“His last name is Christ. He has the power of flight. He can heal leopards.”
Michael Scott, The Office
I’m sorry. I cannot stop laughing at this.
“His last name is Christ. He has the power of flight. He can heal leopards.”
Michael Scott, The Office
I’m sorry. I cannot stop laughing at this.
It was a 5.9 in Baja, CA. Hm. Bigger than I thought. But, well, it felt kinda big.
Okay. I am now actively dehydrating myself so I won’t go to the bathroom for the rest of the day. Aftershocks, you know.
I don’t want to die on the toilet like Elvis.
You do NOT want to be going to the bathroom when an earthquake hits.
Scary. Problematic on multiple levels.
Carry on, pippa.
We all gathered for Christmas up at my sisters’ house.
~ My sister and Piper set up a little “Christmas store” for The Banshee, consisting of toys, clothes, dolls, etc., things in good condition that Piper had decided she wanted to give away. And rather than just give The Banshee everything — that kid doesn’t really need more stuff — they devised this little store game for her. They set everything up at the top of the stairs, gave The Banshee some “Christmas bucks,” and told her she could buy whatever she wanted. Cute and smart, no? That way The Banshee gets stuff she really wants and will use. The Banshee, who’s 5, was quite serious about the whole process. She considered everything carefully, weighed her options. Well, no. Right off the bat, she knew she wanted an only-worn-once dress of Piper’s — that girl does NOT like dresses — but after that, with the rest of her Christmas bucks, she ruminated. She debated. This was a BIG DEAL. After all, critical decisions regarding toys she would play with for 20 minutes and then forget about forever were being made. Finally, she selected a game for herself but then found herself torn. She wanted to buy some blocks for her little sister, Baby Banshee (who’s 2), AND she wanted to buy some books for herself. She loves books, already loves to read, really wanted those books, but she didn’t have enough money left, you see. Piper had priced some of the items herself and so some of the pricing was just a bit wonky. Like, oh, used kids’ books for 5 Christmas bucks each and sets of blocks for 9 Christmas bucks. Maybe just a little pricey. So poor Banshee, with just 10 Christmas bucks left, was in a quandary. Oh, how she wanted those blocks for Baby Banshee and, oh, how she wanted those books! She said, “Well, I want those blocks for Baby Banshee so I guess I won’t get the books.”
My sister stepped in. “Well, sweetie. If you want to do that, I think we can work out a deal on the books, okay?”
So Baby Banshee got her blocks and Banshee got her books.
O happy day, pippa!
~ Before Christmas Eve dinner, my sister, sister-in-law, and I went for a walk. At one point, my sister-in-law proclaimed they had gotten my parents the best presents ever.
“We got them Amazon gift cards for their Kindles.”
(Which my parents are OBSESSED with.)
“You’re kidding,” my sister said. “We did too!”
“Uhm,” I said, “so did we!!”
We panicked, tried to think of some last-minute change we could make, and then I said, “You know, it is what it is. Leave it alone. They’ll probably think it’s funny.”
And they did. My parents howled. I think it was one of their favorite parts of Christmas. That all three kids, with no pre-planning or discussion, had gotten them the very same thing.
~ At one point, in the fading daylight, I walked out to retrieve something from our car. A neighbor across the street stood in his driveway with an old man, maybe his dad, dressed as Santa.
“Hi Santa!” I called.
“You look great! Hey, are you going to be out here for a minute?”
“Okay, great, because I’ll bet my nieces would want to come and see you.”
“Okay. I’ll wait.”
Seems like a good idea, right? How fun, and all that. Good job, Tee Tee, I thought to myself.
I ran inside, calling to everyone within earshot, “Hey, you guys! Come see! Santa is outside! Right now! Come SEE!”
A hubbub ensued as my entire family spilled out onto the street. I stood next to my SIL who clutched a smiling, wide-eyed Baby Banshee in her arms. Piper hung back a bit, but Original Banshee just marched onward, straight towards “Santa.”
And he, in turn, staggered and weaved his way towards her.
“Santa,” you see, was drunk.
Oh, sweet baby Jesus in the manger.
Banshee waited for him on the sidewalk, eyes blazing with excitement.
Please kill me.
“Hey! Ho ho …… he-ey, li’l girl!”
Banshee’s brow furrowed a teeny bit. Baby Banshee burst into tears.
“Wha’ss your name?”
“Uhm …. Banshee.”
“Banshee,” she corrected his pronunciation.
“Oh, okay. Banshee.”
“How old are you, Bansheesh?”
“I’m 5. And a half.”
“Wow.” Santa wobbled like a Weeble. I could feel my entire family gaping at me in horror. Fine. I just didn’t look at those judgey wieners.
But, seriously, Santa. Get a grip.
“What do you …. want fer Chrissmass, Bansheesh?”
She rattled off a list of things so quickly, I couldn’t make it out. I was hoping to hear her say, “A lame conversation with a gross drunk Santa,” but, nope, didn’t hear it.
“Okaay. Well, Sanna ….. Sanna has a pressent fer you.”
“Well, not righh now …. later on ….. later, yesh, something fer later.”
He looked like he could just melt into the sidewalk, leaving a weird red-and-white 80 proof blob. At least the gin blossom matched the costume.
“Yess ….. Sanna …. has pressentss fer later but you haf to be asleep, righh?”
He weaved and tried to smile a Santa smile. He didn’t make it. The Banshee’s brow furrowed even more. Her face fell.
“Well, Murry Chrissmass ….. Bansheesh!”
The Banshee murmured in response.
“Uhmm ….. Merry Christmas, Santa.”
We all trundled back inside. I hung at the back of the pack, lost in a certain seasonal self-loathing. I glanced over my shoulder and watched as “Santa” was helped back across the street by his son.
Inside, The Banshee said, “Mommy, that wasn’t the real Santa Claus!”
Her mom tried some damage control. “Well, sweetie, he was just one of Santa’s helpers.”
“No! I don’t think he was one of Santa’s helpers either!”
“NO! He had tape on his mustache, Mommy! I saw it! He was just an old man who likes to play dress up!”
The rest of us practically sprinted out of the room to find somewhere we could laugh where The Banshee wouldn’t see us.
Yeah. Good job, Tee Tee.
~ Christmas Eve evening is our “Circle” tradition. We all sit in a circle by the tree and one of us reads Luke chapter 2 from the family Bible. Piper and The Banshee had both snuggled up to their Uncle Beloved on the sofa. I had Younger Nephew, now 15, snuggling up to me. He still does that, at his age. Er, well, sometimes, it’s his feet in your lap or your face, but I prefer to view this as a positive. After the reading, Dad passes around the 50-year-old song sheets so we can sing Christmas carols. We all know ALL the words to ALL the carols, but nevertheless, he must pass out the song sheets; it’s tradition. Even though I don’t look at it, I actually think I wouldn’t be able to sing carols in Circle if the song sheet wasn’t in my hand. It’s now a Pavlovian response: Clutching a 50-year-old song sheet = ability to sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve. This year, The Banshee joined her voice to our chorus. She knows all the words, too, without looking or reading, and apparently believes the way to make her voice sound good is to make it all quavery with vibrato, like an old lady’s voice. So here’s this blonde-haired, 5-year-old angel, snuggled up to her older cousin who is snuggled up to her Uncle Beloved, singing O Holy Night like some 93-year-old church soloist. A LOUD 93-year-old church soloist. She shook those notes out like a dusty rug. She quaked like a San Andreas temblor. Younger Nephew, her cousin, shot a glance at me, I smiled, and that was all it took. He started shaking with laughter; I started shaking with laughter. We couldn’t look at her anymore. She was killing us — and completely oblivious to us, thank God. She was completely adorably oblivious.
Our quavering Christmas angel, our precocious granny child.
When we were done singing, The Banshee surprised us all and sang two solos: Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High. Thing is, she sang them perfectly, without old lady quaver, and completely on pitch. The kid can sing, genuinely sing. I know whereof I speak here. When she let herself just sing with her natural little kid voice, all by herself, with no self-imposed pressure to be “adult” like the rest of us, well, I just lost it, and not with laughter this time. Glancing around the room, I saw that I was not the only one in the room who started to cry for joy at The Banshee’s quirky in-your-face sweetness.
Later, as we held hands and prayed in our circle, the soundtrack playing in my head was The Banshee’s golden little voice crooning, “Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oria, in excelsis Deo!”
(More snippets to come …. since these are almost more saga than snippet.)
Because I did.
A family member got us each a Snuggie™ for Christmas.
MB’s is a screaming royal blue and when he wears it, he looks like a giant Teletubby waiting for his slice of Tubbytoast. He’s worn it twice in the last 24 hours and fallen fast asleep instantly, so the aforementioned relative clearly laced these Snuggies with opium.
I haven’t worn mine yet, since I can see that MB is being slowly drugged and incapacitated by his Snuggie™.
Or, for those of you who also possess a Snuggie™, do they just come this way? Dusted with an opiate?
Also, I don’t really understand them. Why are they open in the back like a hospital gown if the goal is to keep you warm? And why don’t they come with a hood since everyone knows people lose 431% of their body heat through their heads?
I mean, I want to be warm, yes — I mean, after all, I live in the frozen tundra of southern California — but I don’t want to become an opium breathing blob.
I’ll hold off to see if MB survives his Snuggie™.
Hope your Christmas was opiate free.
Unless that’s a tradition you have, then, well, mazeltov on your Christmas stupor.
Sunday, we tried to go to another church.
Maybe Church is in our rearview mirror, forever known to us now as Not On Your Life Church.
But it was the Sunday before Christmas and when I woke up that morning, it suddenly hit me that we had nowhere to go. No church “home.” So I bolted up in bed and started to blub with the horrible horrible angst of it all and MB, lucky man, consoled me, which is just what every man wants to do in bed with his wife first thing in the morning on the Sunday before Christmas.
We discussed a couple of Christmas church possibilities. Places we “might” go. I just wailed some more and stared at the socks on floor. I told MB I might want to go to Maybe Church one last time because “It’s Christmas,” ran my tearful logic,” so maybe Outing Person will see me and say he’s very sorry for everything because,” I hiccupped, “of baby Jesus.”
Sure, Trace. That’s gonna happen.
I mention this telling detail lest any of you ever for a fleeting moment think I am the least bit intelligent.
I am not.
“I want to wear my ‘I am Tania’ outfit and go to Maybe Church and scare them all because I look like a brainwashed bank robber and then sit back and wait for everyone to apologize.”
MB stroked my back. I didn’t look at him because I was pretty sure he was trying hard to arrange his face into the “yeah, she’s TOTALLY normal” look and I just couldn’t bear to see him struggle. So I stared at the overdue library book on the floor next to the socks I’d already stared at.
“So ….. that’s what you want to do?”
“Kind of.” I wiped my runny nose on the back of my hand. Sexy. I should have used the socks.
“Babe …… uh …… yeah, we’re not doing that. Just get dressed and let’s get some coffee.”
He’s so reasonable. Why must I always be overruled? I hate him.
But I dressed in my ‘I am Tania’ outfit anyway: jeans, a tank top, an army surplus shirt of MB’s that fits me like a jacket, a black beret. Basically, in that get-up, I am Tania meets Che and, look, I ain’t messing around, baby Jesus. I look like I could march into that manger with a machine gun and demand our Lord and Savior hand over the frankincense, tout de suite, which he would understand because, sure, he’s a baby, but he’s God, for pity’s sake, and God can speak French if he wants to even though he probably doesn’t. On the Sunday before Christmas, I think it’s important to dress as if you remember the real meaning of Christmas — which, as we all know, is looking like a brainwashed bank robber and blurting out your demands to the baby Jesus in French.
I stomped into the living room in this outfit and MB rolled his eyes.
“All right. Let’s get coffee.”
He is not easily intimidated by me. It’s frustrating. He really should take me more seriously.
Standing in line for coffee, you will be shocked to hear, I got some furtive, worried looks. I think I caught an old man rolling his eyes at me, but maybe he had a medical condition, like his eyes get stuck from the desiccation of old age and he needs to roll them regularly or they’ll never move again, and then he’ll go blind and won’t be able to see women who like to walk around looking like brainwashed bank robbers on the Sunday before Christmas.
Growing old sure does suck.
Back in the car with our coffees, we drove around aimlessly for a bit.
“I just want to hear a whole sanctuary of people singing O Holy Night. That’s all I want.”
“Okay,” said MB. “Well, we can go to X or Y. You decide.”
X was our old church.
Y was this megachurch some friends of ours attend.
I dithered back and forth on my options for a couple of freeway miles. Tania is not too decisive, despite appearances. The exit was coming up and these places were in opposite directions. Choose now or smash us into the median, dummy.
“Oh, screw it. Let’s be invisible. Let’s go to Y.”
MB swept his eyes over me, up, down. Yeah, she’s gonna be invisible. I wish I was invisible. He sighed a small sigh.
Megachurch Y is kind of a joke to me because I hate megachurches. The whole idea of “mega” anything annoys me unless it’s someone knocking on my door with giant check telling me I’ve just won the lottery and become a megamillionaire even though I don’t even play the lottery because I think it’s stupid. But I hate the commercialization of church, which is what megachurches are. Product placement. Power couples. Corporate churches with “cool” one-word names. Well, sometimes with “The” in front of them; sometimes not. You know, names like:
Ugh. I think “The Wankers” would be a good church name. At least it’s honest.
“Where do you go to church, Trace?”
“Oh, I go to The Wankers. Wanna come?”
Still, that’s where my split-second choice had us headed — to the megachurch with the cool one-word name and 23 services on Sunday, one every 7 minutes, and 15 services on Saturday, and 493,720 members. Or something like that.
We pulled into the parking lot only to find it was actually a labyrinth of parking lots, one spilling into another and another and another, all of them “FULL” said the signs, and all designed, apparently, to FORCE you to go to this church or die in the parking lot because there is simply NO WAY OUT of this unholy maze.
Tania was getting ticked.
You know, perhaps Maybe Church didn’t need to go to all the trouble of those manic parking police MAKING YOU FEEL WELCOME and those incessant Perky Bob lunch invitations and the outing of this blog for its vicious anonymous slander just to win us over to the “sovereign” graciousness of their church. All just a waste of energy, really, compared to Megachurch Y’s straightforward but brilliant strategy to simply trap you forever their endless Escher-like parking lots.
I think we were in Tijuana when we finally parked. We climbed out of the car, glanced around to make sure no TJ drug lord was about to behead us, and suddenly found ourselves lost in the swell of other churchies faithfully trudging to the compound entrance where Jesus was some 20 miles away. We’d never been there. We didn’t know where anything was. We just followed the flow, walking and walking, carrying our coffee, snarking under our breath. The beret pressing on my forehead furrowed my grumpy brow even more.
We made it to the entrance alive despite the fact that there was no one along this marathon route offering us Dixie cups of water or Gatorade or anything to ensure that we would live to tithe again. It was sheer grit on our part, obviously. Up the sweeping stairway we climbed, into the building and, yamahama, the place was massive. It overwhelmed. It made me embarrassed somehow. Glowing flagstone tile, vaulted ceilings, sky lights, spiritual wall art, everything earth tones and soothing yet grand, just the kind of giant tony headquarters you’d expect if Jesus CEO ran the world and wanted to show off how much he wasn’t showing off. To the right, tables with product. T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers so people can know that the wanker who just cut them off is a Christian and they can find that wanker here, at the church conveniently mentioned on this sticker. Directly ahead of us was some kind of giant information center, spilling over with computers and flyers and people who seemed to pointedly ignore the people who needed information.
I hissed to MB.
“Oh, no. This will never be our church. This is a one-time deal.”
To the left were entrances into the sanctuary, half a dozen of them, like a sports arena. Crazy. From behind those doors, I could hear the singing.
The very end of O Holy Night.
We didn’t know what time the service started. We didn’t know anything. I marched up to the information center.
“What time is the next service?”
It was 10:30.
“Do you want to go in?” said MB.
I shrugged. Whatever. “Okay.”
Maybe they’d sing O Holy Night again at the end. Of course, they would, Tania.
The doors were closed with a security person in each doorway. We approached the dude at Door #1.
He barked at us.
“No coffee in the sanctuary.”
Translation: Welcome to our church!
“Okay,” said MB. “Can we go in?”
“No. Downstairs is full.”
We walked away.
Tania was pissed and muttered, “Thanks for making us feel welcome.”
For a fleeting second, I missed the doggedness of Perky Bob.
We were turned away at the next door, too, so it wasn’t just a personality problem with the first guy. They either really didn’t want us in the downstairs area or all their volunteers were psychos. We were Mary and Joseph, I tell you, being turned away time after time. Except Mary was pregnant and a virgin and not dressed like a brainwashed bank robber. One assumes.
The second guy pointed skyward and told us there was room in the balcony level. The way he said it, we could tell it wasn’t ideal. That it was where the undesirables sat or something. You know, the manger of the church. We rode the — ahem — elevator to the third floor, hid our coffee inside our coats, take that, security, and entered the church arena just in time to hear the pastor — a former NFL player — punctuating what he’d just said by saying “word!” and the congregation echoing him with “word!”
Annnd …. that was it. We entered through one door, heard that, and immediately exited through the very next door 10 feet away. We were in; we were out.
Nope. Can’t hang with that.
We shared the elevator down with a little black kid. He looked about 11, leaning against the elevator wall with his backpack slung over his shoulder. I decided Tania would talk to him and wouldn’t we have a nice little exchange because I looked so normal in my beret and army surplus shirt and huge sunglasses I was still wearing.
“So do you go to this church every Sunday?”
The kid looked a little startled. The thing with the blonde hair and the Sleestak eyes was talking to him.
“Do you like it?”
He did the so-so motion with his hand.
“Well, lots of people here, huh?”
Suddenly, the floodgates opened.
“The security people here are DUMB! They told me I couldn’t go into the service I was supposed to serve in!”
The way he emphasized dumb, I almost lost it, but we were having a moment, I thought, Tania and the kid, so I didn’t want to blow it by laughing, in addition to looking like a freak.
“That is whacked,” I said.
“Whacked,” MB said.
The kid just looked at us. White people are weird. Moment over.
On the ground floor, we nearly sprinted. Out the massive front doors we flew, past the information center, past the product table, past the mega-lomania of everything.
Outside, I could breathe again, see straight, and something caught my eye.
“Hey, there’s a Trader Joe’s over there! Let’s go. I need to pick up some things.”
We had church at Trader Joe’s.
When we left a while later, we couldn’t help but notice just how many cars with Christian fish or Christian bumpers stickers were parked in the Trader Joe’s lot.
The lot that had big signs at the end of every row:
No Church Parking.
So I spent the Sunday before Christmas at Trader Joe’s. No, I didn’t hear a choir singing O Holy Night, but I did hear Olivia Newton-John singing Have You Never Been Mellow? while I shopped for chicken strips in the frozen food.
And no. No, honestly, I have never been mellow.
I am Tania.
One Christmas years ago, I opened up a package from my mom. Inside was a stretchy FURRY peach-colored sweater. I kid you not. I’ve mentioned this outfit before on this blog. It was basically a little scrap of Lycra covered with faux peach FUR. A really disturbing “oh, hello, I’m a whore” look when you’re a well-endowed sort of girl.
MB and I howled at just how MUCH of a horrible slut I looked like in that thing. After I took it off, he tried it on for about 7.3 seconds. It was a midriff on him and made him look like an 80s glam rocker. I just lay on the bed, crying with laughter. It was hilarious on him; utterly tragic on me.
So my question this week of Christmas:
What is the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received or given?
Give us juicy details, pippa.
Chargers 27, Bengals 24. With a butt-tightening last-second 52-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding. Nine wins in a row now. We win the AFC West and clinch 2nd place in the AFC playoffs. Or, well, wait. The Patriots (booo) won, so maybe not 2nd place sealed yet, but we definitely have a chance for a first-round bye.
I’m sorry. I know you’ll all hate me — I hate myself for it — but I have to post the Super Chargers song.
Because if you’re a Chargers’ fan, there’s usually heartbreak just around the corner, so we learn to enjoy it while we can.
Honestly, it is the dumbest, most infectious little team ditty ever.
The swine flu of team songs.
Oh, do enjoy, pippa.
Also: Chargers, your logo is the lightning bolt, not a horse. We are not “riding across the desert on a fine Arab charger.”
No. We are apparently being electrocuted.
Please get it straight.
Now, sing along, everyone!
ME: He’s like the Cheetos leopard or something.
HE: Uhm, do you mean the Cheetos cheetah?
ME: No. No. I stand by what I said.
ME: It bothers me that when I try to smother you with the pillow, you play dead better than I do.
HE: I’m ….. sorry?
ME: Well, good.
Old family snippet that my dad never stops mentioning. A summer evening at the dinner table ….. yeeeeears ago …..
DAD: So, who will go work in the garden with me?
(dead silence from his three children)
11-YEAR-OLD ME: God will go with you, my son.
I’m losing posts again. There was a post here last night, and now it’s gone.
Uhm, stand by.
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