have annoyed me, but I've had to stop myself. It's important to be annoyed for the right reason, and not just because everything bugs just now. I used to reason that it was alright to react, whenever, because the reaction was to something fundamentally there. But lately I've been trying harder to squelch such thoughts. Because the thing is, everyone is annoying, and it's important not to discard the slightly annoying as part of the completely annoying. Everyone is annoying. I know I am, and not even just slightly.
And it's Christmastime, which shouldn't mean too much to me really, but does nonetheless. This time of year, when I'm puttering around the kitchen baking, I inevitably think of friends far away, fixate on those who are not near or have been lost, and miss them. Maybe it's human nature, to think of the things that you don't have when left to your own devices. But it's Christmastime, and this is the time to remember that, even if on the West Coast it's not as sincere or not as solid or not as reliable, friends are both near and far. And what you have ends up being enough.