Traditions are big this time of year. Whether it’s a cookie exchange, decorating the tree, or letting the youngest kid win at dreidel, much of what we do is influenced by memories of childhood, families and the past.
Yesterday, I hopped on the green line and took my son to go ice skating. My mother loved ice skating. She had shelves and shelves of VHS tapes with recordings of World Championships, Olympics, and other events, lined up in her living room next to the TV. She could remember who won what during which year, and would watch and rematch her favorite routines. I remember that she loved Katarina Witt and Jill Trenary. Scott Hamilton was a fave. When Rosalynn Sumners almost bought my grandparent’s house I thought she would explode with excitement.
Riding the Green Line (yes, I knit my hat).
Roughly two years before my parents divorced she enrolled myself and my sister in lessons. My sister and I haven’t always had the best relationship and, in fact, could be competitive with one another, so she’d always kept us in separate activities. I did ballet, she did gymnastics. This time she just had us at different rinks. My mom took ice dancing, instead, and I remember her gliding around the ice with a beatific smile on her face in a turquoise and white polka dot skating dress. Tan tights, white boots.
To be honest, I wasn’t that good. I managed to pull off a double once (forget what type of jump), but that was about it. My turns were always awful. But two years ago I started taking C with me around the holidays.
Surprisingly, I at least retained the ability to make it around the ice. I’ve tried a few cross-overs and given up, content to just get up some speed and not fall on my derriere. I even bought my own pair of (used) skates. C loved it - until he fell. He took lessons for two and a half months two years ago, though when I asked if he wanted to take them again his response was, “Maybe? Can we find a rink that isn’t so cold?”
But the fun of riding the T, walking through the park, and skating outside on the Frog Pond overcame his dislike of being cold. And it was cold yesterday. It even started snowing after about an hour. At first he made his way along the boards, then I rented a plastic seal to push (aka, mommy, push me! and OMG was that a core workout!), then he insisted on doing it alone. He doesn’t so much as glide as try to run.
I tried to teach him a bit - stand with your knees slightly bent, toes pointing forward. Now push off and turn your foot out like an “L” and glide - it didn’t go so well. I have a lot of respect for teachers of any type, and not just because my mother and both grandmothers were teachers. It requires a lot of patience to not snap at the tenth whiny, “But, Mommy, I can’t…!”
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and make kringlar, a bread recipe passed down from my great-grandmother. I don’t think we have the right name for it, or even the right recipe, because when I google “Norwegian kringlar” it doesn’t look anything like what she made. Oh, well. It’s still tradition.
Before we eat kringlar, while the first batch is in the oven, we open stockings. There are three hanging from my mantle this year. I even took the risk of ordering a personalized stocking for my boyfriend. It seems awfully bold - hey, I think you’ll be around next year - but what is life without risk? And he bought me presents. More importantly, he bought my son a present without me even asking or mentioning it to him. We've talked about it and we'll be moving in together in February, too. Yikes, right?
The custody battle is ongoing. It’s highly probable I could be unemployed in Greenland (okay, Minnesota), in a few months. I wonder if my ex has really thought that through - the pettiness of destroying my career by forcing me to go back there (controlling, abusive men rarely seem to change) will eventually equate to paying me much higher child support. Not to mention how it will hurt our son’s future if I’m not making a good salary and have that stability. Unfortunately, if it’s one thing I’ve learned trying to co-parent with a narcissist it’s that appeals to logic never work.
But, after the longest time we’ve ever been apart since he was born, C has been with me for a whole week. I've put the custody battle out of my mind and concentrated on enjoying our time together. It’s been wonderful. Tomorrow, after kringlar and stockings and presents - many of them from my ex-MIL - we fly back to MN and I hand him off on Christmas. If you're curious about how I've built a relationship with the mother of my ex-husband you can read about it here, on Esme. My ex refused to take C a night early, or to hand off before 10am, which means that I'll be spending four hours in the airport on Christmas waiting for the next flight out. I may try to address some belated Christmas cards - every year I promise myself to be on time and every year...But I'll definitely be knitting and getting some writing done. Quiet, simple time to myself.
I hope that all of you, no matter the holiday you celebrate, or whom you celebrate it with, have warmth, love and light in these last days of 2017. I know that I am grateful for to you for reading, commenting and sharing in my life.