I love this time of year. I love having both the sun and the chill in the air, the musky scent of dead leaves and blessed, blessed school. I like having the kids out of the house for a prescribed amount of time each day. I like being alone in my house listening to loud music that the kids wouldn’t imagine I listen to. I like having the kids back at the end of the day, and though I am saddened by the fact that their homework no longer consists of coloring and word finds, I am glad that they realize they have a better chance at decent grades if they do the work themselves.
It’s the routine I am thankful for—an orderliness to the days that helps me actually get more done. I like that it gets darker earlier, and I like cooking autumn dinners. I love baking giant dead animals in my oven. It makes me feel feminine, and also somewhat accomplished. I love it when the windows of the house fog up from cooking. I am thankful when all of the side dishes time out perfectly with the main course, and everything arrives hot to the table. It makes me feel like Houdini.
I love mashing potatoes by hand, imagining that I am crushing the bones of my earthly enemies.
I am thankful for my coffeepot all year long, but particularly when the mornings are dark. I love its robotic timer function. The smell of the beans beginning to brew invades my sleep. The next thing I hear is the clunking, sucking sound of the water drawing up through the reservoir. By the time the cycle is complete, I am shuffling through the dark kitchen with my big mug outstretched, softly walk-kicking the cat out of my way.
She tries to kill me every morning by darting into my path, hoping I will stumble while trying to avoid stepping on her, and maybe fall and crack my skull on the corner of the concrete countertops. If I am ever found dead in my kitchen, this is what has happened.
I love wearing clothes that cover my stomach. I love that the threat of being invited to something that might require a bathing suit is past. I like incorporating more cheese and less salad into my diet. I love watching television while eating cheese while wearing something that covers my stomach.
At this time of year I love soup. It is hot, salty, soothing liquid love. That sounds dirty but it’s not, so get your damn mind out of the gutter; I’m talking chunky chicken noodle here.
I love turtleneck sweaters, the smell of Vicks VapoRub, and having a sore throat so I don’t have to talk. I love catching cold, because I love soup and I love it when people feel sorry for me and I love complaining about my lot in life while people I love make me soup.
I love church at the holidays. I love the swishing of fat old-lady thighs encased in thick nylon stockings. You get a hundred of them in the chapel, and it’s like crickets. I love ladies who wear sequins to morning services. Jesus would approve, because Jesus loves color, and he is happy when you wear your favorite things to his house. He wants you to feel at home.
This time of year I love that my husband doesn’t give a rat’s ass about football. Neither do I, and I love that I don’t have to pretend to care. This leaves us free to use our prodigious powers of pretending for other, more satisfying areas of our lives. We can pretend we care about the subprime mortgage crisis instead, because that makes us seem like responsible, compassionate people, and being mistaken for responsible, compassionate people makes us feel good about ourselves. Win-win.
I like bedtime, and heavy blankets that pin me to the mattress. I like throwing my leg up on that man of mine and pinning him down, too. I don’t even mind stuffing my ears with earplugs to tone down his snoring. I lay my head on his chest and I can still hear him sawing away, revving his engine, poppin’ wheelies to dreamland.
This time of year I like the increasing frequency of house parties, because I like snooping in people’s medicine cabinets. I like knowing what sorts of drugs they are on, and what funguses they are currently battling, and their laxative regimens. It explains a lot of things, and helps me to feel greater empathy for them as fellow human beings. When I have parties at my house, I like to fill my medicine cabinet with ping-pong balls before guests arrive. If you think I am kidding, go ahead and try me, Snoopy.