Thursday, January 1, 2009

xmas #1

well, bebe's first x-mas was a fun and memorable one. what did she think of santa clause, you may be wondering? the wife and i had a long discussion way back B.B. (Before Beatrix) as to whether or not we would perpetuate the lie of santa clause or not.

i was in favor of the lie for the following reasons: 1) there's little enough magic left in childhood these days with eight year olds bringing guns to school and eleven year old girls getting pregnant that i figure any magical, fun, mysterious and ultimately harmless elements not only be allowed to develop but also be encouraged whole heartedly. 2) our poor child, by virtue of being our child, will be weird and different from most of the other kids, but on the off chance she's well adjusted and accepted by her peers, why ruin it by having her be the only kid who not only doesn't believe in santa clause, but also ruins it for all of the other kids. i'm already going to hear it from the other parents for letting bebe drive herself to third grade and then there are the tattoos i'll allow her to get at a young age... i mean really. do i need another headache? i don't think so. incidentally, i almost wrote "believe in superman" instead of "santa clause." isn't that silly? santa is obviously fake while- look! up in the sky! it's a bird! it's a plane!

anyway, mommy's main reason against santa was that it is a lie. bottom line. and what it teaches kids is that adults lie to them. i say, learn it the earlier the better, because it's the truth (ha ha). it may start with santa, but off it goes to the strangest places. adults lie. to kids, to each other, to themselves... but i digress. santa is a lie. i can accept that.

so how did this teet a teet end? i had to trade "no violent video games or horror movies until she's ten," and in exchange bebe will get to know the magic of x-mas. our pediatrician, the famous dr. bastien, to avoid directly lying to his kids, says he tells them that santa is the magic of x-mas. clever. still basically a lie, i would argue, but leave it to the adults to work that grey area of interpretation.

in the end, santa's first stop this year was going to be at mems' and teed's house. we headed out saturday in anticipation of some messy weather, and made it there minus the crappy holiday traffic. sweet.

mems was waiting with open arms, which we filled with a baby. in the past, bebe has taken little interest in other people as far as her affections go. she snuggled with mommy, tolerated daddy, and looked with mild interest upon anyone else. well, this x-mas was the season of loving mems. it was achingly sweet and heartwarming to watch her eyes light up whenever her mems walked into the room. even hearing her voice from somewhere else in the house would cause her cute little ears to perk up (i'm not exaggerating). it was awesome. we all knew how great mems is, and now bebe has figured it out, too.

hey beatrix, what do you say we get up for the sunrise? great. howsabout, say, five am? deal? see you then.

there was snow when we got there, but over the course of the weekend it snowed for an entire day/night straight! this is what it looked like before the fresh batch of snow.

ah, the tree. normally, teed and i trek into the nearby woods to cut a tree big enough to fill the high ceiling of the living room. it involved carrying a saw into the field, walking through at least a foot of snow, felling the mighty beast, and then dragging it back over the rough uneven wilderness to the lower bend in the driveway where we'd half cram it into the trunk of one of the cars. then i'd hold the protruding end while teed drove the rest of the way up the driveway. once back at the house we'd load it in by taking the doors off of the screened-in porch and shoving the thing through. that's stage one.

as a young buck, teed used to do all of that by himself, which is crazy. it's a lot of work for the two of us, never mind just one person. i have no idea how he managed this herculean task all on his own. what a stud.

this year, because teed was sick and he and mems had, only days before, returned from egypt (!), we realized that we would need to (gasp) buy a tree. we were probably headed that route anyway since the last time we had taken one from the woods it appeared that there really were not many options left for us out there, unless we wanted a tree that split into two halfway up or was completely bare on one whole side. we frantically called around all morning sunday. teed even stopped at a couple of places but there was no one there to take his money. in this economy? a few days before the holiday? i'd be out there at the crack of dawn selling for twenty bucks a foot. thankfully, we didn't buy the tree from "me," and good thing too. i would have surely screwed us on the deal. i can be a real jerk sometimes.

we ended up at a "cut your own" tree farm about twenty minutes from home. we still had to walk through some snow, cut the thing down, and haul it back to the main gate. this helped me get over the "buying a tree" issue because aside from the drive and the obvious exchange of funds, we did roughly the same kind of work we would have done had we stolen one from nature.

but here's where it gets infinitely better- once back at the gate, the guys at the tree farm stick the tree in this tree-wobbling contraption that shakes all of the snow and loose pine needles off. then, they run it through this funnel-type contraption that bundles the tree into a nice manageable package (see photo above)! we just tied it to the roof of the car and walked it right in through the front door. we were even able to get a tree that equaled the average size of the trees we had cut down in recent years. this one was thirteen feet, and actually a bit on the smaller side.

after procuring the tree comes stage two. stage two is even more complicated and involved.

teed, like me, gets stuck with the crappy job of putting the lights on the tree. our tree at home is an easy five-six footer compared to the gigantic ones we get at their house so i can't complain. too much. (it still sucks) ahem. anyway, stage one of stage two is putting the lights on the top of the tree. the trees are so tall that to make the job a little easier, he puts the top string on before we stand the tree up. and since we can't easily get to the top once we've stood it up, we put the star on then as well.

once the first string of lights is on, we commence stage two of stage two: we stand the tree up in a bucket. ta-dah! actually harder than it sounds, and that's just the beginning. my job during this stage is to wrangle my way into the heart of the tree itself. i battle tough branches, sharp needles, falling pine cones, melting snow, and worst of all, sap.

while i hold the tree upright, teed mounts a ladder (or two) and secures the tree using fishing line tied to hooks in the door frame and support beam. once the lines have been loosely attached, we call in the women to tell us- "a little to the right. now it's gotta come forward. no, the other forward. now left. now back. back more. now more left. perfect. no, wait, it moved. forward more..." etc., etc., etc. once it's all lined up, teed secures the lines for good and we fill the bucket full of sand. lastly we add some water, and voila! exclamations in french!

stage two-a of stage two is to finish putting the lights on.

can't you just see the look of utter joy on teed's face? look harder.

still joyfully putting those lights on!

"i think the tree is crooked."

and this is where the man starts every year. yikes.

also, this year, for some reason or another, we didn't test the star before setting the tree up. and so, of course, we hit the lights and it remains as dark as the heart of whatever place doesn't celebrate christmas. russia or where ever. i don't know. you could practically hear the cacophonous cries of the one thousand angels that fell from heaven into the fiery pit at the sight of our majestic tree with no lit star atop it's highest-most bough. crap. sorry, angels.

after i climbed up to the top, which it turns out i could reach after all, i determined that the star liza's family had used for years had finally given up the (holy) ghost. never again would it light santa's way. never again would such a unique symbol of all of the family christmases past show the way to the pitter-patter of little feet and bleary eyes so early in the december dark of morning. luckily for us, this christmas was about new traditions. we had bebe and uncle ben with us for the first time, so what better time to start fresh? but what would we get to replace such an iconic star? surely some newly made chintzy piece of garbage would fail to compare. again, luckily for us, mems was able to find an even better star for us to use! it was actually the same exact star they had bought all those years ago, but with one crucial difference- this one worked. yay, christmas! and yay not having to change! change is scary! woo-hoo! everything the same!

after the tree is secure and the lights are on, mommy and aunt marge and mems have decoration duty. they carefully unwrap all of the ornaments (again, i almost typed 'arguments' instead of 'ornaments.' huh.) and commence with a game they call "pretty, ugly." this involves asking a third, uninitiated person- in this case uncle ben- if each ornament they hold up is pretty, or ugly. this is a game no one can win. if it was based on asthetics alone one might have a fighting chance, but this game involves much more than that. therefore, when they hold up the beautifully crafted glass ball with intricate design and detail work that glitters in the light of the room, and you say "pretty," the girls scowl at you and exclaim "ugly!" how were you supposed to know that that particular ornament was purchased on a family trip years ago, and upon said trip a huge family fight broke out, the dog got diarrhea, and the stock market plunged to an all time low?

likewise, when they hold up the crudely fabricated pine cone glued to a stick with so much glue that it's more glue, in fact, than anything else, and with one ragged piece of fuzzy something hanging at one end and one googly eye barely stuck on at the other end, and you say "by all that is holy, that is the ugliest thing i have ever seen! quickly- to the roaring fire with that! my eyes will never un-see such a horror!" the girls will scowl once more and exclaim "pretty!" because that was a santa clause ornament that maggie made in second grade, that sassy (their dearly departed dog and fifth burbank- think george martin and the beatles) ate and then pooped out, fully formed and unharmed, causing everyone to exclaim "it's a christmas miracle!" thus securing its spot on the tree each year. it's a fool's game that you cannot win. this year that fool was uncle ben, and i didn't stick around to see how he did because i'm not a gawker or one of those losers who causes traffic jams for miles on the pike because some other loser is stopped by a cop on the other side of the road and i need to slam on my brakes when i see the pretty flashing lights in case there was a bad accident and i get to see some carnage. ghouls. good luck uncle ben, holler if you need the jaws of life.

once the tree was all set, the rest of the time was spent wrapping gifts and just getting to hang out as a family. the older beatrix gets, the better she behaves at casa burbank. but like a lot of people, travelling messes with bebe's boiler. as a result, she can go a few days without a poop, which is no good for anyone. what usually happens is that eventually she gets so backed up that she explodes from her bottom and poops herself silly in one fell swoop. such was the case at christmas. when she finally pooped, it was everywhere, prompting a rare mid-morning tubba time. she was psyched to have pooped, and psyched to be in the bath:

mems gets in on the action

gotta scrub everywhere!

as you may have read on the (almost but not quite) daily bebe, we lost power christmas eve. no lights, no heat, no water. it was early bedtimes for most of us, and for once i was done wrapping my presents ahead of time. sadly, this meant a tradtion that has taken place every year that i've been there for x-mas was broken. aunt marge and i are always the last two to finish wrapping our presents and have spent each x-mas eve at the wrapping station until about two in the morning, watching x-mas movies together. maybe if we had power i would have stayed up anyway, just to keep the tradition going. but without tv, what was the point? we'd have to talk or something. gross.

the next morning, still without power, we made our way downstairs to find that- gasp!- santa had come anyway! is this what it was like in the old days? would we be having a good old fashioned pioneer-days x-mas? yes we would.

bebe's first stocking. face.

bebe couldn't wait to get started on her presents. she loved her bee book. especially the way it tasted. in fact, that was the measure of all of her presents. each one went to the mouth for approval, and she loved them all.

it was a blustery, cool morning.

mommy and bebe share a moment.

uncle ben, aunt marge, and mems all take their seats.


great aunt diane and nana get the candles lit.

i think santa probably needed two sleighs to get all this stuff under the tree.

let the opening begin!

teed plays santa. kind of a santa on speed. a really excited santa. with stuff to do. but honestly, if he didn't keep us moving, we'd never be done. christmass would be a two day event. hmm...

beebs donned her x-mas gear and made the rounds. considering how many presents were for her, she did very little work. i did catch her licking some wrapping paper at one point, but that hardly counts.

beatrix got her very own sleigh to ride in whenever we go to mems' and teed's. it's going to be a tough push during the summers, but maybe we can grease the rails or something.

at the end of the morning, a pretty satisfied bunch. we're all watching uncle ben and aunt marge in this pic. they're probably cuddling and being cute. those two!

a highly decorated tree, indeed.

bebe says her goodbyes to aunt marge. we had to hit the road to get bebe home in time for her nap schedule to remain intact, and to watch the second half of the lakers-celtics game. which we lost. bah, humbug. do people in LA even believe in x-mas? so unfair.

we left in the late afternoon and the power was still not back on. on the plus side, we had no traffic and made great time. bebe got a nap in, and we got home in time for daddy and bebe to watch the second half of the lakers-celtics game. which we lost. the lakers suck.
christmas #1 drew to a close, and in another day, we'd celebrate christmas #2 with mams and grampa glennie, and the aunties and uncle seth. coming soon...

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