Thursday, December 31, 2009

The end of another year

We lack only an hour and a bit to see the old year out and the new one in, but I'm not sure we can stay awake that long.

We returned this evening from three days with the new parents and new baby. She is beautiful and lovely and they are besotted with her. They are sweet and anxious and want to do everything exactly right for her. She is mellow, makes chirping noises every now and then, eats, sleeps, poops, opens her eyes and tries to focus. Occasionally she's awake and alert, but mostly she's recovering from her entry into this world. She likes being swaddled, but tries to get her tiny hand up toward the top. She likes to stretch her legs. But mostly she likes to be rocked. And rocked. She's not too sure about her cradle, will sleep in it for a bit, but being rocked and cuddled is her favorite. Fortunately there was no shortage of rockers and cuddlers.

We had to remind the new parents to eat, to hydrate, to stretch. We didn't need to remind them to sleep, as they are both tired, but, like tired children, don't want to go to bed lest they miss some new facet of their new daughter. I tell them they have time, but they don't want to miss a second, and she is spell-binding.

And, as the year closes, so does my reading of David McCullough's work. I finished John Adams Tuesday. What a remarkable man. What a remarkable book. What a remarkable writer. I hope he's busy on something new that will captivate me as these eight books have done. Now I'm reading The 19th Wife, about pologamy and sad children cast out into the world. It's a hard book to read in light of Grace's arrival, because I cannot fathom how anyone could cast out a child. Sigh. I feel a need to get back in the car and drive for another rocking and cuddling session, but have to be patient. There is another grandmother, and she should have her chance. (But I live closer!!!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Different Sort of Waiting

Grace has been in this world nearly two days now. Such a lovely name, Grace. I have heard her squeek over the phone and have seen her photos, but she always has her eyes shut, as if she's not ready for her close-up.

The kids brought her home last night and then stayed up all night with her, taking turns feeding, changing, holding, mostly holding. She likes holding. They like holding her. It works out well for the three of them.

We are hoping to visit soon so we can hold her ourselves, but we want to be totally rid of this wretched flu. Gifts have been loaded into the car. The rocking chair we bought 35 years ago came back from the refinisher last Wednesday, in time to go next to the tree. Now it's been maneuvered into the back seat, after careful measuring. Large chair, small car, but it works. All sorts of things are working out this season.

The right-coast kid has a ticket for later in the month, so we'll see him soon. We can do Christmas then, trade presents, generate a pile of paper. It will work out too.

Now, if only this flu would work itself out of our systems, we'd be on the freeway, putting an end to this grandparent-waiting, going to meet our granddaughter!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Second Christmas

Irene calls this day Second Christmas; in the UK it's Boxing Day, it's also St Stephen's Day, and Wren Day, but forever more it will be the day my first grandchild arrived.

She didn't arrive in the usual way to her parents' arms and hearts, but was carried and delivered by someone else, then given freely to a couple she chose to care for this tiny girl. We had five weeks of secret preparation before she arrived, and she is six days early, already eager to see the world that is waiting for her. The kids were in the delivery room when she appeared, and she was put into their arms. She was already in their hearts, and ours. Tomorrow or the next day they will take her home with them.

She is a present we had hoped for but didn't expect just now, but that's the way of it all, nice things happen in this season.

We can't visit her till this flu is gone, but I am content to wait a bit. She is tiny and needs to be protected, even from us just now. Merry Second Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Still waiting...

It's Christmas night, nearly into the 26th, and it was a quiet and lovely day. We are still sick, still sniffling, but our fevers are gone and so is most of the aching that flu brings. We woke to a quiet house, no one was stirring because no one was here except for the two of us. This is the first Christmas morning we have not spent with our children under our roof. They are really no longer children, grown and out into the world, with roofs of their own, but they've come home each year for Christmas as a family. This year, of course, we told them not to come. Although I missed them, we would feel so guilty if any of them got sick. This flu is one present we don't want to pass on. I wish we knew how it came to us.

We had a nice breakfast with a baked pineapple french toast dish that I'd put together last night. Throughout the day friends and family called to wish us well, and we read and watched TV and slept. We had more ham. We will be revisiting the ham for quite a while, I believe, but the cranberry salad is nearly gone. I can make more. There is nothing better than the taste of ham with my grandma's cranberry salad.

We are waiting for recovery and for what the next few days may bring, with patient hearts and lots of tissue. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting with John Adams

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas...

In our family today is known as Christmas Adam, from a time long ago when our son, who had just been introduced to the story of Adam and Eve, felt that if Eve got a day before Christmas, than so should Adam, and since Adam was made before Eve, his day should come before hers. The kids made up a song about it, to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," but I won't sing it here.

We are waiting, but it's not for Christmas. Christmas has been cancelled this year. We both have the H1N1 flu, and it is lingering and draining. The local kids don't want to come down and risk being sick, so they bowed out a few days ago, over the phone, promising to get together when we are all healthy. The out-of-state kid doesn't want to risk germs either, and his plight was compounded by the impending storm across the midwest that he would have had to fly through to get here. Tonight he was able to cancel his ticket, at a small cost, and he will come out in a few weeks.

Last weekend we didn't celebrate our 39th Anniversary, but it came anyway. The appropriate gift was matching boxes of Kleenex. We waved to each other across the room and toasted ourselves with hot tea and orange juice. Monday we talked about venturing forth for food, but neither of us had the energy. Yesterday my sweetie braved the world to bring back juice, a ham, some yams, and eight dozen roses. The house looks lovely, and we can smell them if we get quite close. We had planned to go out to dinner, but we'll wait for that until next year.

The house is semi-decorated, but that's okay. The tree is up and there are lots of flowers around. The baking had been started, but I won't be going through the neighborhood tomorrow taking cookie platters to friends.

In all our years together, we have never kept Christmas alone. At first there were his parents on Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas Day, then larger family gatherings at our house or my parents or my sister's, but never just the two of us. It's odd to think that we'll do it this year, as a preview to the years when again, kids can't come and we can't go. I'm planning a nice dinner tomorrow night and a good breakfast Friday morning. We usually go to a party after Christmas Eve dinner, but that is off the schedule too, of course.

This flu messes with our eyes, causes them to tear and blur, so that reading is difficult, but we've been dozing through our collection of Christmas movies,
The Holiday, The Last Holiday, Pocket Full of Miracles, 3 Godfathers, We're no Angels, Donovan's Reef. Tomorrow will be Miracle on 42nd Street or The Bishop's Wife. I say "our" collection, but the truth is that I picked these. He watches and sneezes, and snoozes.

All of which brings me to my waiting to get back to my year with David McCullough. It's coming to a close. In the fall of 2008 we greatly enjoyed John Adams, all ten hours of it. An added bonus was an interview with McCullough, upon whose book the film was based. He sounded so charming that I felt I should read his other works, and I have, all except the final and most recent one, John Adams. I had started it and was reading along happily, got through our Revolution and was admiring his handling of the Barbary states, when this stupid flu intervened and put me off track. For several days I've been unable to read the small print of this volume, and I fear that I won't finish before the 31st. But each day my eyes are better, and tomorrow instead of bringing cookies to our friends I'm going to bring out John and see how he deals with those rascals who kidnapped our sailors and then demanded an outrageous payment. I have three hundred pages and eight days.

All sorts of changes coming in the next few days. We're waiting patiently and impatiently for them to unfold.