Kage Baker called this last week before Christmas the home stretch – as, indeed, most people probably do. Except those of us who have been reduced to drooling babbling by this point …
However, despite the very real and huge looming terrors of this Christmas season, I am proceeding at some peace. My family is gathered in its tiny fortress, ably defended and decorated by Kimberly and Michael. The tree is up, there are lights everywhere, and sitting here in the living room is a lot like sitting in a geode. One lined with Swarovski crystals. There’s not a damn thing I can do to help, but I certainly do appreciate the effect.
My latest doctor’s appointments have been largely teleconferenced, but the ENT specialist had to see me in person – he’s responsible now for the trach tube in my throat, and the person who will help get rid of the thing. As a first step, he downsized the tube by 3 sizes – from a 7 to a 4. I am not entirely sure what that means in terms of physical reality, but it does include my suddenly having a much shorter tube down my throat. So much shorter, in fact, that I have already coughed it out once. That was both ickily messy and quite frightening, but one good thing came of it – we discovered that I can, yes, actually breathe without the tube. When the time comes, and the tube is removed when I am not having a panic attack, the results should be grand.
Other that that, I totter around the house with my oxygen caddy, and frequently cough like a Victorian consumptive. The problem is not an infectious process, but rather an inhuman excess of mucus: mostly caused by the fact that there is a plastic tube in my throat. My throat considers this an extremely unnatural and irritating situation, and continues to try and flood the thing out. All it manages to do is half drown me in my own secretions.
Secretions is such an ugly word, don’t you think, Dear Readers?
In other domestic news, our elder cat, the beloved mini-panther Alexandria, is fast approaching her passage over the the Rainbow Bridge. Our main concern for her now is quality of life – as long as she is happy and interested in her food and petting, we won’t hurry her along. But she’s fabulously old, has a tricky heart, arthritic joints, and what we fear is a return of cancer in her velvety little skull. It might turn out to be a bad eye infection, and we are treating that for her comfort: but in any case, it seems that if she gets to share Christmas with us, it will be a small miracle. Which we shall embrace with joy.
No packages have been high-jacked by porch pirates, which is amazing. What little shopping we can do is almost exclusively by mail, and we have been both careful and lucky. When one of our purchases was accidentally delivered to the wrong address – by an apparent idiot – the freight company got its replacement to us right away.
You have to be grateful for these things, this time of year. So much of life is currently lived perforce in solitude and darkness, we need to cling to every light and piece of luck we can. In deference to the machines that keep me breathing while I sleep, and in order to keep a close eye on the gently fading Alexandria, Kimberly is now sleeping in the living room with me – I am either in the recliner, or stretched out at an angle, supported by all the pillows in the world, on the couch. Kimberly is wherever I am not, and Alexandria wedges herself in by whomever’s feet are available. It’s actually been rather pleasant; when we can’t sleep, we watch television and chat. Haven’t done that since we were children.
So, the cat is winding down, Christmas is winding up, and I am winding both up and down – resulting in a sort of whole-body sideways twitch. It’s slightly confused and disheveled around here, but I am so happy to be here in the house with my family that I don’t mind. God He knows, I’ve had crazier Christmas seasons – nearly any of the many I have spent doing Extreme Christmas at the same time as decorating my own house for the festivities – just because I drove 700 miles a weekend for two days of costumed insanity, didn’t mean I failed to put up lights and garlands and candles and bows … the very craziest years were the ones where Dickens Fair ended on, like, the 23rd or 24th of December. Then it would be a truly demented rush to pack and clear the set, get home, drive 200 miles in the opposite direction, and celebrate with my family.
I must admit, despite the problems we’re having, this year is easier in so many ways than some past ones. It’s certainly better than the last 3, as we now have a growing hope that we will all actually survive this year’s ending.
In Greek tradition, Dear Readers, there are determined underground goblins called kallikantzaroi, who occupy the 12 days of Christmas (December 25th to January 6th) in frantically trying to chop through the trunk of the World-Tree. Should they succeed, we will all fall into the shapeless ylem from which creation emerged at the beginning – too bad, so sad, welcome to the primordial void. However, they get distracted during the Christmas celebrations and run around indulging in other festive deviltry until the bells of the Epiphany ring – that chases them back underground, where they discover that the World-Tree has healed and their task is all to do over again.
Our own Presidential kallikantzaro is presently running around in a confused state, trying to chop down anything he can get his tiny hands on. Luckily, Epiphany bells galore will ring on January 6th and he will be banished. Then he can fall into the ylem on his own, and choke on it. I am really looking forward to that particular wind-up.
So, all things considered, this season is proceeding in a generally fortunate direction. There will be pain and loss, but this is the black heart of the winter, when such things are inevitable. In the meantime, the little black cat is curled up on the couch on her special blanket, purring. As long as she is, all is well.
Stay warm and safe in the growing dark, Dear Readers. We have a little way to go yet before the sun dependably rises once more.