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Christmas clear through March, or something

December 25th, 2008 by Joyce

Yesterday my mom brought us a copy of the Celtic Woman Christmas DVD.  This morning, after we opened a few presents and ate a simple breakfast, and after Carmen and David rode their Rodys around the house several times with their Christmas lariats (thanks, Bubba!), they sat down to watch the DVD.

Lo and behold, Mairead Nesbitt played and danced her way through the first two songs.  Carmen rocked to the rhythm of the music and once again David froze in front of the television, jaw hanging.  (He fortunately regained his composure when Mairead and her violin no longer took center stage.) 

It took C&D several months of repeat showings to tire of their favorite DVDs, like the horse DVD, or the farm DVD, or the trash DVD (yeah, trash).  I predict with this new DVD it’s going to feel like Christmas clear through March, or something.

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Sweet, sweet little people

December 22nd, 2008 by Joyce

This morning we ran a couple of errands.  Baby Jesus, this time a snowman, came along with Mary and Joseph, who had taken scarves and wrapped them over their heads in a step toward Nativity authenticity.  Snowman Baby Jesus got cold in Office Depot, and Carmen and David got hot, so they swaddled Baby Jesus in a scarf.  When we got back to the car, they made sure I placed him in the trunk (gently! Carmen said) because they said he wanted to rest, and he is there still.

We stopped at Whole Foods last.  Our list wasn’t long–only five or six things–but it took us an hour to get through the store.  We took time greeting our favorite produce guy, ogling the fruit (we usually select some, but we were cold), and checking out the holiday displays.  In the bulk aisle C&D insisted they twist and tie up the flimsy plastic bags THEMSELVES while I held my breath and prayed the bags would not rip from the tugging; I imagined little French green lentils spraying down the aisle and all the way to the frozen meats.  In the frozen section, David sang Christmas songs and danced.*  While I looked for our loaf of bread in the bakery section, Carmen stroked the plastic covers over the prettily-frosted cakes and cookies.  We pulled ourselves away and C&D loaded up the cashier’s conveyor belt, their usual job, and we chit-chatted with the staff while holding up the line and the flow of shoppers out the door.  It was a perfect trip.


Carmen and David are smitten by the group Celtic Woman, discovered on a PBS Christmas special over the Thanksgiving weekend.  My mother found the CD and mailed it here right away.  C&D have now memorized the holiday CD nearly in its entirety, as it’s on repeat in the car and sometimes at home.  Sweet little people, they even try to sing the Latin bits.

The song they fell in love with first was track #3:  “Ding, Dong, Merrily on High.”  The song is catchy, but as you can see from the Christmas special excerpt below, the piece is even better with the addition  of a violinist who not only plays so prettily, but dances.  I was in the kitchen when David first heard and saw this piece, and I watched him lean toward the television, his mouth agape and his eyes wide and unblinking.

Mairbead Nesbitt, the violinist, has recorded an album and I think I need to present it to David for his birthday.

Number two in their list of hits is I think The Little Drummer Boy, perhaps followed by The Carol of the Bells (who doesn’t like that one?).  And Carmen is especially touched by the song White Christmas, even though it took her a few days to understand what the song was about, exactly, given that paucity of snowy Christmases at this latitude.

The house is quiet and our NPR affiliate is playing another Christmas special.  Last night, it was the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, tonight it’s the Music of the Baroque Holiday Concert hosted by Peter Van De Graaff.  It’s a good time for music.  Last night we attended the service of Lessons and Carols at church and the choir sang one of my favorite pieces, Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria.  Perfect.


* Actually, he was singing the refrain for Ding, Dong, Merrily on High:

Glo-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-o-O-ri-a, Ho-san-na in Ex-cel-sis!

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All I want for Christmas

December 20th, 2008 by Joyce

I haven’t heard it in a while, but when I was younger sometimes at Christmastime the radio stations played a song called “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”  You can guess what it’s about if you haven’t heard it.

We found it funny, but I found it a little less amusing the Christmas I found myself actually missing my two front teeth, and endowed with a powerful lisp instead.

I’ve forgotten all about the song until this evening, when I was working in the kitchen and writing notes to myself.  Only a very few of these notes make it to paper, sometimes due to lack of paper and pencil, but usually due to lack of time.  (I’m slow.  Plus, sometimes it’s a little hard for me to stop.  I’ve fallen asleep in bed with my pen in hand.)  Then I started thinking about how I wish I had more time for writing here.  C&D are nearly four, and I can’t exactly remember where three has gone, and age two is largely missing in my memory, lost somewhere between naps and doctors’ appointments.  I want to remember these days, to remember how much we’ve all grown, and to remember how sweet it all is.

Instead I run to keep up with the house, the chores, the food, and the busy imagining:  we are cowboys, trains, doctors, nurses, bees, butterflies, waiters, Taco Cabana drive-thru cashiers, chefs, horses, farmers.  This week on the brain especially has been the Nativity, with Carmen playing the role of Mary or the Wise Men, David of shepherds, Joseph, the heavenly host, or the apocryphal Little Drummer Boy, complete with djembe drum, harmonica, and lap harp.  The role of Jesus is played by the floppy, worn bear that Matt played with as a toddler.  Bear Jesus rides around in a stroller in lieu of a donkey, I think.

When I do have a piece of time to myself, I spend it working on a special project that will gradually unfold.  It’s not the next Great American Novel, but it does require large amounts of paper, screen time, and turkey burgers and tater tots from the local university.  The university is where I find my great triad of necessities: power outlets, Wi-Fi, and food.  Well, and of course, it’s gotta be quiet.  So, okay, call it a quartet or something.   Paper and pen are handy, too.

I thought of something I should do tomorrow–I already have a list across from the fridge, a habit born post-AVM–but I already forgot what it should be.  Time to sign off.  The kitchen table isn’t a very good place to sleep, anyhow.

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December 10th, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment


The world has just received a heavy dusting of confectioner’s sugar, falling since dinner-time.  The broad leaves of the corn in the patio sag with the weight; David’s tractor and dump truck are full of small loads of snow.  In the sky we see brief flashes of light; not lightning, but flashes from the cameras of neighbors around us.  Instead of thunder-rumbles we hear laughing and shrieking.  It is snowing!

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Wild Ride

December 3rd, 2008 by Joyce · 2 Comments

December2008 046

 December2008 045

As we finished the ride, Carmen channeled one of the Wise Men and said, “I’m looking for Baby Jesus.”

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