Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Beethoven's Birthday and Other Things to Celebrate

Today would have been my dad's 81st birthday. He didn't go in much for personal celebrations (Father's Day meant next to nothing at our house); he didn't like "hoopla" or "frippery," and he always insisted that we delay the Christmas decorations ("frippery") until his birthday had been celebrated. He disliked cake. He was hard to shop for, saying that the best present would be for us kids to simply be good all year.*

(Keep dreaming, Dad. You're getting a tie.)

But he got older and I got older. He mellowed a bit and I got better at (1) choosing creative presents and (2) standing up to him. I reminded him that he had taught his children to be gracious in every situation and that when someone hands you a present, you smile and say thank you, Mr. Grinch.

On his 70th birthday, I bought seven $10 gift certificates from his favorite stores and restaurants in Chico, wrapped them in different gift wrap, and arranged them like a fan. Cute! The one place that didn't sell gift certificates was his beloved Chinese dining destination Egg Roll King** — so I simply taped a $10 bill to a card with a picture of an egg roll and a crown glued to it. Dad loved it. Later, I found the card in a box of his special things.

I know that I will miss him forever, but I'm greatly encouraged to hear from all of you that the pain does eventually diminish. He was a great, awesome, fun, funny, loving dad, and I am a very lucky girl. And today I very happily celebrate the fact of his birth and the 80+ years he spent on this earth. He is definitely someone who made the world a better place.

In the meantime, I just finished a HUGE ENDLESS editing job, 320 pages about the HIV response in Botswana, hunched over my computer for two straight weeks and doing my best to reinstate my dowager's hump. It felt so good to stop!!! And now I'm going to try not to take on any new work (but continue to be a squeaky wheel for some of those still-outstanding paychecks, grr arggh!) and just enjoy getting ready for Christmas.

Shopping! I always vow that I will do lots of shopping in Arlington and support the local merchants.

But instead, I usually do a lot of this:

Also, cookie-baking! Starting today — we've been asked to bake Christmas cookies for the guys doing the renovation at our church. Sure, why not. I've got time!

I'm making a tunic, cape, and hood for Li'l Martini out of a thin blanket and a thin bedspread that he bought at Goodwill (he wanted a LARP — live action role-play — costume) and watching lots of holiday movies while I sew. On Sunday I watched Come to the Stable (love!!) and last night Husband and I watched The Lemon Drop Kid, which we'd never seen before and was lots of fun.

 My decorations are up (except for the outdoor lights, Husband)***, but our Nativity scene continues to evolve. This isn't ours but it gives you a good idea of what we've got going on:

It's a week of festivities — two concerts, four lunch dates, a holiday party at Sister Hart's — and on Sunday, my baby turns 14 and I have a birthday to plan! Happy happy joy joy. Sincerely.

And since my new pal Fresca asked, yes, I sported a lovely holiday manicure all last week:

But it's beginning to fade, so it's coming off today or tomorrow and I'll switch to something equally festive and glammy.

I'm about to meet a church friend for coffee, then do some holiday shopping at Walgreens, Trader Joe's, and Starbucks (the complex at the bottom of my hill, where I might as well live). My plan is to wrap and package everything that I'm mailing today (including a set of junior golf clubs that I sold on eBay; I packaged them yesterday, and the resulting bulky entity looks like I'm mailing either a sawed-off shotgun or a human leg). I'm also having a hot lunch date with Husband, where we'll price new sofas and do some more shopping, and tonight Mimosa and I are attending a play written and staged by one of her pallies. A fun busy day, which is what Dad would have wanted.

But somewhere in there I'll call Mom, and we'll probably cry a little together. Dad would not have wanted that but he would have understood.

These are the days of miracle and wonder — not the least of which is my period, which showed up after 123 dry days. At least I didn't throw away my tampons.

Hey, if you think of it, drink a toast to my dad today, will you? It will make me happy to know that people are thinking of him.


Lady C

* My thing lately has been to contemplate how easy-breezy my life would be if the other three Chardonnays just did what they were supposed to do, without my having to stay on top of them all the time. How much extra time I would have! How much freed-up mental space! How much serenity!! But then I wonder, is this my version of "just be good all year"? Ah, well. A Lady can dream!

** He often took Mom to Egg Roll King for their wedding anniversary. Seriously. His commitment to no hoopla was legion.

*** Husband just finished his own gargantuan job – grading – so I only quietly murmured about the lights up till now. But his grades were turned in yesterday, the volume on "quiet murmur" goes to 11 today!


  1. Tonight, I will raise an Old Fashioned to honor your father. Much love.

    1. Thank you, my angel. It was a joy to see you today not once, not twice, but thrice!!! Happy Hannukah. xx

  2. Replies
    1. Cool! He was an attractive gent. Thank you, sweetie.

  3. I'm late in responding but wanted to let you know I did in fact buy a bottle of Chardonnay on your dad's birthday and raised a glass to him. (I had on a small sabbatical from wine but the season calls for it.)
    I see your smile in him.