i dunno, it might be less than that, i refuse to look. i’ll just start getting nervous. like a true procrastinator, i’ve left everything to the last minute. like a really devout procrastinator, i’m even still blocking things out of my mind that i have to do just so they don’t make me worry. some serious psychological coping mechanisms going on right here, perfected over my thirty one years, thank you very much.
yesterday was the first day we bought anything for the christmas day gathering we are hosting. i looked around my cluttered house and tried to imagine everyone, my family and greg’s, all fitting in somewhere, but got too discouraged so instead i told greg, “we need to make a list,” (my cure-all for out of control moments). greg’s parents took ruth for the day so that we could get some serious shopping done, and we toted joel along. number one: i am too lazy to pump enough milk to leave him with anyone (that shit takes time, man). number two: he’s a freakin’ amazing chillaxed baby who i knew would be a cinch to drag along with us. and number three: we needed his opinion on what to get his sister.
we started off strong at the post office, greg mailing the first round of christmas cards while i ran inside to buy more stamps to finish off the second round, then we promptly got lost on our way to the dearborn sausage company. “damn it, greg, you always come down here…how can you not know where it is?” (that would be me, holiday spirit a-glow. more like a-fume or a-smoldering). after driving around in circles downriver for close to an hour, we finally found it and procured our ham. it was big. it was glazed. it was expensive.
feeling better once we had at least some food for the dinner bought, we relaxed a bit and decided to get ruth’s presents. “where to now?” greg asked. “lynches,” i said, “ruth wants tap shoes.” he gave me a look. a look i know all too well. we didn’t need to say anything, but were both thinking the same thing: there’s no way she’s gonna wear those damn things. on first sight, she’ll probably get all huffy and say something like, “puppy dogs don’t wear tap shoes!” and then go hide them in the closet. if we’re lucky, she might warm up to them before she outgrows them. maybe sometime in the spring. we got to lynches and went straight to the wall of dance shoes in the back. “need help?” a disgruntled older lady grunted at us. “yes,” we said, too brightly, and went on to explain that our three year old daughter needed some tap shoes. she looked at us with guarded sarcasm behind her eyes. clearly she was used to over-exuberant parents coming in there, inflated with pride, buying dance clothes and paraphernalia, only to come back dejectedly in a week or so after they find out the kid has two left feet or absolutely hates dance and anything to do with dance and her parents too. she brought us out the tap shoes and thoroughly explained the store’s refund policy. the store has been there as long as i can remember but seems to have gotten pretty dilapidated in recent years. it didn’t look like they were doing too well. “so who’s your main competitor?” i asked, sort of joking, up-beat conspiratorially. “the internet,” she said flatly, with a bitter edge to her tone. i wiped the smile from my face and tried to look serious. she got that same subtly sarcastic look again as she handed me the bag and said, “merry christmas.”
it just so happened that there was a panera bread across the street and i had to use the restroom, so we decided to stop in for some hot chocolate and a snack. ruth and joel are very different and very different types of babies (ruth isn’t a baby anymore, but i still have a clear vision of her as such). i am often standing back from myself and marveling joyously at the things we do with joel that we wouldn’t dare have done with ruth. such as take him to panera bread (i have one memory of myself nervously opening baby food jars at a table in a corner, sweat at my brow, trying to keep her calm long enough for us to inhale a sandwich). and here, we ordered, and leisurely found a seat, plopped joel into a high chair, handed him a bit of baguette, and there he sat, foot happily swinging, babbling and gnawing on his bread, looking around. is it a second baby thing? are we different? or is it all him? as a parent, you never know, do you? all you know is, it’s different.
the only thing left on our list was a kind of hanging trapeze bar for ruth so she stops hanging all over her brother’s doorway jumper. greg insisted sports authority would have it, so off we went. of course, sports authority didn’t have it or anything like it, but we amused ourselves, as holiday shoppers often do, pushing joel up and down the aisles, imaging different things we’d like to buy people, if we were wealthy like that, and ended up, inexplicably, with a cart full of sporting goods (i blame greg’s sports background. he can’t go into a place like that without imaging ruth on all kinds of sports teams, nevermind the fact that we barely made it through one semester of lil’ kickers soccer practice and i’m pretty sure ruth didn’t kick a single ball). “do we really need a soccer ball and a football?” i asked as joel slobbered all over the soccer ball, “shouldn’t we just pick one or the other?” (thinking about our budget of zero dollars). greg looked outraged. “no!” he scoffed, “ruth needs good equipment!” it was too hot in the store to argue so i just broke out my cheese stick from my purse and started feeding bits of it to joel.
i should be making cookies or pie crust right now. or cleaning my bathroom. i have a feeling christmas is even closer than it was when i started this post. it’s breathing down my neck. one of these days i’m gonna learn how to prepare in advance for these things. maybe in another thirty one years. in any case, don’t look now. christmas is right behind you. and she’s a large overgrown bitch this year.