the singing season
Things that calm my heart: The almost-9 years old is not too old to sit on a parent’s lap and sing Joy to the World.
We’ve been pouring all our usual holiday ambivalence and confusion into singing. Col is determined to learn the words to Hark the Herald Angels Sing, as a sweet though somewhat misguided tribute to Dan’s father whose name was Harold. And just when Rose thought Madonna couldn’t get any better, she discovered Madonna’s version of Santa, Baby (I prefer Eartha Kitt’s). Sibling spats have completely evaporated by the communal brainpower required to remember each of the 12 Christmas gifts my true love gave to me (about which, Col, junior economist, remarks, “That would have cost A LOT of money.”) And Come all ye Faithful never fails to put a lump in my ambivalent Jewish throat.
Rose, pumping up my bike tire and proving once again that multiple prints can make a kickass outfit.
The kids and I biked downtown to do errands, each kid with their own backpack. I nearly died from the independence of it all.
Rose’s homeschool co-op sang Christmas carols at our local assisted living home, (although, while the little angels were belting out Jingle Bells, the song I kept hearing, gazing out on a sea of white hair was, this will someday be all of us). And then last night we went caroling. Real old-fashioned caroling with mugs of hot chocolate, warbly, off-tune voices and entire songs collapsing good-naturedly because no one quite knew all the words in the right order. The big moon kept us company and pajama-ed families came out to their front porches, surprised, delighted and embracing each other as we sang.
And also tape. The kids have been going through so much masking tape this season, they’re now on the watch list for Earth First! Not to mention, causing finger paralysis for anyone who has to pry all that tape from one of their presents.
Tape, dental floss, glue, aluminum foil. I give up.
And when I say “holiday confusion and ambivalence,” it’s that I still don’t really get Christmas. Apparently there is still a teenage rebel within who wants to know what Jesus’s birth has to do with obligatory gift buying. It makes me twitchy to think of kids expecting a pile of gifts on Dec 25th. I don’t quite get the magic of that. Butterflies wriggling out of cocoons, yes. A starry night, yes. Kindness and compassion, yes. A decorated tree throwing light and beauty into a winter house, yes. Time off work while sipping egg nog, for sure. Does that sound grumpy and scroogey? I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something, culturally-speaking, the way certain phrases can’t be translated into other languages.
However, the gift exchanging amongst Col and Rose’s friends has been delightful. They shyly hand each other homemade gifts sprawling with tape and shaky handwriting. And it’s true that the moment just before tearing into the wrapping paper might be the best moment of all: the anticipation, the feeling of being thought of by friends, the surprise waiting behind the paper. Maybe this is the magic.
Col and Rose made some lovely presents to give out and we had a great time assembling, wrapping (and taping) them while our Pandora station played an endless rotation of carols. And Dan busted me like he does every year, walking in on our little scene and saying, “you love Christmas.” Which isn’t exactly true, but isn’t exactly not true either.
Rose with her special friend, Tubbz, at the humane society where she volunteers. The fact that Tubbz is slightly obese, has halitosis and dandruff has not tampered Rose’s affection, nor her desire to bring him home. Last week she said, “What if Tubbz follows me out of here and refuses to get back in his cage?”
p.s. I haven’t got anything figured out except what feels good and right for our family, which is still a day-to-day puzzle. I wish you the merriest of holidays, and all the magic you seek in whatever form it arrives.
p.p.s. Have you started reading Nick Hornby yet? After reading (and loving) Juliet, Naked, I just finished his book About a Boy, which was so unassumingly good. Unassuming because you feel like the author’s simply telling you a story over a beer, and then surprises you with his insights into people, relationships, growing up. Also, upon Anne Lamott’s recommendation (her posts are one of the best things going on Facebook), I checked out What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen from the library, started it at 8pm on a Thursday and finished it at 7am on a Friday, and still got a good nights sleep. Which is to say, it’s a fast, engrossing read.
Confusedly, though singingly, yours,