A Normal {for us} Christmas

I have one point of comparison--my own--to judge a right and good Christmas. 

It always involves a candlelight service on Christmas Eve and then a long night's stretch to find the loot I've accumulated for months in all my best hiding places.  After that, we assemble, assemble, assemble until the wee morning hours (2:30am this particular year).  

I don't know if it was the glass of wine or the extreme fatigue, but I was downright giddy when I fell into bed.

Moreover, despite my good intentions, I'm resigned to the fact that every year there will be a certain toy/candy/clothing that I find in the dark recesses of my closet 'roundabout March that shall remain ungifted.

So what makes a normal Christmas?  ("Normal? What does anyone in this family know about normal? We act normal, Mom! I want to BE normal!" -my girl Violet in the Incredibles

This beleaguered tree and the subsequent photos tell a lot about our current "normal" and how it played out this holiday season.

For instance, for their own protection, no gifts nestled there until after bedtime on the evening of December 24.  As we approached the holiday, there were a paltry amount of unbreakable ornaments hung from 40 inches down (Josh's wingspan), with the netting and ribbon ripped off and hastily put back on multiple times.  The mid-tier is occupied by homemade baubles while the upper reaches, untouchable except to the well-placed football spiral, play home to my irreplaceable Baccarat and Waterford ornaments.

"Normal" involves gifting a six-year-old with a long history of abrasions and accidents, who is on a first-name basis with the TMH stitches tech, with his very own pack of fireworks. 

(Oh yeah.)

"Normal" involves me reading this card as fra-jeely, thanks to too many late Eves with The Christmas Story blaring in the background as we assembled toys guided solely by a glass of wine and byzantine Chinese directions. 

"Normal" includes Mr. Moneybags (aka Collin) springing for everyone a gift from the WDW souvenir shop at Epcot, perhaps the most overpriced shopping venue on the planet.

"Normal" encompasses me giving my fra-jeely item from said gift shop to a two year old so that he'll stop fussing.

The person who worked so crazy hard to pay for the gifts?  Him getting his stocking down last? Well, I suppose, right or wrong, that is our current "normal."

Oh, and it is particularly "normal" for me to percolate Big Plans to stretch my meager cooking skills by making homemade cinnamon rolls, only to discover no baking powder in the cupboard come late night Dec 24.  Even Walmart was closed at this juncture.  After a crazy vinegar/baking soda substitution, I can only embrace this flukey Christmas morn deliciousness as the new norm.  

One absolute "normal" mainstay of Christmas is balls.  Not the pretty, fra-jeely, sparkling kind, but the synthetic rubber sort that can be kicked/hit/thrown to death until they lie deflated and moldy and hidden in a bushy area of our yard (only to be replaced by the ball fairies the next Christmas).

As the day wound down and we were stuffed silly with candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup, it only seemed "normal" to take a long walk with Kate Middleton in the woods.

And then to stop

and play games under the strangely creative and unpredictable direction of Dad-- "normal" games that, in a still frame of the camera lens, might seem rather odd.

Take it from the Head Elf---it was pretty darn funny.

Thirty seconds to spell out a word as a team?  Unfortunately our "normal" canine audience-of-one has very poor spelling skills and couldn't figure out any of the words.  However, she very much enjoys loud antics involving lots of laughing/snorting/other bodily noises from her littermates.

Christmas day ended with a seemingly "normal" moment as Mom's headline gift was run up the grand ole flagpole.  Texans will be Texans till the day they die, after all.  This normally somber and patriotic moment was made more jolly

by a dancing band of elves doing a cowboy jig and hollering yeehaws while eeking out a broken rendition of "The Eyes of Texas are Upon You" as best as these Florida-born buckaroos could.  

Hope you and yours had a very "normal" Christmas, too!


Lucky 13

My firstborn turns 13 tomorrow.  Many thoughts have cycled through my mind in anticipation of this teenager entering our midst.  Allow me to simplify them:

 I am grateful to even know this person.

 Innocence still exists.

She consists of equal parts brilliance and joy. 

She is 100% Madeleine, 100% of the time.  

 To know her is to love her.  

Happy Lucky 13 to my world changer. 


See you later, Gator. {I promise.}

This brilliant and complex man passed away on a calm Friday morning.  Josh and I walked in the room right when it happened.  It was shocking, but in retrospect seems appropriate, somehow, that he would breathe his last just as his youngest grandson- his legacy- breathlessly burst through that familiar door in search of some Granddaddy-time.

Life devastates you some mornings.

Then all of the sudden those you love grieve as son and husband become pallbearer and mourner.

The sadness sweeps in.

And in parting I say: Dr. Roberts, I loved you.  You could be frustrating at times and you held close to your own opinions, but you never, ever waivered in your support of me.   My fan club is small but you were active among them, rallying me in the difficult moments just as I was sinking.

You could see the end result when all I could see were the endless diapers.

You looked in your grandchildren's eyes and found what was fine and rare and worth praising when all I could look at was immature behavior, frustrating words, and messy faces.

Thank you for always reconciling with me when either of us got mad. (What was it that upset us again?)

Thank you for being tender and thoughtful in the times when I expected toughness.

Thank you most of all for raising the man I love.  Your best qualities shine brightly in him.

I am glad for that calm Friday morning when we came searching and discovered that peace had already found you.

Millard Mason Roberts 
December 18, 1930 - October 10, 2014


Special Privileges

The older kids in our household get lots of special privileges.

They are trusted to stir the bubbling pots before things get burned. 

And their services are often required to check the food in the microwave.  Ouch!  Better wear an oven mitt--that might be hot!

They also get to coach PE on a regular basis.  Whatever Big Sissy says, goes.

Except when it doesn't.  Then the Tickle Monster comes out.

After all, special privileges have their own rewards.