I can’t even blame Christmas.
Would it shock you to hear that even though my blog has collected moss like a molasses-slow manatee, I feel more on top of my game than ever? I feel a better grip on my carry-on? I do.
I have faith that this wresting back of control will lead me to hit the publish button soon, and often.
I have ideas – with no expiration dates, thankfully. I still want to write about elephants. I have a Go Ask Daddy thisclose to finished. The six words express steams on. I’m in talks with fantastic writers about guest posts.
And there’s this thing in my head (and on paper) about uniform numbers and the stories behind them.
Christmas, though. It comes at you fast when you’re grown up and paying bills and have crow’s feet. It came slower than a Peyton Manning bootleg when I was a kid. (And back then, Peyton Manning was young.)
On being 12, and Christmas in Texas
Christmas break is when I’ll get some time to write and fling the gym I canceled a membership for off my back and maybe schedule a college visit for Marie. Until then, I found myself thinking about a few Christmas memories.
Some, I’ve written about. Others, not yet.
One happened when I was 12. If you’ve never been a boy of 12, well, that’s when you begin to believe you’re already a man, even if you’re too chicken to talk to a girl in the seventh grade. We might not become men by age 22 or 32 or even 42, but at 12, we’re convinced.
I had Star Wars figures, but no more Star Wars Underoos. I liked dinosaurs, sure, but didn’t have dinosaur toys. They were models. I’d open plenty of Christmas presents. Santa, though? Kid stuff.
We visited my great grandparents in Laredo, Texas, for Christmas that year. We swapped our snow-capped Rockies for Texas border steaminess, shorts sleeves, picking oranges off the tree for a snack.
I knew I’d learn the truth officially that year: Santa’s a farce. A good farce, though, who’d delivered plenty of Star Wars spaceships in his day.
We drove back to Greeley, Colo., after the holiday. We returned to brutal chill and snowdrifts and another rotten Denver Nuggets season. I fully expected the house to look like – January. Devoid of cheer, of charm, of Christmas. Gig up. Sayonara, Santa.
Christmas, everywhere. Santa, safe.
Only, when we got home … we found messes of Christmas.
Stuffed in stockings. Crammed under the tree. Lined up on the mantle. A Seattle Seahawks pennant, and a frosted cookie in team colors. It had to be the work of Mrs. Claus. King Soopers didn’t make stuff like that.
I ran to the house ahead of my lumbering parents, to plant the flag atop Mt. Santasfake.
I found myself on my knees, emptying stockings, perpetuating the faith to my little sister like it was gospel, as true as a Taylor Swift breakup song and just as prolific.
It’s now three days from Christmas Eve.
Between now and then, I’ll have to track down a lids.com order of Christmas gifts, hit up Trader Joe’s for some wine bottles for white elephants and relatives, get Gabi’s oil changed, and maybe even chuck some plastic around the forest a bit.
It’s crucial to hit the brakes. Not literally. Although, Gabi’s need replacing.
Cate and January can wait
I must find time to remember my first Christmas as a dad, bringing home a majestic tree for just $20 in Asheville. It’s blogging friends contributing to holiday-flavored 6-words posts, and one asking me, what’s Christmas mean to a dad?
It’s pancakes, lousy with chocolate chips, loaded with egg nog.
It’s Marie, standing at the bottom of the stairs, hair like a chrysanthemum, pointing gleefully at an unwrapped wooden horse sitting atop a gift box. It’s Elise, winning the cutest baby contest.
It’s Grace, pulling on a parrot suit to patrol the mall Christmas traffic in, getting smiles and glances and other reactions, and the blessings of Santa himself. It’s also what won’t be there, or might not, next time around.
It’s not feeling the hopelessness of 2015.
2016 was a banner year for me, in comparison. It’s not feeling outside socialization to be a chore, despite breakdowns along the way. It’s looking forward to that time, rather than hoping slightly for a virus to ground me to the couch.
It’s realizing movies with Cate Blanchett and January Jones in them are heavenly, but not a substitute for time with family outside the immediate.
Feliz Navidad, y’all
It’s living an existence of appreciation of my kids – but also for them to see. It’s actually having that coffee-cup drop-in holiday party next year, complete with invitations. It’s actually getting Christmas cards out, and small gifts for friends.
With notes. Hand-written notes.
It’s going to be a couple of days on the coast with the girls I love most. It’ll be that restoration and momentum I need, all at once, because I need them both. All at once. Merry Christmas, y’all. Thank you for sharing my space.