Twelve Days is eight days away. Wrapping packages has been tricky this year because I no longer have the luxury of time alone to do it. Yesterday I encouraged Dada (who has been known to wrap things at the last minute) to spend an hour wrapping. It took him two. Same amount of packages as every other year, but it is an established fact that Dada will never qualify for the World Origami Championship Tournament.
This morning, in a flurry of activity and tape, I wrapped Dada’s presents. I didn’t want to risk J’s because he was in and out of his room, and if he’d walked in we would have had an international incident. Because Twelve Days presents are sometimes “combos” it takes me a while longer to put them together than just simply grab one and wrap…plus they all have to be stashed in a certain order, and placed in a way that he will be able to see them when he goes in to organize my closet (an activity he engages in surreptitiously and without malice or intent to spy on presents,) or to hide some item he doesn’t want me to find (the recesses of my closet…he thinks I don’t look there ever.) J likes to open the door, turn on the light and look at the wrapped presents. He doesn’t open them. He doesn’t touch them. He sees the label on the shelf that indicates where his presents are located (I forget, people, which shelf I’m supposed to be looking in when I’m in a hurry,) and he smiles. If there is one person I know wouldn’t want to ruin Christmas, it is J…he might pat his Xmas stocking, but he doesn’t peek in it either.
As far as gift-wrapping is concerned, I might have to call our sitter and have her give me an hour to wrap and stash J’s packages because we are usually occupied in other tasks during the day. I am sure a twenty dollar investment is well worth it if I can get this done, and J can start sitting in front of the closet smiling at his upcoming gifts.
On Friday J and I spruced up our Christmas wreath. Namely, we put fresh battery-operated lights on it. This is the Franken-wreath. It is a twig-wreath that we’ve had for about ten years. On it sits a smaller wreath made of felt hearts stuffed with batting that we made seventeen years ago. The previous string of lights had petered out after five or six years of being on there. J had chosen a rather large bow at the crafts store, and we added it to the existing arrangement. Antoni Gaudí would probably approve…but you never know. On Saturday we put together the garlands and lights and bows J chose for outside. I can say without a hint of modesty that ours is possibly the tackiest Christmas display in the neighborhood. People have gone with fake “natural” garlands, with red lights, with simple strings of lights. J went all Vegas Showgirl in the 60s. The only thing missing out there is a healthy layer of frosted blue eyeshadow. A gold and white garland is wrapped around the railing, a white garland is on the top portion of the railing, and there is a red and green wire garland (holly leaves and such) strung along the white one. The lights, my friends, are jewel-toned. Each post has a small wreath made of the same red and green wire garland (he simply didn’t unroll them,) and a big red bow. The Good Taste Police will soon be coming to knock on our door. As if this wasn’t enough, J has two more strings of jewel-toned lights that will be strung on the ceiling of our porch… It is safe to say that there is not even the slightest possibility that we will win “best Christmas display,” but J had fun choosing his bits and pieces.
Yesterday we started putting together the Christmas Tree Forest and Village in his tent. It is looking quite nice. Crowded, but nice. Thomas the Tank Engine and his track still need to go in there, as do the plushes for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Clarice and Rudolph lost their antlers on the very first night they came into our home many, many, many Christmases ago,) and the A Charlie Brown Christmas figurines. Crowded might be an understatement when we’re done, but J is very happy that we’re doing this.
The one thing we have not wanted this year -to the point of yelling, and then banishing it to the garage and into a plastic crate- is good ol’ reliable Inflatable Santa Snoopy. We cannot remember exactly what Christmas brought Snoopy into our home, but it had always been a hit with J, and he insisted on having it either in the TV room, or in his bedroom. Inflatable Santa Snoopy was to J’s Christmas like a banana is to a banana split: take it out and there’s no Christmas… The soothing rattling of its little inflating mechanism was part of the soundtrack of the season. It is no more. He didn’t want it inflated. He didn’t want it in his room. He didn’t want it in the house. He didn’t want it where it could be seen.
Since that staple of Christmas-dom has been rejected (quite vocally,) we are hoping that no objections will be made to buying a Christmas tree. So far we’ve seen no enthusiasm for them when we go to the grocery store or drive past the Christmas tree lots around town. Since cold weather is settling in later in the week, we are hoping to get our tree by Thursday. I have a doctor’s appointment, and Dada will be taking J to find a tree while I’m getting checked out. I am going to have J help me bring the boxes of ornaments down to the sitting room, and maybe that will be a good indication of how close we are to Tree Time.
Yes, things are definitely changing. We are starting to understand that J has evolved, matured, regressed, moved on, changed, transmogrified…and we are starting to accept it with more ease, with less of a painful pang. On Saturday he had a bit of a meltdown when we got back from our shopping, but by evening I’d figured out what it was about: we ran into our former property manager. J used to see her just about every day. We’d stop at the office on the way home from the bus; we’d go in to visit with her when we checked the mail, or we’d go for a short walk just to say hi. She used to visit us. She was a presence. And then she found a better job that was healthier and happier for her, and we hadn’t physically seen her since March. There she was, suddenly, in the movie section at Target, and J was happy to see her, and said hello, and did his whole outing…and then came home and had a massive meltdown. It didn’t click for me until later in the evening that J must’ve suddenly been reminded of yet another constant that had altered for him this year: his brother, his nephew, his teacher, his classmates, his school, his bus driver and bus aide, and our friend, the property manager. I felt like a dunce because I had been frustrated with his meltdown, and I should’ve put two and two together.
That’s where we are on Monday. Santa Snoopy is a no-go, and mother is promising herself to not be as clueless.
Seems like a fairly balanced start to the new week, but it’s early days yet…….