Saturday, December 24, 2011

May You be Merry

Whoa! Longest Time Without Blogging.  I swear. I have Crazy Missed You People.  Mark has promised to leave drunken comments on people's Christmas blog posts in between wrapping gifts and such. This is an enticement I simply can't refuse. So here's my Christmas Post! You can thank Mark for it.

First of all, let me assure you guys that I'm not dead.  I'm not even sick.  And even though I'd like to, I'm not hiding in shame and embarrassment over this:
No, my friends, I've just been busy.  November kicked my arse.  I did hang in there and participate in NaNoWrite.  I did complete my first rough draft of the manuscript.  It is now 21,367 words too long and I have some editing and re-writing to do.  I have more to say about that but maybe that will be the topic of a later post - because obviously - I haven't started up a writer's blog, yet.

Since I didn't do a Thanksgiving post, let me say that we had a lovely day, my big girl had come home from college, and it was a perfectly relaxing holiday.  Her boyfriend was also home from college and probably to his mother's angst, spent the holiday with us. We ended the day as we do every year, by bombing the San Antonio River with pumpkins.

Thanksgiving weekend was also the opening of The Nutcracker.  Camille made her debut in her first professional production as....A Mouse:
And....An Angel:

This was a lot of work, people! And Camille never tired of it.  Jeff and I both volunteered backstage at every performance Camille was in, as well as all rehearsals, including two full dress rehearsals with the symphony.  They divided the children's cast into two groups so she was only required to perform in 5 shows...but combined with all of the rehearsals, it was a hectic and busy schedule for sure. 

Jeff, being a man, was treated with the utmost respect for his volunteer service.  He was appointed bouncer - sat beside a side door to keep the riff raff out and the children, mice, and angels in.  Since riff raff only attempted to come in one time...and I was backstage with the children, mice, and angels - he mostly sat around playing games on his phone and relaxing.  Everyone, however, was thrilled with his volunteerism and women repeatedly brought him coffee and patted him on the back in gratitude.

I moved boxes, tables, chairs, and costumes.  I took gaggles of angels and mice to the bathroom. I helped with the "quick changes" during intermission.  I applied make-up, sprayed massive amounts of hairspray, and pulled up tights on sweaty little bodies.  Also? For the record? It is hard to put eye shadow on a kid who is crying.  Nobody brought me coffee or patted me on the back.  Go figure.  Next year I plan to try to get in the clique of Starbucks Mommies. They volunteered tirelessly by signing in on the volunteer sign-in sheet, heading to Starbucks, and coming back in time to sign out.  I watched them do it every single day and it never ceased to impress me. 

Ellie and her boyfriend were able to see the opening show - they didn't have to head back to school until the following day so that worked out brilliantly.  Of course, they almost missed it. 

"Where are they?" I asked Jeff once or twice...not a hundred times or anywhere close to a hundred times no matter what anybody says. He told me he'd texted them and they were in a restaurant lunching casually with friends and I was like OH MY GOD IT STARTS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES and he assured me that he had strongly suggested, via text, that they leave the restaurant and head for the theater.  I'm pretty sure that what he actually texted was OMG - Your mom is FREAKING OUT get your asses here NOW.

As the lights flickered and the bell dingled to let the audience know it was time to get seated, they still weren't there.  "They're not coming," I said.  "I wish we hadn't wasted money on tickets. They're simply not going to make it!"  

"Oh, they'll make it," Jeff assured me.  "Ellie will slide into her seat just as the curtain goes up and act like it's no big deal."  The curtain started to go up and I was just about to tell him he was wrong when I heard a small, "Ahem, excuse me." Then Ellie scooted past me and slid into her seat, cool as a cucumber. She glanced at me briefly with a What? expression. Then, for a special effect, she yawned and stretched leisurely.

Of course, I know for a fact that  ten minutes before, after vacating her car as if it were on fire, she'd been sweating bullets, running through downtown knocking aside old people and tripping up winos while yelling at her boyfriend, "Keep up! Oh my God if I miss this she'll never let me hear the end of it! She'll be talking about it on her deathbed! I will NEVER EVER LIVE THIS DOWN!  It will go down in Nutcracker History that I missed my sister's opening night!  RUN! For the love of all things holy, RUN!" 

God, I've missed that kid. 

The tree went up, its lights went out string by string, until it only had one little strand across the middle.  Eventually, we had to un-decorate the tree, put up new LED lights that are too bright if you ask me, and re-decorate.  The lights likewise went up on the house.  We live on a ranch, and so we only put the lights up for ourselves. We don't get folks out here looking at Christmas lights.  If we get a particularly cold night, we bundle up and walk down the lane for our Cold Walk so we can look back and see our house - a bright row of lights shining brightly in a dark pasture. 

Many years ago, when I was a Young Mom of Three, I wrote a story about this ritual and it was published in a Christmas anthology.  I was very excited about it at the time, so excited that I agreed to sell my rights to it, and so it has just be re-released as part of a new anthology for which I WILL NOT BE PAID. Bah humbug.

Anyway, so Jeff got out the ladder and it is always so exciting because it could go really, really well - and we end up with a decorated casa, OR it could end up being the incident that finally familiarzes us with our disability insurance policy.

What I didn't know was that Jeff had upped the excitement level by allowing Jasper up on the roof.  He perched him up on the highest peak, telling him not to move, to just sit there and watch.  Jasper did just that.  He was wearing a little brown jacket and had the hood pulled up, his hands in his pockets, sitting like a statue.  Or maybe a gargoyle.  Anyway, Jeff was hanging up the lights and he casually glanced up at Jasper and his blood ran cold at what he saw.  Jasper still sat, quite still and calm, but coming up on his left...out of his field of vision, thanks to his hood...was his arch nemesis, Stevie Ray.

It was getting on into late afternoon, and this guy was fixing to roost up high for the night. Jeff was in a panic.  If Jasper did what he usually did when approached by Stevie Ray, he was going to stand up on the very top of the roof, scream like a girl, and take off running for his life with Stevie Ray hot on his heels.  And then?  Jeff, himself, was going to be in ALL KINDS OF TROUBLE WITH THE MAMA.

But turkeys are not too smart.  And this particular turkey looked at Jasper sitting there in his brown hoodie, all still and quiet and perched up high, and came to the logical turkey conclusion that Jasper was also a turkey.  He then settled in quite companionably next to Jasper and began to drift off to sleep.  Jeff was able to get to Jasper before Anything Bad Happened. 

Tonight is Christmas Eve. It feels so great to have all my babies home. It's different though.  We're on the cusp of change.  One child has already left the nest, the others are growing up.  Santa still comes, but he is way more exhausted than he used to be. Instead of wishing for time to stand still so he can live forever, he finds himself occasionally wishing it would all hurry up so he could retire.  He is caught between the beautiful nostalgia of the Past and the promise of the Future. He's just enough of a human to prevent his fully being able to ever embrace the Present.

A Very Merry Christmas to You!
From the Sardine Mama of Christmases Past, Present, and Future.