Sunday, December 13, 2009

Falling for Christmas

As of today, the holiday season takes up a greater portion of everyday living than that huge chunk of Heath bar in a single spoon-full of Ben and Jerry's; it's Christmas full-speed-ahead.

My family and I shifted into Yuletide fifth gear yesterday. We trekked out to a tree farm east of Issaquah, Washington, along with every sixth vehicle on the freeway. Only on the second Saturday before Christmas can someone get caught in a traffic jam to a rural, King County two-lane arterial, stuck behind other urban families hoping to grasp a country Christmas somewhere other than the Waltons special on the Hallmark Channel. It's a strange tradition we have: driving 45 minutes, walking through a field, sawing off a well-manicured, adolescent fir tree, and paying $60 for the privilege.

I think the best part, however, is the conversation we had on the way out to Trinity Tree Farm. For some reason, my younger, nine-year-old daughter was locked in on Judy Garland.
She recently watched The Wizard of Oz, and was interested in the starlett's subsequent life.
"Dad, is Judy Garland still alive?"
"No, she died a long time ago."
"How did she die?"
"She overdosed on pills and alcohol."
"Why?"
"I don't know. She just had a troubled life."
"Did the men in her life take advantage of her?"
This was my chance to drive a moral home run over the fence, by saying something like, "Yes, so don't ever get involved with men. They're a bunch of selfish monkeys and they're nothing but trouble."
But I didn't. I think I just said, "I'm not really sure."
So at the end of the day, with the tree set up and the house festively trimmed, day one of our holiday boot camp was complete.

Enter, stage left, day two—a visit with Santa Claus. It's another tradition we've had for the past ten years. We join our friends in downtown Seattle for a visit with Saint Nick, who just so happens to reside in one of America's premier fashion retailers, also based in Seattle, whom I won't mention by name since they've employed me and provided my babies with shoes for the past eighteen years.

As we scrambled to get out of the house this morning, I hurriedly pulled our portable dishwasher into the kitchen. I was wearing some shoes that I got a screaming deal on at the previously unmentioned retailer, but they're about a half-size too big. Hence, the clown-shoe effect forced the tip of one of them under the dishwasher as it moved along the floor. I illogically kept pulling, thinking I could yank out my foot without missing a step. Wrong again.

Have you ever tripped on something, and experienced a moment where you realized that you're actually going to hit the ground, so you positioned your body to cushion the fall? That happened to me this morning. I remember thinking, "Whoa, okay, I'm okay. Nope, nope. I'm going down." Since my toe was trapped beneath the dishwasher, my only option was to land on my shoulder to avoid slamming my head. It made a huge thud, and one daughter came to see if I was okay, while the other laughed hysterically. I won't say which was which, but I know which one is going to visit me in thirty years after I break a hip.

That's how my day began, so by the time we got in to see Santa, I was ready to move on to Valentine's or Saint Patrick's Day. It didn't help that Claus was a little cranky himself, saying, "Okay, that's enough pictures, folks. We've got a four-hour wait outside. Ho, ho, ho!"

I think Santa might have closed down the casino last night.

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