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The Christmas Grapes

By Maggie Turner


December 07, 1999

The Christmas Grapes

I am up before light this morning. Attila left for work over an hour ago. "The Teenager" is busy in the bathroom, positioned in front of the mirror, preening and applying various chemical enhancements. I have my coffee beside me and sit with the laptop hoping to avoid confrontation. Mornings aren't good for "The Teenager"; interaction only serves as an irritation. I keep a low profile and breathe a sigh of relief when the door closes behind her. Children are magnificently beautiful when they are asleep, no matter how old they are.

Today I am paying bills again. These little devils sit waiting in the shadows. I know they are there and pretend that they are not until their presence cannot be ignored. So I write checks, lick stamps and bash away at Excel until it all seems under control, until the next time. In my fantasy life I never have to worry about details like bill payments or cleaning the evestrough. Now that I think of it, my fantasy life resembles the life of a teenager...

It is another grey day; the world outside is almost colorless, displaying endless variations of black and grey. When the sun shines the blue sky mediates the drab colors. I welcome the evenings when brightly colored Christmas lights light up houses lining the streets. Even snow offers some relief from this visual monotony; the contrast brings the landscape to life. Soon the sun will shine or it will snow.

 Christmas Grapes

The weather lightened a bit when I went out for my walk. There were bright patches in the clouds but no blue sky. You can walk the same route every day and find something new every day. The changes noticed on a walk are very small scale indeed and could consist of anything from the remains of garbage day to new Christmas decorations. At one point on my walk I stood still, turned in a circle and found that all the houses around me were decorated with large red bows and artificial pine garlands. Looking further up and down the street revealed that only this cluster of houses was decorated in this way. Why? Could this be a coincidence? I was tempted to knock on some doors and ask some questions, but this would not be socially acceptable so I walked on leaving the mystery behind

In "The Neighborhood" there lives a lively woman named Gracie. She is 80 years old and keeps an eye on everything that goes on here. In the finer weather I often stop to sit on her front porch to share tea and conversation. Gracie has an opinion about everything and everybody; she does not mince her words. Last summer she had a heart attack, from which she has recovered very nicely, nothing seems to slow her down for long. I was feeling some concern because I hadn't seen her around and about for the last month or so.

Any fears I may have had were put immediately to rest as I walked by her house this afternoon. In front of Gracie's house, on the boulevard, there is a young rowan tree. Last Easter this tree sported brightly colored plastic Easter Eggs, on Halloween Ghosts and Goblins hung from its branches. And this Christmas, from Gracie's tree, hang the Christmas Grapes. What a gal! 


 

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