Ho, ho…HUH?! Oooooh!

We have, after a brief moment of “huh?!,” warmed up to the Airzooka.  Working in its favor is the fact that it scares the crap out of the cats; it’s just the sight of it, mind you, that sets them running and, in J’s book, this is as high a recommendation as can be expected.  He tromped up the stairs Airzooka in hand, clearing the way of felines.  Twisted?  Possibly.  A success?  A mild one, but I’ll accept it and move on to the Third Day of Christmas with a little more hope that, perhaps accidentally, I will hit the right note.

No sooner had we finished our gift-giving ritual and everyone had scattered to their own entertainment (a bit of whoomp! was heard here and there upstairs, followed by mischievous cackles as assorted beings tested the power of the Airzooka on curtains, papers, each other…) that I sat down to check e-mail.  It was the sound of a siren, low and slow, approaching that made me snap out of my computer screen-induced lull.  We’ve lived in Southern California and in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the sound of a siren in Southern California means “what the heck?!,” the sound of a helicopter means “batten down the hatches and stay away from the windows.”  In Santa Fe these factors didn’t really come into play until later in our residence there, and usually there was no shooting involved, but we learned to be cautious.  Here the sound rolled slowly towards our townhouse, the second to last in a long row of townhouses neatly stacked side-by-side, giving me enough time to a) identify it, b) walk briskly up a flight of stairs, and c) ask my husband “is that a siren?”  Of course, he hadn’t heard it and was startled by my announcement, so we both made our way to the door.  At the end of the row the fire truck’s lights were flashing and the siren was calling in the most non-alarming tone I’ve heard in a long time.

People were poking their heads out of balconies, stepping out onto porches and there, in the distance, by the glow of the fire truck lights, Santa Claus waved and called out “Merry Christmas.”  I admit my reaction, while joyful, was somewhat full of expletives (I am colorful that way,) and my husband sprang into action calling out to the older J (yes, this is why I always refer to him as “older son;” both names start with J!) to bring the younger J downstairs.  In typical “we’ve lived in sketchy areas” fashion, our oldest stepped out wearily, barefoot and followed closely by a flannel-pants clad J.  And then, surprisingly, their faces -both sporting mustaches and chin hair, rather content with their now more grown-up status in life- split into big, warm smiles of childish recognition.  “Santa Claus?!”  The fire truck, with Santa, fully equipped firefighter and playful Dalmatian riding on top, turned the corner and, as I was about to prompt them to go to the other side to watch from the balcony, I found myself alone and waving (like a dork, yes.)  There was a virtual stampede towards the kitchen balcony.  All the men in the household had dashed to watch the progress of the fire truck…

I admit I felt some trepidation in regards to the siren and J.  The smile on his face as he waved and softly said “Kwi-kwa” (his own interpretation of “Christmas”) was heartwarming.  Rather than hanging back and letting us be enthused about the impromptu visit from the Big Guy himself, J was actually participating.  He waved and whispered “Kwi-kwa” while smiling…the smile didn’t fade away after Santa left.

All in all it was a successful Second Day of Christmas.  As I said, I am not expecting Hallmark moments, just slightly sane ones peppered with amusement here  and there.  This is the household where, among the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plushes that sit under the tree, one can find a plush of Monty Python’s Killer Bunny.  This is the household where the cats tremble waiting to see what horror will be foisted on them once the presents are open.  I will admit this sounds cruel, but the cats are not being mistreated…they are more comfortable than we are, in fact.  They also know that J will not hesitate to remove them by Slinky, a firm, sudden tug of a blanket or, now, by showing them (if not using on them) the Airzooka.  He’s like Dirty Harry…but even more taciturn.

The plan for tonight?  Well…there’s the matter of a TV for the oldest child.  It’s the one BIG thing anyone’s getting this year.  It was on sale…and it will be THE television set he will take with him when he moves out.  He already knows about it and actually protested against the purchase, but we explained why we felt that it was ok to give him this.  It is, after all, a present bought by parents, brother and grandfather, and there’s the potential for an iPad for J in the not-too-distant future.  If the ones they might be getting at school prove useful to him and he shows a willingness to use them, then we will invest in getting him one with the app that uses PECS to communicate for him.

See that?  It’s 12 days to everyone else’s Christmas, and we’re comfortably settled into the daily routine of arguing about  instructions to put things together, picking out packages, laughing at unexpected items and then disbanding to relish our treats.  The whomp, whoomp, thwack, swish of the Airzooka in J’s room -air bouncing off curtains, walls, inflatable Snoopy, ceiling fan, papers on the bulletin board- could be heard downstairs while my husband and I had coffee and marveled at our luck: yes, we are lucky in the strangest ways.

Erma Bombeck wrote: “Children make your life important.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I know that there are plenty other achievements I could aim and work for, but there are moments when I see the boys (young men?) and I have to remind myself that, in 20 years, they haven’t broken beyond repair, they haven’t suffered without consolation, they haven’t been neglected or abandoned irreparably and, much as I’ve wanted to from time to time, I haven’t run for the hills screaming in horror out of frustration or insanity.  Yes, indeed, in the great scheme of things we don’t have a huge impact on the world, but in this little spoonful of the stew we call life…we’re doing ok.

And now that the children are occupied elsewhere, I am going to play with an Airzooka…



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