Saturday, December 23, 2006

Miracle on 6th Ave.

I am officially on holidays now. Let the season of late sleeping, reading, and general slothing begin.

Yesterday, the last day of school, was party day in my classroom. We had just finished our novel study on "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" and were planning on watching the movie on Friday. The students brought copious amounts of junkfood, I ordered pizza, and we all settled in for a long winter's movie day. We brought our pillows and blankets and wore our pyjamas to be comfy for the marathon movie (it's, like, 17 hours long). One of my students had a copy of the movie so she brought it in. All was right in the world.

Until I tried to get the video to play. Remember back in school when teachers *never* could get the TVs to work? And all the kids knew *exactly* what to do to get the movie working? And so all the student shouted their suggestions at the teacher to "help"? Yeah. That was me yesterday. For whatever reason, the stupid movie wouldn't play, so another teacher offered to take my class for a few minutes so I could run to the video store.

In my pyjamas.

So I drive like a mad woman to the Movie Gallery, obeying all traffic laws of course. They have the movie, and I wait forEVER for the slowest video clerk on earth to check out the customer ahead of me. When it's finally my turn and say "Idon'thaveanaccountherebutI'minahugerushI'mtryingtogetbacktomyclasswiththismovie." To which Ms. Slow replies "Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhh. . . It's not that simple. We have to get things set up properly, you know." I take a deep breath and say "I understand. No problem. I had a video lined up for my class, but it's not working. I left my class so I can grab this movie." She needs my driver's licence and a credit card and a blood sample and a copy of my employment history and lock of fairy hair.

I explain that I ran out of class really quickly and only grabbed my bank card and some cash, but told her where I work. No dice. I offered for her to keep my cell phone and house keys until I return the movie. No. Fine, I asked if I could buy the movie. They don't have it for sale. Ms. Slow is getting ruder by the second, and I am desperate. "Can I please pay for the movie replacement in full now and you can refund it or even keep it when I return the movie?" Ms. Slow says "NO. It's store policy. I can't do anything for you." That's when I noticed her name tag says STORE MANAGER. "Please," I pleaded, "it's Christmas. I've got a class of ten year olds who have worked so hard on this novel study. We just want to watch the movie. You can call my school and confirm that I work there. Please."

"NO. There's nothing I can do. It's store policy. I'm sorry."

Then I was mad. She's SORRY?! "No, you're not sorry. If you were sorry, you would have helped these kids out. You're the store manager. And it's Christmas. And you're a bitch." Ok, I didn't say the last sentence out loud, but I sure wanted to.

So I ran across the parking lot (in my pyjamas) to Cooper's grocery store. There I met the two kindest women and employees ever - Theresa and Marjorie. I have never met these ladies before, and they were so kind. I asked if they sold DVDs, and they said they did. "Great! Do you have the Narnia movie?" No, they didn't. I hung my head so hard I pretty much bent in half. I explained what had happened, and they were horrified that the store manager had been such a hard ass. Theresa offered to run home and her copy of the movie for me, but she lived to far away. She looked up the phone number for evil Movie Gallery and called over there to rent the movie for me on her own account, but their phone number was incorrect in the phone book. So Marjorie walked over there with me (still in my jammies) and let me use her rental account. I was so close to tears over Theresa and Marjorie's kindness. The video store clerk wouldn't even look me in the eye.

Needless to say, my class was so excited when I returned with the movie. We agreed that when we return to school in January, we are going to write thank you letters to Theresa and Marjorie and Cooper's, and that we would never rent from Movie Gallery again. It was a Christmakkah miracle!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Maya's First Letters

Remember the old claymation Rudolph movie? Such a wholesome story from 1964 about a poor baby reindeer relentlessly bullied by his peers until he runs away with a gay elf named Hermie and Yukon Cornelius, the nutcase gold miner. Maya loves that little misfit. We have a stuffed Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius that sing Burl Ives songs when you squeeze their tummies, and Maya goes NOWHERE without her Rudolph. And the red hood, of course. Rudolph is her new best friend. He was even in this year's Santa photo.

Today Maya told me that she wanted to send Rudolph an email. Grandpa would be so proud! I'm not sure what Rudolph's email address is, and really, writing paper letters is lost art these days. (And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony of that statement as I type this latest memoire into my blog.) So we sat down and wrote the letter together. Maya ran circles around the kitchen table dictating while I wrote her prose furiously:

Dear Rudolph,

I like you. You make me laugh. I like your shiny
nose. I would like you to come to my house. We could have a slumber party. If you come to my house, the deer won't laugh at you. We can go rollerskating together. We can play with my cat Sparkle, and Sparkle will say "thank you for playing with me." You are my favourite deer. I love you.

love, Maya

Then she remembered that she needed to ask Santa for her Christmas presents:

Dear Santa,

I like watching you on the movie with Rudolph. Please can I have some flashing rollerskates? I like you. I will leave you fruit snacks and Cheerios when you come to my house. Do you like fruit snacks? Rudolph is cute. Do you like crayons to draw with? I would like some new crayons please. I would draw a picture of little red riding hood with them. Thank you.

Love, Maya
The child seems to have a way with words. Perhaps she needs her own blog.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Maya meets Mr. Claus

Today was the big day: the yearly visit with Santa. When I told Maya what we were doing today, she actually gasped. "THANTA?! I going to meet THANTA?!!"

I tried to convince Maya that we should dress nicely to see the Big Guy, but when I suggested she get all dressed up, she thought I meant in costume and wanted to wear her Little Red Riding Hood. Too bad she left it at Mrs. Connie's house yesterday, because that would have made for a great Santa photo.

In any case, Maya would have nothing to do with the fancy holiday dress and Audrey Hepburn-esque wool coat that her sweet Uncle Joel gave her as a birthday gift. I managed to wrestle her into some cords and a t-shirt, and only managed to get her to stay still long enough to brush her hair if I promised to put in purple hair spray. Her 3 year old fashion sense is very advanced.

We arrive at the mall at about 11:45, and there is a relatively short line up to see Mr. Claus. We are told that it is time for Santa's lunch break and that Maya will be the second last to visit before his break. The photographer was a little harried and barely friendly. Apparently his elf didn't show up. To that I say: suck it up, buddy.

When I lifted Maya up to see Santa, her face lit up. Pure Christmas magic. She waited very patiently for her turn, but when it was finally time to meet him she was suddenly shy. Old St. Nick was very kind and made small talk with her while waiting for the picture to be taken, but we could barely get a smile out of her. It was a sweet, no-teeth-showing, shy smile, and in my opinion, pretty cute.

The photographer turns to me and says snidely and completely humourlessly, "Ha. Ha. Is that her smile?"

This is one of those situations where I am left speechless. Hard to imagine me without words, but my mind is reeling from the rudeness that I can't even form a witty comeback, other than "let's try one more." We tried again, but she still wouldn't give a bigger smile. That's just fine; it's a cute photo. It's not like the picture belongs here or anything.

I remind Maya to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas. "Thanta, I want rowwerthateth with fwashing wheewwth." ("Santa, I want rollerskates with flashing wheels." Don't worry, speech therapy starts Tuesday.) Flashing roller skates. Good idea, Maya! It's at this moment that I remember that I'm a freaking derby girl, and what I should have done is turned to the guy and said "Ha. Ha. Is that your camera up your ass?" But a five-minute late comeback is worse than no comeback at all (or so I tell myself now), so we thanked Thanta and went on our way.

I tried telling myself that the photographer was just looking for a bigger smile. But you know, the way he said it leads me to believe otherwise. I decided that a five-hour comeback is acceptable, so I did a little online shopping and arranged to have the elves send him a little myrrh to enjoy in a stone-cold tomb.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A shout out to all my Christmas peeps in the stone-cold tombs!

The tree is trimmed, the wreath is hung, the walnut baby Jesuses are laid carefully side by side - the joyous season is upon us. Keeping up with the holiday spirit, I googled carol lyrics today. At first, it was fun to read and try to hum along with the tunes I found, but then I found a few of the carols were less "Joy to the World" than I remembered.

"We Three Kings" is the song of the three wise men (who weren't kings at all) who travelled a long way without their portable DVD player to bring baby Jesus precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each wise man describes his gift, which is all fine and good until the wise guy with the myrrh pipes up:

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Seal'd in the stone-cold tomb.

"The Coventry Carol" isn't much warmer:

Herod the king in his ragin,
Charged he hath this day,
His men of night, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say,
For thy parting not say, nor sing,
By, by, lullay, lullay.

Some carols are downright confusing. Seriously, what's a wassail?

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a
Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.

And why should I sing "fum, fum, fum"? What does that even mean?
On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
For a blessed Babe was born
Upon this day at the break of morn
In a manger poor and lowly
Lay the Son of God most holy
Fum, Fum, Fum!
It sounds like I should be smelling the blood of an englishman, perhaps in a stone-cold tomb.

The fun just keeps building, even in the more secular Christmas songs. Remember torturing your parents with endless concerts of "Jingle Bells" on your recorder? What a fun story to sing and play about a guy falling on his back and the good Samaritan driving by in his one-horse open sleigh and laughing at him and driving away without helping. Way to spread the Christmas cheer!
A day or two ago,
the story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there
I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.

I had never heard of the sweet story of "The Chimney Song" before today. And I wish I never had.
There's something stuck up in the chimney
And I don't know what it is,
But it's been there all year long.
I'll been waiting up for Santa like I did last year
But my brother says, "He's already here."
And he's stuck up in the chimney
And he doesn't say a word
And he'll be there every Christmas.
And we'll have him every Christmas.
For crying out loud! Put poor Santa in a stone cold-tomb already!

Finally, nothing says Christmas season like the infidelity of marriage.
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night
She didn't see me creep down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep
Then I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night
Ah, yes, what a laugh it would have been for Daddy to see his sweetheart snogging a fat guy in his living room. Or, maybe Daddy *did* see, and that's why Santa is stuck in the chimney.

What love, joy, and peace we sing about in this jolly season. Merry Christmas to all from the stone-cold tomb!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

They Say Luck Comes in Threes

My sweet little baby is now a full-blown kid who had her third birthday. And, true to form, her uber-organized-never-procrastinating mommy is just updating the blog now, two and a half weeks after the big day.

This year, Maya had her first real birthday party. No boring adult bash for her, she wanted kids, balloons, streamers, the whole shebang. Cool, my honoured queening will surely come in handy here. "What theme do you want for your birthday party?" I ask. "Ummm.....Tharkle," Miss Maya replies. In layman terms, Maya wants a birthday party with the theme of her beloved cat, Sparkle.

Yes, her name is Sparkle. No amount of suggestions from Ma and Pa could convince this child to name the new-found feline friend something a little less embarassing to yell out the back door. Fine, Sparkle it is. Let me pause here to tell you that although Sparkle is Maya's new best friend, Maya is viewed by Sparkle as the Blue Eyed Terror and Destroyer of All That Is Holy. And by Holy, I mean comfortable naps.

Anyways, I tried once again to convince Maya otherwise; maybe she'd like a rock n roll party (she loves to yell "let's rock and roll!" as she plays her keyboard) or something else a little less girly and fuzzy. No, she wants a cat-themed party with purple balloons and streamers. So we head to the dollar store to stock up on purple and lavender party supplies and copious amounts of creepily real looking cat stickers.

So the big day arrives. Maya comes down the stairs and sees her presents and gasps. "Was Santa here?!" Not a bad guess, considering it was snowing like crazy outside. So crazy, in fact, that we had to cancel the cat party. Maya was crushed, to say the least. And then the power went out, and she was terrified. Thank goodness Santa brought her a wind-up flashlight for her birthday.

So this past Sunday we tried for Maya's party again. We decked the living room in streamers and balloons, put cat stickers on the party hats, cut the strawberries and the cheese. The hats and blowers were creepy, because no matter where you walked, those cats were always watching. Thankfully, it had warmed up enough for the snow to melt and the kids to come over. They put on cat party hats, blew cat party blowers, threw cat toys into a cat bed, ate chocolate cat decorated like a cat, and had a generally purrr-fect time. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) Maya apparently channelled Leslie Gore and decided "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to!" She was a wee bit overwhelmed by so many kids over and touching her toys (the horror!), but eventually came around when it was time for cake and presents.

We've been really fortunate with our dear little Maya. She hasn't had any major illnesses or accidents, she's generally a well-behaved little girl, she finally sleeps and eats well. We've had a wonderful 3 years as a family. But I find myself feeling an omnious cloud looming, telling me the 3 years were pure luck, and had nothing to do with Maya's sweet temperament or our stellar parenting.

Or maybe it's just the creepy cat stickers I keep finding around the house.