Creeeeping Toward Christmas

Tomorrow is a personal liberation day of sorts. It's my last day of my preschool year, and while I will miss those sweet kids while we are on our winter break, I am very excited to get to get my Yuletide Merriment on.

Saturday is the big start: we finally get to find the wee tree of our dreams and put it up in the house. We'd been waiting on the tree for space reasons, so it didn't cramp the preschool's style. Add to that: there's already enough wacky excitement around the holidays anyway, and I like the kids to be focused on our school goings-on while they are here. They can get nutty about their own trees at home; I'll be plenty busy with the excitement Kiddo will supply. We'll do our tried-and-true method of putting the not-so-precious ornaments within reach and save some of the more delicate pieces for another year...say 2020.

There are other happy holiday traditions I look forward to. Celebrating the Winter Solstice by candlelight is always fun and meaningful for me. Looking forward to the lengthening of days and crossing my fingers for more sunlight, of which we are in constantly short supply until July. And around this time of year, I'm fond of renting that Jimmy Stewart, not "It's a Wonderful Life" but "The Shop Around the Corner", an Ernst Lubitsh film from 1940 which casts Stewart opposite Margaret Sullavan. I like this more than Capra, and here's why---"The Shop..." requires less boo-hooing and Kleenex on my part, and it's just sweet, not trying to be meaningful and no grand sweeping themes. Happy holidays, they call them, right? Just trying to live up to the moniker.

This year is a Stay-At-Home-Go-Nowhere Christmas, which is my all-time favorite kind. Each family has their own traditions, and our's is no exception, excepting the fact that they might not look like your grandma's. Tapioca pudding made with Silk soymilk for the lactose-intolerant Queen of the Castle is a treat this time of year. Our favorite Christmas dinner foods are either a cold feast of smoked salmon, dolmas, olives, cheese, good bread, apples and some other tidbits, or hot, roasted winter veggies with kalamatas and mandarin oranges and some salmon. The former is especially good eaten in front of the woodstove, with some good dark beer, or barleywine and the latter, at the table with a glass of full-bodied red wine. Kiddo will be elated to find a few fortune cookies in the stocking, too.

Our letter to Santa hasn't happened yet, and I've been suggesting to Joe that we avoid 'the list' and just give Mr. Claus a couple suggestions. As of today, Kiddo has been talking about asking Santa for "a welding torch". I have a feeling that the elves would not approve....

Best of all, I'm looking forward to having two weeks with Kiddo to myself. He's been just wanting to rock out with the Tinkertoy guitar, 'make a spark' with the equally-Tinkertoy welding torch, or crush things with his Tinkertoy impact hammer. Good thing we are getting him a new set for this year, because the old Tinks are so used that they aren't staying tightly together any more. Kiddo is also hot to use our Atlas hand-crank pasta maker, and has been asking to for the last few days. I have a feeling we will be tangled up in fettuccine noodles before it's over.

Two of my favorite treats this year are childhood delights we picked up on eBay: a vintage Forest Friends game--as cute as cute can be-- and Dean's Book of Fairy Tales illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame. If you've never seen this book, well, it's amazing. Fairy tales most kids have hardly heard of are illuminated with amazing illustrations that put modern children's books to shame; I received this book for Christmas when I was nine and pored over it for years. Currently out of print, we've seen it sold for up to $70+; lucky us, Joe scored a last-minute bid and picked up a mint copy for about $32 dollars. I can't wait to get my hands on it, and then to share it with Kiddo when he's old enough to take good care of it. For now, the stories are too mature for him, so it will hang out upstairs with his copy of Treasure Island, which I am also playing steward to until he's plenty older.

Other than that, it will likely be pretty low-key, and at least one or two trips to Peacock Lane are in the offing. To walk, and breathe the car fumes? To drive in the heated car and wait in that dreadful line which will paralyze Belmont Street for the next two weeks? Ah, the choices, but it's surely a "can't miss" in our family on Christmas Eve, even if we have seen it all before. Then we'll toodle on home, throw on our James Brown Christmas cd and thank heavens for a little funk and soul while we put on Kiddo's pajamas and remind him that "tomorrow morning... it will be Christmas." Kiddo makes Christmas most special for me, and boy, what a year it's been.

Happy, happy holidays to you and yours!


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