Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In Which Our Heroine Starts Reading Her Christmas Mail.......

Oh my. It is that time of year. The Christmas circulars and cards start arriving. This year really took the cake. (Speaking of which, I think i should go grab some Christmas cake for while I type this. ) There was the circular that hit death by sentence three and from there went on to illness, rheumatoid arthritis, pulmonary embolism and all else, with no let up from the misery and clinical terms until the last paragraph which exhorted everyone to have a very happy Christmas in full caps. It is crying out for a competition for me to enter it into just to bring some joy into its miserable little life. The next contender arrived in my e-mail in-box a few days later. This one was at least positive, but contained the awe inspiring statement "I truly regret that incident at the border." Now, I've since found out about the actual incident, and frankly it is tragic and not to be teased about, but that line is pure literary genius. I just wish people would stop saying "sounds like something you'd say!"

Even the regular Christmas cards are hysterical. I've actually received one this year which includes the word "fucking" in it. Granted, it says "Bush is still fucking president and we still hate him", a sentiment I fully agree with, but it still cracks me up to read it in a Christmas card.

Apart from the joy of those, life's been good. Christmas was quiet, with more church than even my devout Catholic order friends deemed necessary but apart from that it was long walks with the faithful hound, and good food and good friends. Had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with Mike, and tea on Boxing Day with Pete, Alice and the children. And the interim was spent nice, quiet and not having to deal with everyone bickering. Ah, now that is Christmas my friends!

Hope everyone else's was as nice.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

In Which Our Heroine Saves Sinterklaas!

Oh the things that wind up happening when we try to be nice. Oh dearie, dearie, dearie.

The other night, we were all getting together for a Group X meeting on the topic of "Science and Religion." The discussion was going to be led by my friend Jeff, an Episcopal priest and medical doctor, and professor of medical ethics at the local Medical School. But with everyone gathered together in the lounge at Pete and Alice's I arrived home to discover that Jeff couldn't come. His eldest daughter, aged nine, had fallen and gashed her head, and suturing was going to occur. Mom and Dad were in the ER with the two younger kids in tow. Since I didn't have to be up at any certain hour the next morning, I volunteered to fetch the two nippers from the hospital, and take them home and put them to bed.

I had a few reservations about this as the youngest (aged 3) is exceptionally shy and while saying to her Mom and Dad that she loved me and liked it when I came round, she'd never actually spoken a word to me. This struck me as not the best time to have to force that point, but it turned out to be ok. Once inside the house, she was a regular chatterbox, and happy as a clam. All good. Into jammies, up to bed, teeth cleaned, stories read, prayers said, and lights out. Ruthlessly efficient, but all very friendly. I was downstairs in the kitchen when the crisis started.

The kids had climbed out of bed, come downstairs with shoes in their hands, and "reminded" me that it was St. Nicholas day tomorrow so they had to put their shoes by the fireplace. This accomplished, they very happily went back to bed. They were fine.

I, on the other hand, was a wreck. I know what St. Nicholas day is about (or Sinterklaas, as the Dutch call it) from my Dutch and German friends. But I had no idea what went into the shoes, or for that matter where to find it! I called Jeff. Voice mail - no cell phones in most parts of the ER. So I called back to the group for help. General consensus was candy and an orange. I could find oranges, but not candy. I also didn't know how much candy. Text messages were sent to anyone religious I knew, and also to the Netherlands. It was pointed out to me that whatever I did, not to do it before midnight as if they did come home with the eldest daughter, she shouldn't see it before midnight or it would give the game away to her. The panic, the dread, the complications of overwhelming guilt at the thought of being responsible for a small child losing faith in St Nicholas. That's right. As much as I wanted the kids to be happy, I couldn't bear the weight of the guilt of being the one to shatter the illusion.

In a pinch, the group was prepared to send sweets home with someone heading home from the meeting and I could put those in the shoes. Contingency plans abounded. Thankfully, as things hit a crisis point approaching 11, home arrived Jeff, Mummy and the eldest (sporting five stitches in her head, and an exceptionally dazed expression, poor wee thing). The presents were revealed to be hidden in a particular drawer (and it turns out that sweeties in this instance weren't the way to go, since they use it to prepare the kids for Christmas, so they get things like books of Christmas stories and CDs of Christmas carols.

I'm just glad it is over. I can start to calm down now. Whew! Pressure's off.

Gelukkig Siinterklaas!