Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dancing on the Edge of the Cloud Wall

As hard as it was for me to muster the holiday spirit this year, it finally did settle in, probably as a side benefit of catching up on rest due to a combination of the weather and our holiday hours at the cafe.

And it's really hard to remain a Grinch during a white Christmas...

To start with, you must know that the impending post-holiday season is looming like Mark Helprin's cloud wall in one of my favorite books, A Winter's Tale. The cloud wall is a massive, impenetrable fog between Manhattan and New Jersey that swallows boats whole and. Or, maybe a better metaphor is Stephen King's Mist, a fog far more treacherous than Helprin's dimension-bending precursor to the Lincoln Tunnel.

A failed attempt to get me into the spirit
In other words, I'm not particularly looking forward to the end-of-the-year bureaucratic nonsense a business has to go through. I mean, it's not like I'm we're Kraft Foods or Nabisco. But we sure could use their accountants. And their money.

Despite the appearance of gray, swirling confusion on the horizon, I've made peace with the fact that, like Helprin's Baymen, who make sport of outrunning the cloud wall, it is my destiny live right at its edge (in the book, this location is called "Bayonne.")*

No, I'm not moving to Bayonne.

My point is, we had a very nice holiday. But you know I can't write anything that simply.

We haven't had a true white Christmas in a very long time and snow on the ground is not as devastating around here, particularly because you learn very fast to have a four-wheel drive vehicle at your disposal. Which is to say, Dark Garden made it here, broken leg and all.

And, of course, both Heirs made it home and were stuck here happy to bask in the warmth of family and Heir 2's traveling wet bar. (Or, as Eleanor of Aquitaine says in Lion in the Winter: "I am locked up with my sons. What mother does not dream of that?")

Of course, I had to assure Heir 1 that the basket of nuts would be here. He doesn't eat the nuts, but insists they be in this basket every Christmas. One year I forgot to put them out and chaos ensued. In fact, no one eats the nuts except Heir 2, who eats all the hazelnuts. The rest of the nuts may be 15 years old.

Here is Linguiniland, not only wasn't there room at the inn;
the stable was getting pretty crowded also.
So we ate and drank and until 2 a.m. played The Game of Things, which for us is actually The Game of References to Gross Bodily Functions and Male Genitalia, no matter how hard I try to keep it on high ground. Further proof I live in a frat house.

Tomorrow we do it again for New Years Eve. Then it's back to reality.

You'll find me dancing at the edge of the cloud wall.

*Just found out they're turning A Winter's Tale into a movie, but shooting was held up by hurricane Sandy. I so hope they do this justice -- it could be a really beautiful film!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It came without ribbons

It came without tags

It came without packages, boxes or bags!

I've watched, with a sort of bemusement, this year's Christmas preparations swirling around me. Time and energy are precious commodities around here, and I save all mine for the cafe.

Inevitably, customers have asked me if I'm ready for Christmas. I just shrug my shoulders and say, "Um...yeah...," implying "I'm as ready as I'll ever be." Foremost on my mind is carrying my business over the slowest time of the year*. Christmas? Bah! Humbug!

Exacerbating this whole situation are my employees, for whom the cafe is only a small segment of their lives.

For instance:

Divine Mrs. D (decked out in tinsel and garland and skipping about to a sappy version of Jingle Bells performed by Aerosmith --- or something like that; something annoying and loud): I finished my Christmas shopping today and I spent last night wrapping them in hand-printed wrapping paper while the children and I gathered around the fire and sang caroles and Papa played the fiddle..."

Me: I got home and spent 3 hours doing the books for the cafe, slurped down a martini, crawled into bed. Then I fell asleep until waking up a 2 a.m. and suddenly remembering the electric bill for the cafe and spending the rest of the night wondering where I'm going to conjure the cash before the lights go out.

DMD has been very focused on getting me into the Christmas spirit and is very lucky I never hauled off and slugged her.

This past week did nothing to bolster my spirits and, ultimately, we realized only one of us was needed to run the whole show -- well, one of us and one of our teenage employees, in this case Ms. Em. So Dirtman sent me home to rest -- physically...and, more importantly, mentally.

I spent one day in bed, watching only what was on the DVR so I wouldn't have to encounter holiday advertising or those sappy Hallmark Channel movies. That, and searched the web for...what?

The thing about surfing the web and sites like Pinterest...if you don't know what you want to see, it has ideas for you. So there I was, being led by my computer to who I am when I'm not only The Owner of a Cafe or The Ex-Non-Profit Employee.

Jeanne Jackson, I'd like you to meet Jeanne Jackson. Remember her? Used to write a funny little blog and make her dogs talk; knitted silly little things while listening to 19th-century literature on audio books; used to laugh so hard she got the hiccups and someone had to get her inhaler.

You know -- before her feet hurt.

So today: Heir 1 is home and Heir 2 is due in tonight. "I'll be out of bed...eventually," I dismally told Heir 1 last night. But I was wrong. Once again, hope comes to the forefront and once again, I rally.

I stink at depression. I just can't seem to manage that elusive nervous breakdown.

I was out of bed when Dirtman got up, making my shopping list and planning normal, family meals. How good it will feel to cook for four people and not 24 for a change. A naked pine tree sits in the livingroom, awaiting purpose.

There are halls to deck, food to prepare, cookies to bake, dogs to dress in embarrassing Christmas attire.

Because today my feet feel just fine.

*Downtown Romney practically no retail shops, save one. So people drive to Cumberland, Md., or Winchester, Va., to do Christmas shopping -- and eat there while they do it.