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Friday, December 20, 2002

A year ago this week, we were staggering through the days following my uncle's death, sobered by the fresh imprint of life's impermanence. We've thought about him a lot this week, but we can also look around and see that the rest of us are still here. Some of us are doing better than a year ago, some not as well, but the family will be together on Christmas, and we have reason to hope the new year will bring better times.

We got together last night for Mom's birthday, as well. It was a dinner at Suzanne's that almost didn't happen, because she and Mom have both been sick all week. But both were well enough (or so they claimed) to "celebrate" last night. We had a few laughs and some good food, but it was an early night, in deference to the health factor. We don't want any of us to go into the holiday home stretch feeling any worse than absolutely necessary.

Three generations sat around that table last night, and laughter and good feelings flowed freely in all directions. We're not a perfectly tuned unit, but we're a family and we know each other. We know how to share the best of ourselves with each other. We sometimes see ourselves at our worst, but last night was an example of how the forces that hold us together are stronger than those that sometimes seem to be pulling us apart.

The storm continues, but it's different from the nonstop deluge of last weekend. For one thing, it's colder, cold enough to dust a few of the outlying areas with snow. The hills surrounding the city are positively picturesque, at least when they're visible. Most of the time they're hidden behind clouds or rain, often both.

The rain isn't as relentless as it was. Some of the time the paving stones almost dry out, but then we'll get hammered with a shower every bit as powerful as the worst cloudbursts from a week ago. When that happens, I can look out and see a rippling sheet of water between my window and the majestic panorama of the west county countryside.

And then it'll stop again, for awhile.

It was so dark out all afternoon that I turned the tree lights on early. Can you tell that that's the worst part of all this for me? Not the rain, or even the wind, but the darkness that feels like night reaching into the heart of the day and smothering the spirit I've been working so hard to maintain.

The exception is when I have to wade out to my mailbox through the mud. Then I hate the rain more than anything. There's no way around the puddles, because as soon as you think you're stepping on solid ground, you can be sure you'll sink a few inches into it. The low spots are unavoidable, but somehow they don't seem so bad in dry weather (when I could actually do something about them).


Clouds over the garage roof.

However the weather pummels and pounds us, we won't be deterred from our continuing effort to squeeze every bit of joy and cheer out of the season. (That didn't come out quite as poetical as I'd hoped.) Tomorrow, for example, we have an all-day event planned in celebration of Suzanne's birthday (which was last Monday). The planning was done mostly by John, and I get to go along for the ride, so I can't predict when I'll be able to post Saturday's entry.

You should hear from me by Sunday night at the latest, so don't bother to panic. Not yet. I'll tell you when to panic.

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Latest recommendation:

Bob, And If I Die Before I Wake, December 19, I think... (a to z)

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Time to Wrap
"I'm embracing the pile of wonderful stuff I have to wrap, and giving it my benediction. O mound of gewgaws, blessed be thy power to make someone smile."

Two years ago: Limping Home
"Every good idea I've had has turned into a bad idea. Either they already have it, or they don't need it, or I can't find it."

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I don't know if there'll be snow,
But have a cup of cheer.