Boxing Day

Traffic jamI spent 5 hours getting home today, a trip that usually takes 3 hours but was lengthened by all of the other people who decided to head home from Christmas the same day that I did. You’d think we could have coordinated this better. I really don’t like driving at night but although the traffic was heavy and I had to be on my toes, at least I didn’t need to worry about rain or snow or ice, always a possibility in this part of this world at this time of year.

My Christmas was good but different. I spent it with my friends and their seven cats and two dogs – there was lots of furry love going around and pet hair is a condiment, but one enjoyed with laughter. Dee and Gary opened their home and their hearts and included me in the family festivities; she is a sister of the heart and we needed this time together to cook and shop, talk and do puzzles, be silly and be serious.

Christmas Eve we all bundled up and headed down to Staten Island and a big family gathering that was a totally new experience. It was a totally Southern Italian huge food extravaganza with family talking over each other as gestures got more expansive and the food kept coming. Apparently there is a Southern Italian tradition of having seven (or nine or thirteen!) seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. It’s a vigil and good Italian Catholics don’t eat meat – as a good Episcopalian, this never occurred to me before.

I didn’t quite know how to deal with all the food. I wanted to try everything, and to be honest, I did. We sat around the table in this huge kitchen and talked and drank soft drinks or water and ate as things came out of the oven in waves – it took a long time. I didn’t really like it all because it was all brown; even the vegetables had been breaded and fried or oven baked or something that made them coated. I’d never seen breaded broccoli or artichoke hearts before and I don’t plan to put them on my regular menu. I felt like a stuffed pig when we finally pushed away from the table to go open presents. No one made me eat everything; it was my own idea but I’d wished I’d practiced better will-power.

On the other hand, it was a fun evening and we drove home via the west side of New York City. I gawked like a tourist (which I was) and marveled at the lights on bridges and buildings, and at the red and green lights on the Empire State Building. We drove through the night with a soft background of Christmas music playing, talking quietly and lookng at the way different houses and neighborhoods were decorated.

Christmas dinner was lasagna, not traditional for me but certainly tasty. We made teeny tiny meatballs to put in with the sauce and then big meatballs (mine looked more like hamburgers) which bubbled in marinara sauce on the stove while the lasagna baked. I loved it but I ate more garlic bread than was wise.

But the day, the visit was about more than food. I made some choices that I’m not terribly happy with and today I found emotions bubbling just below the surface – a vulnerability of being with people who cared about me and knowing I was about to get in my little car and drive home alone to an empty house. I had the furry love of Marisa as I cried and the tight hugs of my friend to remind me that I’m loved whether I’m there or not. It was hard. Coming home alone is hard, even though I live alone and am used to it. It’s always hard after I’ve been away and with people I love.

On my long way home today I heard a song on the radio that I hadn’t heard for years – Georgie Girl – and as I absently sang along, the words suddenly hit me with force. Here is the last verse:

Hey there! Georgie girl
Dreaming of the someone you could be
Life is a reality, you can’t always run away.
Don’t be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself.
It’s time for jumping down from the shelf a little bit.

I’ve been pottsing around with the weight stuff for a while, not really doing it but not NOT doing it either. It’s time for me to get focused and change that. I need to center in and find my purpose again and then do what I know I can accomplish. First, though, I think I”ll finish unpacking.