Christmas Basket

Christmas basket
Every year after I think Christmas is all put away, I find overlooked items scattered around the house. This year I decided to plan for that reality and the Christmas Basket was born.

The basket itself came as a gift to my husband’s office containing a “tower of treats” which slowly disappeared over the holiday season (I immediately ate the caramel corn and left the rest to everyone else). The empty basket is nicely lined in festive red plaid, too nice to discard, yet too big to pack away with the other kitchen Christmas decorations. After clearing the rest of Christmas, I placed the basket on the front hall dresser, a central location. Immediately it began to fill.

paper towels

First in: an unopened package of holiday paper hand towels found in the powder room cabinet while reaching for a roll of toilet paper. I bought the pack in the fall and then forgot about it, or more accurately, where I had put it, which proves you can start preparing for the holidays too early. Next, one shiny green glass ornament that apparently fell off the tree, rolled under a chair amazingly unbroken, although it lost its hanging cap. (I spent an inordinate amount of time this season squeezing together little wires to replace those caps; someone should do something about how easily they pull out.)

The laundry revealed a tree-embroidered kitchen towel, one I like that actually works (I must get rid of the too many I have that neither dry dishes nor match my current kitchen). That reminded me to search for holiday guest towels I know I have but never put out because they are buried in closets rather than kept with the official holiday linens box I’ve been organizing over the last couple of years. I was thrilled especially to find Dancer and Rudolph who had been missing from the reindeer lineup.

dancer towel
Surprisingly lovely dollar store door knob jingle bells were the first decorations I put out the morning after Thanksgiving, but to which I apparently became oblivious; four of five were still on display. That reminded me of a non-jingling door knob decoration that had been hanging since last Christmas (or the one before?) on the front hall closet door. I felt guilty every time I noticed it but not enough to make a special trip down to the basement holiday corner on the off season.

door hanger

A golden angel candle in a mini-basket was on display for so long her nose and elbows are losing their finish. She was left out last year and I decided she’d look nice in the guest bath since angels are welcome anywhere, anytime, but enough for now. Leaving the bathroom, I noticed the Christmas tree/bubble nightlight still plugged in after spending all last year in the medicine cabinet. The “Christmas Joys” book was sitting on the coffee table and four cookie cutters I bought this year because I wasn’t sure I could find the dozens from coffee shop days (I never got to making cutouts anyway) sat on a kitchen shelf.

angel

While dragging out the tree, my husband spotted one of our boys’ first Christmas ornaments falling onto the driveway. Now there’s something I’d hate to lose. Am I done yet?  Looking up I see a glass wax Santa on the window.  Probably not.

Not Just A Number

last day of 59
This is what the last day of 59 looks like. I won’t lie, I’m not happy about turning 60 tomorrow. Don’t tell me it’s just a number, I look in the mirror and know that’s not true. My body is different now. No amount of weight lifting brings real muscle tone. Fat settles in different places and leaves others where it would be welcome, like my face. Hair has moved around too, from my legs to my chin, where it sprouts in wiry spikes like the heavy duty nylon thread you use to sew on buttons. I spend hours tweezing all the while worrying that those bristles are the only thing holding up my sagging skin. I can’t even talk about my neck.

I see a huge difference in one year. Bags under my eyes that won’t go away because it’s so hard to sleep through the night. Either I can’t fall asleep or I wake up at 3am and can’t go back to sleep. I have to worry about whether it’s too late in the day to have a cup of even decaf coffee or anything chocolate. Anything more than a few sips of wine ensures falling asleep too early, midnight sweats and angst.

Weird changes too. I no longer sweat under my arms, but under my eyebrows and above my lip.  If I feel the slightest bit warm, which continues to come in waves, I become blinded by salt dripping into my eyes. I have brown spots on my cheeks too big to be called freckles which require I start buying face creams and makeup I am sure are nothing more than a scam to prey on panicked people like me.

There’s so much I can’t do anymore, like go to sleep on a full stomach. I can’t stay up late and miss my drowsy window and I can’t sleep in even if I don’t have to get up. Even when I get a good night’s sleep, I don’t feel refreshed. It takes twenty minutes to get out of bed and another ten for my body to completely wake up. I can’t get up and go straight to the gym anymore. I have to follow my routine: drink my vitamins and supplements, have breakfast and wait a half hour to digest before working out.

I can’t believe I’ve become “set in my ways.” When I interviewed for my retail job, the thirty-something manager said, “We have people working from 6:00 am until midnight daily. Are you available all those hours?” I said yes because I have no time demands on me, but soon found out I have no desire to work at night or too early either. There’s no way I could work late one night and then return the following morning. As it is I can barely make it through a five-hour shift with only a fifteen minute break during which I need two chairs, one on which to put up my feet.

I believe in my heart that 60 is the new 40, and I want an exciting life, but I’m not sure what that means. I think wistfully of the coffee bar I had and loved, but look at the clock when I would have to start baking and know I couldn’t do that now. I no longer have the drive to go to law school or get the PhD I always wanted, so instead I “take a class” while reviling at doing anything that sounds like something a “senior” would do. I’m starting to relate to how my grandmother in her 80s, living in a senior apartment, refused to socialize with her neighbors because they were all “old people.”

I know I’m not old, but my hearing is not good and I’m starting to get words wrong like I always pick on my mother for doing. I called myself “typhoon” instead of “typhoid Mary” which my husband was helpful to later correct. I hoped the others present were too young to know the proper term. I’m trying not to talk about my age-related physical maladies, which thankfully are more annoying than life-threatening, although I am terribly depressed about not being able to wear heels anymore, ever again.

Being around the kids at work is fun although I feel sad remembering how I viewed someone my age when I was young: irrelevant and clueless. I know I’m not, but I fear sliding down that slope. I won’t go peacefully into my 60s. I want more than the same old with longer vacations. I haven’t found my mission yet but trust it will come to me. Until then I will continue to let my hair grow long and wild and defy social convention wherever possible. So long as I’m not too tired.