The Highs and Lows of Christmas 2013

With another hectic holiday behind us, I thought I’d share some of the highlights (and lowlights) from the Alexander house. Enjoy!

Bear Down, My Ass!!!

Ok…so I’m actually going to begin a couple of days before Christmas, mostly because Sunday night was almost enough to ruin my holiday and, frankly, I’m still pissed off about it. For the Bears to clinch their division and secure a playoff spot, Green Bay and Detroit both needed to lose in the afternoon and Chicago needed a win against Philadelphia that night. Predictably, I spent the early evening flipping between the Green Bay and Detroit games. Both came down to the last play, but both ended the right way. The Bears were in control of their destiny. All they had to do was show up to play and pull out what I expected to be a Tecmo Bowl-esque shoot-out with the Eagles and they were in. Instead, they lost 54-11. In this layman’s opinion, the Bears spent so much of Sunday wrapped up in what the Lions and Packers were doing that they lost sight of the most important thing: What THEY needed to do that night. They looked lost, confused, unprepared, and – ultimately – like they didn’t want to be there that night. And now they have to play Green Bay – with Aaron Rodgers under center! – for all the marbles this weekend. Un-fucking-believable.

Get This Kid to the Track, STAT!

And on that same subject, I spent all day Sunday decked out head-to-toe in various navy-and-orange regalia. It’s part of my weekly routine this time of year. I should have known something was up very early on, though. Recently, Daughter the Younger – who is not quite four months old as I type this – has started taking after her father and become a rather prodigious “spitter upper”. And I’m telling you this kid has a knack for spewing Vesuvian eruptions of white curds, often with a ninja-like stealth that allows the evidence to go undetected until an outside observer is polite enough to say, “Ugh, dude, what the hell is that on your shirt?…and your pants?….and your shoes?…and the floor?…and…” Ok, you get the idea. Anyway, the Younger forced me to make not one, not two, but three wardrobe changes after splatter-painting some of my favorite Chicago Bears T-shirts (I own too many). And I honestly should have changed again, but after she nailed T-shirt number four I gave up. The point is that she obviously knew something about that night’s game that I didn’t. She was doing everything in her power to warn me. And I really should have listened to her.

I’ll never get those three hours of my life back.

Father of the Year

While my wife spent the first part of the 24th baking our Christmas breakfast (hand-made caramel pecan rolls, the last of which met its doom this morning), I spent the morning trying to keep the girls occupied and out of their mother’s hair. For a while, the Elder and the Younger were sharing my lap while I read them some Christmas stories. Inevitably, Daughter the Younger went for the house record in spitting up for distance. I threw down Winnie the Pooh at Christmas and tried to hustle the Elder off of my lap so we could evacuate the recliner before that morning’s formula hit the upholstery. As the Elder was trying to climb down, I closed the footrest and started gathering up her baby sister. That’s when all hell broke loose. I somehow managed to trap the Elder’s leg in the footrest while she was still mid-air trying to jump down to the floor. She screamed because the chair had slammed itself shut on her foot. Then she faceplanted on the carpet at my feet. And then, unsurprisingly, she screamed again. My first instinct was to grab her leg and yank it out of the chair. Bad idea. More screaming. By the time it dawned on my to pull the lever and raise the footrest, my older daughter was in tears on the floor and my younger one had registered another white, creamy protest. And my wife was at the top of the stairs demanding an explanation.

Sigh.

Born Under a Bad Sign

So, it was Daughter the Younger’s first Christmas. We traditionally spend Christmas Eve with my sister at my parents’ house, where the girls get their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa Alexander and their aunt. The Elder was instructed to pick out a present for the Younger, which she very dutifully did. We didn’t tell her that she was picking out her baby sister’s very first Christmas present. Ever. If she’d been aware of the grave responsibility resting on her shoulders, the Elder might have crumbled under the weight of it. And her soul most certainly would have been crushed by what happened next. My mother helped the Younger tear the paper off the box. She laughed and held it up for us to see. It was a four-pack of cutesy little baby booties.

In other words…

Socks.

The Younger will now bear the burden of living a life wherein the first Christmas present she ever opened was a box full of socks.

The poor dear.

Fortunately, she was too busy playing with the bow to even know the difference.

This Would be Cute if We Weren’t All Frickin’ Exhausted

We got back from my parents’ around nine on Tuesday night. It was well past the girls’ bedtime, and the two of them had long since danced on their parents’ last nerves. But they both passed out on the drive home. So we had the goin’ for us.

The Younger we can still just carry in and deposit in her crib. The Elder, however, needs to be removed from hat, coat, gloves, and boots. Then taken to the bathroom for tooth brushing and a final “potty” [hate that word!] break. Then she needs to be changed into a pull-up and pajamas. And we knew from the outset that all of this would have to happen through a storm of high-pitched, high-volume protests as she battled over-stimulation and exhaustion.

The defining moment, however, came when she escaped us and thundered around the upstairs in search of her Elf-on-the-Shelf “Nonny” (yeah…we’re those people). We regretfully informed our older daughter that Nonny had already returned to the North Pole to deliver his final report to Santa and then take long, well-earned rest. At which point the Elder screamed and broke down sobbing. Come to find out she had wanted to say good-bye to Nonny and didn’t get to. And she was so upset because she was going to miss him.

Grace and Graciousness

The Elder turned three in September. For the first time in her life, she’s truly aware of the phenomenon of Christmas. She sees the steady accumulation of gifts under the tree, she knows that at least half of them are for her, and she understands that a benevolent deity called Santa Claus is going to pass judgment on her worth as a person and either reward or punish her for her behavior over the past year.

She’s also at an age where, quite frankly, she’s a little shit most of the time. All of my friends with kids warned me that “the Terrible Twos” is all marketing. Despite what all the hype might lead us to believe, three is way worse than two. And they were right.

So, for the following things I am eternally grateful: That the Elder slept until almost 8:00 on Christmas morning; that her eyes still lit up in amazement when she saw the fresh haul waiting for her under the tree (modest as it might have been); that she had the patience and good grace to eat breakfast with the family (and to let her parents suck down some coffee) before launching the full frontal assault on her gifts; that she was willing to take turns and wait for her infant sister to wrestle with the paper on her presents…and to not be too over-zealous when prompted to give the Younger an assist; and that the morning was peppered with innumerable unprompted Thank Yous, even a few shouted into the ether that were meant specifically for Santa Claus.

Moments like that leave you feeling like you just might be doing something right as a parent. And make all the other headaches seem worth it.

Validation

We took the Elder shopping this year and let her choose some gifts for her baby sister. I almost melted into a puddle of paternal goo at the size of the smile I got on Wednesday when I told her that the Younger’s favorite present by far was the toy her big sister had picked out for her. I’m pretty sure the Younger’s been finding new and creative ways to chew on it for about 48 hours straight at the time of this writing. And the Elder has yet to come down off of her cloud.

The Siege of Trenazalore

Don’t roll your eyes. You knew it was coming.

Since 2010, the new Doctor Who has been a Christmas tradition in the Alexander house. And even though Moffat might have peaked with A Christmas Carol (his first holiday go-round), I’ve never felt let down by his Christmas offerings. This year was largely no exception. He managed to tie up four years’ worth of loose ends in one “totally bonkers” story that included fitting cameo appearances from nearly all of the Doctor’s most famous enemies. And I felt that the centuries spent building a life in Christmas was a fitting coda for a Doctor who was seemingly the first to actually have a life away from his companions. In all, I thought it was both an exciting and an appropriate way to bring closure to Matt Smith’s tenure in the little blue box.

Meh

Unfortunately, Matt Smith’s final scene fell flat for me. I felt none of the loss and remorse at his impending departure that I did with the regenerations of Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant. The former had ushered in the rebirth of a phenomenon that had defined many a nerd’s childhood. And I felt like we were forced to say good-bye before we even fully got to know him. The latter took that reborn phenomenon – which had previously enjoyed only a cult following outside of its native England – and single-handedly turned it into a global sensation. Both were given poignant farewells befitting their characters.

Matt Smith, on the other hand, seemed to live his life as the Doctor as the beneficiary of his forebears’ popularity. And his version of the character never fully grew beyond a fast-talking amalgamation of Eccleston’s haunted brooding and Tennant’s charmingly smart-aleck cheekiness. In the end, it seemed to me like Steven Moffat was trying too hard to give his first Doctor the same kind of emotional, casting-call send off bestowed upon his predecessor at the end of the David Tennant/Russell T. Davies era. Ultimately, it was a bit of a clunker.

Fortunately, Peter Capaldi’s thunder-crack, flash-bang entrance and apparent loss of memory left us with a little something to wonder about until springtime.

Saying Goodnight

With the girls in bed, the pets all fed, and the house locked up for the night, the wife and I got to end the day by sitting together in the late night silence of our living room. Sharing the couch in the glow of the Christmas tree, we took an hour to reflect on the day and our daughters. And we came to one very important realization: We’re damn lucky people who lead a charmed life together.

Sorry to rub it in.

Hope the Holiday found you just as well and that your lives are equally blessed.

As always, thanks for reading.

CVA

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One thought on “The Highs and Lows of Christmas 2013

  1. Pingback: Three Thoughts on Writing and Inhibitions | Christopher V. Alexander - Husband, Father, Teacher, Coach, Author

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