I think we should do socks full of fruit
Her idea is better than any I’ve had, and she prepares, and we do. It’s 5’s second Christmas, too early still for memory, we expect. And yet let’s be too early rather than too late, rather than caught with no traditions of our tiny family.
“I think we should talk about what habits we want to make rituals,” reads the email from May. Cooking, exercise, packing and maintenance, are at least some of the answers. Trying new things. Being excited about what’s next. With these conversations, done without urgency over the course of nap times, evenings, and long walks, we are trying to shape the family we become. We are trying to discover, like sculptors, what exists within the form of our relationship already, and bring it forth intentionally into the world. The topic resurfaces in late night chats with friends, in their neighborhoods or our own, and occasionally in third cities that belong to none of us. What is important, what family traditions they have, what they mean when they say “the normal American way,” and what, above all else, we hold dear.
In these conversations I so often find myself suddenly, half way through, in someone else’s words or in my own. As with writing, clarity comes from bringing ideas into reality through words. And thus I discover a part of our family that should have been obvious, that is all around us. We value words, and descriptions, and jokes, and shared language. On mornings without work or other expectations 5’s and I walk the block and a half to “the coffee store” together. She’s started to help carry the coffee mug, at least until she stops and says “up”, uninterested in walking any further on her own. I oblige, grateful for these quiet moments, for the small ritual of this walk and the language that describes it. I’m sure these traditions, like many others, won’t survive forever. Thus writing, and posts like this, to trap them in some transmissible form, for my own memory as much as any others.
And so as she asks for more longan on Christmas morning, having eaten all that came in her own stocking while sitting in a pile of rambutans and tangerines, of tamarinds and apricots that will be eaten once the longan are no more, I lean back and appreciate. I appreciate the more hand sign, the “Op!” that means open and follows more as a request to peal the things she can not yet. There are but scant days in all our lives, and it’s better to have put out milk and cookies for the as-yet-unnamed spirits of our family’s holiday already, to have made it a tradition now, so that next year we are prepared, wherever we may be. I look to the friends, here sleeping on our lightly-padded floor to share the holiday, and acknowledge their sacrifice, their priorities. They want to spend holidays abroad, and with old friends. These are priorities we share, having spent the prior holiday on the East Coast, and crashed friend’s New York apartments shortly after.
May we all be able to maintain these traditions, then, of spirits and fruit, of hosting and visiting, of talking and thinking and sharing, for as long as we are able.