with wish lists that I would compile great thought
believing and trusting that you would come through
with some of the stuff I requested from you.
I don’t think that readers will be shocked to hear
that some gifts were notably absent each year.
The ponies and power-wheels for which I would nag
clearly could not be tucked into your bag!
And no one could blame you, not even me
for failing to leave me a horse by the tree.
So I will consider the issue of size!
My requests should cause you no trouble at all
for all of them are quite reasonably small:
I’m sure, as you know, I am only a tech,
so maybe you could please consider a check?
For the mortgage, assessment, vacations and such
a million or so would be fine: not too much.
And then, because, as you know, I do blog
but working and sleeping and the baby can hog
a lot of my time so more time would be great.
Or maybe just take some things off of my plate,
A baby who slept through the night would sure help.
If you can’t manage that, and you wish to atone,
I’d take wifi, a new hard drive, and a data plan for my phone.
Just one more thing I would ask for myself:
Perhaps you could spare me a single good elf?
He needn’t be burly, or much of a hunk
To tidy my house and to purge it of junk
That should be enough for Christmas this year
to fill my poor soul with the old Christmas cheer!
When I saw the snowsuit my mother had purchased for Babby in celebration of his imminent arrival in the Maritimes, I felt bad that she had wasted her money. Not only was it mild and rainy outside, but the suit itself was clearly too big. She did purchase a 3 month size, but at 12 pounds Babby isn’t the biggest of three month olds.
Mum was disappointed when I didn’t feel the need to bury my baby in padding in order to carry him through fifteen feet of drizzle before we reached the airport parking garage. The next day when we went out, she fretted over my devil-may-care plan to just carry him to the car from the front door without the snow suit. To humor her, we put it on him anyway. His feet only went halfway down the legs of the suit, and his hands were swallowed by the suit’s arms, which stuck straight out. His eyes looked out anxiously over the neck of the suit, while the hood flalloped emptily above his head.
He looked like a cross between a headless plush bear and that kid in A Christmas Story who can’t put his arms down.
“I don’t think he’ll fit into the car seat with this,” I said diplomatically, “and he might get a little warm.”
Sure enough, he didn‘t fit in the car seat with the suit for much the same reason that I wouldn’t fit in the driver’s seat if I covered myself in sofa cushions, and after half an hour of struggling with the seat straps my mother called it quits for that particular trip.
The next day, though, she was at it again.
In the meantime I was bringing him in and out of the car wearing only a warm sweater and hood. This caused my mother great concern lest her only grandchild be chilly for a few moments. She kept pushing.
“Do you want to put on his snowsuit?”
“Don’t you want his snowsuit?”
“We’d better put him into his snowsuit.”
“It’s windy out there, shouldn’t you put him in his snowsuit?”
Perhaps she thought the snowsuit offered magical protection against the Wendigo.
Eventually she figured out a way to loosen the straps and I consented to putting him back in the snowsuit. My mother lay him down, stuffed him into the suit, and then went to put on her coat while he continued to lie helplessly on the floor like a beached starfish. His eyes found mine and seemed to be thinking “how can you laugh at me at a time like this?”
We carried him out to the car, arms and legs akimbo, and with a little folding and tucking managed to stuff the suit into the car seat while little baby eyes peered at us from within the plush.
The return journey was similarly complicated. The wind was gusty and it was nice to have that protection, but the suit was so indubitubly large that I really was doing it more for my mother than for my child.
Until we got home.
He had fallen asleep in the car seat and strangely, did not wake up when I lifted him out. Since the suit prevented any bending of his body, perhaps he was not fully aware of the transition.
Despite the fact that the process of laying Babby down while asleep is only successful one time out of every ten, I still remain inexplicably optimistic and continue to attempt it often. With no real hope that he would actually remain asleep, I set him in a green rocking chair, which leans back a bit and therefore seemed like a safe place to put him. Legs stiff, arms held at ninety degree angles, Babby stirred for a moment, then sighed and settled back into sleep, pretty much standing up in the chair.
It was a minor miracle.
Unfazed by the fact that he resembled a propped-up teddy bear, Babby continued to sleep in that ridiculous get-up for over two hours. I was free! Free!!
It happened again the next day. He fell asleep in the car again on my return from lunch with a friend. I repeated my actions of the previous day, proving B.F. Skinner right about rewarded behaviors being repeated. Again, he slept for over two hours, leaving me free to have a fantastic chin-wag with my friend in my old room. We felt like teenagers again.
The next day he was fussing in the afternoon, as tends to be his wont. My father lit a fire (Babby enjoys watching the fire) and my mother suggested putting on his snowsuit, since he had slept in it so well the past two days.
It may make no sense to think “well, he dozed off twice in the car and continued to sleep while inside, so let’s dress him in the same gear just to see.” But it this same logic that leads Baseball batters to wear the same socks again and again. Again, B.F. Skinner could explain.
Babby sat propped up in the green chair, arms and legs held in place by layers of polyester, and watched the fire uncomplainingly. His eyes grew heavier and heavier and heavier…
And he slept.
He slept without the help of a car ride, being carried, or the comfort of booba. He slept without wailing or thrashing or screaming.
He just dozed off where he lay.
In that snowsuit.
That, my friends, is a miracle.
Today he is again sleeping in the snowsuit after a car ride. He hasn’t eaten in over three hours, but still he sleeps.
I have learned several things from this experience:
1) Christmas miracles still abound
2) Mothers are always bloody right
A friend of mine hates Christmas. She openly admits to being a “Scrooge”.
(As a side note, doesn’t it seem sad that Ebenezer Scrooge, who was as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as any man in the good old world, is remembered for his previous miserly state?)
While I respect her grinchiness and have chosen not to berate her with “What’s WRONG with you?”s, I find such a position baffling.
I am such a Christmas-lover. If it were up to me, we would keep festive lights and traditional songs on the radio all year long. I love the cold weather. I love the snow. I love listening to Karen Carpenter sing Ave Maria. I love listening to Eric Cartman sing Oh Holy Night. I love the way the cold, barren city lights up and warms the night with a million twinkling lights. I hate LED Christmas lights, which don’t twinkle and don’t even seem to cast any light. They make the night look darker.
Christmas creates the illusion of a caring and generous universe. It fills me with goodwill for mankind and a faith in others which I can’t always maintain in other parts of the year.
Once, years ago, Christmas shopping in Halifax, I lost my boyfriend’s wallet. I don’t remember the exact circumstances. Maybe he gave it to me to hold, or asked me to put it in my purse. Or maybe he lost it himself and I remember guilt for no reason. Anyway, I remember how upset he was, and he was going to call and cancel his cards, but instead I called the store and asked if anyone had turned in a wallet. My boyfriend thought that was pointless – at Christmas, someone would jump at the chance for some cash and credit cards. But I was sure that at Christmas, no one would steal someone’s money. So I called anyway. Yes, someone had brought one in from the parking lot. We drove back and picked up the wallet, cash and all, and I felt vindicated in my faith in humankind.
I can’t keep up that faith year round. I am constantly in despair of mankind’s stupidity, selfishness, and shortsightedness. I do believe that most people are basically good when they take the time to think about the other person’s point of view. I also believe that most people are too stupid to do so and that this is why the world is in such a mess. But Christmas really emphasizes that thinking-of-others thing, and so, when Christmas comes, I believe that people are good.
I love getting gifts for people. I wish I had millions of dollars so I could buy the perfect present for everyone I know. Instead I restrict myself. I don’t want to bankrupt myself and it’s hard to find the perfect present for under twenty or thirty dollars. But boy, just you wait until Babby is old enough to understand Christmas. One friend of mine told me that she believed in Santa Claus for years because her family was so poor but they saved so well for Christmas that Santa always brought them their heart’s desire. That’s what I want to do, too.
Mostly, though, I just love tradition.
Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my parents have trimmed the tree in early to mid December. Mum and I do most of the work, while Dad sips egg nog, and then he fusses if the tinsel icicles aren’t hung perfectly straight, so he gets out of his chair and neurotically straightens every one. Our tree always looks like something out of a catalogue. Every night from then on, we sit in the evenings and stare at the tree while Christmas music plays and a fire crackles merrily. My parents read, and sip egg nog, and every now and then one of them looks up and sighs and says, “what a pretty tree.”
Christmas Eve, my mother will often read out loud from A Christmas Carol, and/or we’ll watch the Alistair Sim version on DVD. We will attend midnight mass and end it by singing Silent Night in a darkened church with a tapered candle burning in every hand.
My high school friends found themselves charmed by my parents’ story-book approach to the festive season, and one by one they began attending our annual tree trimming. We went to different universities, but every year we would come together for the tree trimming. My friends would sometimes arrive with their boyfriends. My goddaughter would attend as a baby, then as a toddler, then as a young child. My friends would sip my father’s egg-nog (which is always poured with a liberal hand), and hang my family’s decorations and then hang icicles that my father would then straighten. Then we would all sit around and listen to Bing Crosby and sip egg nog and every now and then, someone would sigh “what a pretty tree!”
No, I can’t understand hating Christmas. The warmth and the light and the love and the giving and feasting and the fairy tales make Christmastime my favourite time of year. I wish that, like Scrooge, I could keep Christmas in my heart all year round. I certainly try to do so.
My rule has always been to decorate the house either December 1st, or the first snowfall. Whichever comes first. It snowed last week in Vancouver.
It’s CHRISTMAS TIME.
You and your husband decide to take a break from Christmas shopping to go to a nice Thai place. Mmmm… Christmassy.
Then, while you are sitting there waiting for food with names like Kang Dang and Mee Grob Lard Nar (which prompts you to say “Ba Weep Gra Na Weep Ninibong!” to each other for a while, if you’re children of the eighties) you begin to notice the ambiance, a combination of elephants, fans, and Christmas lights. The most noticeable thing about said ambiance is their decision to play cheery Christmas music instead of Thai music. This wouldn’t be bad except that their music choices include a recording of an untalented group of children hollering
“HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING!
HE KNOWS WHEN YOU’RE AWAKE!!
HE KNOWS IF YOU’VE BEEN BAD OR GOOD SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!”
at the tops of their lungs. So of course, you make fun of it for a while. Conversation drifts. After a few minutes you realize that the children are still threatening you with Santa Claus.
“This is a long recording,” you observe out loud.You check your watch. It has been at least five minutes since you first noticed the song playing. Just when you’re beginning to worry that it will never end, the children pause, then start singing
“JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS!
JINGLE ALL THE WAY!!!!”
Which is no more pleasant to listen to, but at least a change from the vengeful Santa song. Conversation drifts again. Suddenly one of you picks up on the words
“HE’S MAKING A LIST!
AND CHECKING IT TWICE!!”
“Did they put it on the CD twice?” you wonder out loud to each other in surprise. You sit and wait for your Ba Weep Gra Na Weep Ninibong or whatever to arrive and you dream of delicious red curries and tasty noodles and you stare at each other across the table. When the song ends, you listen tensely together, hoping against all hope that the next song won’t be…
“JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS!!”
But it is. You stare at each other in disbelief. Then you begin to laugh. This can’t be happening.
But it is. Oh, it is. For the next forty minutes you and your husband listen to
“SANTA CLAUS IS COMING… TO TOWN!!”
“JINGLE ALL THE WAY!!!”
in a loop which appears to complete exactly every three minutes. You begin to count the time until the food arrives in cycles of three minutes each. Jingle Bells ends and after a moment’s blissful pause, Santa Claus is Coming to Town begins again, and your husband says “It must be 6:21 now.” Your watch agrees. You wonder how the staff can stand it. You begin to look at them suspiciously for their ability to walk around like nothing odd is happening. They should be developing homicidal tendencies after half a shift of this, but so far they seem unaffected. Your husband, meanwhile, begins to develop a twitch after Jingle Bells starts for the seventh time.
Mathematics tell you that by the time you have eaten your curry and noodles, you have listened to the same two terrible songs 15 times over. You discover that a trip to the bathroom lasts one cycle, giving you the peculiar feeling that your time in the bathroom did not count, and the universe held Jingle Bells on pause for you until you reemerged.
When you finish your meal, you sit, twitching, counting cycles, waiting for the bill. When it doesn’t come promptly, a feeling of trapped panic begins to set in. You have been there an hour. That is twenty renditions of Jingle Bells by small children who can’t even harmonize. The most easygoing parents in the world would be breaking out the chain saw by now. It feels increasingly believable that this could be used as a torture method on enemies of America.
When the bill finally arrives, your husband pays indecently quickly, and you actually rush out of the restaurant to gasp together in the blissful silence of the Vancouver eventide.
But the children… your brain rings with echoes of the children singing in your head…
“YOU BETTER WATCH OUT!
YOU BETTER NOT CRY!!
YOU BETTER NOT POUT I’M TELLING YOU WHY!!!”
and when you try and silence that memory another interrupts with
“OH WHAT FUN IT IS TO RIDE ON A ONE! HORSE! O! PEN! SLEEEEEEIGH…”
It takes a good half hour of hard rock and some powerful suppression of memories to block out the singing and you pray that you haven’t been permanently damaged by the experience. You wonder if you will still be able to have children.
Certain songs may have to be Verboten. FOREVER.
Christmas is slipping away from me. December has passed like a flash, and like a child I find myself counting the “sleeps” until we go home for Christmas. Yet I haven’t done my shopping, or sent my cards. Hell, we don’t even have our tree. I haven’t found home for my Beloved Dog and Inexplicably Loved Cat for the holidays.
All of these things bring worries to me, and yet each day goes by and I do nothing about them.
I love shopping for my loved ones, but I am worried about money this year. I love sending Christmas cards, but I haven’t taken the time to do them, when there are dishes to be done and fur covers the floor downstairs. I love decorating the Christmas tree, but Perfect Husband and I almost never have time to do anything together, since he has Sunday/Monday off instead of Saturday/Sunday, and on Sunday he referees soccer games, so I spend most of the weekend home without the car and without my husband.Then back to work, back to the grind…
Somehow, in the rush of work and trying to keep a house clean and trying to find sitters for my dogs at work so that I can actually GO on my Christmas trip home… Christmas is slipping out from beneath me.
I don’t blame Ebenezer Scrooge. I don’t think he meant to lose Christmas, I think it just… slipped out from under him.
The three best pieces of news in my current life:
1. It looks like Perfect Husband might get another torch relay when the torch swings back this way.
2. Only 14 more sleeps ’til I go home for Christmas!
3. The damn flooring guy finally decided to show up and put in the correct linoleum, transforming our kitchen from an ugly festering mess to a delightful and rather Tuscan looking haven.
As a reminder, this is the wrong floor:
FINALLY, the right floor:
Of course, the floor guy said he had to come back to put some kind of sealant on the linoleum where it joined with the laminate, and then he never showed up, but that’s a minor thing, surely…