I was awakened on Thursday by the sound of clanking and hammering in the basement. It seems that one of my mother’s half-century-old pipes picked the middle of the Great Blizzard of 2004 as the perfect time to spring a leak. Fortunately, my brother had the day off, discovered the leak by chance, and fixed it with minimal fuss. He can do that kind of thing, as well as every other kind of thing in the world that requires mechanical skill, whereas I can’t do much of anything beyond hanging and rehanging the pictures in the Teachout Museum. My poor father did his best to teach me how to fend for myself in the world of inanimate objects, but my brother scooped up all the relevant chromosomes, forcing me to live by my wits. Not that he’s short on wits, but he’s the strong, silent type (which didn’t stop him from winning a seat on the Smalltown City Council–he’s the family pol!), and as a rule he prefers doing things to discussing them. Our common ground is narrow–Westerns and family matters pretty much cover it–but we’re very close, especially for two such dissimilar folk, and if I were to find myself in the kind of jam that required bail or a getaway car, I’d call him first.
The blizzard is over, by the way, and though there’s just short of a foot of snow on the ground, life in Smalltown is slowly returning to normal. My brother and I took care of the day’s errands, after which I spent the afternoon working on my Washington Post column and reading one of the books I brought home to prepare for my next Commentary essay. I haven’t heard from Our Girl, but the Mutant has re-established contact via e-mail, and other holiday-related news is trickling into my mailbox from New York and Washington: it seems that one of my blogfriends is en route to an ashram in California, while another is headed for a dentist’s chair. I also learned, much to my delight, that Rachel Howard, the West Coast dance critic-blogger, praised All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine in the San Francisco Chronicle. (This link will take you there.) That’s my kind of Christmas present!
Alas, it turns out that our plans for Friday have been derailed by the weatherman. The surviving members of my mother’s family, plus such children and grandchildren as are within reach, have been getting together on Christmas Eve since time immemorial. My mother didn’t feel up to cooking for the whole clan this year, though, so we decided to eat out instead, and El Bracero being the only restaurant in Smalltown that’s open tonight, we figured on having chimichangas for Christmas. That was the plan, anyway, but the highways aren’t yet clear enough to allow the older siblings to drive with confidence, so our Christmas-eve family dinner has been cancelled. Sad news, to be sure, but my mother and I mean to make the most of it. Instead of slipping and sliding along the snow-covered streets of Smalltown, we’ll stay home, bake a turkey roll, watch Miracle on 34th Street (which I’ve never seen, believe it or not), and be grateful that we’re in the same place at the same time.
I don’t expect to be posting again until next week. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing between now and then, may it lift up your hearts as high as being with my family has lifted mine.