Saturday, December 25, 2010


Oliver's been questioning Santa's existence, though at this point he has "no evidence that Santa does not exist," as he puts it.  But, crafty kid that he is, he thought of leaving the iPhone with its built-in camera and asking Santa in the note left with the cookies to take a picture of himself.  And check it out, Santa complied! It's a fast-paced night for the guy, all that giving, and the action shot tells it all.  The kids were all thrilled, but not overly so, as that would have "meant that we doubted too much" (Oliver speaking here, too).  Belief is so tricky in its inevitable relationship to doubt - even if you're 8 years old.  Eleanor at 4 has a much more uncomplicated to relationship to belief - she was just excited that Santa knew how to work a camera.

The day was completely relaxed and focused around the discovery of presents and new objects, books, savories, and music to become familiar throughout the year.  We went to visit my dad who had some odd things to say, but Christmas with a brain injury is like any other day with a brain injury.  I accidentally texted a friend my dad's strange pronouncement when I had meant to send it to Mac.  Luckily for me, this friend is incredibly gracious and kind and understanding, and took this glimpse into not only my dad's strange world, but how I deal with it (by immediately sharing the strangeness with Mac so that he helps me bear it - in every sense of the word) in stride.  It was strange, too, in that moment to realize how constantly conversations about my dad flow between me and Mac, and how completely odd they must seem to anyone else.  I'm not explaining that well - the strangeness has something to do with a powerful guilt I felt at inflicting this on my friend (the strangeness and the sadness, and the push to laugh instead of cry); a guilt assuaged by her kindness and good will, thus my gratitude to her.  Sometimes, I wish that I could write about my dad's brain injury every day, or rather, that it were a more quotidian and mundane occurrence to do so - I think about it every day after all - but then this would be a very different kind of writing place, wouldn't it? Brain injury is kind of overwhelming and all-encompassing if you let it be.  And it would make sense that on a holiday, it would somehow become more significant - as though we can't help but notice the loss of him more.  But we laughed and so it was ok, and the kids were, as ever, great (Iris greatly intrigued by my dad wearing one black glove).  We'll go see him again tomorrow with Eleanor, who was napping at home at the time, and who was totally distraught that she missed seeing him.  This is why I must constantly take my cue from the kids, and not from myself, in struggling to know and love my dad now that he's a completely different person.  I think that it's their trust in the reality of the present that makes a lot of things make sense to children - that helps.

Both of their thoughts are inscrutable to me, but this is the love I want to understand.

Hard to switch gears, but you must know: actually, Santa took two pictures of himself (clearly testing out the iPhone) - you can see here that he really had to go.  For Christmas dinner we had:
  • Broccoli cream soup with wild mushrooms and shallots
  • Coffee-braised beef chuck roast with orange and cinnamon
  • Brussel sprouts in garlic butter
  • Mashed turnips
Dessert was somehow out of the question - perhaps all of the Swiss chocolate generously provided by my mom, and all the Christmas treats.  We will valiantly try try again tomorrow.   For all its fleeting images, of Santas and fathers, it was a full day lucid in its joy.

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