Molly Fisk: A Lot Like Xmas

Suddenly, I’ve been bitten by the holiday bug. Since I run what’s essentially a cat dormitory, it never seems prudent to bring foliage of any kind into the house, much less an actual tree. And not just any tree, but one draped with shiny dangly things I don’t really want broken. Yet here I am, walking around the living room deciding where to put one.

I’ve already sent off the packages to family out of town and we’re not even into December’s double digits. I have no idea how this happened. I haven’t felt like this in decades. I’m not taking more vitamins than usual. I don’t aspire in any way to imitate Martha Stewart but I’ve been going through my sewing box and making tiny sachets out of odd combinations of ribbon. I stuff them with lavender I grew myself. My wrapping paper is from last year and I’m using lengths of old yarn as ribbon. So far my big purchases have been two beautiful items for my nieces, hand-made by a friend, and some packing tape. (I can’t say what the items are in case my nieces are eavesdropping. . .)

I’ve also gone a little wild in the kitchen. One of my students, an inventive cook, has been passing recipes my way. In other years, I would have thanked her and filed them. Now I find myself running to the store for fennel or a candy thermometer and taking roasted vegetables with lemon zest and hazelnuts to a holiday pot luck. It’s very educational. Did you know hazelnuts and filberts are the same thing? No, neither did I. Last night I stayed up past midnight making salted caramels for the first time. As I sampled one — since testing the flavor is a crucial step — I did not imagine myself as Julia Child. I felt like a triumphant combination of Dr. Frankenstein and Rocky Balboa.

What else? The colored lights are twinkling away, even though they’ve faded to white over the years I’ve had them strung up outside. The eucalyptus wreath on the front door smells great every time I enter. My stocking — the one Mom knit when I was four, which has a Santa face on the front with a mohair beard and a pink-headed diaper pin, of all things, that hung it from our mantle — is on the kitchen table waiting for minor repairs.

None of this mania seems to be about anyone but me. I don’t have plans to invite people over, although friends often drop by. I’m having a great time, though, entertaining myself, singing “Good King Wenceslas” as I stitch six little bags of catnip for you know who. . .

It’s really kind of a miracle: I turn out not to be a permanent Scrooge after all. It’s beginning to look more than a little bit like Christmas around here.


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  • Julia December 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I still have the stocking my mother made on Christmas eve 71 years ago, when my sister said I, at 2 months, MUST have one. It’s made of very faded thin red cotton, with speedy, large cross-stitch holding it together and a big bell on the toe. Somehow no one else thinks it’s as wonderful as I do.

    • Molly Fisk December 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

      It’s wonderful, Julia. And think about keeping something for 71 years! I thought 61 was pretty amazing… 😉

      • Anne December 4, 2016 at 7:23 am

        Molly… One of the best of your essays….I enjoyed it SO much. I scrambled through all kinds of Pandora stations to find one that plays Christmas carols…most just seem to play Christmas music like” Frosty the Snowman”….and today, the tree goes out on the deck ….we do an outside tree with just lights. I have felt more Christmas spirit this year too…and we haven’t snow yet, here in the Northeast.