On the longest night of the year, I strung beads, mostly choosing ones that caught the light, to create a big bunch of light-catchers for Ken to give his co-workers. The gold beads, the iridescent purple-blue-silver ones, the clear beveled ones and all the variations of glass in blue, green and red showed how small things can enlarge light.
On the longest night of the year, I baked sweet potato pies in cheddar cheese crust and made a carrot-cranberry-orange salad to feed 1) one family; 2) two visiting college kids; 3) one good friend who spent the way in our rafters figuring out where the hole for the chimney will be. The pies baked slowly, which was fine because it was a particularly long night.
On the longest night of the year, I washed all the dishes, cleaned and scrubbed the counter (including the parts untouched for weeks), unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher twice, had a run at cleaning the stove and scoured a cast iron pan repeatedly.
On the longest night of the year, I wrapped necklaces for some family members (made while I was making the light catchers) in tiny bags and tissue paper, all recycled from who-knows-when. I also helped Ken fetch the van from the shop where — a true Hanukkah miracle! — it turned out that it didn’t need hundreds of dollars more of work after all. I made a shopping list that included all the ingredients for latkes and dog food.
On the longest night of the year, I thought of practicing the cello, reading a book, watching a movie and writing in my journal, but I didn’t do any of those things. I did, however, balance the checkbook, research a restaurant to have lunch at in Carl Junction, MO and have a long talk with Ken about why I feel like a snake who lost her skin and is now slinking through salt each Christmas. We promised to be kind to each other.
On the longest night of the year, I lifted up the quilts and got into bed. The sailbox quilt was made by Ken’s grandmother when he was a boy. Janet and the late, great Woody — family members — made the jewel-toned prayer quilt for me when I had cancer and then had members and their community and members of ours tie each tie (and pray into each). I made the top quilt — sky and earth in all colors to celebrate our marriage. I got ready to sleep between penguin flannel sheets, the cat climbing in to sleep in the nook of my arm, her purring head pressing into my chin. The air was cold, the darkness black, and in the other room, the young adult children talked loud and animatedly with each other as I went to sleep.