This Is To Be My Symphony
photo by Justin Hackworth
To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury;
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable;
to study hard, think quietly,
talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages, with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasion, hurry never; in a word,
to let the spiritual, unbidden and
unconscious grow up through the common,
this is to be my symphony.
-William Ellery Channing
photo of Christmas morning by Erin Caroline Kendrick
Now that it's finally funny, I can talk about how I broke my toe on Christmas. When I tell people this they usually think I mean Christmas as in the season, but no, no. I broke my tender big toe on December 25, 2018.
I am not sure exactly what happened, and my kids seem to be equally confused witnesses, but the summary of it is that I was handing my kids plates of food to take next door for Christmas dinner (with our best friends and neighbors the Deans) and somehow a glass plate landed on my toe. I can't even tell you where this plate came from exactly, but I know it landed on my big toe and triggered an emotional reaction from me that seemed to come from the depths of my soul.
And it hurt five times worse than a simple stub of the toe. After it happened I screamed and wobbled into the kitchen, over to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and went full-fledged Nancy Kerrigan on Christopher who stood dumbfounded as I screamed, "Why me? WHYYYYY MEEEE?"
Because you know what hurt worse than having my big toe bone fracture? The fact that for weeks and weeks leading up to that very day (Christmas) I had given all I had. ALL I HAD. I cooked and baked and wrapped and cleaned and organized and wrote cards and shopped and budgeted and showed up for all the recitals and school programs, and concerts. I brought house-warming gifts to all dinner parties and tried to be a good guest and not make people feel uncomfortable and wear something fun but sensible in all places. I planned an entire trip to Idaho including activities and events for the whole Kendrick family. I shopped for those who couldn't shop. I insisted on weekly community service projects for my kids. I planned and executed the greatest Christmas Eve extravaganza I could conjure up complete with treasures hunts, marshmallow snowball fights, Christmas crafts, a full five course meal with five different tablescapes, a staged nativity with live violin solos, and storytelling and even a visit from the gracious Auntie Claus who brought silly gifts individually wrapped for young and old. And yes, it was me who dressed up as Auntie Claus (with an entire disguise worthy of such a socialite) and it is important enough to me to mention this even though someday my kids might read this and feel smug about it ("Mom, we knew it was you dressed up as Auntie Claus all along."). I even...ohh boy dare I include this...I even experimented with Jell-O molds until I created the most perfect of all gelatin creations--the cranberry two-toned circular that only my own Mormon ancestry could envy. And this--this cruel personal injury and trauma--was the final punctuation to it all. This was my thank you!
(the triumphant jell-o...please ignore the steak knife it took to cut it due to a surprising thickness)
So what the eff universe? Why me? Why me AND Nancy Kerrigan? Why the most hard-working women in their respective sports (ice skating, domesticity)? It hurt more than just the fracture of the bone, the bruising of skin, the radial pain reverberating throughout my entire foot. The indifference of a Universe is the cruelest of all human realizations. We are alone. Even on Christmas. There is no karma, there is no grace. There is only pain, and after that, DEATH.
Christopher helped me into bed and there I stayed for the next five or so days. The pain didn't retreat even in the face of medication. Janna came from next door to feed me and check on me from time-to-time. I did my best to bear it all cheerfully, and do it all bravely. My kids blissfully lived a Lord of the Flies existence, subsiding on left-overs and well, screens. Christopher played his perfect part as gatekeeper ("Your mom is out of commission, if you need anything you'll have to go through me") which is very honestly, at the end of it all, the reason why I married him in the first place. He is a human brick wall.
Lawd, that's so sexy.
photo by Justin Hackworthp.s. ;)
photo of the glamorous Auntie Claus by Janna Bateman Dean