Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Adam

Says the boy twin, "If the day before Christmas is Christmas Eve, then shouldn't the day after be...?"
And so, Christmas Adam is born.

Christmas has come and gone for another year.
We attended the Christmas Eve service at our home church, where (as mentioned in previous post) we wave red glow sticks at the end of the service during Silent Night.

The first time this happened, I was so glum I looked up an emergency late night Candelight Service at the Episcopal church and attended.
All by myself.
It was lovely. I slipped in the back door and sat in the back row.
During the Eucharist I stepped into the aisle and joined the solemn people up to the front. There were robes and candles and a wine filled goblet. A processional and a choir in the balcony. And real candles.

There's something so deliciously dangerous about fire in church.
The little kids tilt their candles until the wax pours down the sides,
and they point their fingers into the flame and pull it back and giggle
at each other while their parents sing above them, earnestly oblivious to their little pyrotechnic progeny below. I just love watching this.
I crunched across the dark parking lot afterwards,
shivering on the outside, but so warm on the In.

This year I decided to go to a nearby Catholic church. I was nervous especially because I was late, but there was another woman on the sidewalk outside the church, just about my age. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing until she said, "Do you know where the entrance is?" Here I thought I was the only one who dodged into strange churches in the dark on Christmas Eve.

I followed her in, but she disappeared quickly and I was left on a folding chair in the back. Suited me. I grabbed a prayer book and figured out the whole scheme in pretty good time. We bowed, we genuflected, we kneeled, we sang, we chanted. There was a "smoking bong" as the husband calls them, but it filled the church with a sort of...chokey kind of holy smell if that makes sense. A choir, a pipe organ. The place was packed. I liked it.

And now it is Christmas Adam, the Day After. I never feel depressed this day, I always feel so much as though it is the time for something new.

A new leaf, I guess.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Up at 5:30am.
No lights on except for the tree, and the village, and the outside Christmas lights.
I have stuff going through my head.

NPR report/interview about Sweeney Todd
Douglas Coupland's JPod
The order of Christmas present openings, to avoid clues that would spoil surprises.
Making a deal to buy each other one present only, which the husband has broken and I just now know about.
Solo on Footprints and new bassline for Stolen Moments.
Don't forget the low C at the end of the Schumann chorale.
What else am I forgetting?
When is it too late to remember?
Glowsticks at the candlelighting service and how much that just wrecks the whole thing for me.
The Big Present I am so excited about.
Fish and the Nutrition Action newsletter.
My children do not eat enough vegetables.
The refrigerator is disgusting. But it's low on my list.
Forgot to pay my Visa.
What else am I forgetting?
Sent about two Christmas cards and then got bored with it. How lame is that?
What else haven't I done?

Coffee buzz, ahhh.
It's morning and dark and quiet and I am alone for now.
Blank sheet of paper.
Making a list for the day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some Things Stay The Same

This morning I am up really early, before anyone else, with just the Christmas tree lights on (oh and the soft glow of the computer monitor...), and my cup of fresh coffee, with vanilla spiced rum creamer in it. Yummy.

I love mornings like this - outside there is most definitely a beautiful "blanket" of snow, and it is sooo quiet and dark. It's a day to stay home, wrapped in a quilt, watching "The Bells of Saint Mary" or maybe "Holiday Inn". Something black and white for sure.

But, we have the Children's Christmas Program to attend this morning, with an angel and a shepherd who have "pieces" just like in the olden days when we were young. They line up next to the microphone and either crane up or stand stooped with neck hanging down, because that microphone remains at one unvarying height, and nobody thinks to adjust it until they get to the children who are nearly in junior high and are desperately wishing that the whole thing would be over with so they could get down to the punch and cookies in the Fellowship Hall....and so one particularly dear, but tall girl begins her piece and at that moment the Director lady decides to make her move, adjusting the mic stand with the girl hovering over the top...everyone is sure she will get a bloody lip when it is finally jolted out of its place into a new height.

My angel likes to stand in the back when they all crowd to the front of the platform to sing, "Away In A Manger". I can usually only see the top of her head. My shepherd places himself prominently in the front, singing loud and clear, just happy as a clam to be able to have a good view of the congregation.

Speaking of "Away In A Manger", this year they are performing it in a key that is way too low for the children. The sound sort of disappears at the ends of the phrases. Then the Director lady, who doesn't understand music, approaches from the side and gives them the urgent direction to "Sing Louder!" and they all notch it up about a fourth...taking them into an entirely new key. The guitarist can't adjust and just continues to strum with a pained expression on his face.

Ah, some things are so beautifully predictable. I sit in the back row, with my knees hugged up to my chin, and I just grin and grin.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Ends Of Things

I use up the ends of things.
Like toothpaste. When it gets difficult to squeeze out,
someone opens a new tube.
I use that old tube, squeezing out every last drop.
That old, flattened toothpaste tube becomes my very own
personal paste because nobody else will wrestle with it.
I use it until the new tube gets flat.

Same with slivers of soap.
Same with an inch of morning orange juice left in the cup.
Same with pizza crusts.

I'm like this big hungry Hoover that roams the house using up
all the Restuvit.

"Here, Mom, you can have the restuvit," they say.

The husband has been living in Detroit for nearly two months, training
for his new job. He's back for good now, and he brought with
him all these tiny little shampoos from the hotel.

What's cool about them, is that they are brand new.
I am the very first one to use them, and I am the very last one to use them also.
It's like I have this very satisfying, full and complete relationship
with a product in my home.

Together from beginning to end.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Good Mom Award

And the winner is....ME!

This morning I walked back into the house after dropping off the children at school. This morning everything was sane, we were five minutes early and nobody forgot to wear their shoes. (This has happened - I have to look in the back seat to be sure that they are completely clothed). I was about to do the "ahhhh" thing, when my cell phone buzzed.

I had missed a phone call from the middle child, who had forgotten to have me sign her weekly progress reports, which is a big deal because every month, if you remember every single week, and you never miss a homework assignment, then you get to go to the "Breakfast Club", which means coming in early to school and eating pancakes with the teacher. Like I said, a big deal.

At the end of her message, it was very forlorn. Her voice shook just a little bit, because of course 6th graders don't cry at school over missing out on the Breakfast Club...

"Well, it's almost 8 o'clock, so you probably won't get this message in time, so, well, goodbye."

All of my senses were suddenly alerted - my eyes darted to the oven clock - it was 7:56. She was right, I was probably too late. I stood frozen in the middle of the kitchen for a second to calculate the odds of actually pulling off this manuever. I decided to go for it.

The next few minutes held a series of rapidly unfolding dilemmas and instant decisions...adrenaline was surging through my system. It felt like my morning coffee had suddenly kicked in and I solved every problem with a startling clarity of mind.

no shoes, I see clogs.
child's clogs, don't fit?
just slip them on.
will the bright green color
horrify the 6th grader?
I think because they're Crocs it's okay.
Should I call the teacher to alert her?
dial while driving.
Rats! Orthodontist.
Try again.
Voice mail.
Leave a message with the teacher?
Practically there, hang up.
Parking space too small?
You can do it.
Lock the car?
No time.
Pen? She won't have one.
Got it.

I slip-skidded into the hallway, and rounded the corner.
The Crocs were only covering the front half of my feet,
but I managed a shuffling half-run down toward her classroom.
The bell rang but there were still so many kids in the hallway.
I craned my neck and spotted her. My coat was flying behind me
and I was dodging Volunteer People. I waved madly to get her
attention and she looked up, surprised. And she grinned.

Oh she grinned so big.

Breathless I slid up to her while she pulled out the papers.
I signed with abandon. Wherever she pointed her finger.
I didn't look at the grades, I just slapped my name on everything.

"Thanks Mom!"
She really meant it,
because she saw the tiny Crocs, the pen, the clock...

Sometimes there are no rewards, but you know,
sometimes there are.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

Ah, it's Christmas-time.

The tree is up and decorated.
The stockings are all hung.
There is a smattering of packages under the tree.

Christmas is love and warmth and family.
Peace and Joy to all the earth.

Then why do I wake up in the middle of the night,
heart racing,
mind reeling,

It's these kids, you know.
They have those shining eyes.
They believe in magic, in Santa,
and still in my infallibility.

They dance around these mornings
like little elves with their weird skinny legs
and rooster tails of hair sticking up...
poking those packages under the tree,
giggling and smiling with eyes
glancing sideways at me.
Giving me this knowing look that says,
"We know what you've got in store for us,
Mom. We know you have something special planned."

That's just it.
Nothing planned.
Only about half the gifts purchased.
Nails bitten down to the nibs.
Time running out.

It's like this every year.
Husband working long hours,
extended family pulling for gift ideas
and Time Spent Together,
gift exchanges at school,
Christmas program at church,
television commercials with moms
baking cookies...

And now I'm sitting here trying to
pull this post together with a positive
twist at the end. An "and yet Christmas
still seeps into my soul" sort of ending.

I know it will happen, because somehow
it does every year.
But for now, can you let me wallow in a little
bit of Christmas un-cheer? A little bit of
selfish yammering about having way too much to
do, to buy, to give?

Oh my.

Sometimes I am stunned by the breadth of
my own selfishness and ingratitude for all
that I have.

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Grinch.