Christmas 1974

Christmas Day 1974
The children are playing “Oil Well,” Christmas carols shake the radio, and the fire keeps time with crackles and snaps on the hearth.
Woke in the night with a ticklish throat so got up for lozenges and to put more wood on the fire. I ended up sleeping on the couch. Wept over a lost and bedraggled puppy in a dream and then 7 o’clock thundered in my ear.
I opened Dad’s gift first, the big box yielding a most divinely elegant evening coat of black velvet fastened with black “frogs.” Gorgeous! And a perfect fit! He was delighted to get my phone call and enthusiastic thank you’s. He is a treasure! So many boxes to unwrap, most for the children but some for me. A white and purple robe from Paige, steam curlers from the boys, and various other objects. Games for P.J. and Joe. Mostly clothes for Paige. A ring from Pete under the tree. I bought it with the money he gave me, so it was no surprise, but I like the simple green jade cabochon set in the plain gold band.
After getting the turkey in the oven and breakfast dishes washed, I called Anne. {my eldest sister} Wanted to reach out to my own first family—to know the old circle is still there when we were the kids—symbolic of nothing more than fellow beings irreplaceable and unique. Honoring the common ground from which we sprang—bound by memory, tradition, and blood.
I would have called middle siblings too but didn’t because I must be aware of long distance charges. The phone bill with its cruel January face always appears devoid of holiday cheer.
December 27, 1974
Thunderous rain overnight and into the early morning. Now, in the evening darkness, the moon splashes silver puddles over the parked car. It’s been one of those divided days, chopped up with people dropping by, being lazy, and then going into great activity. Paige had another date with K.M., a black haired, black-bearded young fellow but she is as cool as a September river—deceptively beckoning but chilly. They went to Timberline and out to dinner but she refused to go for the evening as well. So a half hour after he brought her home, she was off to see her girlfriends! But am glad to see her stand-offish rather than boy-mad. Her mind will decide for her when she marries. One hopes the heart will follow. I was the opposite. Heart first—then the outraged mind screaming protest.
The boys and I went to Portland yesterday and I exchanged the curler set for the curling iron which I used today. Rained buckets again. Got two books on astrology—one a table of houses.
Finished reading the biography of Mark Twain and now am 2/3’s through the one of Tolstoy. A fascinating but contradictory man–bursting with spiritual conceit while alternating with periods of self-abasement and remorse. He seems to exaggerate the “typical” Russian character. His photos show him to be a handsome, brooding man—high cheek bones, fierce smoldering eyes, and a powerful leonine head. In fact, he resembles a huge panther or African lion. One can imagine him a great cat transformed into the semblance of a man, for he has many of their characteristics—the periodic dissipations with women and cards – (tom-catting, then losing interest—cat and mouse games). There is the seismic energy and hypnotic belief in his own prowess—dislike for anything not self-generated—his fickle interests for all but himself. It seems so logical, that in theory, I could almost believe my fantasy fact.
The biographer seems somehow unsympathetic and yet, faced with the man’s own autobiographical writings and diaries—his veritable history—it would be difficult to maintain the respect and admiration one develops on the reading of his books alone. What a revelation to see Tolstoy as a man driven by furies yet able to maintain a supreme self-regard despite his acknowledged fault—and excesses.
*note: In later life Tolstoy found religion but his book, Resurrection, lacks the wonderful insights of his early works. The hero, once he had embraced religion and abandoned his charming and idiosyncratic personality, became a pale and disappointing character. This reader was not inspired to read further.
Now the Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev, seems a person of solid stature. I’ve seen his Fathers and Sons on a library shelf. I must read that as well as his biography.

Published in: on November 4, 2018 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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