Advent is finished; Christmas is past; we took down the tree (and burned it, which is a dramatic but sort of unsettling end to the holiday). I put away all the Christmas paper and finally threw out the last remnants of Boxing Day dinner.
And then Pete and I went to New Orleans to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. This, of course, was the week that an arctic air mass settled over the Mississippi. New Orleans was stupid cold. The wind howling down those narrow streets in the French Quarter was so painful that we were actually walking backwards with our scarves over our heads. There was ice on the cobblestones and frost on the poor shivering magnolias and all of the living statues were wrapped up in multiple sweaters and hats and the brass players in Jackson Square gave up and huddled in Cafe Beignet drinking coffee.
This is par for the course.
We got married on January 6, in Philadelphia, on a day that was sunny and lovely and so warm that we were all in short sleeves. I swear that was the last January 6 that has been above freezing since. In fact, I’m not sure we’ve ever had an anniversary getaway that went to plan. There was an ice storm somewhere around our seventh that trapped us in the house for a week with no power; and when we went to Florida for our tenth there was some sort of apocalyptic “once in every twenty years” freeze. We have had snow storms, winter gales, freezing rain, and just plain cold.
And flu, of course (Epiphany being smack-dab in the middle of the sick season). For years, at least one of the children was sick on our anniversary. The January 6 that sums it up for me was eight or nine years ago, when all the boys were smaller and Emily was a baby. Number One Son started throwing up right before the New Year, and within forty-eight hours we all had it. Except for Ben. He was apparently going to avoid this particular plague.
By January 6, the vomiting had finally stopped, but Pete and I were still feeling shaky and unsettled. So we cancelled our anniversary reservations and decided to plan a romantic evening at home. We got all the kids in bed, threatened them with decapitation should they emerge from their rooms without good cause, and settled on the sofa with a good movie and a bottle of wine. Pete was just getting ready to open the wine when Ben’s door flew open. He staggered out, went in a little circle moaning, “I don’t feel so good!” and then lurched towards us and threw up. On the rug. And on our shoes. And all over the bottle of wine.
So we cleaned him up. And cleaned the floor up. And our shoes. And scrubbed off the bottle of wine. And got him settled again and climbed back onto the sofa. And eyed the bottle of wine.
“Still want me to open it?” Pete says.
“Er,” I say, “no, not really.”
Happy anniversary to us. Well, the twenty years have been awfully good, even if the January 6s have been below par.