The solstice has come and gone and now we coast through the dead days between Jebuspalooza and the Western New Year. It is neither quite last year nor next year, a period of circumannual ambiguity recognized by calendar makers throughout history from Tenochtitlan to Sumer, but ignored by the more sober intellects of Christendom's seasonal accounting.
I have a lot of gas. Must be something I ate.
On Christmas Eve Littlestar and I hosted dinner for Littlestar's Mother, Old Oak, my sister Xena and her near-spouse Flash Monk. The turkey was golden and the gravy was thick. We didn't have dessert because we were too full. Popsicle got to open one present, and it was three plastic tubs of play-dough. This delighted her greatly and upon putting her to bed for the third time past twenty-three hundred hours she was still singing, "I got my very own piaydo! I got my very own piaydo!"
Even though I was not hotly anticipating the arrival of St. Nicholas, like a little kid I had trouble falling asleep. I watched Blazing Saddles on TV, which is a movie from back when Mel Brooks used to be funny.
Slim Pickens: "What do you do for fun around here?"Come Christmas morning the toddler was the last one awake. She has only the loosest grasp of the date so she had to be reminded that it was now fully Christmas: game on. She opened a few of her own and then served as envoy and assistant opener for gifts to others.
Gene Wilder: "I don't know -- play checkers, screw."
Slim Pickens: "...Let's play checkers."
In a break in the storm of paper tearing I unearthed our dusty coffee making apparatus from the disused corner of the kitchen cabinets and tried to remember how to go make it go. I spilled a lot of the brown coffee dust everywhere and lost count of how much water I was putting in, because I was watching Popsicle hop around. Flash Monk reported the final product of my efforts reasonably potable after being cut with water boiled from the kettle.
We all took turns detrashing Popsicle's elaborately boxed toys, wired within cages of cardboard so securely that the range of shifting in freight had been confined to Planck Scale distances.
I gave Littlestar her a box of stink oil (Dolce Gabbana Blue), new headphones (with Swivelly McCool "DJ-cups") and a model steam locomotive with a trillion pieces (Littlestar likes to have "something to build" on Christmas). I also received many fabulous prizes to playing, including one of those manly grooming toy sets.
Littlestar tried to call her brother Slozo in China, but his telephone was on the lam and no one could make heads or tails of what the Chinese operator was chattering on about.
Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice. I thought I could offer Flash Monk breakfast sausages but it turned out I'd already eaten them all. Xena was feeling digestively questionable, so she ate nothing. Such is the season.
While we digested we played a DVD of The Muppet Show, which Xena had received as a gift. Popsicle, who has never seen the muppets, was transfixed. Hush also seemed rapt.
Xena and Flash Monk drove the Mini into Toronto and we followed in the Volvo with Old Oak et al. In my mother's tiny Leaside house we were met by my step-siblings and together we waited for my brother Isosceles Cat and Kitten to arrive, who were (characteristically) late but (uncharacteristically) it wasn't their fault. While we waited my step-brother Bud and I ate about twenty million Swedish meatballs dipped in sauce.
My mother Popcorn put on antlers covered in multi-coloured LEDs and fussed with a glowing Santa Claus pin, and then became the distribution end of a supply line of wrapped gifts being fed by Beurre d'Arachide from the Christmas tree. My mother had tried very hard to remain within the budget my step-father had imposed and the constraints Littlestar and I had imposed so far as inundating the toddler with toys goes, but never the less it was not long before Popsicle started suffering some amount of sensory overload -- she was casting opened gifts aside without even attempting to process them, caught up in the hullabaloo of helping other people tear open the next thing. "I'm so excited!" she informed us.
More wine, more crackers, more turkey, more ham, more cauliflower in sauce and hot buttered bread. Every few minutes I excused myself from the table to trot down into the basement to break wind vivaciously. "Goodness!" I said.
Isosceles Cat (who has just released his Christmas mix studio session) got me a golybillion-time dual-layer DVD writer which I am very pleased to have as it means I will be less frequently obliged to break up my fattest animations into chunks for archiving. Popsicle got a book about tools and a doll-house and more pink ponies and a scarf and a handbag shaped like a dog and some chocolate. Baby Two got tiny blue pajamas, and Littlestar got gloves and bath salts and so on.
Turkey overtook us all and lids drooped. We were bundled for the road and loaded into our respective cars, Littlestar's Mother for some reason withdrawing her offer to drive home and thus letting the duty fall back to Old Oak, who while he was not drunk was sufficiently geriatric to cause our journey north through the sleet to be mildly harrowing. Old Oak changes lanes a lot without signalling or having any awareness of the other vehicles around him, and cannot make out the lines that demark the lanes at night with his one functional eye. His driving style relies on the quick reflexes of others. Luckily we met no misfortune.
Next time I think we'll just take two cars. Fuck the environment -- I want to live.
The toddler was falling asleep in the car, muttering about play-dough, but when we brought her inside she awoke to the fullest extent possible. Her little brain was explodermating with all of the wonderful and curious things she had been seeing for the past two days, and she was deluged with simultaneous and conflicting urges. In her own words: "I want to eat a cookie and use my very own piaydo with my ponies in my house and make a fort out of snow and put on lip-balm and throw my superball and chase Hush and read my book and then play my computer!"
We managed to wind her down by twenty-two hundred hours.
I paused at the base of the ladder up into the Tiny Loft and gave voice to a ponderous anal expression, a staccato march on a theme of meatballs and stuffing. I undid my pants and sighed. "Heavens!"
Downstairs, Littlestar was falling asleep on the couch as she assembled a tiny die-cast aeroplane. "My boobs are leaking," she told me wearily. "And my back hurts," she added.
"I'll rub either or both," I offered.
She gave me her feet to rub, instead. "Merry Christmas, Love," I said.
The cats ate treats, the dog gnawed on her bone. Everybody was covered and nobody cried. A Christmas success, well-oiled, nicely landed. A lot of very thoughtful gifts received, even some unexpected generosity from the wilds of the Web (who knew such sweethearts lurked on the other side of my firewall?). The snow resumes, and it's quiet outside.
Happy Birthday Jebus, wherever you are. And my apologies to you, Odin, for acknowledging your diminished modern form as a fat fellow in Coca-Cola red. (Turn, turn, turn.)
The dead days are being spent. The New Year looms.