Oh, my God, facing a new year, this 1950s model feels a little dated and more than a little creaky. But OMG, with You at the wheel, high adventure awaits!
Hubby says, “Would you like to go out to eat?”
Do I like to breathe?
He complains the car is cold. However, I’m chilly, too — which never happens.
Hubby spots the problem: “Who flipped on air conditioning?”
Who can I blame? Where’s a grandchild when you need one?
Rats. They went home yesterday.
As a child, I never lacked blamees. While I longed to beam little brothers to the planet Gorlojxx, they served as excellent reasons for everything wrong with my life. I couldn’t complete kitchen assignments because they never stopped eating. I couldn’t finish piano practice because they shot me with dart guns. Later, I blamed them for my nonexistent dating life. What guy would brave those little commandos, armed with Crazy Foam™, cherry bombs and Peeping Tom mirrors?
I didn’t blame them for everything, though.
I blamed our parents, too. They should have stopped with me.
My left-handedness also came in handy. I first discovered this instant alibi while learning to tie shoes. No wonder, while doing The Hokey Pokey, I knocked down classmates like dominoes. No wonder I blew story problems, my socks slid down, and skirt zippers always wandered to the front. I was left-handed!
Later, I discovered right-handed people invented algebra. They also designed SAT tests and college applications.
The bank did not buy it, though, when I wrote my first overdrawn check.
And I thought story problems were a problem.
My generation and I blamed the Establishment, then eventually graduated to blaming the government: Democrats for deficits and potholes; Republicans for job losses and crabgrass.
McDonald’s, because they make us spill hot coffee.
If all else fails, we can blame the stars. Perhaps left-handed, too, heavenly bodies stumble in a cosmic Hokey Pokey that affects paychecks, love lives and bowling scores.
Some take the blame straight to God’s Complaint Department. “My life’s a mess. Your fault!”
He eyes the patched-up, parts-missing, jumble of perpetual motion. “Did you read the Directions?”
Funny. We rarely blame Him or other people for good things. Just sayin’.
- Instead of pronouncing traffic “god-awful,” we could describe sunsets, babies and cardinals as “God-beautiful.”
- We might compliment a busy McDonald’s employee for hot coffee.
- Or even praise a hardworking public servant.
- We could thank parents who let us live. Ditto for teachers.
- I might learn to appreciate my brothers, even if they didn’t move to Gorlojxx.
Thankfully, Hubby has not moved, either, despite living with Quirkzilla for 44 years.
Approaching the restaurant, I admit, “I forgot to turn off the air conditioning. Seriously, that hot flash would have melted Alaska.”
“Thanks for dinner out,” I add. “If I’m spoiled, I blame you.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Whom can you blame for something good?
O. M. G. !
Once upon a time, colleges didn’t evict students from dormitories three minutes after final exams. Back in the Dark Ages, Hubby and I stayed until the following Monday.
Eventually, some grinch discovered that supplying extra days’ heat for 30,000 students spoiled the university’s merry Christmas. College officials also realized that multitudes of sleep-deprived, de-brained students + 24-hour blocks of free time equaled … excitement.
In the early ’70s, though, they assumed we couldn’t wait to go home.
Sure, we’d missed our dogs.
If we’d hacked with colds, cough syrup and aspirin were blocks away instead of steps. We anticipated parents smearing us with love and Vicks® VapoRub®.
We’d languished without Mom’s cooking. Meals with fewer than 500 people might be nice. Plus, a refrigerator of free food would be at our disposal.
Free laundry, too! Mom might reintroduce us to clean clothes, as opposed to those sanctified by optimum time at the bottom of the hamper.
Add Christmas magic, and most students wanted to share the holidays with family.
Just not quite yet.
Having been chained to books, typewriters and labs, we needed to celebrate. Even our nondrinking Bible study required a two-day party.
We snarfed Christmas cookies by the bucket and played Monopoly all night. Only one guy owned a car, but 13 of us jammed into it, rolled down windows, and sang Christmas carols at the top of our flattened lungs. At stoplights, we emptied the car with Chinese fire drills.
Who needed sleep?
Besides, we comrades in the trenches of academia soon would part. For couples, December and January stretched like a forever, empty tundra.
During that long-hair era, guys dreaded welcome-home haircuts. We girls combed bangs out of our eyes to please our moms.
We loved our parents. But they would expect us to talk to them. To hundreds of relatives. We’d repeat our majors and future plans a gazillion times. If we didn’t have any, we’d have to make them up, quick.
Worse, our families went to bed early. At the crack of dawn, they took showers and slammed doors so a normal person couldn’t get proper rest.
Parents would expect help with the dishes. Why not summon the fairies who had done that all semester?
Ditto for putting gas in the car. Whatever happened to “free”?
Sigh. How had we lived at home so long?
After a 48-hour party, though, a 10 o’clock bedtime didn’t sound so bad. Eating a nutrient or two might be nice.
With the arrival of a station wagon loaded with delighted smiles and hugs found nowhere else on earth — well, Christmas break might be worth the sacrifice, after all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How did (do) you celebrate Christmas break?
Oh, my God, thank You for these poinsettias, sent weeks ago by friends whose wrapped gifts already grace their trees. The blooms have thrived at our house — though, OMG, I think they find us a little confusing.
Beware! Christmas aliens lurk in malls, mega-stores and parking lots.
Unlike gargantuan monsters on big and small screens who spit purple slime, these unearthly creatures can enter a Walmart without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Like the rest of the local gift-seeking population, they are tall, short, and various shapes, colors and sizes. They may wear jeans and hoodies or polyester pantsuits with Christmas teddy bears pinned to lapels.
Their appearance does not betray their presence. Instead, be on the lookout for suspicious shopping behaviors.
These extraterrestrials don’t aim laser cannons at shopping districts or vaporize Santa and his elves at tree lightings. Still, they could destroy holiday traditions cherished by our culture for decades.
- Christmas aliens are betrayed by their driving behavior. They stop at stoplights. Yes, really. Some even halt at stop signs. A few actually allow drivers trapped in wrong lanes to go first.
- Their parking lot behavior reveals even more sinister intentions. Instead of charging across the lot in a diagonal path, they drive in designated lanes.
- Despite plentiful targets at crosswalks, they do not accelerate. What kind of Christmas spirit is that?
- Some aliens skip convenient parking spaces, keeping them available for the elderly and expectant mothers.
- Having corralled not one, but two truant shopping carts, they may even look The Salvation Army bell ringer in the eye as they enter.
What would happen if the entire population exhibited similar dangerous behavior?
- They break the First Commandment of Christmas Shopping: Instead of inflicting shopping trips on spouses and children as a punishment, they try to make them fun.
- They also refrain from mugging store clerks when a size large or Baby Know-It-All can’t be found.
- They retrieve items from top shelves for the vertically challenged.
- They sing along with background Christmas Muzak. On key.
- They procure private places for cell phone discussions about purchasing the jingle-bell boxer shorts.
- They may even toss used paper towels into the restroom trash can instead of onto the floor.
- At checkout, they say please and thank you. And find they purchased more for others than themselves.
All these are strong indications that aliens have mounted a major assault on Christmas shopping traditions we hold so dear.
Worse yet, they enact these with a smile.
Everyone knows Christmas shopping and giving have nothing to do with smiling. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. God knows, He never smiled while lying in the manger. When He healed a dying little girl. Or, watched a lame grandpa dance without his crutch.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you encountered a Christmas alien lately?
Oh, my God, how wonderful that Jesus loved people, and they loved Him. He was and is a party Person. OMG, I’m glad, because we’re going to celebrate His birthday at four — count them, four — different parties this week alone!
Usually, though, I’m not a clock-watcher; my devout, free-spirited parents lauded flexibility as a key virtue. Keeping track of time? Not so much. Church services they led not only seemed to go on forever, they actually did.
So, when my second-grade teacher instructed our class about telling time, I didn’t see the point. Besides, if the big hand was on two, plain as day, why did she insist it read 10 minutes after the hour? Why should insignificant dots between the numbers dictate the operation of the universe?
Given that cosmic view, I didn’t own my first wristwatch until eighth grade.
My husband received his as a kindergartner. Perhaps his family operated like normal people?
Decades later, our toddler grandson, Liam, exhibited that “normal” behavior tenfold. Every visit.
LIAM: Grandma, want pretty “numbers-clock.”
GRANDMA: If you wear my watch, you must give it back before I leave.
LIAM: (nodding vigorously) I will.
(Grandma doubles the band around his tiny wrist.)
LIAM: (caressing the watch) My numbers-clock.
At least, I escaped the mugging Liam’s library storyteller suffered when he refused to give up his numbers-clock.
While most North Americans don’t go to that extreme, other cultures do puzzle about our clock fetish. The Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels, captured that viewpoint perfectly in describing Gulliver’s pocket watch as a god he worshipped: “He assured us … that he seldom did anything without consulting it. He called it his oracle and said it pointed out the time for every action of his life.”
Centuries later, I find this true, even at night. Do you, too, play peekaboo during the wee hours with merciless numbers that scare away sleep?
Perhaps a residue of freedom from time survives, as demonstrated in our living room. Two clocks reside there, neither of which works. As dusty décor, they read 1:57 and 3:01, respectively. This annoys Liam, no longer a mugger, but still a clock-watcher at 10.
The first is my husband’s great-great-grandfather’s mantel clock, with its ornate brass lions, rings and trims. But I like the other best, a modest crystal clock Hubby gave me for Christmas long ago.
A note accompanied it: “My love for you is timeless.”
Clock-watcher or not, exercise-bike rider or chocolate-eating slacker, I have time for that.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When do you watch the clock?
Oh, my God, I’m so glad You gave Mary three whole months with Elizabeth, because pregnant women need to talk. They could gripe about morning sickness. They could compare the angels who’d stood on their doorsteps. They could talk about their babies. … OMG, while You were doing Your greatest Miracle, You wanted women to talk.