It’s December! How did we get to the last page of the calendar? Did it go too fast or too slow? We each have our own answer to that but hopefully some can say it felt just right: it didn’t race by and it didn’t lag for what felt like endless days. I had a bit of both but I’m trying to stay focused on this page with 31 days to fill, not all the ones that have passed.
For this month I’ve decided to revive the annual Chanukah party I had given for a few years pre-pandemic, Ladies who Latkes, a gathering of some women friends and neighbors who stopped by for good homemade latkes with all the sides. Last year out of caution I had just one family of neighbors over and then brought latkes to my other neighbors; the year before that just some take-out; this year finally it will happen again. I so crave time with friends, to break bread/potatoes together, to feel that bond of sisterhood if I may be so earnest.
Yes, in December for once I will be the host. Rather than a grateful guest I’ll be the one welcoming people into my home, the one that has wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, with enough food and drink for 8 to 10 people who can all fit around our table once we put the other board in it.
I should do this more often/I should never attempt to host in this old house are two warring thoughts. I don’t socialize much beyond an occasional breakfast or lunch with a friend; I rarely have people over. The fact is that the only regular visitors we have are V’s home therapy team. I make sure that the house is presentable for them – sweeping the floors and wiping down the counters and table; as for clutter and disrepair that we have grown accustomed to, well, they see that too. They see the results/remnants of what happened during that long pandemic stretch of being inside together with a young man who had far too much time and energy as could be contained in such tight quarters. Much of that deconstruction and disrepair remains because while needed routines have returned to our lives thankfully (school and home therapy), V is still our deconstructivist, and so remain drawers taken out of the dining room and bathroom furniture, the photos taken down before they were destroyed once he figured out how to take apart frames, the pictures not hung back up on walls; added to that the collection of V’s leisure activities – a few games he will marginally play. Everything is out and about from all that we do with him, and all that he has done with the space downstairs.
So there’s a friction between wanting to host a small party and some issues with the venue. Our clutter issue is compounded by living in a small house built in 1907 when people had so much less stuff, particularly clothes as is apparent by original closets that hold 10 items at best. Yes, the initial charm of living in an old house has long since paled. I still understand their appeal, it’s just that it is a bit much in terms of maintenance for our already high-maintenance family.
Alas I am the one living in the old house and if I can’t achieve a robust makeover I can do my best to make the space a haven: for good food and conversation and connection. I’m hoping camaraderie overshadows any structural defects and others share my gratitude for in person time. I felt it on Thanksgiving and I look forward to feeling it again over the course of the month. (In addition to my get together I’ll be going to a larger Chanukah celebration with cousins, a cherished annual tradition)
Much of the bond I have with friends and family is over the span of many miles, from Maine to PA and places in between and all the way to the West Coast. This blog helps me to keep connected with them. I cherish these connections and appreciate every online visitor, and yet I long for more face to face time. So socializing with people I like and don’t see very often is something to look forward to as we fill the cold days of December, a challenge as V has been very restless yet doesn’t last long in frigid weather given his refusal to zip up.
I will do my best to declutter and make things more organized in the coming weeks. And then I’ll just hope that the spirit of generosity with which I host overshadows the defects in our home, the place where we talk and eat and watch TV and read and listen to music and clean up messes that happen when people congregate in a small space. The place where we do it all again and again, with as much love and kindness and patience as we can. It leaves much to be desired but still it’s home, and I look forward to welcoming more people into it later this month.