Gatlinburg is the place I went with youth groups as a teen. Gatlinburg is where Doug and I were married. Our first weekend alone as a married couple was in Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg is where I’ve gone for work related conventions. Gatlinburg is where we take our family for entertainment. Gatlinburg isn’t somewhere we visit for vacations. Gatlinburg is part of who we are.
Now, it’s on fire.
Since the children were small, we have decorated a lighted garland with 24 treat filled mittens to use as a countdown to Christmas morning. Every January, the children give their leftover candies to a sibling. This year, while the middle child explained to me what he currently does and does not like to eat, the two of us realized how to solve the problem of five children with five very different preferences.
The Christmas tree has always been decorated with traditional minty Christmas canes. From now on, if you don’t like what is in the mitten for that day, hang it on the tree and take a plain candy cane instead. Did someone hang a cherry flavored candy cane on the tree because they preferred a minty cane? That cherry cane is fair game for a swap. Our Christmas tree will now be decorated in “take what you need and leave what you don’t” candy treats.
Now I need to figure out how to transition the shelf elf from ‘nightly panic over remembering to move it’ to a decoration that I don’t have to deal with daily.
One of the insignificant details in Fantastic Beasts that tickled my fancy was the different hemlines of pants. Jon Voight, the successful newspaper editor, had pants touching the tops of his shoes. Newt and the other working class characters had pants hemmed above the ankle. The poverty of streets too poor for cobblestones and the mud and sewage that flood them is something that the movie’s makers wanted viewers to notice. No child or adult I pointed this out to understood the relevance of the hems. They only saw costumes. Most of us don’t even recognize that the stores we can afford to shop carry about three non-standard colors every season. True spectrum of color choices is a financial privilege. When you can’t afford to care, you don’t even realize how much of your choices are made for you, to separate you from their world.
Peak happiness is all of the children (who are no longer children) at home.
Today was wonderful. All the children were home. My mother was here. We talked, ate, talked more and laughed. I felt no anxiety. I rolled with problems. It was perfect.
I’m thinking about taking a non-sick, non-stressed, celebrate my state of not-worrying-about-people-and-politics day off tomorrow. I actually feel guilty that I am able to have this privilege. I know that others don’t. 2016 has been brutal. I’m exhausted.
Happy, but tired.
I’m not buying into Jill’s ‘send me money and I’ll make them do their due diligence’ routine. What I am coming around to is the opinion that the new VP, despite his infliction of his beliefs on others, is less internationally destructive than the monosyllabic, insecure, vengeful, wannabe mobster. America could recover from four years of Pence. The world is in danger with Trump at the helm. Pence would step down at the end of his term. Trump will assume dictatorship.
Me to children: “Your glasses are filthy. Let me clean them for you. How do they get so grimy?”
Me to myself: “Why are my glasses always dirty?!”
A's friend: "You should change your hair to red."
A: "My mom accidentally colored her hair red. < – turns to me – > It's not that bad, though."
Me: "I chose this color intentionally."
A: "What? On purpose? You… It's… Uh… Nevermind."
A's friend: < – temporarily speechless because she's trying not to laugh – >
I spend an inordinate amount of time in the car. I drive the children here and there. I retrieve the children from hither and yon. I sit in carpool lines. I drive to and from the grocery and the big, red bullseye store. I spend so much time in the car that I have wished I could slide the car’s seat cushion out and flip it over to avoid it developing a dent the exact shape of my fanny.
Last night, we had a three generation movie outing that had me driving home well after midnight. With the XM cranked to 11, I realized I don’t actually hate driving. I hate being on the roads with other drivers. Driving is super chill when you aren’t constantly watching for another driver to try and kill you. Between the movie and twisty roads all to myself, I came home at one in the morning in the best mood ever.
Then, the cats demanded breakfast at 5 a.m.