Sunday, December 19, 2010


"Christmas is coming on us like a night train!"

I think my dad used to say that.

When the kids were little, we had Christmas books we would read together. I still have them in a drawer in my bedroom. Someday, perhaps, I will have a grandchild to read them with.

One of the books had poems and carols printed amongst gentle Christmas illustrations. One of the songs in that book was this:

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat...
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat!

Every time I sang that song to the kids, I would finish by making a scared face with great big eyes and then crying out: "Christmas is coming on us like a night train!" Then we would jump up and run in a frenzy around the living room. Do not ask me why. I do not know.

I guess it is no wonder our family is a little, ahem, eccentric.

Having Lulu away at college has perhaps underscored this tendency towards eccentricity. She is the normal one among us, the one who can understand everyone and interface with anyone. When I am doing my multiple mouth rinses at night as I get ready for bed, she is the one who always knows what I mean when I gesture and make sounds without opening my lips (which would spill fluoride rinse on everything). She just knows what I am saying. Nobody else comes close, if they will even try to guess.

Laura can also understand David and Jonathan early in the morning when they are still grunting and not talking.

The rest of us all have our oddities and idiosyncrasies, but Laura is gracious and insightful and links us with the outside world. This is true even though I used to holler, "Christmas is coming on us like a night train!" at her, too, before the wild dance from the sofa to the kitchen where (if we were lucky) we'd find some Christmas cookies.

Laura is on the ball. She reads context clues everywhere, all the time. She understands things on a deep level. She has a natural ability to discern how people's minds work. She is so good for us. She is Marilyn Munster, and we are Herman, Lily and the rest.

She is scheduled to come home on Tuesday. The weather might be bad, so Shawn is probably going to get her, and I will stay home and vacuum and mix up cookie dough for her to bake with Shannon when she arrives.

And then it will feel like Christmas.

DJ was supposed to have a bronchoscopy on Monday, and then Laura's arrival would have really, totally and completely signaled the arrival of Christmas. However, they changed the bronchoscopy to Wednesday last I heard, and the nurse has yet to call me to give me the particulars, so I guess we aren't even certain of that. It looks like Lu will get home, and the next morning it will be off to the hospital for DJ and me.

I have never looked down the pipe at a Christmas quite like this one. There is a turkey thawing in the refrigerator, but the dining room has not yet been converted over from its current identity as Shawn's work space. I've bought a number of gifts, but as I go through them, I am not finding equal numbers of them for each child. (Please, somebody tell me that parity is over-rated.) We've spent less on gifts than almost ever before, mainly for lack of any good ideas... but for the very first time ever, we have two Christmas trees. One is tiny, but it has lights, ornaments and an angel on top!

Next week: Wrap, bake, get Lu, go to DJ's bronchoscopy, turn the dining room back into a dining room...

Oh, and I have a pretty bad cold.

"Christmas is coming on us like a night train!"

Jesus, please bless us on Your birthday.

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