OMG, at Christmas, sometimes grandsons pause long enough to give angel smiles. More often, they shift into hyperdrive, a blur no power on earth can slow. Not that I’m ever like that at Christmas. Right, Lord? Right?
When our daughter was born, I splurged on a pink teddy
bear whose music box played tinkling lullabies.
I placed it in her line of vision. “Honey, she’s
singing to you.”
Baby appeared more interested in shiny doorknobs.
Even as she grew, she took little notice of the prissy
Several years later, her kindergarten class
planned to celebrate Teddy Bear Day, bringing their little buddies to school.
When I suggested Callie take her prissy teddy, she
rolled her eyes, but hauled the bear in her backpack.
After school, an odd sight met my eyes. An
enormous teddy bear ambled toward me, underscored by thin, little legs.
“Big Bear wanted to come home with me,” Callie
“But — it doesn’t belong to you.”
“Teacher said we could exchange bears for a week.
Sarah took mine, and she let me take him.”
Big Bear made himself at home in Callie’s
appliance-box house. He starred in made-up plays and musicals. At bedtime
check, I did a double take.
Twins in Callie’s bed?
I often messed up carpools. Had I lost track of
how many children I’d birthed?
No, Big Bear was bunking with her. Relief poured
through me, relief that soon vanished as her tiny arm curled possessively around
his large, furry body.
Soon, I had to say, “Honey, Big Bear has to go home.”
Callie stared at me with sad, dark eyes, but returned
Christmas was coming soon. Usually, the Santa at
our house frowned on extravagant gifts. But when I encountered Big Bear’s
cousin at Kmart, I brought him home.
Hiding him from Callie was like concealing a body
from the FBI, but the wide-eyed grin that greeted him Christmas morning made
Operation Big Bear worth it. In no time, he was singing in basement Broadway
productions and snuggling with Callie at night. He smiled from her bed every
When she married, Big Bear moved with her to her
One recent weekend, Callie’s ferret-fast son and I
were engaged in a pillow fight. Desperate for ammunition, I grabbed the nearest
My opponent took gross advantage of my surprise
and knocked me flat. Big Bear, ever the sympathizer, stayed by me.
Despite a missing eye, Big Bear had survived little-boy
love and numerous pillow wars. Judging by his purple-stained face, someone must
have fed him jelly doughnuts — which explained why he appeared as flabby as I. He’d
lost padding, though, which I’d found. Not fair.
Still, Big Bear’s presence was strangely
comforting. Did Callie — now a strong, loving woman — still sneak moments with him?
Kindergartner, teenager, mom or grandma. Sometimes,
we all need a Big Bear hug.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you still
cherish a childhood stuffed animal?
The day after Thanksgiving, a friend’s Facebook post
evoked 93 envious comments, four offers of psychological help, and a death
threat or two. What elicited such passionate response? She dared reveal that
she’d wrapped the final gift on her list.
I gave serious consideration to the last reaction, but
one of her gifts may be for me.
Like many today, she’d viewed an amazing variety of gifts
If a guy craves a purple monkey wrench with a peace sign,
he can open it Christmas morning. Those seeking bedroom slippers find pairs online
that could fit a native of Neptune, let alone, hard-to-please Uncle Ralph.
Five-inch-thick toy catalogs once dragged home from the
mailbox no longer limit little ones’ choices. Now, children who navigate cyberspace
better than their parents explore infinite Christmas Wish websites. Some “accidentally”
hit purchase buttons without their folks’ knowledge — until five semis dump 42,111
teddy bears singing “Feliz Navidad” in Chinese on their doorsteps.
Internet shopping also promotes less driving. No coats, mittens
or car seats. No bloodshed over parking spaces. Pollution-belching cars remain home,
while bargain hunters apply gas money to bigger and better holiday gifts for
others — plus giant screen TVs for themselves.
Virtual store visitors choose gifts anytime day or night.
They avoid hostile store clerks who install trapdoors in front of cash
Certainly, online buyers encounter uncooperative sellers —
shopping carts that charge double and helpful sites that publish customers’ credit
card numbers on Facebook. But if an annoyed Internet shopper assaults her
computer, it can be replaced with no jail time involved — unless she shoplifts
Online purchasers avoid traditional Christmas brawls when
stores run out of Preschool Techno Marbles or Uber Dogcatcher Barbie. Nor do
they wait in line behind 76 other customers, only to discover the computers are
down. An online shopper can experience similar computer fun at home with no
Internet customers do risk the unknown. A pan-for-gold
set might not come with genuine six-inch nuggets, as advertised. Once, unaware
a website’s owners couldn’t count, I received a sweater that sported five arms.
Online shoppers also deal with predators who steal identities.
However, I wouldn’t mind procuring a new one. I’ll take a twentyish blonde, size
six, with an unlimited credit ceiling, please.
Believe it or not, I later discovered my high-tech friend
didn’t stick to Internet gift-giving. She’d not only bought presents at
downtown stores and personally wrapped them — she’d made several.
Such inefficiency, when in one evening, she could have selected
identical presents for 127 people, had them professionally gift-wrapped, then sent
in time for Christmas. This, without ever touching gifts or recipients.
What was she thinking?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like shopping
online? Why or why not?
My name is Rachael, and I’m a Christmas music addict.
Recently, I found a station that plays one 100 percent Christmas music. “O Holy Night,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “What Child Is This?” filled the room, sung by rich-voiced choirs and artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Sandi Patty and Perry Como.
However, intermingled “cute” Christmas carols triggered memories of long-ago kiddie programs in which I wore scratchy can-cans and pinched-toe Mary Janes while singing “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” a way-too-much-information ballad, caused me, like the Chipmunks, to wish Christmas wouldn’t be late — partly so I wouldn’t have to sing that stupid kissing song anymore.
Fortunately, I missed out on other animal holiday favorites during that era, including “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” so popular that listeners raised funds to buy one for the 10-year-old singer. Her mother wouldn’t let it sleep in her room, so the girl donated it to a zoo.
Like every Boomer kid, though, I donned western gear to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with cowboy Gene Autry.
Even with annoying add-ons (“like a light bulb,” “like Pinocchio,” etc.) Rudolph can’t begin to compete with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” for holiday crassness. And yes, I held that opinion long before I became one (a grandma, not a reindeer).
Lately, however, I discovered a song that surpasses that twisted tune, a rap entitled “Reindeer Poop.” Although the lyrics laud a chocolate mounded candy, wouldn’t your mother have washed your mouth out with soap if you’d taught that to your little brother?
The Seedy Greedy Award goes to “Santa Baby.” This singer doesn’t welcome partridges in a pear tree from her true love. She goes for sables, a convertible, checks … and, Santa, baby, a platinum mine would be nice, too.
Actually, the gifts lauded by the English carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” aren’t so economical, either. Their cost totals $107,300, according to Kevin Bagos of AP News. If necessary, one can always go in for a less expensive version, Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck 12 Days of Christmas,” which includes three shotgun shells, two huntin’ dogs and parts to a Mustang GT, as well as nine years of probation and six cans of Spam.
Six cans of Spam? Not a Christmas dinner to settle the stomach. If that doesn’t make you squeamish, “Vincent the Christmas Virus” by Canadian band The Arrogant Worms will.
My name is Rachael, and I’m still an Advent music addict.
But some Christmas songs out there come close to effecting a cure.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you know one you’d like to fixate in your worst enemy’s mind till 2023?
O Lord, October hasn’t ended, yet Christmas catalogs arrive in my mailbox. Lines of lighted holiday trees greet me at Walmart. While I’m glad people want to celebrate Your birthday, OMG, I wouldn’t want them to go crazy over mine two months early.
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.
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.