From The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber


‘You miss every damn thing. You could fill a book with all the things you miss.’ p 419

‘You miss dandelions, you miss bananas, you miss mountains and dragonflies and trains and roses and… the sunsets, your dumbass uncle with lousy tastes in shirts and the yellow teeth. You want to throw your arm around the old sleazeball and say, “Uncle, what a great shirt, love your aftershave, show me your porcelain frog collection, and let’s promenade down the old neighborhood, just you and me, whaddya say?” You miss snow. You miss the sea…’

It’s true, I’m in a missing mood. The storm messed with our plans to travel for the holiday and the three of us wound up at home having a somewhat subdued holiday. Staying here had certain advantages, I watched the parade and the dog show. M said if he could choose my ideal morning in front of the TV this would be it. We don’t really get broadcast TV, just PBS, which means I an spend my Sunday nights glued to Downtown Abbey and Call the Midwife. We sometimes get NBC, though the reception is spotty; still I’m willing to put up with a pixelating screen in order to see even a smidgen of the parade. I love the Broadway numbers and the marching bands make me giddy with nostalgia. I’ve often dreamt of going down to the city and sitting amongst the thousands of spectators as the floats pass us by. I can only imagine how enormous they truly are and how small I would feel watching them tower over us.

Most of today was spent knitting and watching movies. I made T watch one of my favorite Mad About You episodes, all of which takes place on the train. He wanted me to rewatch Firefly, so we started at the beginning in the hopes of indulging in more episodes over the next few days. M spent most of the day in the kitchen. He made a scrumptious breakfast, had a long nap and then was back at it for round two. He made us a lovely meal with a tiny turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a side of veggies. It all tasted wonderful, but I missed having everyone crowded around a table. I missed having a kids table for the overflow. I missed pumpkin pie and cranberries and stuffing made with chicken sausage just for me. I missed the children running around so that it felt like a houseful of boys instead of the four I knew it to be. I missed the talking and the tea pouring and the chance to have a second helping of anything and everything.

I missed having my family all around me, making me laugh and reminding me of stories we love to tell again and again—to anyone who will listen. Maybe some people feel the pressure of the holidays, but I wish we had more opportunities to get together like this.

Tomorrow will be the day for leftovers, like turkey soup— and I’ll miss that too. I’ll miss my chance to see the sea one more time before the year ends. Because here we are counting down the days to Christmas, the roller coaster has reached the top and we’re riding that fast decline to the bottom. I guess the best thing to do is put your hands in the air, scream if you need to, but try and enjoy the ride.

I know that I am lucky to be with my boys on this holiday. That we are safe, we are loved and that the weather was too bad and the what ifs too big for us to make the trip southward. In spite of my disappointment, I know that we are lucky the only thing separating us is distance and not some tragedy. In Faber’s book the husband and wife spend almost the entire novel on different planets, and in his real life the author is mourning the loss of his wife. He says this will be his last novel, but I hope time and distance will spur him to write more. The world needs Faber and his stories.

I know that in a few days this will all be behind me, and soon I’ll be as excited as a young child anticipating that the December holidays will find us all together again. But first I’ve got to finish my NaNoWriMo goal, the story beckons.

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