It's January 1, 2009.
Visit my house today and you would hardly know that the Christmas season just passed. The tree has already been picked up from the side of the street. The lights are off of my house. All the decorations are safely back in their boxes and put away in the secret closet under the stairs.
The only signs still visible are the few late Christmas gifts we received after the 25th, and the leftover cupcakes in the kitchen.
Christmas is over over here. And it ended none too soon.
No one was exactly in the mood. We did things half-heartedly. Our tempers were short. Our tears too close to the surface.
This was our first Christmas without Pappy. My husband's first Christmas without his dad, Jane's first without a husband, my kids' first without their grandfather. And he was noticeably absent -- not just in the kitchen.
It was his job to get the turkey done -- his and Marty's. They would spend hours in the kitchen, cutting up the seasonings and soaking the bread for their turkey stuffing. But the time was measured in hi-balls.
Pappy may not have been the loudest or the biggest person in the room, but his presence always was felt. He seemed to enjoy hanging out in the back, on the fringe of the crowd, observing. Rarely commenting. Just enjoying it all.
But I know he would have loved to have heard Lora sing her solo in church. And I know he would have taken a big piece of that apple pie for dessert.
But we said our prayers and our toasts and tried to keep him in the room. We tried not to be too sad, too maudlin. We tried not to miss him too much.