Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tis the season to be tortured...

I only have one memory of sitting on Santa's lap. My mother had enrolled me in ballet lessons and at Christmas time the ballet teacher gave us gift certificates for McDonald's and a visit from St. Nick. All was well until I had to sit in his lap, and he put me down after I screamed for bloody mercy. That was it, no more Santa lap sitting for me, at least until I was an obnoxious 16 year old and my best friend Lisa and I drove to the mall to be, well, obnoxious 16 year olds. I am sure that picture is somewhere. The one of me in my little black leotard with tears streaking down my face is hopefully lost forever.

Now that we have Lucas, I figured I could introduce him to Santa at an early age and he would be okay with a once a year meeting. Last week I donned him in a snowman sweater and took him to the mall for his introduction.

Three clicks of the camera and he was finished.

The first picture was of a totally deadpan face. Santa was all smiles and jolly and Lucas was looking at all of the cooing adults like he was the only sane one in the room. The second snap shot turned out to be a profile shot of a totally serious Lucas looking up at a smiling Santa. The third shot was him looking right at me with a quivering lip, ready to turn on the hoses. We picked the second picture for the "official" portrait and away we went to finish off our errands. He has been pretty tame for the rest of time, but he likes to smile and point at all of the Christmas trees, as well as the garish lawn decorations, lights, candy canes, snowmen, and other assorted secular Christmas debris that looks strangely out of sorts against a back drop of San Diego palm trees.

My wonderful mother-in-law sent him two Christmas books, and when we first received them, he enjoyed looking at both of them with us. One is a Christmas alphabet and the other is a cardboard book that tells the Nativity story while playing a tinny version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." As earlier stated, Lucas has been fine with both of them, and will happily sit on the floor while I am checking email, and "read" to his heart's content.

This morning I was at the computer and he was playing with an assortment of toys. It was really quiet in the room, and suddenly he reached for the Bethlehem book to look at it. As soon as he opened it the music started blaring and it totally scared the poop out of him. Totally not expecting to be surprised, he looked up at me and started this hysterical, hyperventilating screaming fit, complete with fat tears and gasps of breath. I thought he had pinched himself on something and I start to hold him and rock him and tell him it's going to be okay, "Here, let's sit here quietly and look at your music book..." WRONG PLAN, MOM, WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO AHEAD AND SCAR ME FOREVER! It took a good 15 minute walk around the house, looking at every picture on the wall just to distract him back to calmness, and now when we sit in the office playing, he looks at the top of the desk, just to make sure the book is still there and won't come flying off to eat his face. Part of me wants to laugh at him, because it was sort of funny, but the other part of me totally gets his fear. The five year old in the black leotard that lives waaaaay in the back of my head. Thank goodness he is too young to remember any of this.

I have about three months to prepare him for the Easter Bunny.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Last year I totally understood the passage, "And Mary, who was great with child..." I can say that because I was great with child and all I did in the month of December was work and then come home and sit in the bathtub, gazing at my enormous pregnant belly. I probably walked enough the month of December to to equal the walk to Bethlehem, and I can happily say I did not give birth in a stable, there was room for me at the inn.

We did not "celebrate" Christmas last year in the traditional sense, either the SoCal way (tamales) or the deep fried Southern way (fried turkey, divinity, anything with pecans or marshmallows), nor did we celebrate in our German heritage way (springerle, lebkuchen). We just sort of skipped over all of it, because I was too busy sitting in the bathtub, working, and not getting the baby's nursery ready because, well, I was working or sitting in a bathtub. We skipped lights, the tree, and anything involving getting out decorations. The only thing we did do was pull out a tiny advent wreath and set up a nativity I bought that was made in Mexico. Unfortunately, I did not check the nativity very carefully because all of the pieces are made of pewter, but one of the shepherds is four times the size of everyone else and he just overpowers the whole scene. When we set the nativity up, we put him off to the side, at a distance, so that he just looks the same size as everyone else. It is not a very effective special effect, but it makes me feel better about spending $40 on a nativity set that is missing an important part of the nativity account. At least baby Jesus wasn't four times too big. That would have been embarassing. A resounding focal point, but embarassing just the same.

Well, well, well, it is now a year later and we have a son who is obsessed with anything that twinkles or resembles a tree. Of course, it is his first Christmas! Of course we must pull out all stops! I must make tamales! I must bake! I must decorate the house in an age appropriate manner for an 11 month old! So, tonight I have started the baking: spice stars and coconut macaroons. The problem is that there are too many recipes and not enough time. Tamales are an all day project, and a project that is handicapped by a baby who only naps from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on a good day. Baking can be done at night, but once dinner is made and the kitchen is cleaned for the 89th time, I really don't want to pull out the flour and sugar and make another mess (conveniently, just like the one I have in the kitchen as we speak). And did I mention I am still working full time? Sitting in the bath tub and staring at my post post-partum belly sounds good right about now. So, I will have to cull and I will have to decide what to bake and what to file away for next year. Maybe it will only be chicken tamales and not chicken and beef and pork. Maybe it will be springerle and not lebkuchen. Maybe I should just go to Trader Joe's and empty the boxes of store bought cookies into my cookie tins and pretend to wipe sweat off my brow and then go sit in the tub.

Oh, but then I eat a homemade macaroon, still warm from the oven and my nature that just adores all that is homemade won't let me. So I will have to get organized and make lists, not excuses and get the baking done and get the decorating done and get the nativity set out and then leave it all out until Easter.