Well, the holiday season is upon us.
Upon me especially hard, actually, seeing as how for the last 4 days I've felt like I'm carrying around a 600 lb. bag of damp virus. Try taking THAT down a chimney.
Perfect situation when you're the one expected to be making a fabulous four fork herb butter turkey.
Even in the midst of the flu I've had, though, I have tried to take advantage of the time I have when I'm not working.
Thus, I dragged my soggy headed self into the shower Saturday morning before dressing the girls in their holiday finest to head off to the mall to see if Santa was there yet.
Of course he was.
He'd been there since Labor Day, probably.
Before we left I tried to prep the girls, because the last couple of years worth of Santa mall trips have ended with Chloe shrieking through the mall like she was the only one that knew that beneath all the stuffing and red velvet,
Freddy Krueger was actually underneath.
...........I'll never forget last year.
So, now that she's a very big three and three quarters,
I thought she might be ready. I decided to tread lightly.
"So, Chloe, Do you think you might want to just see Santa at least? Like, from the entrance of the Disney Store? Just check him out and then decide? It's the only way he'll know what you want. If you don't sit there and tell him, he'll probably just give you rice cakes or something lame."
I couldn't believe it when she said yes.
At first I didn't think she'd go all the way.
She was peering at him through a bush with big wide eyes making sure he didn't make any sudden moves. I think I may have even seen her do a quick check of a concealed weapon in her boots -
And then he sealed the deal by spying her, smiling and waving just a little.
That was all it took. We were golden.
She pushed her shoulders back, did a little hip shake and said,
"Mama! I'll do it! I really really will. I'll sit on his lap."
I was so proud.
Tessa wasn't so sure, which in hindsight I should have paid attention to.
Tessa's not scared of anything, usually, but she IS a good judge of character.
All 35 pounds of her clung to my already clammy and achy, yet holiday sacrificial body with all her might.
When it was finally our turn, and I'd explained that, No, I didn't want a $20 snap shot of something I didn't even know would happen,
I went up with them and put Chloe up on Santa's lap before I actually took a good look at him, myself.
No wonder these kids are always scared.
This was no jolly, cheerful mall Santa of yore.
This particular Santa, first of all, was missing a tooth. It was well in the back, but it was a tooth. I'm pretty sure in a shop full of elves capable of building anything a child's precious heart desires, at least ONE could make a tooth. Isn't there even a holiday classic about that?
As Chloe sat there timidly telling this so-called "Santa" about her dreams for her very own camera my gaze drifted to what was supposed to be his soft, downy cloud-like beard. It wasn't.
THIS beard was stained yellow, most likely from years of chain-smoking under the Dutton overpass.
I started getting the heebie jeebies as I realized that not only was he dry skinned and had a wonderingish eye, he seemed very uncomfortable with children.
Isn't that of #1 importance?! Shouldn't that be top on the job description?
I reached my limit when two drifter looking guys showed up at the exit side of the velvet ropes and he stopped talking to Chloe in order to motion to one of them and shout out, "Hey, Jimmy! You came back!"
We hurried out of there in a jiff. Tessa was still bug eyed and clinging to me like a baby Capuchin.
So-called "Santa" got up to bum a smoke of Jimmy.
Well THAT was a memory worth waiting in line in a clammy sweat for.
Chloe was proud, though, so I was glad.
And I felt better after she washed her hands and had some anti-bacterial lotion slathered on.
All the trolliping made my fever worse and by the time evening rolled around I felt like I'd been hit in the face with a redwood.
Thankfully my mom was home for the weekend and took care of me like good Mamas do.
This morning I woke up not feeling much better - A fact that really bummed me out because it was the day of all days at church
- The Thanksgiving potluck.-
There's no day better. It's always bliss to, just for ONE Sunday, not have the
"so where are we going to eat?" debate. (It's usually In N Out.)
Justin thought he was being helpful when he said, "Maybe you need to stay home"
This was a thought which I actually considered until he follwed that up shortly with,
"and just keep the girls here."
Horrible, horrible, wicked, evil plan.
I didn't have the energy to hit him.
Once again, Mom to the rescue, and she went off immediately to the drug store for whatever drugs could get me up and at 'em.
By 9:30 my life had been saved by Tylenol Cold and Sinus.
I was mobile, at least.
We got up and ready and got there.
We sang and shook hands while the room spun around me.
There was a pile of tissues under my feet that looked like you'd need a team of some sort to tackle.
But gosh darn it, I was THERE.
I may have been clammy and feverish and sneezing. I may have not been able to open my eyes all the way. So what if I maybe blacked out a little. I was THERE.
After the service we ate.
Well, I ate while Tessa stuck her fingers in and out of my drink and licked them over and over and over while saying, "Is dood. I wike it."
I was too sick to care.
And she already had the sniffles too, so I wasn't being completely irresponsible.
I wasn't paying attention much to what the kids were eating. Tessa had some turkey skin. Chloe walked by with a brownie at one point. I don't really even know if they ate much of a lunch.
I was pretty focused on the white light and angelic music I kept experiencing.
When we'd all had our fill and I had had my yearly experience that is so beloved, I grabbed my purse and two jackets, a large hanging foam turkey with construction paper chain legs that Chloe'd made in class, two additional projects, the church bulletin, my mound of tissues and my water bottle.
I told Chloe to follow me and headed out the door only to realize I didn't know where Alena or Tessa OR Justin were. And Chloe HADN'T followed me.
I needed serious help by this point. As I turned around to look for them all I got dizzy and all I could do was lock eyes on my friend Dennis and just try to make it to him without falling over.
"Hey, Kerri. How are you?"
"I'm having a near-death experience. You?"
Oh. There's Tessa.
"Alena! Next time you take Tessa with you to the bathroom let me know, OK?"
"Mama. I did. I just told you. I said, 'I'm taking Tessa to the bathroom with me' and you said, 'OK."
"Oh. Well make sure I hear you or make eye contact or something. And where's Justin?
Has anyone seen Justin?"
By now I'm about to drop to my knees with fever and chills and projects and children tugging on my clothing. In the distance I could hear Chloe crying. People were gathering and calling my name. "Don't go towards the light!"
Chloe couldn't find me, she said. She thought I'd left. For a minute I thought I'd left, too.
Tessa was running towards the parking lot.
Where the HECK is Justin?
He was at the dessert table.
I think he came, finally, when he heard the helicopter circling to air lift me.
And when he did, Tessa was gone again.
I stood there with a sweaty upper lip holding half the world.
He stood there holding pumpkin crumb cake.
"I can't find Tessa. Can you please help me?!"
"WHAT? Are you serious?! How could you lose her?!"
.............................This is where I pause to just let you imagine all the things I thought, but didn't say...................................................
And now, this Thanksgiving, I would also like to add to my previous post about all the things for which I give thanks;
I am thankful that you cannot be arrested for your THOUGHTS of violence.
Now I type this after hacking my brains out all evening, taking my temperature, making some tea, popping some Advil for my pounding head, singing two lullabies with a voice that will barely croak, putting two very sleepy girls to bed, teaching Alena to crochet a hat, picking up the living room, blowing out the candles, feeding all the pets, locking up the house and getting ready to go to bed.
I type this BEFORE I go up to join my husband in bed.
My husband who is already sleeping and has been for 2 hours while I did the aforementioned.
May he live to see another day.
I will close with a poem:
Twas the night of the potluck, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring. Not even my spouse.
I tried to be friendly. I said, "Hi. I'm Ker"
In the hopes that some kind soul would just stroke my hair.
The children were bouncing around in their beds
Over the monitor I heard one bonk their head
I blew in my kerchief, helped Alena make a hat
Then trudged on upstairs to tell this kid and that
That if I heard them again with all of their clatter
I wouldn't be back to ask them what was the matter
I'd just lay there heaving my big labored breath
Wondering if this was the bed of my death
What was my name? Where am I? I don't know.
It's only 8:00? You mean I've got HOURS to go?!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Well it wasn't Justin.
It was a chior of angels - so distant and inviting
I think I saw Heaven, as true as I'm writing.
But a pet needs feeding and so does a kid
So goodbye to the angels is what I chose to bid
There's no rest for mothers. We can't go towards the light.
So I'll keep on fighting and I'll just say goodnight.