Saturday, December 25, 2004

Another Christmas...so far!

Well, another day of happiness, Conspicious California Consumer style. Right now I don't care if I EVER see another chunk of that Hellish gray wire that toymakers insist on winding around every toy in weird, inaccessable, unexplainable places. And that damned super-strong clear tape they then cover the stupid gray wire with, as if it wasn't already anough of a pain in the neck. All this while an over-sugared, under-slept, hot-wired 5 year dances and emits high-pitched yowls of anticipation at your feet. Something about this makes my brain just flatline and I lose what little fine motor skills remained in my fingers. Soon the kids are watching me with an expression pretty darned close to pity on their faces. This year I tried to circumvent this somewhat by taking the items out ahead of the wrap session and doing away with the annoying gray wire and tape and placing batteries. This worked fine at home but I still looked bad once we got to N's paternal grandparents home and tore paper there. And we still have another family holiday shinding to go to on MY side of the family. I'll tackle that when the time comes, hopefully I'll have a day to rest up beforehand.

The big hit with N. this year (so far) is the replica stuffed bunny I made, using her favorite, worn-out-to-the-nub toy as a pattern. The problem was that I could only work on it at night after she was asleep, and by then I was so tired and wrung out from fighting a sinus/ear infection that I was making all sorts of weird mistakes--sewing heads on backwards and the like. But eventually New Bunny got done, and N. now carries them BOTH around. The other big hit of the day was the huge--HUGE--34 inches--plastic spider courtesy of our ol' fav, Archie McPhee.

She LOVES things like this--no dolls for her, she's a plastic dinosaur and rubber bug kinda girl. She hauled both the stuffed bunny and the spider along to Grandma and Grandpa's house to share. They looked at us as if we had three heads, but oh, well.

My big hit of the day is the beautiful black and purple velvet dress/blouse that J. got me. It's got dragons on the purple velvet, a lace-up bodice, long, flowing sleeves and a long, draped back the reaches below my knees. It's so cool I don't think I'll ever take it off.

Along with the goodies, we try to get N. to appreciate and savor the season. We check NORAD's website as they track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. We make a point of reading The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas. Another treat is to turn off the TV and stereo and turn off all of the lights in the house except those on the tree, then just sit quietly and look at it. I remember as a child doing this-I'd crawl under the dining room table all by myself, take off my glasses and just enjoy the beautiful, blurry, colored blobs. Our tree this year is a nice one, but sadly is too full to allow the hanging of the lead tinsel (NOT plastic, haz mat be damned). Another fun tradition we started, is that every year on New Year's Day when it is time to take down the tree, we each take a pen and write a short note, memory or comment on the tissue that wraps the ornaments. That way we have a fun history of notes to read aloud to each other NEXT year when we unwrap the ornaments. So far we have about 7 years worth of this. My favorite is the one from a few years ago that notes that N. took her first steps that New Year's Day.

Last night we went for our annual drive to look at Christmas lights. I took along a bundle of jingle bells and periodically held them out the car window and shook them in a Santa's sleigh-type cadence. Several times we got small children to freeze in their tracks. The outing to view holiday lights always turns up with lots of strange ones. This year's oddest was the large, expensive McMansion wearing obviously the OLD house's lights. Waaaay undersized and pathetic looking in a amusing way. Interestingly, we started our annual Christmas light hunt armed with a video camera to search out the hideous, tacky houses. We'd tape it to show our family--surely no one would beleive us otherwise--and our snarky, smart-ass comments ended up on the tape. It's impossible NOT to comment when you see some of these (Santa on a surfboard!). The trip got to be popular with the family and ended up becoming a Pointless Family Tradition--just like putting the bows off of the packages on my brother's head.

I've just spent the last 2 hours clipping tags from new clothing, setting up new toys, wrestling other items from their packaging and reading instructions. Our giant curbside trash can is stuffed to the gills, it's maw overflowing with bright shreds of paper and loose strands of ribbon. "A Christmas Story" has been running all day on one of the TV stations, last night they were running "A Miracle on 34th Street" over and over. Today we allowed N. to tank up on as much candy as she wanted, to her cautiously puzzled happiness. Little half-eaten bits of it are gathered in a small dish for tomorrow. I'm sure this is typical and a great reason why school resumes NEXT week.

N. still gets up at a reasonable hour, today was 7AM. We are especially thankful for this when J's sister tells us that HER kids start trying to get everyone up starting at around 4AM. I'd use strap clamps and industrial strength epoxy to keep them in bed if they did that to me.

Time to download today's pictures off of the camera. As an aside, the chickens were NOT amused by the giant plastic spider that N. ran out into the yard to "share" with them. I believe they will need extended therapy after today...

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