Friday, December 25, 2015
I Haste Me to Bed
I like pillows -- a lot. I don't mean those pretty, fussy things some women arrange across an otherwise inviting bed; all brocade and trims, big, uncomfortable buttons, tassels and whatnot. Throw pillows, is it? Meant to be thrown. I don't like bolsters and and ovals and odd shapes. No. I like bed pillows. I like big pillows. I like firm pillows and soft, fluffy ones. I like a lot of 'em. My beloved husband, A. sleeps on just two, rather flat pillows. I sleep on a wedge, from thin to thick against the headboard. Helps me breath, I like to think, but that may or may not be true. Mostly though, what I like best is sitting up in bed, in winter, with a comforter across my legs and with a great pile of pillows behind me and around me. How I like to watch TV. My favorite place to read.
Different folks have different ideas of a holiday, I suppose. Mine is sitting in bed all day with a book. Christmas morning of course we're up at a reasonable hour, just the beloved husband and me, to open presents and call the relations. We watch something or other on the television, and at some point he starts our supper. The rest of the day, I sit in bed and read. It's bliss.
The holidays have always been something of a trial for us. He worked in the Postal Service -- bulk mail -- for thirty five years. I've worked retail nearly my whole, adult life. The year I moved in with the man 32 years ago, we spent just that first Christmas apart. I went home to the family. Never happened again. (At the time, they did not altogether approve.) Ever since we've spent Christmas together.
For many years we had friends over. There were elaborate dinners, a proper tree, drifts of gifts. Some of the friends we knew died. We moved away. For a long time now, there's been just us. If asked, I might say we missed those Christmases, but I don't know that I do now. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I don't know that I miss the rest. As I said, we've usually been run a bit ragged by the time December 25th actually rolled 'round. Usually I've had to work the next day anyway. To just be home, together, quiet, that's what I like best.
A book, in bed, with pillows.
It's a lazy sort of tradition, for me anyway. But what it feels like is rest. Not always easy to say what that is, other than a proper night's sleep. That isn't what I mean though. There may well have been a nap, somewhere along the day. I won't deny it. What I like though, once my family obligations have been met, is to not to think my own thought, or worry my worries for a whole day. Because nearly everyone we know is far away, I make a fool of myself every year, rushing around from Thanksgiving to Christmas, making calendars, buying things, trying to get packages mailed, etc. All the usual nonsense. Work at the bookstore likewise gets a bit hectic at the holidays. I enjoy that, but it does wear me down by the time Christmas comes, "Weary with toil", as Shakespeare's Sonnet 27 puts it. What's wanted then is a day in bed. Pillows.
What I read doesn't much matter, honestly. The reading does, but not the matter. I returned to Tom Jones at last. I read into the second volume of the Alexandre Dumas I'd set down. I read, as incongruous as it sounds for occasion, quite a bit of Primo Levi. I dipped and dozed and let my eye roam across my nightstand. It was almost the point not to read too far or too fast in any one thing. I wasn't reading for sense, you understand, or even entertainment as such. I was reading for rest.
There's something wonderfully luxurious about reading this way, something quite decadent in being propped up in bed all day like some ancient Pasha, sampling prose the way a Sultan might call for his harem. I'd no more thought of doing anything else unless and until our meal was ready or the house caught fire.
Didn't owe nobody nothing.
Not true, actually. At some point I had to at least offer help in the kitchen, but we don't do anything elaborate at Christmas as we do at Thanksgiving. Sooner or later I knew I'd come down here to my desk and do... something.
for a few happy hours however, it was just me in bed: books, pillows, a comforter across my legs, and just such company as I like best.
Merry Christmas. Hope you all got what you wanted too.