1. It’s all very well to say that we should preserve Advent as a penitential season of waiting and preparation, and you shouldn’t jump the gun and celebrate a feast that hasn’t yet arrived. But you know what that gets you? One mother having a nervous breakdown trying to get it all together on Christmas eve
and eight kids who stare at you blankly when you suggest singing Christmas carols. Because they didn’t learn any Christmas carols, because it was Advent. Next year, we’ll be less liturgical, but more sane.
2. Homemade peanut brittle is way, way more delicious than store-bought peanut brittle. But store-bought peanut brittle doesn’t rip hunks of flesh off your hand if you accidentally touch it during the hard crack stage.
3. I can’t decide if I’m delighted that our new charter school is so easygoing, or a little disgusted at how truly awful the Christmas concert was. The upside was that it was held at a Baptist church, so I was able to take the disruptive younguns into a sound proof, glassed-in balcony with fully stocked playroom, complete with changing table, crib, rocking chairs, and piped-in sound (Baptists!). So I could hear 63 recorders shrieking their way through “Jingle Bells,” but the performers couldn’t hear me moaning in agony through the same.
Meh, the kids are happy, they’re getting a good education, and they sound horrible on the recorder. Yeah, I guess I’m delighted!
4. There was a great, big bat swooping around just over the heads of the congregation at midnight Mass, and nobody could figure out what to do. Isn’t that what the Knights of Columbus are for?
On the other hand, I was blown away by the utter composure of the three priests concelebrating Mass. They didn’t miss a beat and were utterly focused on the liturgy, even as different sections of the congregation let out little involuntary shrieks and gasps.
I tried really hard to wrench a metaphor out of the situation, but nothing happened.
5. We are incapable of not going overboard for Christmas. It’s far, far too late for us to train the youngsters to be thrilled to find a box of colored pencils and an irregular dickey
under the tree. So we go a little berserk, and buy them extravagant presents that delight them. So sue me! The rest of the year, they’re lucky if I can remember their names.
6. A few days before Christmas, my son got sick. Then everyone else got sick, one by one, until everyone except my husband and some miscellaneous toddlers had fever and chills, severe sore throats, vertigo, headaches, muscle aches, and near-fatal surliness. Some of us were throwing up, some of us were wandering up and down the stairs in a delirium, and one kid developed some rather theatrical Strange Bumps all over his head.
So on Monday, my husband spent four hours shoveling snow, and then insisted on calling in to work so he could stay home and take care of us, since my limbs weren’t working. He handed out Tylenol. He plumped pillows and poured orange juice. He set up humidifiers, washed pukey sheets, played Go Fish, and sat through countless hours of Wonder Pets. He cheerfully leaped out of bed half a dozen times to sooth crazed and querelous children who didn’t know why they were up. In short, he is my favorite husband ever.
7. I didn’t write a Christmas letter or cards. It’s been a strange and disconcerting year, and many Things have Changed for our family – - and it was all just too hard to explain in one of those holly jolly update letters. I’ve been fretting a lot lately, and falling prey to a stupid spiritual distraction, worrying whether there really is something wrong with my attitude about femininity. Maybe I really am turning my back on womanhood with my pants-wearing, gin-swilling, fart-joke-making ways, and making the world a worser place in which to live in. It seems like everything I do is lacking, and I’m so tired of being this way. I was moaning about this to my husband, and said, “Well, this year you accomplished this, and So-and-so did that, and she made so much progress in this — but I didn’t do anything!”
And he said, “But you made it so that all these things could happen. You kept us going. You kept us together.”
That is actually the best thing that anyone has ever said to me.
And when I think about it, it’s pretty darn feminine, as long as you’re looking for more than high heels and homemade cookies. Not that I have no room for improvement, but I guess I’m doing what I was put here to do — and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the person I love the most in the world.
Of course you notice, if you re-read number 6, that we are both under the impression that the other one is the one who is holding this whole freak show together. ‘Snice, isn’t it? You should be glad to know us!