December begins…

I think ours is the only door in the townhouse complex with no wreath on it yet.  J will remedy this the moment he arrives from school at noon today.  He walked home yesterday, his eyes darting from doorway to doorway, and felt a little mortified when he reached ours.  My saying “it’s still just NOVEMBER!” didn’t console him…he took the key, opened the door and headed to the kitchen while giving the garage a furtive glance.

Today I’ll just let him rip.  What the heck…it’s December and Christmas is everywhere.  Tonight we ll sleep with the constant hum of Snoopy’s little motor lulling us to la-la land and Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack playing in the background.  There are worse things we could be listening to, like The Ramones powering their way through Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight), an awesome song… when you’re not trying to sleep.

I can almost guarantee that by nine P.M. tonight, Mr. Christmas himself will have put strings of lights around the toilets unless I supervise him very closely.  We’ve discussed in the past how stealthy he can be…very close supervision might not be sufficient.

He’s not anticipating presents yet; the Twelve Days board has to come out of the closet for that.  I checked on it yesterday; it’s accessible and in very good shape.  I am, of course, going to mark the calendar for him so he knows when to go digging for it.

I’m a curmudgeon.  All my peppiness is self-imposed because I don’t think the rest of the world deserves to put up with my crankiness.  I do my best to not spread it around too liberally.  Some days I can’t help it, and I’ll say a shorter “good morning” or “hey there” to the people I meet while I’m out on my walk.  I’m not Scrooge, but I’m also not, by any stretch of the imagination, Buddy the Elf.  I’m somewhere in between.

J, on the other hand, is most definitely Buddy the Elf, and his joyous abandon in embracing all things green, red, tinsel, and jingle is quite difficult to resist.  I woke up feeling the insistent tug of his Christmas spirit pulling at me…I’ll end up bouncing around the house humming Christmas carols that a few weeks before sounded rather silly to me.  THAT is the power of J when he’s teeming with his Christmas joy.

The one thing we don’t do, won’t do and people keep insisting we do: Sensitive Santa.  We know it’s geared towards autistic kids, but we know to pick our battles.  Oh, J’s on meds now, but do you REALLY want to see us in the news…the NATIONAL news…youtube sensations caught by a cell phone camera and posted for all the world to see the hilarious rampage of an oversized kid equipped with boxing gloves running through a mall screaming his head off while grown-ups run after him Keystone Kops-like?  I’d love to meet Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart, but this is more the kind of news that Geraldo Rivera or Nancy Grace cover.  “So…tell us…what went so horribly wrong that day at the mall???”

Am I exaggerating?  Perhaps you think so, but I’ll explain our reasoning with…drumroll, please: The Cowardly Lion.

What?  What does The Wizard of Oz have to do with this?

Almost four years ago, our oldest son got the role of The Cowardly Lion in his high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  I’d give you a whole rigmarole on how he’s a really good actor, but you’d think it’s just motherly pride so I’ll skip the poetic waxing of my firstborn’s talent.

I WILL tell you that J loves watching his brother on stage.  J’s been to every play and enthralled by the performances.  Furthermore, J can tell when his brother is on stage even if he is covered from head to foot in a costume.  His reaction to these transformations is quite awesome to watch.  The Wizard of Oz they put on was great.  Capital High, Santa Fe, NM 2008.  It was (as Barney Stinson would say “legen…wait for it…dary!”)  They had two Zekes/Lions so we went on opening night to enjoy our son’s performance in the role.  It was awesome to behold.  J smiled, giggled, cooed, jumped up and down in his seat with excitement; I am not exaggerating: these kids put on quite a production.

After the performance, all the players and techies streamed into the lobby to be greeted by friends, family, audience…still in costume, of course.  There was Glinda, floating in tulle wand in hand, hugging her parents; there you saw the Scarecrow getting flowers from her mom; there were the Flying Monkeys shaking their tails at all the kids that wanted to touch them.  The Tin Man, the Wicked Witch, the light techs posed for photos with everyone.  We stood in a corner, a little away from the press of the crowd, and waited for The Cowardly Lion to emerge.  J -at this time still not weighed down by the crisis that later defined our lives for a while- happily waited for his brother.

“Hey, J!”  As he turned around, he affectionate, familiar voice of his older brother was coming out of a rather large and imposing feline covered in cheap carpeting.  “How are you, buddy?  Did you like the show????”  J started backing away in horror, petrified by the convoluted shape of shaggy floor covering that had swallowed the most important person in the world.  A few applications of cold cream later, a very light tinge of yellow still clinging to older brother’s face, we drove home.  J insistently scanned his brother’s seemingly jaundiced face for a long time, waiting -perhaps- for the lion to emerge suddenly…

There are things that, at least to J, should be only as vivid as they seem on a screen.  We respect that and let him imbue us with Christmas spirit and joy…but we’ll skip Nancy and Geraldo for as long as we can, thank you.



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