I Know How This Day Ends

broken-ball.jpg

Was it a good Christmas?

The last present is unwrapped.

The food is put away and the dishes are done.

The last guest is gone.

And suddenly, save for one television set in a another room, quiet permeates the house. You can actually feel the energy as it wanes. It’s like the last swirls of water down the drain. The sink is still wet. Proof that water was once there.

The house is vacant, but there is residual energy. Proof that people were once there.

As each second passes, the energy fades. It’s all in the timing and today the timing was perfect…as was the holiday.

You are tired. And with good reason.

You were quite accomplished in your hostess duties this year. You graciously fed and entertained 18 members of your family. You did a good job and there is much to be proud of. The new furniture looks great. The new window treatments are gorgeous. The newly remodeled kitchen was a hit, too. Plus, you had the house professionally decorated this year. It was like a Courier and Ives photo come to life.

You walk through your home reliving the moments. You peer into the bar: ah yes, the liquor bottles were were in great demand this day. The almost empty bottle of Dewar’s tells you that Uncle Sam was present and accounted for. Very little Vodka left and someone made sure Gin was consumed. Only one glass fell victim to shoddy dexterity this year. That’s OK. A set of 11-Waterford crystal hi-ball glasses works just as well. You can always get another glass.

You move to the kitchen: you admire your architect’s handiwork as you hear the sound of the new dishwasher clicking into “rinse cycle”. Cookies, cakes and pies–the ones you couldn’t give away to departing guests, now sit on the counter top, protected from the elements by festive red and green plastic wrap.

You look in the refrigerator. It’s filled to capacity with food. No one touched cousin Lana’s three bean salad. There’s a good amount of dressing left, too but not that much turkey. That’s good news. There are only a few ham slices, too.

Gee, a Coke sure sounds good.

You open a bottle. The fizzy sound is inimitable. You take a sip and savor the cold, crisp flavor. You take the bottle with you as you move to the living room.

There it is. A large seven foot Blue Spruce that just 24 hours ago, presided over a house full of people and laughter, now stands rather empty looking—in spite of branches that still sport lights, ornaments and gold and silver tinsel.

Your husband is in the den. In his easy chair. An anonymous NFL game is on TV…it serves as a background lullaby really. He’s been asleep for almost an hour now.

You sit on the couch, holding the soft drink bottling in one hand, your head in the other. You smile. You thoughts focus on your daughter and what she’s doing at the very moment…how she might be looking down on her left hand admiring the beautiful diamond engagement ring she received this morning. Chris is a great guy. They’ll be happy, you hope. All this young woman’s hopes and dreams are centered around a piece of refined carbon atop a platinum setting. You remember when you and Bill got engaged. You look down at your wedding ring. Now as much a part of your personal scenery as your blond hair.

You think about your little sister and how happy she was when she opened the tiny gift her boyfriend had given her. It was a key and it fit the new Mercedes Benz parked outside. She was delighted. How lucky she is!! A brand new Mercedes! Wow, you think to yourself—he must really love your baby sister.

Your hear your husband stirring in the den. He’s awake. He changes the channel on the new flat screen TV. He seems to like his present. You’re glad. After 29 years of marriage, he’s still impossible to shop for. The man has everything!

He stops on an all music channel playing Christmas carols.

Silent night.

You think about your grandkids who went crazy when they ran in this very room this morning squealing with delight. They realized after seeing the bounty before them, that they’d been good enough for the past year to warrant a Christmas Eve visit by the red suited benevolent one.

This room was littered with so many toys!

Holy night

Then, a passing car light brings you back to reality and you walk toward the source. There, in the window–you can feel the cold radiating off the panes of glass–you realize that it’s Christmas everywhere. But things are very different “out there”—beyond the panes of glass.

For a few fleeting moments, you think about the life that exists outside this house. Then you think about the people forced to live those lives.

There’s the dissatisfied wife who’s husband forgot her again this Christmas. Her gave her nothing. That is, if you don’t count the black eye he gave her after she “made” him hit her as he unraveled at the height of one of his more violent drunken rages.

All is calm.

There’s that sad, unkempt eight year old, the eldest child of a drug addict’s five children. She had to tell her crying brothers and sisters that Santa once again, lost their address. Their Christmas dinner is stale dry cereal, no milk. That was all she could find to feed them.

There’s the broke couple who were only able to open mounting bills on Christmas morning.

All is bright.

The 81-year old woman who waited for her son to come pick her up for a Christmas visit. She dressed and waited and waited, but he never came. He didn’t come last year, either. Maybe he’ll call on New Year’s Eve.

He won’t.

Round yon virgin, mother and child

There are American servicemen and women stationed around the world who are on watch….on patrol. In Iraq, one squad is taking fire. A sniper’s nest in some bombed out mid-rise outside Baghdad has the upper hand. Suddenly, there’s a lull in the fire fight. One 19-year old soldier, wipes away a tear as he clutches a gun on this night. He wishes to God he could be at home, in his mother’s arms. No, be brave. “I’m a G. I.”, he reminds himself. A stray bullet grazes the wall behind him. He hunkers down lower. He thinks about his grandparents, his cousins and his Aunt Deb’s pumpkin pie. He wonders if they’ve thought about him at all this Christmas. This, has he prepares to return fire.

Holy infant so tender and mild

There are the those souls who’ll go to sleep hungry. Like those struggling to live in war torn Darfur. The only Christmas gift some receive will be the “privilege” of waking up to to yet another morning.

And in every city in this country, many people aren’t acknowledging Christmas.  It’s hard to do that when you’re depressed and hungry.  But their hunger goes beyond the need for food; they hunger for love and companionship.

Peace of mind.

And there are those who’ll go to sleep cold and who’ll sadly, wake up shivering. For some, souls, being cold is no longer an atmospheric condition or an external indication of temperature. It’s an emotional way of life.

Sleep in heavenly peace

“How sad”, you think to yourself. You sigh and shake your head but through it all, you thank God it’s them and not you.

Thank God indeed.

You take another sip of your drink and unplug the Christmas lights. It’s late. Time to go upstairs and try out the marvelous new king size Egyptian Cotton sheets that Sheila and Dan bought you. It’ll be like sleeping on a cloud. And you can’t wait to try on your new incredibly warm Chenille pajamas. Margaret must’ve spent a fortune on those!

You make your way toward the stairs and clutch your sweater…it’s cold in this big, five bedroom manse. Raise the thermostat up a notch or two and maybe steal a cookie on your way upstairs.

But before you ascend the stairs, you stop, turn and take a one final look around you. You finish surveying the day’s events and the castle in which they unfolded.

Your home… your family…your good fortune. It all melds together in this life affirming moment amid the holly and tinsel. All is right with your world.

So, the answer is yes, it was a great Christmas…. at your house, anyway.

Sleep in heavenly peace….

About these ads

39 comments

  1. We, who are fortunate to have so much more than many others in this world, seem to forget about those who don’t…. especially on holidays. I’m guilty—-I’m one of those people who don’t think of others. I/we get so wrapped up with our menu planning, decorations, baking, gift buying, gift wrapping that we forget. I feel bad about that and wish things were different for other people but for now, all is right with my world.

    My world.

    It was a great Christmas here in the Texas Hill Country but I’m glad it’s over..

    I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Amazing perspective. Makes me realize how little I have to be sad about. That 81 year old lady almost made me cry.
    Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

  3. Laurie, when one writes, one almost never knows how the impact of that writing will be. With this one, you HAD to have known, and I thank you.

    What a wonderful way to express that there are others out there that don’t share all the joys that we have, and part of that is our responsibility.

    Very touching Laurie, very touching!

  4. It was nice to read your last thoughts after everything had finished and I thank you because you shared them with other people. But the problems are still there, it is not just a matter of thinking. For me it must be a matter of acting, but I am too self-indulgent and I do nearly nothing and it strikes my conscience many times.
    Happy New Year to you all!

  5. p.s. I was taking “I Know How This Day Ends” and comparing it to the last chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is all about one day. In that chapter, the protagonist’s adulterous wife has a train-of-thought soliloquy that ties everything together in bliss and horror and existential angst with a bunch of repeated yes’s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Bloom%27s_Soliloquy

    Obscure as hell, but that’s me, baby.

  6. Beautifully written, as usual. As for me, I find myself at Christmas knowing I should be more grateful and actually feeling guilty that I’m not. It sounds like you at least notice what you have to be grateful for. That’s a blessing.

  7. I come to you in search of wit, and I find schmaltz–good schmaltz, but schmaltz just the same.

    Here’s all we need to know about Christmas–aside from whose birthday it is and all. It is, unfortunately, a time for reflection–people climb in the wayback machine, and visit Christmases past–if they reflect on a good one, they feel sad because the current one is not as good, or they should have appreciated that Christmas more because now I know how crummy Christmas can get, whatever; if they recall a particularly unhappy Christmas, they embrace it fully–suck it all up–sadness is my lot–I don’t deserve to lie happily in my Hungarian sheets when people are being eaten by tigers at the SF zoo.

    And now you are going to remember the Christmas of ’07 as the one where you handed out schmaltz–unless the real message here is–the protagonist is feeling dispair because her wastoid husband lies passed out on the couch, while she compensates with a mouthful of cookies and fancy sheets that will never know the bliss of peckertracks. I know this is pretty bad, but I’m not the one with the gift here.

    Heehaw.

  8. Charlie,

    I come to my comments section to find schmlatz, and today EUR-fucking-RICKA!!! That’s all I find.

    That’s an exaggeration. Seriously, like you, I came here looking for wit and clever retorts. And I was sorely disappointed when I didn’t find any.

    In truth, you come to my blog because you’re a smart man. You understand the many comedic nuances that are wasted on those without your mental prowess That said, you know my work renders me something akin to a metaphoric onion…and with any onion, there are many layers. I’m more than my blog and my blog is more than satirical comedy or punditry.

    Therefore, I’m not going to construe what you wrote as criticism. Nope, I think you complimented me–perhaps unwittingly, but it was a compliment just the same.

    Because what you read in this post was exemplary of my many layers.

    The protagonist in this story has in her opinion a lovely life. Lovely but sheltered and it precludes her from seeing the stuff that isn’t so lovely that exists outside her four very well insulated, very well appointed walls. But all she has is “stuff”. She cannot equate happiness unless there’s materialism involved.

    Happiness to her, always comes in the form of a tangible.

    THAT’S what I intended in this “schmalz”, Charlie.

    You wrote:

    “unless the real message here is–the protagonist is feeling despair because her wastoid husband lies passed out on the couch, while she compensates with a mouthful of cookies and fancy sheets that will never know the bliss of peckertracks. I know this is pretty bad, but I’m not the one with the gift here”.

    That’s exactly what I meant….peckertracks and all.

    Then, again, I AM the one with “the gift”…and apparently, you have it too, since since you got the deeper meaning.

    Yeah..yeah Charlie—we get it. You’ve made your point. You’re deep and dark and angry and you don’t have time for literary crap illustrated in metaphor and allegory. We get it—you’re better than we are. Intellectually superior by virtue of your carefully crafted attitude. Woo woo!!!

    But I wish you a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year anyway, Charlie.

    Meet me back here on January 2nd to discuss rampant hyperbole used among Gilded Era scribes.

    And this time, bring your wit with you.

    LK

  9. If I had known you were hiding stuff in your posts, I would have read them harder. I thought the idea was to REVEAL things in a blog post.

    Durn. I’ve got to re-think my whole whatever, now. It might take me a minute or two.

  10. I loved it Laurie, and was going to comment but I had trouble with the words and went away to think about it. Then I heard the sound of a bitchslap and came running to see.

    The mention of peckertracks in comments must have the same effect as Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies.

    Light and fluffy or deep and oniony, give us more.

  11. nope cerberus–I’m pretty certain it was schmaltz that got me slapped–although, I certainly wouldn’t presume to speak for Ms. K, who is, as she puts it, layered and perhaps a bit thin skinned–you know, oniony.

    Ms. K–I will bone up on wit and hyperbole, and try to be more like keywork, although I’m not sure I’m up to it.

  12. Thin skinned? Me? Not me Charlie–I’m a realist. I see things as they are and read things accordingly. Everything you leave for me in the comments section is rooted in insult! Some of it more subtle than others, but insult none the less.

    I’ve spent a lifetime in Broadcasting and I took shit from idiots who had an opinion about me and my work and because of the almighty ratings and the court of public opinion being everything in that medium, I could never fight back. I took insults that nine times out of ten, were rooted in anger and resentment–not legitimate opinion.

    So here I am, liberated from TV and radio and in the world of blogging and if placed in a position to defend my writing, I will. And believe me, I will until one of us bleeds.

    So when you tell me that I’ll remember Christmas 2007 as the one in which I delivered schmaltz on my blog??? Then hell yeah, I’m, defending what I write.

    Then again, I don’t know why I should be so upset with anything you could say. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. I have no idea who you are or what positives you give to mankind.

    Just as you don’t know my contributions.

    Additionally, between the two of is, it’s quite obvious that I am the only real writer here. If I put it that way, debating with you the strength OR weakness of my prose is really, completely all for naught.

    LK

  13. Chuckie-

    Let me guess- you live close to NYC, but can’t afford the rent. You wear black almost everyday, visit avant garde galleries in the village and pretend the crap art moves you. You really believe you understand Goethe and are adamant that Sigmund Freud is passe. Melanie Klein is your Goddess of the Mind. You listen to alternative music written by kids from Long Island and you believe that Ron Paul is on a mission. You eat beaucoup Thai, Chinese and Japanese food because you finally mastered chopsticks.

    FYI, dim sung is not a Chinese province or the name of a Chinese dynasty.

    It is hard to know what amuses me more: The pretense of your transparency or the transparency of your pretense.

    Now, be nice to LK. Don’t make me do to you what I did to NTR.

  14. NTR-

    Do you really want to play some more? Do you really want to go down the same road?

    You still know nothing of either LK or myself. You have made public your delusion of relationship that does not now or has ever existed despite your delusions and having pretended otherwise.

    You are the Travis Bickle (look it up) of the blogosphere, totally self-absorbed and totally unaware of your own (very easy to observe and) very narcissistic dysfunctions. You are a little man, with little dick syndrome.

    While others have repeatedly made clear their observations and conclusions as to what has transpired between us, and yourself and LK, you are incapable of acknowledging that truth. Instead, you continue to delude yourself in a very public way. Clearly, you need to make mental health a priority New Years’ resolution.

    I do find it interesting in how you took the bait and have highlighted your obsession with your dick. Clearly, you invite comparison- and it is clear that is yet another area in which you are woefully shortchanged.

    Why on earth would you presume to lecture or admonish LK? Do you have a relationship with her? Have you ever? Have you ever spoken to her? Of course not! How many times do you need to face reality before it sinks in?

    There is a reason Nate, for your dysfunction and there is a reason you still are a dancing spectacle.

    You are in fact an ape in a tuxedo. You may learn to waltz and use a knife and fork. You may wear the finest silks and the most fashionable attire, but in the end, Nate, the only one who believes the tuxedo camouflages his identity, is the ape himself.

    That said, let me be the first to congratulate you on walking upright.

    The rest of us are well aware of who you are and of of what you are. Apparently even those close to home aren’t fooled.

    Still, thanks for the entertainment. Please feel free to play with your dick anytime you like. It’s still there Nate, under all those delusions.

    Lastly, I spent some time as an officer in the Navy. If you feel the need to get your sorry ass kicked into oblivion, I’m sure I can spare a minute or two. I do not really need all that much time, but I’d like to get to know you.

    I wasn’t going to respond but I like Juan, Key, Oracle and Not From Mars, among others. After all, this is the Holiday Season and I am in a giving spirit.

  15. Laurie,

    You’re onto something–there is no reason for you to take my criticism to heart–as you say, you are the only writer here. On the other hand, where do I get off criticizing the likes of you in the first place? I owe you an apolgy–a profound one.

    You are catching onto this fighting back thing. Keep up the good work.

    Charlie

  16. Thank you Charlie. I appreciate your sentiments.

    And I’d like to thank you for making me think. I did a goodly amount of that most of the afternoon. Yes I am layered like an onion, but I must be honest here—onion skin has never been known for it’s “toughness”.

    I hope you’ll come back around from time to time.

    LK

  17. “You always claim that I know nothing of your relationship with LK. Perhaps you’re right..”

    PERHAPS? PERHAPS? Are you kidding? The only way the word ‘perhaps’ might be used in this situation would be if you were on another planet or overdosed on a cocktail of psychotropic drugs (which in all fairness is a possibility, all things considered). Given that LK and I spend a great deal of time every day, your remark that “She seems to be blithlely unaware that she’s involved with you” is particularly indicative of your detachment from reality. How on earth would you know anything about our relationship?

    Inasmuch as you clearly are detached from reality, shall we assume you are hearing voices? Is it your invisible friend that is giving you information? It matters not which option you select, so don’t spend too much time obsessing about which is the ‘right’ answer.

    Further, that LK doesn’t write about me only highlights your detachment from reality. Our relationship is private. Not in a ‘hiding’ kind of way (know what I mean?) but rather, in an adult way. Relationships aren’t games to be played out in public. Real relationships are private and meant to be that way. Our relationship does not include you and like it or not, that is how healthy people do it. I submit with the exception of yourself, everyone on this blog understands exactly what I’m talking about. Relationships are not about public displays- they are intimate in nature.

    It is clear now as to why your relationships have imploded. It is not enough to be ‘wonderful’ in public. In fact, that isn’t all that important.

    Like character, how one behaves and treats others in private is the true measure of a relationship.

    You say I haven’t ‘earned her.’ How do you know that? On what do you predicate that remark? Just because YOU aren’t a party to our relationship (other than what we have to say about you at times like these) doesn’t mean we don’t have a relationship. We just don’t have the phony and deceitful kind of relationships in which you wallow.

    You keep talking about ‘frauds’ and phonies.

    Do you REALLY want to go down that road?

    In any event, while I don’t have the crystal ball you seem to possess (I only have real ones, of the non crystal variety) time will tell the LK and PM story. So far, so good

    I am confident that you are indeed correct about one thing. You are not, never were and never will be in the picture.

    One more thing, NTR- If I really wanted to hurt you, I would. Instead, I feel sorry for you. You have lost much in your life and you’re picking up momentum.

    Get help. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your family. They have done nothing to deserve what they are forced to endure.

  18. Karol, there is no fight here.

    Your sister and I have the kind of relationship Nate cannot even begin to fathom.

    Mess with LK and the Sisters Kendrick and you mess with me.

  19. Look, you guys know I don’t like to refrain from hurling insults in Laurie’s direction, but it’s in good fun. That’s my relationship with Miss Kendrick. So, when I step out of my tail and rings, you can bet it’s for a good cause. We don’t blog to bring shit upon ourselves, we blog to entertain you, the reader. And ourselves. That being said, NTR, I’m glad things are clear now. So, I know this won’t happen again, because if it does, you can be sure that you will be met with ferocious anger the likes of which you cannot even comprehend. That is a promise. Laurie is my people, and nobody fucks with them without getting the raccoon teeth.

  20. ‘Truce’?

    A truce implies a temporary cessation of hostilities.

    Contain your remarks directed ay LK, the SK and myself to what is appropriate, civil and decent and you will not have to contend with hostilities from me or anyone else in here.

And now, you may opine your ass off...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s