we received compliments on the tree from both martha ann and joanne, from across the way. martha ann didn't put up a tree this year and instead, just looked out her window at ours. this made me hope more than usual that i didn't spend too much time passing through the living room while naked. it spurred another comment from joanne about private home matters: "i just love looking at your tree. now, why do you close your curtains at night?" that woman knows more about the opening and shutting of our curtains and blinds than brian does. and she will ask you about it, too.
i sometimes wonder if martha ann closes the blinds on the french doors to her patio because she's making sweet love to her boyfriend on the couch.
anyway. back to xmas.
every year, since oliver was born at least, i locate vintage ornaments for each of us. this year, it was a family of plastic rudolph ornaments. five of them. one to grow on. i hung them in a line, swooping across the bottom of the tree like they were flying off somewhere. oliver had a tremendously difficult time keeping his hands off the tree. he was very into ringing some bell ornaments and then he got into threading some jingle bells on to the branches. it's not that i'm such a scrooge that i don't like him ringing xmas tree bells, it's just that the entire tree would begin trembling. three year olds don't know their own power.
i never figured out what to do about finding a fourth stocking, since i was terribly short-sighted when purchasing the first three several years ago. so i donated my stocking to the charity of violet and just tossed one of my green knee socks out there as a substitute. i tried searching world market for another and ebay and tried to find fabric to have another made and finally decided the time and frustration were just not worth it.
i didn't drag the family to nearly as many xmas-themed activities as i had hoped i would. all i can remember now is that freezing cold dinosaur thing. we looked at lights once or twice, including the massive, armstrong road pecan trees. i drove oliver by the george michael-preferred xmas tree lot 14 times. we did go to oliver's school xmas pageant, which i think i've already mentioned previously. he stood there, bedazzled by the stage lights and fever. and then we partied at school the next day.
we headed to tyler on wed, 12/23, after brian got home from work. violet and i were gloriously ill with my head and chest cold by this point and anxious to spread it around to members of the extended family.
thursday morning, i hustled the four of us out the door and down to the mall so that we could take a photo with santa. we walked up to the empty santa chair and a mother said, "they said twenty minutes ago that he wouldn't be back for forty five minutes." and then, an elf said, "he's on break for forty five minutes." and i challenged her and she said he might be back sooner. i had no idea why santa already needed such a lengthy break at 10:30am on his last day of work. perhaps he had a case of the xmastime runs.
to kill time, we walked a couple of stores down to the old navy and used a coupon to buy ourselves a $100 gift certificate for $80.
when we returned to the santa chair, it was still empty and other children were beginning to congregate, so we got in line. santa waddled on over about 10 minutes later. and i do mean waddled. front butt and everything. i still can't figure out if this is the same santa every year or not. he seemed unfriendly at first, but then lightened up once the kids were finding two inches of leg space each to sit on. no one cried, except for me internally because i did not like the color combination of clothing i had managed to select for my children. both of them sat there looking very serious and it was particularly funny because the skin under oliver's nose had become severely chapped by this point and we'd been calling it his moustache and he really dug having a pink moustache and the way he was sitting all upright and serious kind of made him look like hitler on santa's knee. for the next week we would tell him it was time to oil his moustache to make it soft and supple or tell him aunt lisa said he couldn't come over to her house for ashleigh's birthday until he let daddy wax his moustache.
santa asked oliver what he wanted for xmas and oliver said, " ." and then, santa had oliver root around in a sack to get out a one-bite chick-o-stick, which i put in my purse for later and by later, i mean i ate it later when i found it again.
well shit. it's like a month later since i wrote all that up there and my memory has faded even more tremendously now. but i shall try to perservere.
we're up to xmas eve here. after the mall, brian took oliver to put him down for a nap and did not return. because he up and decided he should take a nap, too. as did my father. i stood on the line between the foyer and the living room for awhile holding violet and not knowing what to do. i had to let her cry a bit so that i could put her down and finish stuffing stockings and preparing xmas cheer and then i made brian come out to hold her.
somewhere in there, IT STARTED SNOWING. it was short-lived and disappeared as quickly as it arrived, but you take what you can get in texas when it comes to a white xmas. in the meantime, it was snowing buckets back at the university condos. you could still see some of it for days after our return. shucks.
my mom returned home for work and put the meatballs on the fire and my sister's family arrived from mansfield around 5pm. it was their first xmas not living in the tyler area. my sister walked right on in and said how awesome chinese food in a restaurant would be. and there were question marks and exclamation points aimed right at her face and i stood behind my mother mouthing, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? NO! STOP!" and my sister never had any idea about the nature of being impolite, even after i questioned her about it later. and then they left for their old church.
the rest of us civilized, meatball-eating folk saddled up and partook of family dinner before my parents left for their church. the atheists with two children could not muster the energy to go to any church anywhere.
everyone returned at some point and we gave the kids pajamas and ushered them off to bed. it was a full house. brian and oliver were on the fold out couch, lisa and jeff were in the guest room proper, lisa's kids were in the piano room, and i was on the couch with violet... a central location for hacking loudly all night. enjoyment for all.
the morning of the big day rolled around and i got everyone up and rolling. it felt super chaotic opening all the stockings and gifts. really overwhelming. oliver kind of stood around looking confused half the time, what with present after present being shoved at him. after the frenzy was done, we all settled down for the traditional breakfast and then proceeded to do a whole bunch of nothing. the traditional puzzle came out (the 1970s. or was it the 1960s?) and managed to do its traditional pulling me in against my will. my sister's family said they wanted to "get out for a bit", which means they wanted to go to china cafe. my grandparents showed up and we had the traditional dinner, adding insult to the injurious breakfast. my grandparents left and my sister's family decided to leave a day early. they probably didn't want to hear me horking all night again. neither did i. i was pretty sick at this point.
we must have left the following day. i'm thinking our friend, ricky, was in mansfield visiting his parents. which means we spent the evening over there eating phenomenal take out asian food.
stupid glossy paper. and stupid scanner that doesn't ever work with 80% of our computers.
oliver and his moustache anxiously await breakfast.
for xmas, brian got a nap.
oliver's first toy was a sophie giraffe purchased by my parents the xmas before his birth. they got one for violet, too.
these people like their chinese food.
my mother and niece.
hypotrochoid! the spirograph of today!
violet wanted a nap for xmas.