It is my wish that all of you that meet me here, had a wonderful day yesterday. My tree has been lit for 2 days now, the gifts opened, the special foods eaten. Extra treats for the animals, as the first heralds. A slow down in the days, to talk and eat together.
4 o'clock to 5 o'clock in the morning, is the quietest time in this small city I live in. At least on the major road that I live on. It is the time of the fewest cars, the early morning travelers not yet out, the late night revelers, already in bed. There is a phenomenon in Roanoke that is called, "cruising." I'm sure, if your town is big enough, there is some tradition of it there, too. Fixing a car up and taking it out for display...They cruise every night on the road I live on. Of course, the big night is Friday and Saturday. That's when I get to hear the loudest stereos, the biggest engines, the hearty version of 'hail, fellow, well met' that still exists: "Yo".
It comes perfectly at the time of morning I am most likely to be awake in. It also happens to be the time that I am most likely to be in the deepest sleep. It just all depends. But this morning, I am awake, and I enjoy the light of the tree, and the tokens of affection that are gifts, that lay under it. There are gifts yet to be given, that extend the holiday as well.
The kitchen is a well organized chaos: the baking went on into Christmas Eve. And I would be failing those of you who share my disorders not to mention the effects they had on Christmas.
I hoarded food. I bought pounds of flour and sugar that I have no real plan for, just some nebulous dream of making bread. It's not that I cannot make bread, I love to. But I got this flour and sugar with the idea in my head that I faced a 'long, hard winter' and only crusts of bread stand in the way of my death from starvation. I feel a bit like the first English settlers in Jamestown, or Laura Ingalls Wilder, who set out pioneering so long ago.
Then I got physically ill, with some stomach problem. I still run a fever at night, and in the morning. I am fatigued a good deal of the time, and want to go to bed quite early. Christmas Eve day dawned, and I realized I had done no baking, or cooking of any kind. I had all I needed for vast quantities of treats, and a complete paralysis of the mind and body.
Somehow I forced myself to eat breakfast and take my meds. A number of friends wanted banana nut bread. I had forgotten to get the ingredients. How could I have done that? A rush to the local store, twice, and I started to make the breads. First one loaf, then two. Clean the pans, add the eggs, find the tinfoil. My hands seemed separate from my brain, and they were cold.
Years of bread-making helped, as my mind got foggier, and foggier. I wrapped and decorated the first loaf very prettily, with the ribbons and bows I had gotten. I put one bow on the second loaf, and gave up on decorating them after that. I tried a blueberry loaf. I had forgotten to unfreeze the berries. I had to throw that loaf away.
I had wanted to make sausage balls for Christmas morning, and custard. How had Mom done it all? In the middle of the day, I lay down for a bit and slept. I felt nothing was done and the presents were still unwrapped under the tree. The numbness now extended from my hands up to my chest. But, somehow, the loaves kept popping out of the oven, without having fallen. Nice, round loaves with brown crusts. Friends came over to watch a James Bond movie. I excused myself and went to bed at 7:30. My understanding friends let me sleep. When I woke and hugged them goodbye, I was feverish.
I slept in my clothes for several hours after that, and woke to wrap the presents. I surrendered to the unmanageability of my life, went back to bed and slept well, for a time.
Christmas morning: an anxiety attack to start the day. An overwhelming feeling of, "What the hell?" beat me down, and I started to clean, as I do when I panic. The world righted itself a bit, when I realized that there was no more hope of baking anything else, and no more last minute trips to the store were possible. What would be, would be.
Slowly the morning began. I might live through it all.