Sunday, December 19, 2004


This morning, we met my ex-stepmother for breakfast. My mother was also there. Divorce creates such odd situations, sometimes. My parents became friends after they were divorced. And then my stepmom and my mother became friends while my dad was married to my stepmom . . . and then they had something in common after he divorced my stepmom, too.

We used to have the weirdest Christmases. One Christmas, right after my parents' divorce, my dad brought his new wife to our house and my mother's boyfriend was there, too. At least that's how I remember it. We poor children practically huddled in the corners of the rooms, trying to make sense of the broken pieces of our lives. The next year was the Christmas when my dad thought it was a good idea to drive to Ohio. From Washington State. In a compact car with a faulty heating system. During the Christmas season . . . do you know how cold it is in Montana during December? Cold enough to freeze off your bippy, that's how cold!

Anyway. So, my ex-stepmom lives a few hours away. Last night, she made the drive and spent the night at my mom's house. As I started to say, we met them for breakfast. Even though my stepmother is extremely frugal, she likes to splurge on the rare occasion. Several years ago, she decided to take our little (big?) family out to breakfast for Christmas. So, we carry on this tradition.

Unfortunately, we were unable to linger over breakfast because the kids had to practice for the Christmas pageant. None of my kids has ever been in a Christmas production of any sort. This is the first year this particular church has had this type of event for many years. So, we walked over to the church and then stood around while children made a lot of noise and expended a lot of energy by fake karate chopping each other. (That would have been my son doing the chopping.)

Babygirl was especially pleased because the baby playing Jesus in the pageant was present. We held the baby several times--she's not quite three months old. Babygirl adores babies. It's a shame that she is my youngest child. Motherhood might have been so much easier if I'd had a girl first to help me mother!

At long last, the adults managed to organize and line up the children. I ended up being in charge of two "angels" and had to follow a script so I could send them onto the platform at the appropriate time. The pageant director had hoped Babygirl would be an angel, but Babygirl wanted only to sit on my lap.

When we returned home, I escaped as quickly as possible to go do some Christmas shopping. My quests were successful and I even managed a quick stop at the grocery store before returning home. The boys were eager to spend their allowance on an absolutely "necessary" GameCube cord, so I loaded up all the kids in The Deathtrap and we headed off to the video game store. We stopped first at Walgreens', where they purchased Christmas gifts for their dad. (Chocolate bars and a giant, really gigantic, Hershey's kiss.) We came home to find my husband making dinner--hot dogs and fries, my original plan. While we waited, I sat with Babygirl in the rocker and suddenly, I heard police sirens.

Way, way, way in the back of my mind, it registered. That is the sound of Santa Claus! Santa always comes through our neighborhoods in the days prior to Christmas. I startled Babygirl when I practically yelled to tell my husband, "Santa is coming! Get the boys!" Babygirl was shirtless, so I grabbed a jacket for her and carried her out to the driveway just as a police car with flashing lights passed in front of our house.

Slowly driving up our street was Santa's sleigh, decked out in Christmas lights. Santa and Mrs. Claus sat up high. On his right stood a snowman (someone in costume) and on the left was a reindeer (again, someone in costume). A bunch of teenage elves jumped from the sleigh, ran to their children and gave them gifts--matchbox cars, candy canes and for Babygirl, a stuffed bear.

After Santa came two fire engines, sirens blaring, lights flashing. Babygirl stared at this nighttime flashing parade with wide eyes. When we went back inside, she said, "Santa Claus! Scary!" The rest of the evening, she said with wonder, "Santa Claus is scary."

After I put her to bed and finished writing my Christmas letter, I went to a movie. Some years I attempt to see all the films nominated for Academy Awards (and/or the Golden Globes). This year, I think I might actually be able to achieve that goal. I saw "Closer" tonight in a theater that was fairly full. The couple right in front of me--a baldish man and a blond woman--were nuzzling each other, giggling and rubbing noses. I thought to myself, "Definitely not married." To my right, the girl kept laughing inappropriately during somber, wrenching scenes. It reminded me of junior high kids who laugh during certain parts of biology class because they are so uncomfortable. An older couple came in at the last minute and next to the Nuzzlers. They smelled like an old couch, like one you might find in Goodwill.

At a particularly intense part of the movie, Gramps got up and I thought, "I can't believe he's leaving during this part of the movie, this most important part!" And then he walked two steps down and said in a loud voice right into the faces of two young women, "You are very rude to talk during a movie!"

Wow. Good for him.

It's part midnight now and my stagecoach has turned back into a pumpkin. Tomorrow I am making a full turkey dinner with my unexpectedly thawed turkey. It's always an interesting proposition to cook while at church, but hopefully I will get up early in the morning and become Martha Stewart.

Or not.


Blogger Tina said...

I think Santa is a little scary too...Riley didn't think much of him either.

12:30 PM  

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