Welcome to 2012


As if it could actually happen, I kept expecting the unfinished little stacks of this and that around the house to pack up and go home. Looking Christmas and then New Year’s full in the eye, I’d pass these landmarks in high dudgeon, trying not to see them and promising I’d have them whittled down to five places (from at least 10).

When it didn’t happen, I’d smile and say, “That’s OK. I’ll get it done before New Year’s.” Yeah. Sure I will.

Now I’m saying “before Monday.” What will I say on Monday?

It’s no use. I’m not going to become a better person this week, just because the calendar changes its name. But we do try, don’t we?

Many a New Year’s Eve I spent at home, helping my Mom clean the china cabinet. That meant extracting dozens of fragile wine glasses, although my parents neither drank wine nor kept it in the house for guests. (We also rarely had guests.)

Every piece of stemware had to come out, be washed, and replaced in the glass china cabinet, which was wiped clear of dust and smudgy fingerprints. Her rationale was that it should be washed at least annually, and New Year’s is as good as any other deadline.

(And why didn’t we use a dishwasher? Oh, we did. Her name was Sallie. That would be moi.)

As the big hand on the face of the clock crept closer to its magical (mythical?) rendezvous with a new year, my feelings were ambivalent. Was New Year’s a blank tablet ready to receive new plans? A rare opportunity to stay up until midnight, with Mom’s approval? Restitution for past broken resolutions?

To the revelry of the countdown coming live from Times Square by radio, Daddy and I would take guns outside and, aiming carefully so as not to break a neighbor’s window, shoot at the moon to imitate fireworks, and then off to bed. I don’t remember what gun he let me use, probably the little .22 rifle we used to peck at tin cans on fenceposts.

He used his big deer rifle, loud enough for both of us; I thought my .22 was just as loud. From miles around the township we could hear celebratory gunfire, with the occasional white glow of a premature explosion that made no sound for seconds, or so it seemed.

Never heard of injuries; we knew they happened. It was all part of the revelry. Daddy probably thought we were safer handling weaponry than fireworks.

The closing of the holiday festivities was New Year’s Day dinner, featuring my dad’s homemade sauerkraut, plus green peas and mashed potatoes. This is the first time since I was a kid at home, I plumb forgot about the traditional meal, our guarantee for a prosperous 2012. We had pizza.

(In case you’re new to Southern cuisine: Collard or turnip greens for currency and black-eyed peas for coin. In Pennsylvania, sauerkraut for currency and English peas for coin. If you’re not a vegetarian, pork loin is the meat of choice. I dunno what the mashed potatoes stood for, if anything.)

So, back to the present. I’ve got the little piles of notes and photos and borrowed books and CDs down to three or four, depending on whether – oh, phooey, let’s just let it be done! Am I really supposed to be the caretaker of undated documents?

And in minutes, when I reached near-defoliation of the stacks of stuff on the piano bench, under my mom’s old desk, on the window bench beside the computer and on the plastic storage bin that was supposed to hold just this kind of detritus – I did it. I got it all in one plastic box and invisible.

Invisibility can be your ally. If no one sees a tree fall in the forest, did it really fall? That isn’t right. If no one sees a tree fall in the forest, did it make a noise? Never understood that one either.

All I know for sure is that I have been held hostage by delicate glassware – plus a set of china plates and a dozen settings of sterling flatware – for at least 60 years. We’ve used the china for ultra-celebrations, of which we have maybe two a year, and I break out and use the sterling slightly more frequently. Used to keep it in a drawer of the baker’s rack,  until I discovered that salt sifting down from higher up was pitting the spoons. Irrevocably.

The stemware was boxed snugly and stored with other things that won’t be used, but can’t be thrown away. My wedding dress. Old photographs. Old letters the year we were building our first house here in Peachtree City and moving the girls one at a time. More on that next week.

I told the girls that it is theirs as soon as they stop moving every couple of years and can provide them more security. Not likely in the household of the apes, and a continent away from our ex-pat. The day will never come when they boast, “We too have provided sanctity for these shrines to materialism, and pledge to keep them unused and safe under the eaves of houses as yet unbuilt.”

Dave says stop right here because there is really nothing else to say.

He’s right.