Sunday, January 18, 2015

Counting Days for Gifts, Subtly

“What’s today?” I said setting the plate of freshly made crepes on the table.
“January 17th,” Mr. Wonderful said spreading strawberry jam on a hot crepe.
“January is more than half over.”
“Yep.”
“Christmas seems like a long time ago.”
“Yep.”
“Any promised Christmas gifts should have been given by now.”
“Major yep.”


Christmas felt like a long time ago because it had been a long time ago. Three and a half weeks ago, in case you were counting. And believe me: I was counting. Christmas had been a wonderful time of gift getting: Mr. Wonderful had gotten his chickens; Jackson had gotten his cat nip toy; and being so busy on December 25th I didn’t get to talk to our 86-year-old neighbor, which meant even Harold had gotten what he wanted: peace and quiet for a day. 

Everyone had gotten what they wanted except Miss America and me. Miss America had wished for world peace (which didn’t happen) and I had wished for my unpainted doors to be painted (which also didn’t happen). I wasn’t born yesterday. I know achieving world peace is pretty involved with 195 countries bickering and needing to agree and although every Miss America wishes for world peace, in the last 93 years, not one has ever gotten it. 

Therefore my wish of getting some doors painted in my own house seemed like a gift that could actually happen. I didn’t have to sit down with dictators or army generals to broker a paint job. I just had to ask one man to paint our doors to which he replied in the affirmative. He promised he would paint them for my gift. But by Christmas Eve it hadn’t happened, nor by Christmas Day, nor by Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which is (bizarrely) weeks later in case you were counting. And believe me: I was counting. 

Therefore I needed to nudge Mr. Wonderful (oh so gently) into action.

“The doors look bare without paint,” I said hauling wood in for a fire.
“Yep,” Mr. Wonderful said reading his comic book.
“They’d look better with paint.”
“Yep.”
“Are you going to do it for my Christmas gift?”
“Yep.” 

Sure enough that afternoon he got out his painting gear and set to work—stripping more paint from the walls. Whaaat?

I rushed in flapping my arms like one of our hens. “You’re supposed to be putting paint on the doors not taking it off!” 
“I can’t paint just the doors, I also have to paint the door frames,” he tapped the woodwork around the door opening.
“Then paint them, don’t strip them.”
“These door frames already have seven coats of paint.” He explained if he painted two more coats on top, the doors wouldn’t even fit in the door frames. So 1) He needed to strip the door frames; 2) Paint the door frames; and only then 3) Paint the doors. 

My Christmas gift was getting more involved.

“That’s not the end of it,” he said using a paintbrush to point out another snag in the process: namely that by stripping the door frames while in situ, aka while affixed in their door-framey places, this would also strip the paint from the walls of several rooms. Five rooms, in case you were counting. And believe me: I was counting how this simple Christmas wish of newly painted doors had morphed into a major redo of what we had already redone on The House. 
“And once that’s done I’ll have to repaint the entire hallway and ceiling where the doors meet,” he gestured above to the ceiling and lamp hanging over our heads. I slumped against the wall.
“So I won’t be getting my Christmas gift before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
“Nope.”
“How about by Groundhog Day?”
“Nope.”
“Valentine’s Day?” 
“Yep.”

Valentine’s Day is 27 days away. But then, who’s counting?