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Martinmas 2012 - Livin' the Good Life

Nov. 12th, 2012

09:57 am - Martinmas 2012

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I wake up at 7 AM and start working: Clean floors, carpets, bathrooms, kitchen. Start cooking. Run to store for missing ingredients. Do an incredible amount of vegetable chopping for the corn chowder I'm contributing to the potluck. Ready outdoor space for campfire, gather 10 chairs, search for fire bowl, gather firewood in wheelbarrow and haul it to the spot. Time to get the the puppet show ready: Clean our bedroom, set up the puppet stage, hang "clouds" and "butterflies" from the ceiling, repair my "sun" prop, practice puppet show... oh yes, I know it by heart.... and decide on lighting. Get out the tin can lanterns from last year, find the light sticks I bought last week, find the lyric sheets that I stored away "somewhere" for the songs we will be singing. Last minute: set out paper bowls, napkins, plastic spoons and cups for those who forgot to "bring their own", start fire in fireplace, light candles, have Steve get the outdoor fire going, take a breath.

Cars line the driveway. Families bundled in their coats, hats, and scarfs, unload their food and lanterns. The house fills with 42 people. 42 smiling, happy-to-be-here parents and children, ready for a good time. There are so many people in the house that it all becomes a blur for me.

I'm not sure I had a single conversation with anyone. Did everyone have a good time? This is the question I ask myself every year.

But then, I think back on why I do this every year. It's the kids. It's their rapt faces I look at while I give the puppet show. They've all seen it before. Some, many times. But, every time, they listen attentively and look thrilled at the climax... every time. Their faces. I love them. And when we go on our lantern walk, the little troop that always crowds up behind me to sing their hearts out as we travers our long, winding driveway in the pitch dark just warms my heart. They are so INTO it! (I have to stop here a moment and give myself a pat on the back. I lead this procession, in the dark, walking BACKWARDS, when I honestly can't see a thing, without running into the bushes that line the drive or stumbling over patches of thick sand, while leading the group in song and lantern waving motions. Why do I do it? It's those kids. I'd do anything for them!) And, yes, I did have conversations last night. With the kids. I remember distinct conversations with children. Funny, smart, articulate, honest, open, trusting, inquisitive, and enthusiastic children. That's why I work hard all day on Martinmas and fall into bed exhausted after the last guest leaves. It's totally worth it. When one of the kids said to me last night: "I can't wait till next year!" I realized that neither can I!


Date:November 14th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
This was so fun to read this morning. And your busyness and I'm sure exhaustion reminded me of a chapter in The Happiness Project. She writes, "Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don't really seem to bring much happiness at all---yet somehow they do." Then she talks about watching a host at a party bustling around the kitchen, juggling preparation...and then someone asks her, "Are you having fun at your own party?" And she answers, "Mm, not really right now. I'll have fun when it's over." That's when you had time to think when one of the kids said, "I can't wait till next year!" and you have such satisfaction that it was a joy to others. And how you would go through it all over again just for them, and in return, for you.

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Date:November 14th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
So true! I often wake up in the middle of the night to review what happened during an event. It's THEN that I realize I had a good time. It's called processing, and I get a lot out of it because I remember things that happened and have a chance to react to them in retrospect. To make sense of things. To enjoy something that somebody said or did. That's why I relate to that author saying, "I'll have fun when it's over."
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