Christmas fits into four boxes. Big boxes to be sure. A box of fake garland for the front porch and the little trees that Julia decorated this year with tiny lights added to the little decorations. A box of tree decorations, some from my grandmother although those are shattering at an alarming rate. I lost two this year in the box. They are glass and very, very thin. I love them because I remember them from my earliest days, but most are not very good looking now, and I am sure they were cheap dime store decorations to begin with. And there are the balls, and paper garlands, and wooden animals, and knitted animals from China, and snow flakes and china hearts that I’ve collected over the years. Oh my, it is a pile of junk really. It makes for a very homey tree but it is dribs and drabs really. If I threw out the whole lot and started anew . . . ah, but I think that was what my mother did when we had all moved out of the house and she bought a fake tree, some white lights, boxes of Ukrainian decorated balls and silver garland to mark her holiday.
And those boxes are getting old. Two were very sturdy bought at a fancy storage store -- on sale at the end of some season. Two of them were never all the sturdy to begin with and after being moved between the two Indy houses and then to Madison, they are the worse for wear. But those are magical boxes. My Christmas decorations and lights and packing material has multiplied and expanded over the years and the four boxes still holds all of it.
And so, Christmas is put away. Julia was not pleased but she had a day of therapy and I am sort of just waiting to get to my next tasks which involve dragging out and up those boxes that are the grand chron file of our lives. I need to get back to what I was doing before I packed up the house last July at the start of the renovations. I could not possibly drag those boxes out while Christmas decorations were still sprinkled around the house. I was so ready to get the house back to neutral and ready to start the new year’s work, but I am left with a bit of melancholy after putting everything away and dragging the tree to the curb. Again and over and over again, the loneliness of it all. If the pots get washed, if the clothes get put away, if the bills get paid, if the tree gets dragged to the curb, I am doing it alone. Although a momentary sigh of melancholy escaped from me, it is no longer incredibly sad. Just sad. Just a fact.
Ok, I am bored with my own slow sadness. I am ready to move on. I want to get back to the gym, to my long meditations and listening to Depak in the mornings, to taking this writing project seriously, to sorting and unpacking. The kitchen, which should be completely finished by now, remains just short of finished. My contractor, who has been utterly dependable has suddenly disappeared. He was due to put in the fold down table and the appliance garage the week before Christmas. When he didn’t call to schedule a day, I didn’t mind. I was busy with Cheshire. Then the week between Christmas and New Years passed with a word from him. Then, this week dawned and I called and left a message. Still, no response. I am almost ready to worry about him. He’s been my handyman for years and never takes all the long to get back to me.
And selfishly, I’d like to wrap up the work. Have completion.
After months of daily calendar work, Julia is beginning to use days of the week and months of the year in her conversations. She asks people when they are coming back and what day she will see them on. Sometimes she doesn’t listen to the answers, but she asks. Time in some way is sinking into her everyday life. She wakes up in the morning and asks me what we will do. Years now of daily visual scheduling are made her aware that activities are planned. She still doesn’t have hours and minutes down, but we are headed in that direction. I will no longer be surprised when she learns it because she has learned so much that I thought she would never master.
And although I understand how important it is that she understand concepts of time, as well as other math related concepts, I am also aware that I may be taking something away from her as I force her to engage more with my world. I don’t mean to sound like some hopeless romantic who thinks there may be great world of imagination and creativity in a mind that is not or cannot be socialized to take part in the reality in which we all live, but what if . . . . I don’t know how a person lives with time or counting. I have no experience living without either. Numbers and a number sense are part of what define the box that I inhabit. What if they didn’t? Julia’s box has lots of hard and scary things in it. Things that we -- me, therapists and teachers -- are trying to heal, trying to change, but Julia is also an artist. Artists see the world in unique ways. Maybe this line of reasoning harkens back to the way I believe in raising children -- following their lead. I’ve written before that no part of my parenting Julia follows this belief. Maybe I have that nagging thought that will not be quieted that Julia’s way of living needs in some way to be supported and allowed to flourish. Maybe not everything needs to be changed.
Ok, I am babbling and have no idea where to go with this. I can’t even give a concrete example. I want Julia to fit into some society. Fitting in is important. Artists never fit in. Julia is an artist. This is some sort of logic problem that I must have gotten wrong on the LSAT.
Julia is tracing dinosaur pictures from a drawing book. She has been tracing, and editing a bit, and then coloring to match the pictures in the book. Sometimes her pictures are better than the book. Today, she was tracing something with plates on its back. She traced the entire dinosaur and then erased it and made it bigger by about a third. It was perfect and about a third bigger. Question is how important it is for her to know what a third is? I know. I know. It is important. But sometimes . . .