Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another Star Is Born

With Heero's arrival on Nov. 4 came numerous implications for our family holidays.  Among other things, it meant that his mama might be able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner minus the heartburn.  It meant our Christmas Day gathering would, once again, be larger this year than at the one before, and there would be another name added to our Christmas shopping list.

As it turns out, the timing of the Nov. 4 birth date also gave Heero a chance to star in a Broadway show.  (I say this because in our town, the place where Heero made his acting debut is actually located on a street named Broadway--I kid you not!)  This year, Heero was the perfect size to play the role of Baby Jesus in a local church pageant.

This particular church, where Heero's parents are members, regularly performs a walk-through pageant called "Journey to Bethlehem."  Here, audience members assume the role of travelers moving past a series of live scenes reminiscent of the time and place that was the Bethlehem of Christ's birth.

Such scenes include a dramatic pronouncement by the prophet Isaiah, an inside look at King Herod's court, and an outdoor venue featuring shepherds and real sheep.  Late into the journey, the traveler enters a marketplace featuring beggar children (who exact real coins from passers-by) as well as artisans and craftsmen demonstrating basket-weaving, pottery-making, bread-baking, and other period-appropriate trades.  "The Journey to Bethlehem" ends, predictably, with a final scene at the stable of an inn, where Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus are found.

When Pa-pa and I got to the end of the Journey, I lagged behind the group to sneak an anachronistic photo of Baby Jesus and his mother.  Admittedly, the pic is a little off-center due to its being snapped hurriedly in an effort not to destroy the ambience of the scene for others. However, I didn't let myself feel too guilty: after all, if Baby Jesus' grandmother fails to preserve such a scrapbook-worthy moment as this, then who will?

Here, then, is our little Heero, pacifier and all, in his first role as a star on Broadway:

I am thinking he looks and acts the part quite well.  Granted, he may not measure up to the divine perfection of the historical Jesus, but he is close enough to perfect for us.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Redneck Swimming Pool Sleigh

When I rewind to some twenty or more years ago, I recall playing trivia with son Teebo and his sister.  Time after time he would give some wacky but totally sincere answer when his turn came to answer a question.

"Where was Abraham Lincoln born?"  I asked him.

"In a log cabinet."

"What did Benjamin Franklin have in his hand when he discovered electricity?"

"A light switch."

Yes, very early in Teebo's life I learned that we could always depend on him to think outside the box, and that hasn't changed now that he is a dad himself.  We saw our latest example of this today.

Give Teebo a light skiff of icy snow, a riding lawn mower, a plastic swimming pool, and a toddler, and this is what you get.  He named it his "redneck swimming pool sleigh."

Teebo explains that he drilled a hole in the pool above the fill line so that it can still hold the water Beenie and Heero will need for their summer splashing.  Next, he ran a rope through the hole. knotted it on the inside, and attached it to the front of his lawn mower.  By running the machine slowly in reverse, then, he could pull Beenie over the snow without taking his eyes off him.

If you follow the above steps carefully, this is what you get--a little boy sharing the joy of an early winter snow with his Daddy on a nippy Saturday morning:

Just look at that little face!  Is he having the time of his life, or what?

Way to go, Teebo.  I hope you have only begun to think of ways to make these ordinary days with your little boys special.  But if I may be so bold--based on past experience, I might suggest that you leave the history lessons to their teachers.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Secrets

If you've been wondering where I've been lately, I have been lost somewhere in the time warp of that week I was supposed to have between Thanksgiving and the first of December.  So like a lot of other people I know, I have been like a frustrated Christmas mouse running through a maze of shopping, card-sending, decorating, wrapping, program-practicing, partying, and--well, with a week less than usual to get ready for it, you too may be feeling the oppression of the holiday season a little more noticeably than usual.

Yep--I said oppression.  I don't have the heart to break it to the grandkids yet, but one of these years they will catch on to the unfortunate reality that (I hope you're sitting down for this!) Googie doesn't enjoy the Christmas season much. It is just too much work.

The problem goes back to the time I was the working mom of two little kids who had parties and programs (and needed gifts--and cookies) for school, church, 4-H, and a host of other events the season always brought about.  It seemed like every organization we belonged to had to have its obligatory Christmas luncheon, dinner, or afternoon soiree.  To complicate matters further (and this was my own fault, I know), son Teebo arrived on the Christmas Eve when his sister was 3 1/2, and through the years I was determined not to let his birthday fall into the sinkhole of the holiday season.

Work obligations and the inconvenient timing of the school semester put a crunch in my mid-December that was almost audible.  For many years the week before Christmas brought five sets of final essays that had to be graded and averaged into semester scores at the same time there was something going on every night.  I recall many years at my school when grades were due at noon on Christmas Eve.

So "Bah Humbug!" I always thought.  I was a Scrooge, and I knew it.  Although some of the madness has subsided since the kids have grown up and left home, the truth is, I still don't appreciate the Christmas season as I should.  I know that, so don't lecture me.  I am working on it.

Anyway--this was my frame of mind when I sat down at the computer yesterday to compose a piece to read last night with my local poetry group.  Once again, the experience of writing afforded me a pleasant surprise, as I watched my usual Christmas whining rant evolve, through the process of writing itself, into something therapeutic and fun.  I share it with you here, and I hope you enjoy it.

The Christmas Secret  

Thanksgiving's barely over; the turkey's barely done.
Now Santa's snuck up on me, and it ain't no fun!
I'm sabotaged by details; there's clutter in a heap.
I'm frozen under snow that feels like three feet deep.
Tangled up in tinsel, buried under lights,
I'm feeling claustrophobic, and I can't breathe right!
Shoved around at grocery stores, trampled at the mall,
I've used all of my nine lives up, and that ain't all.
Christmas cookies make me hyperventilate and pant.
I burned myself and used up one whole aloe vera plant.
There's cards that need addresses, letters needing sent,
And hubby with the checkbook yellin', "Too much money spent!"

I need to take a break from this and sip a glass of wine--
Chardonnay's my favorite, but they all taste fine.
Some burgundy, some Riesling, and now some white Merlot--
The little glass goes upside down--and down the hatch they go!
By the way, I wonder why I picked this piddly glass?
A gallon jug would better make this bad mood pass.
Yes, wine goes down quite smoothly in a bunch of little sips--
(What's this?  That's kinda funny.  I no longer . . .  feel . . .  my lips.) 
But--my heart no longer races; I no longer feel it throb,
So, I best forget the wine and get my butt back to my job.

I nestle 'mid the holly; I wrestle with the wreath,
Then grin and find some mistletoe is stuck between my teeth!
There's ribbon on the ceiling--but paper nowhere near--
Oops!  I think I see it draped around the chandelier.
I try to light a candle and catch my couch on fire.
(I feel just like Aeneas watching Dido's funeral pyre.)
The ornaments are broken; they jumped right from the box.
And why, upon the mantle, have I hung my shoes and socks?
(And what's that right beside them:  Is that my underwear?
Good grief!  I sure hope someplace I can find another pair!
I have to go outside real soon, and it could be quite drafty,
So I'll make some from this tree skirt; I have always been quite crafty!)

Well--I don't recall so much at all that happened here last night.
The living room's a shambles and the fireplace a fright.
My eyesight's looking fuzzy for some reason, and--oh boy!
My head feels like a log that someone split for Yuletide joy.
My tummy feels quite queasy now, and just how can it be
That I'm sprawled out in my living room atop a Christmas tree?
There's a tree skirt 'round my ankles; how it got there I've no clue.
    ( But maybe we could keep last night between just me and you?)