A Very Wesson Christmas

Christmas Haul

We had a lot of Christmas this year.

It officially started with the Christmas Eve Children’s Service, in which Sunny played a Cabbage Patch Doll, and I played the Voice of a Cabbage Patch doll.  Sunny didn’t like the doll’s outfit, so we dressed her in a strapless gown filched from Sunny’s American Girl doll, on the theory that she has such an extensive wardrobe, she wouldn’t miss it.  The gown matched the color of Sunny’s own Christmas dress.

Unfortunately, Cabbage Patch dolls aren’t built to wear strapless gowns and Sunny wasn’t overly careful about sitting like she was wearing a skirt instead of jeans, so I spent a good deal of time pulling the doll’s dress up and Sunny’s dress down.

Jane was Mary, and wore a beautiful blue scarf that she hadn’t because it covered the peacock streaks in her hair, which she was secretly hoping would impress the boy playing Joseph. She doesn’t like him in that way, Mom, Jeez!  but it was still disappointing.

I was wearing my usual green polyester choir robe, which covered all sins from the neck down.
Can I get an Amen?

The next morning was sheer chaos, but it started after my first cup of coffee—
there are benefits to having children who are too wound up from late dinners and the prospects of Santa to go to sleep before eleven—
so I didn’t care.

Luckily, this year’s holiday madness included my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, who is a terrific photographer, so most of it was documented a lot better than in previous years, which, as some of you might recall, tended to feature my photobombing thumb.*

Christmas Stress

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We upheld many venerable traditions,
including awesomesocks:

Awesomesocks 2014

 . . . which this year also meant things made out of awesomesocks, from the kits Mom gave both kids.

Sockraties

This is Sunny’s “Sockraties”.
(We are not arguing with the spelling. He is not ours.)

 

 There were favorite presents.

book bracelet

I received a lot of jewelry this year, which isn’t a complaint. I love the malachite set that the kids gave me and the chain my husband gave me for my favorite pendant–or gave himself, really, since he won’t have to battle with the clasp on my old chain–and the beautiful bracelet my folks sent me that is still firmly attached to its theft-proof box, but this one, given to me by my BIL and his girlfriend, photographed best.
It makes my wrist happy.

1 little girl from school

One Little Girl From School.

Santa gave Sunny and Jane fans in their stockings. They learned to unfurl, snap, flirt, and smack their uncle on the head.
Good times.

Skates!

Sunny received these at 8am Christmas morning. By the time she went to bed, they had only been OFF her feet a cumulative two hours.
She likes being tall.

pokemon!

Santa gave Jane Pokemon cards.
This is, apparently, a super-extra-rare-Somethingagon, which is just as confusing when it isn’t all fuzzy.

And yes, I took this photo. Hush.

Beaver Bites

Watson mailed us a big ol’ box of Texas, most of which came from Buc-ee’s and most of which is, theoretically, edible.

The Beaver Nuggets are very tasty.

And Reindeer Games.

Reindeer Games

The photographer might have arranged this one a bit while one of the subjects was having an after-brunch snooze.

jump

This captures not only a forty-year Wesson family tradition of ringing the bells as you pass underneath the felt Santa, but also the moment just before Sunny grabbed instead of swatted.

Santa is expected to make a full recovery, once the glue dries.

We even introduced a new tradition, we hope:

The Wesson Christmas piñata.

Contemplating the Enemy

Regarding the enemy.

Ninja Attack

Smacking the leg off the enemy with the soon-to-be-traditional Inexplicable Kendo Stick of Righteousness.

(“Inexplicable” because I didn’t know we owned one, and no one can explain why we do.)

Victory!

Victory!

Victory Dance

The traditional Wesson Victory Dance!
(It’s true. I’ve seen it before.)

Clown noses

To the Victors go the spoils. And clown noses.

The *funniest* part of this is when she leaned over the basket of goodies and tried, loudly and unsuccessfully—all three times—to blow it off her nose.
Two out of five adults and one older sister were appalled and disgusted. The rest of us were too busy laughing to speak.

 How was your Thursday?

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*Those of you with discerning eyes—or just, you know, eyes—will be able to tell which ones are hers and which are mine.  Even if I had a quarter of her talent (nope) my phone app is no match for her professional-grade camera, with special lens attachment.  And she also gets up and moves around for shots, which I also do not.

Poetry Wednesday: A Different Tradition

In the interest of full disclosure, this week’s Poetry Wednesday had me stumped and grumpy.

It’s not that I dislike monologuing about poetry,*and holiday-themed posts are usually a piece of appropriately decorated cake, but at last count, I have 28,100 words left of a Nano-novel—that appears now to be two different novels—most of the Thanksgiving poetry I could find is either cutesy-poo, High Purple Religious,** or not quite in the public domain, and I already shared my favorite pumpkin pie poem last year.

I was thinking about holding a Tryptophan Poetry contest, with a care package of my famous Matzoh Ball Soup as the prize, but I figured those of you who will be overeating in the traditional manner tomorrow evening won’t have the time or energy to write poetry—and I’m not sure about the logistics or legalities of mailing a vat of biologically-based liquid across international or intercontinental borders to those of you for whom tomorrow is just another Thursday.

Luckily, a dear friend*** sent me a poem about a different kind of Thanksgiving tradition that made me laugh out loud one I worked it out.  And then, she not only gave me permission to share it here, but sent me images so I wouldn’t have to do a search.

I am very thankful.

How We Shoot Turkey in These Hills
(Liza Gilbert ©2012)

Black blue dawn
Momma’s awake
swiff swiff swiff
of soft boots on the frozen kitchen floor
She lights the stove and with a
Woosh the morning
has light.

I stay warm in bed
Coiling to spring up.
I am old enough today –
Just old enough –
To shoot today.

With my eyes closed
Poppy don’t know I’m up
And he shakes my shoulder,
says, “Boy”
and my feet hit the floor.

We eat without thinking We think about shooting
I think about shooting.
Momma don’t talk to us
Like normal.
She knows today is different –
That today I’m just old enough

Wooden chairs on wooden floors
Poppy and I push away from the table
and stand.
I walk behind Poppy
out of the cabin
To the shed
To the gun.

It’s an old thing
Like Frankenstein
Pieces put together
Held together
But not very big.

Other boys in these hills
and their poppies
have bigger and newer guns
Guns with all their original
Pieces
But ours still works
Real good
Fires real good.

I struggle with the old
warped, wood wash bin
Scrubbed clean by me yesterday
Four times as wide as me.
I’m just old enough
But not yet big,
But I get that old wash bin
out in the field where
Poppy wants it.

Right under the life-size
plywood turkey shadow on a post
five foot off the ground

Poppy has the gun set up
On the ground,
The ammo at his side.

I’m hot and flushed and sweaty
Even though dawn ain’t here yet
And it’s icy on the ground.
First-time jitters.

Poppy opens the sackcloth bag
Next to us
An ugly bag
And I now know this is real.

My hands are shaking
But I load the gun
And without a word
When Poppy is ready
We start to fire at the turkey

I forget every year
That the gun ain’t loud
It’s a choked poof –
That’s all.

We fire
And shoot
And fill the wash bin with our
hits
And after a half hour
The sun has the courage
To appear over our gun
and our sack is empty and flat.

Poppy pulls the turkey outta the ground
and I try to lift the wash bin
To carry it home
but it’s too heavy
and I’ll have to get the sled.
Poppy takes the gun and the turkey and
the empty sack and heads home

And I’m proud I have
This responsibility.
When I drag the wash bin home
Poppy’s moved on
to other chores
and the sun’s full high in the sky.

I bring the wash bin to the
back of the house.
I go to tell Momma but
She sees me
Sweaty, red-faced, happy
and just old enough,
and I don’t have to say a word
to Momma.

She’s got most of the
Thanksgiving
dinner cooking and the smell
is proof she’s the best cook
in these hills.

She puts a hand on my head –
I’m not big yet –
and asks me
“You get those potaters mashed?”
“Yes ma’am”
“Good boy.”

______________________________

*If I did, I’d quit and start riffing on something else I’m not qualified to parse, like parenting and theoretical physics—Oh, wait . . .

**Not that I don’t grasp the connection between Thanksgiving and giving thanks to a specific entity, or realize that prayers are poetry, too—and often gorgeously resonant poetry, too, regardless of one’s personal belief system—but in my opinion, there should be more middle ground between “I grew a widdle pumpie-kin/I fink I’ll name him Pie” and full-on Smells and Bells Spiritual Obsequience.  Just sayin’.

***That doesn’t really cover how amazing this woman is and how lucky I am that our lives intersected.

Chag Urim Sameach

When I was a kid and it was December, our family would gather around the Advent Wreath on the sideboard before dinner each night.  Either my sister or I would strike a match, light the appropriate number of candles, and read a prayer from the official mimeographed booklet:*

As we draw near to you, Lord God, keep us aware of your presence in all we do. Come with power to enlighten us by your grace, that we may live in praise and peace all our days.  We ask this through Your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

And then we would go eat and argue about who would blow out the candles after dessert.

But for an overlapping handful of nights during that month, we would put the Advent pages down, take two steps over to gather around the menorah, strike another match to light the shamash, and read from different official booklet:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, she’asah nisim l’avoteinu, b’yamim haheim bazman hazeh . . . Amein

And then we would light the appropriate number of candles in the menorah, go eat, and argue about who was going to blow out the Advent candles after dessert, since the hanukkiyah candles were allowed to go out by themselves under the watchful eye of my mother, who was less interested in keeping her offspring from committing a liturgical crime than keeping the cats from setting themselves alight.

Good times.  Good memories.

I thought maybe that this year, we would revive the tradition, my children and I, with our Espiscopalian prayers and wreath and my rusty Hebrew and the small menorah my grandfather*** brought me from Israel when I was only a little older than Sunny.

The other adults probably wouldn’t hold with this and my kids just want the chance to play with fire and wax, just like my sister and I did.

But that’s okay.

I couldn’t unearth the wreath in time,^ but I found the menorah and some candles that fit.  It will be well after sunset when I get home from work (it’s dark now), but Hanukkah isn’t a High Holy^^ and we don’t go much for orthodoxy, anyway, if you couldn’t tell.

That’s okay, too.  We all celebrate miracles in our own ways.

And on this Festival of Lights, I’m celebrating with crooked, striped birthday candles, good memories, two of my favorite pyromaniacs, a flammable cat . . .  and by sharing a video of several good-looking, talented Jewish boys singing a history lesson:

a lichtigin Chanukah, y’all!

__________________________________
*Yes, I’m old. Now, hush.

**Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.

***My grandmother’s second husband, who married her when my mother was fifteen.  So my extended family is Jewish, but my immediate family isn’t.

^Or one of the wreaths, as my mother has given me at least four over the years, all of which disappear completely the moment we think about them—the traditional Christmas miracle.  Janie is fine with this, though, as she’s the one who  gets to light the big wreath at church for the early service this year.

^^Seriously, it’s actually a minor holiday, built up in perhaps unconscious response to The Hype that Ate Christmas.   Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the Hype, or most of it, but occasionally I wish we would all get a grip.

Family Visit Random Recap, now in 3D!

My parents are leaving early tomorrow to trek back to Ohio—if they figure out where the kids and I hid their car keys.  Here are just a few highlights of the holiday week:

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a clueless child . . .

Mom and Dad arrived Tuesday night and it took a long time for the kids to settle down enough to sleep.  Unfortunately, Janie and I both had to get up at our usual time on Wednesday to go to our respective half days of school or work.  Janie griped and sniped through the morning until everyone lost patience and I finally got her loaded into the car with her Grandparent Day props, homework, and Angel Shoe Tree gift.

I belted myself in and calmly informed her that she was going to have to remember that other people didn’t know how sleepy she was and that she was going to have to be very careful not to lose her temper and try to be aware of what was going on today.  Her grandparents had come a long way to see her in her skit and she needed to make it a good day for them.  I extracted an agreement, opened the garage door, put the car in reverse and promptly backed into Mom’s car.  Wham.

I drove into the garage, made sure Janie was okay, checked for car damage (there was none*) and went inside.  “Could someone please move the car that I just backed into so Janie and I can leave?”  Because, you know, it wasn’t my fault I hadn’t used the rearview mirror to see if Mom’s bright metallic orange Element was lurking out there.

Mom leapt for her keys, ran out in her slippers, without a coat, and backed her car into the street along the curb.  I backed out, waved in thanks, and left . . . not realizing that I’d automatically closed the garage door as I pulled away.  To get back inside, Mom had to walk all the way around the house to the front door and ring the bell.

Did I mention it was 28°F ?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Garlic turkey with roasted garlic cloves, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, scalloped pearl onions (thanks, Grace), homemade bread, salad, corn pudding, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon and pumpkin ice creams, and what I’m told was a very nice Zinfandel rose from a local winery (thanks again, Grace!).

And turkey soup tonight, which will kill all the leftovers.   Boo-yah.

The Arts & Crafts Show

The day after Thanksgiving, my family heads over to the local Expo Center where we wander from vendor to vendor gazing at all the handmade gifts made by other people’s hands.

The kids were allowed to choose an outfit for one of their dolls and persuaded me to buy them each a scented candle for their rooms—Janie picked birthday cake and Sunny chose peppermint.  I bought one that was labeled snickerdoodle, but smells more like pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting—though I might be projecting, there.

And in one booth, I found this little guy:

Yes, it’s a snowman made of Minnesota fieldstone and iron.**   Just look at that little face!

I adopted him on the spot—and then left him on that spot to pick up later, since he weighs about 30 pounds.  Dad ended up carrying him to the car, since I had Sunny, who was being knocked off her feet by the wind.   I think Dad got the better deal—my armful sneezed in my ear.  Twice.

My mother-in-law says he looks like a pile of ugly potatoes, but I love him and will never take him for granite . . .

The Virus Strikes Again, or a Tangled web

We were going to add to the family tradition by taking the kids to a movie after lunch the day after Thanksgiving.  The kids have been begging at least twice a day each to see Tangled since the first preview hit Youtube and I said, “Oh, wow!  You guys have to see this!”  That was . . . five months and a lot of begging ago.  Rookie mistake.

But I want to see it, too, and it’s the kind of movie we all love.  And it sounded like a good alternative to our usual naps.

Except the virus we all had last week finally hit my mother-in-law Thanksgiving afternoon, so she decided to skip both the holiday dinner and the movie.  And then my Dad started feeling icky the next morning . . and Janie started looking green at the restaurant.

I wasn’t sure if the green was caused by Dad trying to ease his queasy stomach by eating baby calamari,*** her overlarge serving of stir fried mushroom noodles, or the virus . . . until she refused dessert and asked me if we could go to the movie next week.  My little instant gratification junkie doesn’t do next week, so we sped her home with a plastic carsick bag in her hand (I’m not an actual rookie) and put her to bed with the bucket.

And then we all took naps.

Guess you can’t beat tradition.

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*Probably because we both have Hondas.  Say what you want about Honda—they don’t screw around when it comes to bumpers.  I was once rear-ended by a full-sized Buick.  The impact threw my Honda Civic Wagon all the way across the intersection, which luckily had no cross traffic at the time.  I drove away with a chip in my right tail light.  The Buick had to be towed.

**Francis Metal Works usually makes remarkably graceful waterfowl in various sizes—two baby geese came home with us, too—but they make special holiday items as well.

*** . . . Yeah.  I know.