Su Lum: Slumming
December 31, 2008
On Christmas Eve I was hustling butt wrapping last-minute gifts, checking things off my list of things to do and things to take for two nights in Carbondale, casting a dim eye on the gray sky, then to The Aspen Times for a last double-check that all my ads were in for the next few days.
My friend Hilary loaded the car with presents, libations, my suitcase, a ton of oxygen equipment, my dachshunds Nicky and Freddie cuddled in blankets, a Christmas Eve dinner of spaghetti, salad and a lemon meringue pie, all of which were unloaded at the other end by my granddaughter Riley in a grand reunion celebrating her return from four months in Ireland.
I was feeling tired and a bit frazzled, but chalked it up to all the list-checking and general fervor. I didn’t know then that one thing I forgot was to put a message on my e-mail that I was out of the office, saying who should be called in my absence. And I didn’t realize that my scratchy throat and general fatigue were the first signs that I was Coming Down with Something.
My daughter Skye and her husband Steve had friends over for eggnog, and during the visit I got a call from our Gypsum ad production office telling me that they were missing some art for a half-page Carl’s ad that was to run on Friday. By then snow was steadily pounding, everyone was out of the office, there was no way to fix it and I, having already eschewed the eggnog, didn’t even feel up to drowning my sorrows.
We were all in bed by 9:30 and, after fitful sleeps (Riley was jet-lagged), gathered at 7:30 the next morning for the openings of the stockings and presents, an orgy of gifts under the tree. We had all promised to keep the money-spending down during these Hard Times and really did, and that made it even better. Skye made me a full-sized, beautiful quilt from materials my mother had given her, Riley made me an adorable crocheted dachshund, Steve gave me a CD of songs written and sung by Riley, and when my daughter Hillery and her husband Bruce came over from Leadville they gave me 300 Christmas cookies made from the secret recipe I’ve been publishing annually for the past couple of decades. That’s Christmas!
Meanwhile the snow was coming down and I was trying to loosen my uvula, which was stuck to the back of what was rapidly becoming a sore throat, by gargling hot water.
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Skye had missed Riley so much on Thanksgiving that she didn’t throw her usual big dinner, so she replicated it on Christmas Day with a huge turkey, mashers and gravy, cranberry sauce, veggies and pumpkin pie. I don’t remember very much after that except it was snowing harder than ever, so hard it had obliterated the dogs’ footprints and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get home the next day to fix the Carl’s ad, which was scheduled to run again on Monday.
The night was a swirl of computer dreams, of ads being lost, then found, only to disappear again. The next morning there was a foot more of snow, Steve shoveled out my car, everyone loaded it up and I set off with trepidation, thinking it would get worse and worse, only to find that it got better and better, Carbondale having gotten the worst of it.
I fixed the Carl’s ad for Monday, staggered into my house and slept for three hours, went to bed at 9 and slept 10 hours more, woke up with a fever, started antibiotics, the fever broke on Monday and I expect to survive, though still in that stupid state where I think, “I should have some soup,” put on the pot and an hour later realize I haven’t turned on the burner.