Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Cranky Season

As I mull over another SoCal year come and gone, I wonder... I need a pedicure?

I once resolved never to make a New Year's resolution. (Yeah, I know - irony and juxtapostion make strange bedpillows.) However, this past year was pretty awful, with terrible things happening all over the world - Tom Cruise became a daddy, George Clooney stood me up again, the Yankees got ripped off in the playoffs... So I figured - maybe I could somehow make 2007 a little better, a little nicer. Think global, act local, all that yadda stuff. With a bit extra junk in the trunk , I figured I'd do what I could to make my little part of the world pretty. I'm joining the cattle call known as the January Starvation & Fitness Festival of Lites and Weight-loss Infomercials. Diet time. Happy, happy, me.

Coming off weeks of stringent partying, I'm determined to run, crunch, and pump my flab away. Unfortunately, after gorging myself silly in traditional holiday fashion, I'm afraid the only thing that vicious, torrid exercise is will do for me is give my stretch marks whiplash.

They (whoever 'they' are) say to never go on a diet alone, so I insisted that my overstuffed closet and bulging credit card balance join me. After all, they had gotten me into this mess, or at least gotten into it with me. Plus, if this worked out, I'd fit into my old skinny clothes, throw out my 'fat' clothes, and quit buying new 'fat' clothes. So that's like killing 7 birds with one candy bar. Or something.

Here's the only caveat - this diet thing makes me cranky. I certainly don't mind being cranky, but it is apparently a HUGE issue with other people. Like they've never suffered through a diet before. Come to think of it, some of them could really afford to relax their grip on the feed bag once in a while. I mean, talk about taking a walk on the wide side.

By the way, I'm not exactly what you might call fat, just emotionally tubby, which is worse, because I feel like I'm fat, but I'm not, so nobody empathizes with me. We're talking about five pounds, tops. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder, right guys? Hopefully a lite beer.

Since I've started my diet, ok, since I've started talking about starting my diet, the rest of the world just doesn't understand how hard it can be for me to be me. Waddle a mile in my Uggs, ok? But noooo, they squawk at me to quit complaining, that I look gorgeous already, that they would love to be's enough to make me sick, which would be ok if I were into that binge/purge thing, but that's as passe as Britney's virginity.

Anyway, I'm not sure if it's really the diet making me cranky, or just everyone pissing me off. Either way, it's a fine how-de-doo lightyear away from merry, jolly December. And it's certainly not my fault. It's not, it's not, it's not.

Sigh...where's the chocolate?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Too Christmas?

Too loud, too lit, too much. O
verindulging ... underestimating.... emotions and opinions swelling and swirling on the tidal wave of loot, lights, and libations. Too much hype, not enough help.

A look back... questioning, pushing, analyzing ... hindsight wrapped in a velvet ribbon. A pretty present before it's opened, a pile of crumpled paper when it's done.

At the darkest time of year, we light the night. At the coldest time of year, we offer warmth. We sing above the quiet, frozen earth. A time of extremes, endings and beginnings, solemn worship and over-the-top inflatables. Searching for the perfect cashmere wrap while downtown a child shivers. We're far from perfect, but Christmas has a way of illuminating our best and worst.

And then it happens. The lights dim, the noises end, and in the chill of the night, Christmas comes - quiet, simple, true. Hope for the new, rest for the old. Out with the bitter, in with the better. And peace.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Secret Santa

Every year it was more of a struggle. His questions were becoming more complex, more suspicious. But it seemed like overnight that we went from "How does that HUGE guy fit down our chimney?" to "There are eleventy billion people in the world - there's no way he can deliver to everybody."

I'm a mom. My job is to have an answer for everything. It's what I do. It might not always be pretty, but it's gotta be there. For example:

Question - How does he deliver around the world overnight?

Answer - time zones- and since some poorer countries can't afford calendars, Santa can push the envelope a little and deliver on the 24th or 26th. Please don't mention this to anyone because it embarasses Santa a little. It used to be easy to get to everyone when there were less people, but now with air traffic, pollution,'s a tougher world.

Question - How does he deliver to everyone?
Answer - not everyone is Christian - you can leave off Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Republicans...that leaves maybe a few zillion Christians, and some of them have been pretty bad, so they only rate a quick toss of coal down the chimney. How he tells the difference between coal and frozen reindeer poo in the dark after being up all night is beyond me. I never could, but that's a story for another day.

Question - Flying reindeer? Really?

Answer - steroids (not really) . Actually, the reindeer are an old tradition. Now he's got some pretty high-tech stuff. Not sure exactly what, since it eludes radar so well. Something with stealth capabilities. NORAD tries to track him every year and fails. Yes, he's that good.

Question - The Santa at the Thousand Pines Mall looks nothing like the Santa at the Sunny Valley Mall. And they both look kinda phony.
Answer - You think Santa has time right before Christmas to sit in a mall and listen to kids chatter on and on? Of course not! He's busy compiling his database, optimizing his hard drives and backing everything up onto disk. So make sure to have your list completed by December 1st so I can email it to him. Any later than that, and you risk crashing his database and losing your spot on his list. You know the part where he's checking his list twice? Yup -dual drives. But with a database that enormous, you can never be too careful. Oh, and the Santas at the malls? Santa has a deal with a labor union.

Notice that each answer led off in an interesting direction - maps, aircraft, computers, frozen reindeer poo.... However, as the questions got tougher, I had to resort to better distractions, such as, "Did you finish your homework?" or "Is your room clean?" or "Are there any cute girls in your class?" This would usually clear the room.

But he was persistent. Frustrated with the seasonal grilling, I finally said, "Listen, if you don't believe, you won't receive."

This scared his younger brother tremendously. He just wanted the goods and didn't want to rock the toy boat. "I believe! Oh, I believe!" he shouted like a good faithful worshiper at the Temple of Lego.

This year, now in 4th grade, my non-believer was studying the North Pole. "Mom," he said, "There's no land up there. Just ice, and it moves around, so there's not even a real pole or anything."

"That's strange," I replied. "Then where does Santa live?"

"Mom," he sighed, "I don't think there is a Santa Claus."

"What?" I gasped, shocked, shocked to my very core. I wasn't giving in without a fight. "Then who brings all the stuff on Christmas Eve?"

"I think Jesus does," he said, "Because it's his birthday, and that's the kind of guy he is."

I had no answer for that. None was needed. Sometimes the simplest answer is the one right in front of you, so close that you can't see it until you stay very still and calm, questioning everything, yet open to anything. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa - find your faith, stir it well, and keep it warm.