Even with the cancellation of Christmas, I’ve always been sort of a childish freak about the holidays. I’m the person you see jumping up and down and clapping like a goddamed monkey as they put up the displays of holiday wares in August.
I cannot wait for the stores to start playing Christmas music and as far as I’m concerned, they can skip back-to-school stuff entirely and stock Christmas and Halloween stuff year round. I’d keep the house decorated all year long if it didn’t piss off my neighbors and make me look like more of a freak than my electric yellow house already makes me.
(deep breath. You DON’T buy a house for the color of the siding. Yellow is cheerful. It is unique. It is ass ugly. It is cheerful. It blinds me on a sunny day. It is unique. I loathe love the color of my house.)
And I’ll admit, part of the allure of squeezing an 8 pound bowling ball from my cootch was the hope that one day, I could live out all of my holiday fantasies through my child.
But my first child, well, he does love the holidays…sort of. I mean, Ben has a lust for life that even Iggy Pop couldn’t rival. He loves the holidays, he loves Tuesdays, and he loves, well, everything except for bedtimes (which have convinced him that I am a communist dictator from HELL) and scooping cat poo from the litter boxes.
At age 8, his love of the holidays is only now being cultivated. At age 2, he was the oddest person I’d had the pleasure of knowing.
Conversely, at age 2, his younger brother has such a feverish love of the holidays that I wonder if I simply grew him on my body like a pod and shed him like a second skin. Were it not for his nearly translucent skin, which is eerily like his father’s, he would be my clone in every single way.
Daily, he begs to go to the greenhouse so that he may look at the pumpkins and the huge decorative gazing balls there (please, o! please make the jokes that I cannot make because they would be o! so inappropriate) and the trickies (fountains) and flowers.
Carefully, he selects the smallest pie pumpkin and brings it over to where the Christmas balls hang off of a fake Christmas tree and he carefully shows each of the balls his treasure: a pumpkin.
Neatly, sweetly he has personified both the pumpkin and the ball as beings rather than inanimate objects, in the same way he has to bid goodnight to “Venus” and “Mars-Gots-Moons” and my personal favorite “Purple Ball.”
“Blankie” is so much more to him than a piss-stained, ugly white blanket. It’s his best friend and playmate, his lovey, and his bedmate, one that I have to wrastle away from him many times each week for a bath in bleach, always amid tears and heartache. On his end, not mine.
It shocks me that this rough and tumble creature, this all-testosterone fueled boy could be so soft and gentle too. These days, this is one of the things–along with this blog–that keep me going.
I realize that I’ve been living in a fog: between the Topamax and the headaches, my wonky thyroid, the insomnia and the postpartum depression, I haven’t been myself lately. I put one foot carefully in front of the other, never faltering, because I have too much depending on my anymore to really falter without my house falling apart around me.
But seeing my son, a pint sized see-through version of me, all of the best parts of who I am coming to light, exuberant and alive, relishing the small things: the string of pumpkin lights I have hanging over my mantle that he dances in front of every morning.
His body wriggling with unabashed joy, barely containing his glee at what a genuinely wonderful world we live in, moving to music that only he can hear and I smile, the tears close. Tears of pride, of happiness and of joy.
And I know that I will be okay. Soon, the music that I’ve always danced to will start back up, because if I listen closely craning my ears, I can start to make out the sounds, way in the background, underneath all of the noise and dirt.
I am hopeful. I have hope.
The toddler, he trips over his own feet, looks around, bewildered by gravity and then gets back up, taking off running again after looking around warily to see if that wily gravity is going to punch him again, he knows that this is the way things are.
We all fall down. We all get back up again.