It's Clouds Illusions I Recall

Children hate Santa. It's true.

Never once has a child under four sat in his lap of their own volition. Never has a child over the age of 8 sat in his lap and been completely sold on the idea. Santa has a very small margin for error in his job.

Children like Santa the way Tiger Woods likes being theory. The idea is nice, but the practical application is just creepy. He smells like dusty beer and cheese and dirty diapers. He takes your order and then makes you wait forever to bring it to you. Santa is the all-night-breakfast diner in the skanky part of town with the 5 hour wait for stale pancakes that you, and every other under-dressed drunk person in your metropolitan area, only go to after 17 shots of Jager at some club you're entirely too old to be at anyway.

I took my kids to that diner last night.

I had to carefully negotiate this event with my oldest. He doesn't want to believe, but after the events of last year, he's pretty sure he has some solidly empirical proof. I had to show him every picture we've ever had with Santa, the ones I keep all in one frame, and point out that he is the only child in all 11 pictures. I had to puppy-dog eye him and remind him that this is the only picture I get every year with all of my babies, and that I realize he knows it isn't the real Santa, but a big fat weird elf, like Buddy only not as awesome, but maybe he could just do me this one solid and I'd make sure the real Santa heard about his kindness and charitable actions towards his mother?

I also reminded him that his sister finally gets it, and it's our job as a family to keep this going. To make her believe that the guy in his brother's school right now is the real Santa, so that she can have the magic he and his brother had when they were her age.

Pulling the 'magic of childhood' card on that kid works Every. Fucking. Time. He even smiled for the picture. Kind of.

My 9 year old was ALL ABOUT IT, because he is ALL ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL OF THE GODDAMN TIME. Except homework. Fuck homework. He, of course, spent the better part of the evening repeatedly asking me if I believed in Santa, hoping to trip me up and get me to admit the truth. I know he knows. I also know that he's entirely too smart to ever admit that he knows. I'm a cheap bastard, and he wants a iPod touch someday. He knows it's Santa or bust around here.

He actually said to me, "I'm asking for DJ Hero and an iPod touch, and if I don't get them, I'll know that Santa isn't real." I guess I have 14 more days of him believing, then, because there's no way in hell. NO WAY.

3of3 immediately shit rainbows and glitter when I told her Santa was at her brother's school. "Santa is my fayborite! He's my bestest fwiend in da whole woiald!" (That's world. She's an 80 year old jewish woman from Brooklyn.) She even let me brush her hair before we left.

We stood in line for 18 hours, and we weren't even drunk so it wasn't any fun. She kept peeking around the corner, "Dayr he is, momma! Dayr's Santa!" We practiced talking to him. "What do you say to Santa first?", I asked them. "Hi Santa, how was your day?" they all replied. "And what are you asking him for?" "Dora skates and flagnard!" "What about that pink DS you've wanted? You can ask for that, too, you know." "No, I only ask for one fing, momma. I ask for DORA SKATES AND FLAGNARD." So, she can't count, enunciate or negotiate. Good thing she's got looks to ride through life on.

Also, what the fuck is flagnard? Anyone?

We watched bazillions of babies sit on his lap and cry. We giggle at the silliness of them all. And then it was her turn. Oh, how fickle the heart of a young girl can be.

She clawed my eyeballs out when I tried to sit her on his lap. She hyperventilated when I walked away. She buried her face into her brother's shoulder and refused to smile for a picture. I made a complete ass of myself and embarrassed the shit out of her, so in a few days, I'll be getting my $7 5X7 stale pancake with one very eager face smiling back at me and two faces full of abject humiliation and disgust at their fool of a mother and the fact that she made them do this ridiculous shit.

But Santa gave her a candy cane, so they were all good by the end. She even told him what she wanted. He looked at me and said, "Flagnard?" and I shrugged. He said, "iPod?" and I said, "You can expect a call from his father telling you he can't have one of those until he's gainfully employed." And then we hugged him goodbye, even the 11 year old whom Santa managed to get, not just a smile but a full on belly laugh out of, and there's your Christmas magic, folks, and with that we were off.

I tucked her into bed later and she said, "Momma, I can't wike Santa" and I asked her why. She said, "Dat's not the weawl Santa, mawwwm" and I asked her how she knew. She said, "He has cwouds all over his face." I tried to explain what a beard is, that daddy has a little brown one and Santa has a big white one, but she said no. "No, momma, day were cwouds, and I don't wike cwouds on faces."

And I don't like trying to figure out what Flagnard is, so I guess we're even.

Counting Down

Last year, I figured out what the hell an Advent calendar is. I'm a little slow on the uptake.

This will be the 11th Christmas I've ever celebrated. I still can't, with any clarity, explain precisely what the role of the Easter bunny is in April, let alone grasp all of these weird little Yuletide nuances. In fact, I am fairly certain that, 11 years ago, Advent calendars did not exist at all, and that you, the Western world at large, are simply trying to fuck with me on as many levels as possible over the holidays.

That's nice. Pick on the poor white trash cult-member kid every December. Stay classy, Western world.

Thanks to the Lord Almighty Twitter, the whole Advent Calendar thing clicked in my thick head last year and I decided that my children would be Scarred For Life if they did not have them. So I set out to procure for ourselves three lovely Advent calendars, a week into December.

My Christmas tree is full to the brim with little homemade ornaments all made out of clay or popsicle sticks, that all say, "Josh" and "197-something" on them. His mother kept everything, and we hang that everything on our tree every year. I came into this marriage with a dildo my dad gave me for my 18th birthday and one Cheshire Cat ornament that I didn't even know was an ornament until somewhere around 2002. His mother, thankfully, has been catching me up by buying me, and all of us, a new ornament every single year, and more thankfully not one single instrument of penetration, but it's not the same as having something old and handmade from your momma when it's your turn to get drunk and breed in the backseat of a Nissan start a family. I wanted, want, my kids to have something that I lovingly slaved over for months and months, beside, um, their bodies, to pass down to their kids someday. To remember me by when I'm blowing off their family Christmas to drink drinks out of coconut shells on exotic islands with their father, because I'll be damned if I'm not reclaiming our 20s in our 60's, dammit. DAMMIT.

And so I turned to the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom in the universe today, Twitter, and not only found out what exactly the fuck an Advent calendar was, but (thanks to my friend pgoodness) how to make one. Myself. All crafty-like and good-motherly-ish.

And that I did. It took me weeks and all of my neighbor's scrapbooking tools. I cut and measured and color-coordinated and spent more money than I'll ever tell my husband, and they came together beautifully. And now I have two calenders that are both 98.26% done, and one that isn't started yet, but everything is cut out and ready to go....

These I Made

...and these, too.

These I Bought

Because there is a Target right up the street and I am significantly more Fartsy than Artsy at the end of the day. And, apparently, the one and only thing I can start and see through until the very end involves that ill-begotten dildo.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

We didn't celebrate Christmas when I was kid, so I never really understood the whole 'believing in Santa' thing.  All I knew was that we were under strict orders to not be the jerks who ruined it for everyone else.  We were never to tell.  I don't know about my brother, but I never told a soul.  One day, just no one believed anymore, and that was that.

I have to admit that I LOVE my kids believing in Santa, and I'm overly sad that it's going to end soon.  I always swore I'd never lie to my kids like that, that I'd never teach them about something as stupid as magical, chubby dudes and flying reindeer, that I was a bigger person than all that.  The reality of it is that I can't get enough of it.  There's something about it that I just find gorgeous and beautiful and meaningful.  Maybe it's just that I never had it, I don't know.

What I do know is that something happened this year that just bought me a hell of a lot of time, and the story is right this way....

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation

Hey, it's summer at Kelley's house.  Shut up.

It started snowing an hour before the kids got out of school for break two weeks ago.  It almost hasn't stopped at all since.  The piles of snow in front of our houses in my neighbourhood?  Taller than I am.  "It doesn't snow in Vancouver" my fat white ass.  I meant to take pictures, I really did, but I wasn't blogging and you know how that goes.  And now the gorgeous snow hills are the same shade of gray as death and just look less gorgeous and more dirty-icebergish.

So we spent the majority of Christmas break running out early to buy the winter pants and boots that Santa fully intended to bring a few days later, because damn him and his deadlines that have nothing to do with the actual weather outside, hanging out at home, playing outside, sledding and pelting each other with snowballs.  And shoveling, oh the shoveling.  Good thing I'm the only person here from Colorado; I smoked those bitches asses at shoveling the street.  That Dirty American isn't so aggravating anymore, is she?


And then it was Jesus' birthday, so we opened some presents on his behalf (which was fine with him; he hasn't worn a kids' size 12 coats in ages) and ate some food.  Okay, we ate all the food.  I cooked for five.  Thousand.  It was epic, and then it was New Years, and tomorrow the kids go back to school.

Christmas 2008
The rest are slowly being added to FlickR.

And tomorrow, I tell you what this picture is all about.

Most important phone call he's ever taken.

See all of Lotus' Weekly Winners here.

I Already Have My Two Front Teeth

So the question remains...what is it I want for Christmas?  The answer?  I've already gotten it.

I live this life that is colorful to say the least, that has challenged me and pushed me at every turn and almost broken me a few times over.  I get up every day and a trudge through it, and all the while I am haunted by demons whose faces I know all to well, who always lurk in the dark corners.  They're always here, they always will be.

Sometimes I forget they're there.  Sometimes I get so used to seeing them, I start to see through them, like that cobweb in the corner by my front door that I mean to get vacuumed up but I'm just so used to it now, I hardly even notice it anymore.  And worse?  I'm starting to look forward to the times when I see it again.  For some reason, that stupid cobweb grounds me.

Anyway, enough about my awful housekeeping skills.  I find that when winter comes, when the sun just refuses to shine, when it starts raining for days and then weeks and then months on end, that's when I can't ignore those demons anymore.  Maybe they feed off the deficiency of vitamin D in my system, maybe they just like me better when I'm chilly, but this is when I'm down, so this is when they kick.

Normally, I'd be a sloppy wreck right now.  Normally, I'd be so homesick it physically hurts.  Normally I'd be slowly shutting down from the world, putting my heart into hibernation just to protect myself until May comes and the sun returns.  This year, not so much.  This year, I'm doing just fine.

You know, it's really easy to remember what's hard, what hurts, but remembering the good takes work.  It takes dedication.  I have to will myself into it, and I can't always, and maybe that's because I know hurt and pain and rage, but happy is still a foreign thing to me.  I'm willing myself into it this year.  And I have very good reason.

All around me, every minute of every day, there is inspiration.  I have, just this very week, seen true compassion and pure humanity on a level I thought only existed in novels.  I have witnessed raw courage and valiant bravery that has humbled me beyond all comprehension.  I have been touched by the human condition this week, and it's changed something fundamental about how I'm seeing my world, my life, my past and present and future.

A few years ago, when my whole world fell apart, when everything imploded, when I was left alone, afraid and just about totally helpless, a family not my own took my hand and they held it.  They held it and they didn't let go until I propped myself up, stood, and took a few unsure steps.  They stood back and they watched me fumble around, finding my own feet, and once I was ready they took me to a window and they taught me how to fly.

I owe them everything I am today.  If I let myself slide down, even a little, it will take away from what they did for me, and no one has ever done anything like that for anyone I've ever known.  I'm going to make it worth it.  I'm going to look forward in the direction they pointed me and go from there.

I'm going to languish in this feeling I have this year that there is really, truly, powerful amounts of good and strength in the world, and maybe I just have to allow myself to dwell there and not the grey, dark places I usually go to.  I'm going to rejoice in my little family, that we have each other, and not regret that I can't be home with my family, or their family, this year.  I'm going to create quiet, sweet silly traditions with my children this year, and even though we don't really have anyone to share those with, we have each other, right?  That's good enough.  That's more than I ever imagined I'd have.  I'm going to reach deep down inside of myself, and I am going to grab hold of this piece of me that wants so much to be joyous, and I'm going to hold on to it until it stands up, walks around a little, and then I'm going to let it fly.  Who knows where it will take me?

I have spent the past few days considerably happier than I've been in a long time, mostly because I've allowed my perception to change.  I've allowed myself to feel hope, for myself and for others.  I sat back last night and watched as my kids played together on the living room floor with a bunch of marbles, and I realized that I am completely, totally charmed.  I have everything I could even want, everything I could ever dream of, right here in front of me with smiling faces and smelly hair.  I know love on so many wonderful and different levels, I know joy, and nothing that has ever come before or will come after can take that away from me.  Someone taught me that this week.  Someone taught me that chocolate ice cream and pure will can cure all evils, and I will forever thank her for that.

Tonight as my daughter and I drove to the video store, a song came on the radio.  That Kansas song, Dust In The Wind?  I turned it up and silently mouthed the words to it as I looked out over a blood red sunset like we just don't get here in winter, ever, and I drifted back to the last time I'd heard that song, when I was maybe 14 or so.  My mother used to sit with her Ovation acoustic, strumming those notes and singing those words, and I would sit in front of her and drown myself in it.  My mother could sing like no other, and she played guitar like the angels.  I listened to it on the radio tonight, hearing her voice through my speakers, seeing her fingers right there in front of me on the steering wheel, and that's when I realized that something really has shifted inside of me.

I can't remember the last time I had a fond memory of my mother.  I can't remember feeling anything but unadulterated black smoky hate for her.  Tonight in the car, it just came to me.  I didn't have to will it, I didn't want to fight it.  I cherish that memory of her.  I cherish a lot of memories of her.  Most of it was unimaginably painful, but some of it was magic.  Sometimes we flew.  That's what I want to hold on to.

This year, this Christmas, I just want to keep flying.  I want this feeling that I have, the feeling of beauty and of love and the knowledge that I am not alone, that none of us are really ever alone, to keep pushing me up and up and up, until all that I can see is light.  It's possible, it's happening, and it's the greatest gift I've ever been given.