November has retreated into a gelid oblivion, and I can't say that I'm going to miss her. In fact, I'm glad she's gone. My time has been mostly consumed by research projects, presentations, mandatory busy work, and more research projects. And the kids, of course. And their friends (which I'll mention later). I'm an optimistic work in progress, so the only grand news to report is that, finally, December has settled in for a long winter's nap. I can smell the twelfth muse in the air. The return of December means that this long, vicious semester is almost over.
Thanksgiving break was relaxing (although short); I had a little more than a week to catch my breath and take a trip home to see the family for the holiday. My dad hasn't made an improvement, unfortunately, and we really don't expect him to. We visited him on Thanksgiving day; he recognizes us, but he knows nothing about us beyond our names. He doesn't realize that he's terminally ill; he seems rather apathetic about the entire thing. He watches TV and eats ice cream all day. As with all dementia related conditions, the process is usually harder on the family of the person with the disease.
More recently… My daughter had a friend stay over last night. Most of the kids that frequent my house are good kids, and this friend of my daughter's is no exception. There's only one problem: I can't afford to feed her. This kid comes to my house and literally eats everything in sight. I'm not sure if it's because she can't eat that way at home, or if it's just her usual eating habits. Last night, she managed to scoff down three huge pieces of chicken parmigiana that I'd made, two bowls of spaghetti, several ginger ales, a few yogurt cups, and a piece of pie. The grand finale happened to be two entire boxes of mint oreos (the empty boxes of which she attempted to hide under my daughter's bed). That's the thing with this girl; she knows that she stuffs herself; she attempts to conceal the evidence. I was livid. This 11 year-old girl ate four times as much as me and my own kids combined. The real kicker of this scenario is that the girl happens to be a type I diabetic. It's no wonder that she wakes up some mornings with a blood sugar over 450. I informed my daughter that we're going to have to limit her friend's visits. As I said, I simply can't afford to feed her.
December's first day is bright but frigid; perhaps the symbolism is an omen of what's to come. Perhaps not. I often think too deeply into things; I always have. Although it may seem eccentric, these symbolic observations have often come to pass. I suppose time will tell; it always does. There's always a lot going on this time of year. Good things, usually. I'll more than likely be heading home again for the Christmas holiday. I informed my brother that I expect a birthday party this year. Because my birthday and Christmas have never been a separate event, I've never had a "real" party. I suppose that's how it goes when you're competing with Jesus for a bit of birthday fun.
There's more than three weeks to get through before then, however. I have always put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house on December 1st. I admit that it sort of snuck up on me this year. It's almost a pleasant surprise, really. I suppose that would be my advice for the season… Don't plan too much; let the season itself make the rules. Don't envision the unattainable perfect holiday; it only leads to disappointment. Just go with it. Drink your egg nog (or your spiked punch!) and remember what's important to you. I have discovered that memories will never let you down. And always, as much as possible, give. I don't mean gifts and the like. Give freely of yourself. Your spirit. Take graciously and in moderation. And always, as much as humanly possible, be kind.
Even to the incredibly rude and obnoxious holiday mall salespeople, bad drivers, and kids that eat you out of house and home…