In as much as I hate hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, before December 1 to be exact, I have to confess to being sad when it ends abruptly on Christmas Day. It's as if the plug is pulled just when things are starting to get relevant. As a kid I remember WCIB ended its Christmas music at noon on December 25. For those of us who had to wait for our dads to get home from church before opening presents (yes, we walked a mile to school, manually changed television channels and waited 'til practically lunch time to open presents), we would just be getting down to gift unwrapping and according to the radio - it was all over. Things have gotten better in recent years. WMVY used to play holiday music until 3PM - then 6PM - and I was pleasantly surprised tonight to find them going all the way through 10PM and then after 10, instead of quitting cold turkey, continuing to sprinkle in the occasional "Go Tell In On The Mountain" between continuous airing of that new Norah Jones song. I would go so far as to say they should continue playing holiday music right up until New Years. Not 24/7 mind you, just pepper them throughout the broadcast. There are a few New Year's tunes that are uniquely appropriate for that time slot. Radio stations often treat Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" as if it's a Christmas song, but when else can we hear Barry Manilow crooning "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
song: Don't Stop the Music • artist: Yarbrough and Peoples
I can't decide if H knows what Christmas Eve means, or if he's going to be profoundly disappointed when he wakes up tomorrow to no presents under the tree. This seems to be another failing of the Advent Calendar. Why stop a day early? Why not tick off the days right up to the 25th? Stopping short seems to be a bit of a tease. Luckily our bedroom is so messy that I can pretty much hide presents right out in the open by just throwing a few choice not-yet-stored-in-the-attic summer clothes on top of them. I don't know why I'm going through such an effort to hide presents and all evidence of presents though. H has no doubt that all gifts come from Santa, which, if there are any six year olds reading this post - is exactly where they come from.
song: You've Got To Hide Your Love Away • artist: The Beatles
An uplifting sentence: "It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
A depressing horoscope: "Make your own choices but don't do so without thinking matters through carefully. You can do something that you enjoy or you can continue down the same old path that leads nowhere. Set your goals and stick to them and help will be offered." December 21, Aquarius
song: Fortunate Son • artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Be careful of what you wish for. "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, As Soon As My Flight Leaves" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, After I Finish Shopping" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, But Not Here" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, Two-To-Four Inches Tops" "I'm Dreaming Of Light Dusting" "I Said Dreaming!" "I'm Dreaming That This Driveway is Already Plowed"
It's been my experience that children become vested, to the point of obsession, with the place mat drawings they create at restaurants. My own kids, who I can never get interested in coloring at home, despite repeated efforts, reach out and grab at those crayons like drowning men grasping for life rings as soon as the waitress puts them on the table. And where do restaurants purchase their crayons anyway? Some kind of crayon bargain basement? Tonight the kids got six crayons between them, two shades of green, one yellow (that looked a lot like green), one tan and two blacks. With no blue, no red, no purple and no orange, it's a wonder they could draw anything - but I digress. C and H were coloring with the intensity of Gericault holed up in his studio working on "The Raft of the Medusa." Both kids folded up masterpieces before dinner arrived as they - heaven forbid - didn't want to dirty them up. After we were done eating H even pulled his drawing out again and started back in working on it. But as captivated as they are with those drawings at the restaurant, they always end up left in the back seat of the car when we arrive home; my children having forgotten about them as quickly as, say, celebrities and politicians forget their wedding vows.
The Elks club held its annual holiday party over the weekend. On the same day, as it turns out, as yet another birthday party of one of C's classmate's. When I brought up the conflict I was anticipating an objection followed by me having to explain that he'd already told his grandparents he would go to the Elks party and that he really shouldn't let Nana and Papa down. Surprisingly, he readily agreed to go to the Christmas party. Perhaps he figured that he had more of a chance of making the event if he went with his grandparents since they have a better track record for successfully arriving at planned events than I do. If I couldn't get a bowling ally correct, what chance did I have of finding the right movie theater? As it turns out his rational was much simpler than that. At his friend's party, it was his friend who would be on the receiving end of the gifts; at the Christmas party, he'd be getting a present. No contest. Prior to the big shindig I was instructed by my parents to secretly purchase two presents. This was something new. When I was a kid and we went to the Elks Christmas Party I know that the Elks themselves supplied the presents because everyone in the same age group received the same present. But times have changed and we're in a recession, despite what the government says, and the Elks are saving all their money for scholarships, so fine, I can live with supplying the presents. At least they will be getting mommy-approved gifts. I was surprised though that they didn't recommend a price limit because what happens when my kid unwraps his Mr. Potatohead and the kid next to him gets a Wii?
Twins means twice as many chances for a toddler to poop in the bathtub - but at my house it seems like the odds are significantly higher. And speaking of, what were they thinking when they wrote Santa Claus is Coming to Town? "Curly head dolls that toddle and coo?" No child is going to let that go by without pointing out that it sounds an awful lot like toddle and poo - and it does. It's the "revved up like a deuce" of holiday classics.
Now here's an idea. Instead of opening advent calendar doors starting with door number one and working up to door #24, it would be advantageous to begin with door #24 and work down to door #1 thus answering the preschooler's burning question, "how many days until Christmas?"
song: Backwards Down the Number Line • artist: Phish
Dear Miss Lori, I really wanted to sign C up for the felting class at the museum on Sunday. We were all ready to but then he was invited to a birthday party on the same day, at the same time. I had a meeting at 4PM and the party started at 3. Ken was working so I devised a plan whereby I would drop off C at the party and then take children numbers 2, 3, and 4 to the Mullen Hall playground where Ken, when he got off work, would meet us and exchange cars so he could pick up C after the party and drive everyone home while I went to the office. We arrived at the bowling ally a few minutes before 3, did I mention that's where the party was? I locked children numbers 2, 3, and 4 in the car and walked C in. Surprisingly we were the first people there so I asked the man behind the shoe rental counter if there was a party for Nora. "The party's at 3:30" he said. I hustled C back out to the car, skillfully avoiding the arcade on the way out. After backing the car to the other side of the town hall parking lot I let C and H out so they could climb on the big anchor. "Look at me! Look at me!" C kept yelling. If you've seen one kid climb an iron anchor, you've seen them all. But I looked. Then I called Ken and revised the plan. "Just meet me in the parking lot at town hall." At 3:30 we went back in but there were still no guests and strangely, no birthday girl, just a deserted decorated room filled with a long table set with paper party plates and child-sized chairs. The man shrugged. I positioned myself in the doorway where I could see both C, inside the bowling alley, and the locked van containing the rest of my family. Minutes ticked by. C decided he wanted to wait back in the car. As Ken was pulling into the parking lot the man came out and approached us. "What was that name you said?" "Nora." I answered. "That's not the name I have." At this point I was about to be late for my own appointment, C may or may not be late for a birthday party that may or may not exist, I filled Ken in on the details. "Maybe the party is at the other ally." said the bowling ally attendant. I was surprised, given his own empty party room, that he was still worried about our problems. Apparently he wasn't aware I was a mother who was developing a reputation for getting birthday parties wrong. Remember Logan's party, which I brought my son to on the wrong day? He cried right there in Logan's grandfather's living room and went away with a plastic army hat party favor. Why did I not grab the party invite on my way out the door? I am so not qualified to be a parent. Instead I thought, We live in a town that supports two bowling allies? Incredible. I threw Ken the keys and left in the truck. He called 20-minutes later to say he'd struck out, metaphorically speaking, and was heading home. Another 20-minutes and he called to report that the party, now over, had taken place at Ryan Family Amusements in Buzzards Bay. Who would have thought the party was at the bowling ally on the other side of the bride? Anyone who'd read the invitation, that's who. And that is why, Miss Lori, that C wasn't able to be at the felting workshop. Maybe next year.
On the first day after Thanksgiving, my library book [Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus] gave to me - one nasty paper cut. On the second day after Thanksgiving, my mailbox gave to me - two holiday cards from over-achieveing friends and relations. On the third day after Thanksgiving, my dinner gave to me - painful stinging when I accidentally rubbed hot pepper juice onto the paper cut. Ow! On the fourth day after Thanksgiving, cheap holiday lighting gave to me, two out of three strands that only light halfway. On the fifth day after Thanksgiving, Playmobil gave to me, two advent calendars that required considerable assembly; a fatal flaw I discovered after having already presented them to H & C.
movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas • director: Tim Burton