Monday, 7 January 2008

Not all epiphanies are jubilant

Our tree is lying on a rapidly melting snowbank outside, like Juliet on her bier, a trail of dull green needles at her feet. This morning, I escorted younger daughter to school, lamenting inwardly that due to our habitual lateness I had opted for my dainty blue slip-on snow boots instead of the massive and broad waterproof Sorels (with dainty ice-pink laces). It's unseasonably warm; the temperature is a balmy six degrees Celsius, and in response, there was a mist clinging to the top of the hill we must ascend from our mixed neighbourhood of New Edinburgh, which social-climbs its way through the "wanna-be" neighbourhood of Lindenlea to truly ritzy Rockcliffe Park. In this rarefied atmosphere at the top, the fog skimmed over the snow-enveloped benches and picnic tables, and I squinted to see if any kids were gathered in the schoolyard.

Younger daughter and I slipped in with some primary graders, thus avoiding the long trek around the building to the front door (where, due to the fact the PM's kids go here, one must be buzzed in), and found everyone still gathered around their lockers. I don't think we walk quite that fast; even on my own I can't make the just-under-one-kilometre trudge in under ten minutes, so I think the bell might have been delayed as a mercy to those of us struggling back into the quotidian.

Last night, for the first time in a few years, we invited friends over to have dinner and help us dismantle the tree for Epiphany. We started this custom early in our marriage to take the sting out of sweeping Christmas from the house, but in Ottawa, it's been hard finding people willing to come to dinner at any time, let alone in early January. I'm not sure whether we're unspeakably dreary company (possible), or whether Ottawans simply have a terror of reciprocation. Any acceptors of dinner invitations from us tend to have ties with other cities. Anyhow, this evening's guests were one of younger daughter's "guardian angels" and her mum, so younger daughter was unusually relaxed with the company. We put on some of our favourite Christmas CD's (Vincent Guaraldi's music for A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band), and showed off the decorations from past Christmases, telling the stories of the hand-made ones and the purchased ones and the ones with photos of the girls, while younger daughter danced in the living room. All the same, I went to bed sadly. It becomes more and more evident that one of the reasons this particular little guardian angel looks out for younger daughter is that she feels shut out by her classmates. I suspect she shields herself from the rejection by protecting younger daughter as well. I have been so grateful for this friendship opportunity for younger daughter who has been getting so much better in her social skills as a result, but am a bit heart-broken at the lonely price.

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