I'm so happy to be here in my park again. Thrilled that it is almost fifty degrees! I am out of my car, breathing in the cool, clean air and gladly yanking my lawn chair into the park. It is very, very muddy and my sneakers are a pale blue which is a shame, but well worth it. In my eyes, just keep the rain coming instead of snow all winter!
The park is busy with dogs and their humans. The dogs look frisky. The humans less so. They either look exhausted or sad. Probably for the same reason. Everyone is exhausted after Christmas but usually in a sort of happy way. All of the hustle and bustle of relatives is over. If you had company, you don't have to keep your host/hostess face on anymore. Uncle Amos is finally gone. The guy who insists on asking your son, an actor, when he is going to get a real man's job. Your cousin Cathy is gone. She's the one who smells as if she dunks herself into a barrel of Charlie perfume. Your sister, Bonnie, is gone. The one who tries way too hard to let you know how much smarter her kids are than yours.
And if you're on the guest side of the equation, you're exhausted from not sleeping in your own bed for several nights running and from that plain icky feeling of taking a shower in an unfamiliar bathroom after your brother-in-law, who seems to fart every fifteen minutes. And you are really sick of dealing with your sister's cat, who loves you more than any other human in the world and insists on laying in your lap, which makes you sneeze.
The sad ones are enduring the let down of a Christmas bar that has been set way too high. Every year, you think that that maybe your family can finally be more like the Bradys or the Waltons. ("Good night, Jim Bob. Good night, John Boy!") This is way too much to ask.
Maybe it was fun seeing everybody, but hey...Aunt Goldie still eats with her mouth open and Cousin George is always either coming down with a cold, has one, or is just getting over one.
Plus, this year you have the Trumpers gloating and the Clintoneers mad as bloody hell. A lot of families put up a "no politics" rule. I have a friend who told me that when he and his wife spent Christmas with his in-laws who live in Texas, they purposely did not ask who they had voted for. My friend and his wife are very liberal Democrats and both have conservative Republican parents. He knew that his parents had voted for Clinton because his father told him so. It was the first time in their marriage that they had voted the Democrat ticket. But, he said that he and his wife avoided the subject of politics very carefully when they were in Texas.
"I love my father-in-law," he said. "He's the kindest, most warm hearted man that I have ever met. He was a big Rubio supporter but I just couldn't ask if he voted for Trump because if he did, it would have changed the way I looked at him forever. Cruz. Rubio. Bush. Fine. Trump? God, help us...NO! I mean we have to draw that line somewhere and when I read Trump's quote about how he'd 'DO' Ivanka if she wasn't his daughter, I almost threw up. My heart would have been broken if I knew my father-in-law had jumped into that particular trash heap."
I admit that I see his point. I am so tired of having people tell me "Now you know how I felt when Obama was elected." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Oh, come now. Think what you want to about Obama and his policies or lack thereof, he would have DIED before he'd talk filth about his child. Or joke about fondling women's vaginas and calling it "locker talk." I think Tom Hanks is right. If you know a man who talks like that in a locker room, maybe you are hanging out with the wrong kind of man.
But, going on. The end of Christmas season is kind of a relief and kind of a bummer. Some of your relatives are wonderful to meet up with on the holidays, yes? There's your Aunt Barb. She bakes up a storm and her cookies melt in your mouth. Your Cousin Chuck could make Dracula feel at home in a sun beam. Then there's Cousin Matt. He's the guy who everyone wants on their team when your family plays Charades. Or Uncle Billy, who never once asked if you were naughty or nice and is even kind to Grandpa, who thinks it's hysterically funny to tickle little children until they pee their pants and then makes fun of them. (There's one in every family...)
I sit in my lawn chair, leaning into the sun and feeling my bones go slack. My Christmas was actually pretty cool this year. I ate too many rich foods, laughed hard playing board games, got so many lovely gifts, and fell asleep feeling grateful that people like Conrad, Kim, Lucy, Sarah, David and Brett are in my tribe! Incredible people with incredible minds. I saw four good movies. Slept in. So, no complaints.
As I am sitting and smiling, watching people arrive and leave, I sense movement on the water and suddenly spy two teenaged Mallard ducks. A male and a female, probably only recently mated. I'm very surprised that they are still around but given the mild weather, I guess they've decided to prolong their migration south.
Good luck to you, ducks!