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Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas Medley

Maya's Gingerbread Tree

My "Charlie Brown" Tree

It's been a whirlwind holiday season for me, as usual. My current job does not allow me the luxury of a flextime schedule, which in the past allowed me to take the entire week before Christmas off to finish shopping, wrapping, decorating, and attending a myriad of holiday events.

Alas, I am frazzled, and missed all the parties, and didn't get to bake cookies. But I did get to my son's holiday concert (he plays first trombone), and my daughter's karaoke dance show. Plus an awesome concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Nassau Coliseum, complete with both musical and actual. pyrotechnics. Their frenetic blend of classical and rock music, dulcet and discordant, matches my personality in general, and my mood this holiday season.

Anyone who has read my essay "Tis the Season," published last year, might remember details of a particularly awesome effort by the shopping goddess to snag a Wii when there were simply none to be had. This year, there were no armed guards in Toys R Us in the Bronx when I went in to get a Zoobles Razoo's Tree House (use your imagination) for my daughter, and a wireless headset and controller for my son's new X box. In fact, there were not even that many sales associates. Those that were tended to labyrinthine queues of frantic shoppers. I dared approach two who seemed to be available

"Where can I find Zoobles?" I asked.

"Zoobles? What are they?" a dazed young man answered.

"Never mind." I headed for electronics.

"Do you have wireless controllers and headsets for Xbox?" I was hopeful to snag at least something on my list.

After that guy, old enough to know better, stopped laughing, he pointed to the a ravaged display on a back wall with a few tattered packages dangling from crooked hooks.. "You can check that wall." He laughed some more, holding onto his sides and I didn't even kick him.

I headed for Target where a sales associate actually knew what I was talking about. He directed me to an aisle for the Zoobles. On my way there, a woman passed by carrying Razoo's Treehouse! Counting on the empathic bond between frantic mothers, I ran to her.

"Where did you get that?" I was sure she had gotten the last one.

"Right over here." She led me there, and you go, goddess, there was one left, which I clutched close for safekeeping.

Divide and conquer when desperate. Hubby scored the headset in Target as well, and good old Amazon mopped up the operation.

I'll spare the mundane details of the Old Navy and Marshalls experience, but suffice it to say everyone behaved very well on the very long lines. And the cashiers were were efficient and wished me happy holidays.

At work, we play music in exam rooms to offer a bit more privacy to patients, who are often upset and let's just say a bit loud as they share details of their latest travails and heartbreaks. 106.7 FM plays Christmas music from before Thanksgiving, so I know their playlists by heart.

Here are a few snippets of popular Christmas lyrics that have resonated with me over the last month.

I can't buy peace and contentment for all the kids I care for who need comfort as they struggle with poverty, deprivation, neglect, violence, loss and grief that not even many adults I know can fathom. But I do the best I can, one child at time.

From Kenny Chesney's Mama's Shoes

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

This one is for the Republicans, particularly those who opposed the 9/11 Health Care Act, strong armed our not so strong armed President into big tax breaks for the rich, corrupted the Affordable Care Act beyond any measure of reason, turning it into a virtually tasteless, fatty piece of pork, and only voted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell because they needed to send the lame ducks home with some dry bread to gnaw on for Christmas.

You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel,
Mr. Grinch!
You're a bad banana,
With a greasy black peel!

And this stanza goes out to the Catholic Bishops who excommunicated a nun and stripped a hospital of its right to keep the Blessed Sacrament on the premises because they terminated a woman's 11 week pregnancy to save her life. So no one can go to Mass and in that hospital anymore. Hmm. That's an interesting contradiction. More about it here.

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch!
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders.
You've got garlic in your soul,
Mr. Grinch!
I go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, and am feeling rather dark these days. My Dad is sick, Mom is failing, and there always seems to be something lurking in the shadows waiting to jump out and waylay me.

Here's one for my ex, if he's reading anything I write these days. Dan Fogelberg's Auld Lang Syne always reduces me to tears, conjuring memories of the wonderful Christmases we spent together as high school and college sweethearts, in the days when things were simple, and life was filled with endless possibilities.

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired, running out of things to say. She gave a kiss to me as I got out, and I watched her drive away. For a moment I was back in school and felt that same familiar pain. As I turned to make my way back home again, the snow turned into rain.

All the shopping got done, the tree is up. Christmas Eve was a great celebration for two birthdays--Jesus' and my husband's--beginning with Family Mass and continuing to after midnight with my Jewish friends.

Christmas Day was spent at my sister's. Talk about awesome, she and my brother-in-law still hosted, though their house was hit by a huge tree in a windstorm two weeks ago and there is hole in the roof. It's all about my mom and dad, and we all need to be with them, even if it's under a tarp instead of mistletoe.

It's snowing today, the ground is already covered, and it promises to be a big storm. Mother Nature has concealed the dead leaves I never got a chance to rake up and brightened my world and black mood. I'm defying the dire warnings and headed to dance class to work off those cookies for breakfast extra pounds. Then I'll hole up for the rest of the week to clean up, catch up, finish that novel, and get ready for the new year and all the good, bad, and ugly it might bring.

I wish you all the greetings of the season, no matter what you celebrate.