The ground under my feet shifted on December 23rd. Not literally, of course, but something moved and my soul moved with it.
As you know, Mim (my amazing daughter) got married on that day. When Mim arrived at the church, her father (Stanley) and I made our way downstairs to the staging area. When we reached the bottom of the stairs and saw her…….time stopped.
Where did this gorgeous creature even come from? I looked at Stanley and saw my awe reflected on his face. He said, “She looks like Princess Ariel!”. And she did! I said, “I can’t believe we made that!”
And there was that moment. Thoughts that had been waltzing around my brain for a couple of years suddenly coalesced into a brilliant moment of clarity. My family circle had holes that needed to be filled.
I looked at Stanley again and my heart hurt. We’ve been so awkward since we separated but all the negative feelings have long since fallen away. Stanley found Mildred and I found The Viking and we’ve all created wonderful lives for ourselves. And there I stood, looking at our daughter, falling in love with Stanley all over again.
Skreeeetch!! Not like that!
Stanley and I are connected. We each hold a small piece of the other’s heart. There is kindness and respect and a deep love that will last until we die. We just weren’t meant to love like married people love. Instead, we were meant to love like only the very best of friends can love.
The question then becomes ‘How do we go from awkward and weird to Hygge* Friends?’ My last encounter** with Mildred was sort of tricky. What we need is copious amounts of booze to rub off the rough edges and lubricate the Hygge. OR! Moderate amounts of Akvavit because that shit is like a truth serum.
So, on December 30th at 2:00pm, the Julefrokost began. There were six of us – Junior and his girlfriend, Stanley and Mildred and The Viking and me. It was sad that Mim and Kevin couldn’t come – they were both very sick and making the 4-hour drive in freezing weather was beyond their capabilities. We missed them both terribly, but the party went on as scheduled.
The Viking, Junior and I were the only seasoned Julefrokost-ers at the table so you would think we would break the Newbies in gently. You’d be wrong, though. It was Trial by Fire, Baby!!
We started off with Pickled Herring on rye bread topped with onions and boiled egg. Take one bite and shout SKÅL!!, a shot of Akvavit with a chaser of beer. I must confess, that first shot of Akvavit is a killer. My right eye slams shut and my left starts to water. My mouth contorts into an alligator smile. My throat burns and I can’t breathe for about 15 seconds. Then my entire body shudders and an involuntary moan wheezes out of my nose. I was so busy trying to survive my own first shot that I have no idea how Stanley and Mildred did. Apparently, they were fine because no one was on the floor when I finally stopped gasping.
As the courses progressed, we all became increasingly tanked. I kept spilling things (it’s what I’m good at) but Mildred was fast on her feet fetching the paper towels. I blame the Akvavit because Stanley started gesturing with his shot glass to emphasize his verbal points and we all thought he was Skål-ing so we shouted and drank. I was even trying to just sip my shots but it didn’t matter. I’m just happy I didn’t have a repeat of two Julefrokosts ago. Don’t ask.
Stanley demanded Honorary inclusion in The Viking Club, and after a short visual conversation between The Viking, at the other end of the table, and myself, we granted his wish. He & Mildred were embracing the Julefrokost better than anyone I know and so deserve it.
The conversation went from “How’s the weather on the hill?” to “We want to go to Europe.” to “We should go to Europe together!!” to “Gawd!! I love you guys!”
The Viking and Mildred bonded and Stanley and I sashayed down Memory Lane. We marveled at Mim’s Wedding and reminisced over vacations past. It was beautiful!
The next morning, though, I was a wee bit nervous. I hoped I didn’t need to ‘Apologize For Anything I May Have Done While I Was Drunk’. I thought Stanley and Mildred enjoyed themselves, but in the sober light of day will they ever come back? So, I handled it the way any rational human being would – I called my son. I pumped him for information so hard he finally had to tell me to ‘RELAX!! It went great!’ When Mildred accepted my friend request on Face Book I was thrilled!
Princess Mim called two days later and demanded to know if this will be a new family tradition? The Viking and I certainly hope it will. There will be plenty of other occasions together so we may as well do it as good friends. Junior was very happy to see both his parents sitting at the same table, enjoying each other’s company and Mim was sad to have missed it. We’ll just have to do it again.
Besides, if Kathy & I are friends we can be Back-Up Labor Coaches in the delivery room (Mim’s not pregnant yet but I can dream, can’t I?). You know….in case Kevin passes out or something. One on each side. Stereo encouragement! I’m sure Mim will appreciate it.
In the meantime, the holes in my family circle are filling up. How blessed can one woman be?
*A Danish word for spending time with loved ones, being cozy and calm.
**Click that link to read “Is That You, Mildred?”