Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Day After

After Christmas Eve with our friend S., whom we met in the 1950's in college, and Christmas Day with our son, his wife, and our grandson, the day after Christmas was a let-down: we paid our bills. There are the calculator and folder of bills among Christmas presents.

The red Christmas candles are quenched, the bills stamped, and enough money in the account to cover them, luckily. The bill for heating-oil was enormous.

Now the stamped envelopes are clipped up near the back door ready to be slipped through the post office slot; the library books will be returned tomorrow.

I can't feel too sorry for myself--and you shouldn't. We are leaving for South Beach on Tuesday, where there is no TV, and where I'll walk after dinner in the warm air.

After the bills and my gathering receipts for taxes, which I'll have to bring to Florida--the taxes are my job--I got into bed and read The Journal of Helene Berr, who was murdered by the Nazis. From time to time I had to stop reading. It was unbearable to know the end before she did, unlike my experience in college, reading Oedipus Rex, when I was thrilled to learn about dramatic irony, how we know the fate of Oedipus before he does, and how our knowing casts an ironic light on his actions. He believes he understands what he is doing, but it is we who understand. He gets it all wrong. Helene Berr eventually does know what will probably happen to her and her family and chooses not to escape into the Free Zone because she believes it would be cowardly to desert other Jews, her mother, and aged relatives.

I put the book down again and stared into space. Just then J. came in. He was glad that on a Saturday night he had found stamps; they sell them at the Stop and Shop. Floating up from his hand was a balloon with a picture of Minnie Mouse. What does she know about Nazis?

Buoyed up by helium-filled Minnie, I gathered up all the vegetables in the fridge and made stock, which I'll eat today with rice. There were apples, which we wouldn't have time to eat before leaving. They're stewing in the slow cooker. There's a warmish rain falling. What could have stopped Hitler? It wasn't Walt Disney.


  1. A poignant post here Miriam, filled with the afterglow of Christmas and the sense of let down you often feel after all the hype and celebration.

    I, too, have set myself the task of writing out bills and of doing the tax - my job, as well. It's hard to settle.

    I know the feeling well when you speak of reading about the fate of those destroyed through the holocaust. Our daily preoccupations seem almost absurd by comparison.

    It's hard to feel dissatisfied when so much worse is possible and yet there is still that general dissatisfaction and restlessness that comes at this time of the year when we can at last stop.

    Maybe a trip to the beach is the best thing, to relocate from your usual place and then take in another experience.

    I'm staying home to do my tax, to tidy my house and generally to write. It's the writing to which I look forward but I must first get past the domestic detritus.

    Have a lovely break. And thanks for an inspiring post.

  2. Hello, Elizabeth. You got it. I'm grateful, and thinking of both of us taking care of the taxes. I use Turbo Tax, which is a help.

  3. Hi Mim (may I?) - and Elizabeth

    Tax is a-happening here in NZ, too. Much as I resist doing it, there is something oddly satisfying about the organized piles and stamped envelopes at the end of it all?

    This post perfectly captures the incongruities of life, Mim - the sharp and sweet back-to-back, our human contradictions juxtaposed. Such striking images (each one significant in its own way) - the terrible reality of torture and loss... and in the same breath, J's gesture of cherishing.

    Have a wonderful time dipping your feet in the sea.

  4. PS. I meant to comment on your third photograph; it made me smile. Thank you. Where would we be without elastic bands and clothes pegs... ; )