Saturday, December 29, 2007
After two margaritas at the kosher Mexican restaurant tonight, I'm feeling a wobbly kinship with my giggly girls. I remember the truism that living with small children is like living with perpetually drunk tiny people. "Exshcuse me, sir, can I have some banilla ice cream?" warbles Nora to the waiter and I'm laughing, laughing, understanding her like never before. Emotionally labile, uncoordinated and prone to sloppy affection? "It's like Rush Street!" I whisper to Randy.
In the days leading up to Christmas I almost worried, when I had a spare moment, that all my happy anticipation would crash afterwards, but no. I feel a definite division - the slice of night between Christmas and the day after changes everything but I am fine about it. Take down the ornaments; leave up the clean cold lights. The tree boughs will make excellent mulch for our sleeping bulbs.
Does this contentment come from my satisfaction with our Christmas? Absolutely. The girls were elated and charmed that Santa ate his cookie and the reindeer left only carrot stubs. Nora carried a wrapped present over her head from the tree to her pile. Randy smoked a turkey. I never did finish that gingerbread house (two walls have been sitting on parchment paper on the kitchen counter for two weeks) and we are only just starting our Christmas cards (Happy New Year!) but cheer and memories of fun are all around.
Does it come from relief we've made it through to the winter solstice? Oh yeah! The meteorological difference between today and yesterday is merely a few more moments of sunlight, but the psychological difference is huge. We are ascending! Every day from here to June will be a little longer than the one before! More light, more light!
Am I content because Nora looks so big today? So big that I ask her, "Are you a three year old yet or are you still two?" "I'm two!" she corrects me. Her birthday is in a week but I'm not missing the tiny infant, the big-headed toddler she used to be. Today she wears an old pair of big sister's size four pants and her sister's thick black shoes and clumps around, a big girl. Her legs are long. I don't miss my baby. She's right here in front of me.
Dan Fogelberg died! Just before Christmas! How much more pathos can you pour onto "Same Old Lang Syne"?
In high school we used to laugh at this song, at the sing-song monotony of the melody and the clumsy lyrics ("The beer was empty and our tongues were tired"? Oh bah ha ha!) but when I was alone with the radio and Fogelberg's story, I listened, rapt.
The first time I heard it this year was the second weekend in December. Randy and I were driving around Zion, under a fat snowfall, looking for a community swimming pool that was supposedly transformed into a winter wonderland. "They play this on the Christmas channel?!" I asked Randy in wonder.
The girls had fallen asleep in their carseats. We carried them, groggy and limp, into a Mexican dive (yeah, we do loves us some burritos) that apparently is going to cross that statewide smoking ban bridge when it comes to it. Mia slumped against Randy, Nora fussed on the floor, but they both cheered up after some chips and a chance to pet a little burro statue carrying plastic flowers.
Kringle's Kingdom beat all our expectations. We drove slowly through a park decorated with vignettes of blinking lights - dinosaurs, a penguin playground, bears playing catch. Six or so inches of snow had fallen the day before. The lights glowed under the mounds of fresh snow.
We walked through a maze of shadow boxes, dressed up like shop windows, with animated Santas and teddy bears acting out Christmas scenarios sympathetic to the sponsors: Teddy at the candy shop, Mrs. Claus in the poinsettia replete florist, reindeer at the dentist, Santa on the chiropractic's table. Randy and I lifted the girls to see.
Family dinner and Kringle's Kingdom in soft new snow. A million miles from the lonely saxophone and sad rain of some Old Lang Syne.