The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Ho Ho, Huh? December 5, 2012

In our four years here we haven’t kept a lot of holiday traditions; each year has been slightly different – and in fact this year is the very first Christmas for which Elihu will actually be here with me. Each year we try to make that important visit with Santa, and to watch him light the town tree, and each year we grow narcissus bulbs. That’s about it. Yeah, we get a tree, but never even do that the same way twice. Last year we cut one from a field and ended up modifying it a bit; I drilled holes in the trunk and stuck in branches to fill it out… (you can see pics of that tree under December 2011 in the archives to the right). Some things remain simple and routine, yet each year we’re met with a nice surprise or two that continues to make a believer of me.

When we arrived home this afternoon we found a Christmas tree leaning against our kitchen door. Huh? I just love that first moment after such a discovery… our jaws drop, we look at each other, then our mouths close and turn to smiles… And while it may be offensive to some, yes, some hearty expletives are uttered too (Elihu is skilled at this, he knows exactly when and when not to, and when he does, gotta say, he’s right on). So holy crap and hot damn, we have ourselves a tree. Although we don’t keep too many rigid traditions, I will admit to being a late starter at Christmastime, and I really like it that way. (Remember please that the three wise men didn’t even get to the manger – and give their gifts – until January 6th – Epiphany, ya know? And much of the Christian world correctly recognizes this day as the big one.) Plus, I’m kind of a control freak. I like to choose a tree. It’s kind of a big deal. I take pride in having my home reflect my own aesthetic choices, and the size and shape of a Christmas tree is a pretty big one – plus it’s one which comes only once a year. So ironically, in this holy moment of true giving, my less-than holy self is having a tiny tantrum.

How can I be like this for long? Elihu and I both know that somewhere out there is a person who is so excited for us, who couldn’t wait to bring us this gift, whose whole day was uplifted at the thought, who is right now happily wondering what we are saying and thinking at the surprise. And this makes us laugh. How can we not honor that and be just as joyful? After some preparations, we get the tree inside, and my able nine year old adjusts the bottom as I hold it straight (just love that my kid can finally help out like this – he does too.) We stand back. Hmm. It’s short and stout. It’s not quite the shape or size we would have chosen, but we note that it’s a good tree for a country cottage. We also remind ourselves that a tree hadn’t even been in our budget this year. It smells so nice. We thank the tree for giving her life to us, and we promise to love her and dress her up beautifully. We take a moment and just admire the real, living tree before us. Wow. Christmastime indeed.

We put the clues together and we assess who might have done this. I have an idea, and yes, it’s becoming more evident. After a trip next door to tell Grandma and Grandpa our news (this is too good for the telephone) we pick up the phone and call our suspect. We have her on speaker, and she’s good…  She brightly exclaims that we’ve been ‘elved’! – and tells us that she too had been elved last year when she came home from work to find the pole at her driveway wrapped in Christmas lights… I listen carefully to her voice. Yes, she’s good. And I like that she is, cuz way down deep she’s got me believing. Course the kid’s here too, so she’s gonna do her best, but damn, I really do believe her. It makes such sense, ya know?

Ho Ho Ho! We’ve been elved!

 

Harpsichords and Airplanes December 13, 2011

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal...,Mommy Mind — wingmother @ 12:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Recently, a local musician I know called and asked to borrow a harpsichord. Naturally, this is a very serious request, and he may have found it challenging to ask me at first. He knew, however, that he stood a chance. I personally like this fellow, and he has long been a part of my father’s Baroque Festival. Plus I really want to help people when I’m able to (especially because these days it seems most folks end up helping me). Apparently the instrument they’d planned on was no longer available do to logistic problems. At first I wasn’t entirely on board. It did take a little lobbying before I was able to agree. My father and mother also needed to be in agreement, and I myself only felt comfortable after having a chat with the concert’s director. In the end, my father’s gorgeous, double-manual Flemish harpsichord built by Allan Winkler, with lavishly painted soundboard, replete with flowers and one Eurasian Hoopoe (a metaphor used by Baroque instrument builders to symbolize how this ‘dead’ wood sings once again), will be part of Handel’s Messiah at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York. The concert is tonight.

My father has been out of the house fewer than a dozen times over the past year, and I made sure this would be one such occasion. Dad has also played harpsichord in this very cathedral years ago, and of course, he has performed the Messiah many times. (In fact, on Amazon one can still purchase a CD of his 1966 recording with Robert Shaw.) My young son sang in the local children’s choir last year, and he enjoys dropping in on the local men’s chorus rehearsals. I think both dad and Elihu will love the concert this evening. To hear his beautiful instrument in that space alone will be worth the trip. I’m so glad my father agreed to this – it will bring joy to so many. The very presence of a harpsichord in music – however delicate – adds a dimension and nuance like no other sound. Growing up, the sound of a harpsichord was easy to take for granted, it was always around me. Later, as I grew up and then apart from my parents, I can remember the feeling I got when I would hear a harpsichord… it comforted me, it sparkled there in the mix of other instruments, a tiny, beautiful voice that always reminded me of my father. I am so happy to be able to hear this music tonight with my father at my side. I pray he enjoys it too – in spite of the fact that he himself is not playing the instrument he has loved so well.

Before I can begin to think about the coming night, what to wear, how to get there, how tricky it will take to get dad up the stairs once we’re there… all those concerns must wait for a few minutes as I fulfill a promise made to my son early this morning. Yesterday, I had let him down. Today, I will not. Elihu, as a lover of all things that fly, has decided that he wants to give his pal Keith a radio controlled plane for his birthday, which comes just two days before Christmas. Elihu is concerned that once again both his folks and Santa will confuse Keith’s desire for an RC Plane for an RC Helicopter. It is my son’s greatest joy today to know that he, with his own money, is buying a plane for his friend, and that we will deliver it anonymously on the eve of his birthday. And so my very next task will be to place our order, paying an up charge if necessary to get it here in time.

How very good it feels to give someone just what they need, just what they want – be it a harpsichord or an airplane.