We will have eleven people celebrating Christmas at our little Alcott House, and Tom is engaged in an intense holiday countdown. Yesterday he finished cutting various found/scavenged/broken pieces of slate and marble into temporary countertop covers. He put a last coat of paint on the door to the unfinished upstairs bathroom and scavenged a beautiful porcelain doorknob from the hardware box at work. He bought plumbing supplies so that he can hook up the bathroom sink, which means, believe it or not, visitors will actually be able to close the door and wash their hands. He ordered window shades for the bedroom and the guest quarters--no more kitchen towels as curtains! He is putting up a banister and an outside light. In the midst of all this, he is making Christmas cards.
I've been sewing Christmas presents and trying to limit my shopping to mostly locally based small gifts. The focus is on meals, comfort, and nobody falling down the stairs. So yesterday I replaced the couch pillows, bought a new bathmat, fidgeted about candles and lighting, unpacked the nativity set my Aunt Rose made in her ceramics class in the 1980s and the styrofoam gingerbread boys my parents bought for one of their first holidays together in the early 1960s. Today I'll put a second coat of paint on some trim Tom has repaired.
We both seem to be equally committed to the project of making our house at least passably welcoming, which is good but also kind of whirlwindy and overwhelming. There's still so much unfinished business: no doors on the cellar, the upstairs rooms, the dining room closet; no trim in the kitchen; no grout on the kitchen tiles; no cupboard doors or real countertop. But when I consider what a mess things were last year, as we were getting ready to move into this place, I'm astonished.