I love having the biggest fattest tree I can fit in my truck. And thanks to the quick thinking and good eye of my wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums, I have such a Noble Fir standing in one corner of the living room like a throne to the majesty of what $50 can do for your Christmas spirit.
And lights. I have to have lights. The clear ones are best, as they look the classiest and most-seasonal when set against the red-colored balls and about 400 other ornaments adorning our tree. Also, the outside of our house may not rival a Vegas casino, but I think the dangling icicle lights do a respectable job that puts a few of the neighbors on notice.
Then there’s the music. For 11 months of the year, our local “lite rock, less talk” radio station is like Fredo Corleone to Michael: It’s dead to me. However, come December 1, when it goes to All Christmas, All The Time until Christmas Day, you can’t get me to change the dial when I’m in my truck. At home, the iPod is in the Sound Dock and all the great Christmas Classics, from Andy Williams version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”, called “A Song and a Christmas Tree” to the Pogues “Fairytale of New York” are on a constant loop in the background.
There are also the Christmas TV and movie specials. Thanks to DVDs, I am not beholden to the one-time network showings of such misty-eyed classics “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”. And then there is “A Christmas Story”, even though we know that Ralphie gets that Red Rider BB Gun in the end every year, and nearly shoots his eye out in the process.
Of course, now that our older daughter, Maddo, is two, watching any of those shows is dependent upon getting her to give up her claim to always be watching Elmo at any time she is awake.
Ah Maddo…Not only is she two, but she is also a Christmas Baby. Well, close enough, as she was born on December 22. And as parents of a Christmas Baby, we are now dealing with the reality of what it means to have a kid whose birthday collides with Christmas and the biggest plethora of gift giving of the year.
You don’t want your kid to feel left out and not have a party, and yet, she is at that age where she doesn’t really know what a birthday is. She knows Santa for sure, and she certainly gets that there is a pile of presents under the tree for some reason, but the concept of “birthday” doesn’t quite register in the brain of someone who still needs her diapers changed and thinks her Elmo practice potty makes a good step ladder.
And then there is the whole issue of logistics when planning a party near Christmas. The issue with Christmas is that EVERYONE is busy either shopping, planning their own things or getting out of town. You start looking at the calendar in October and memorize what day of the week Christmas is. Inevitably, you have to plan on your party for either the weekend before Christmas, when everyone is in a panic to finish up their shopping, or the weekend after, which is getting close to New Year’s. Last year, Christmas fell on a Friday, which actually worked out well because we had Maddo’s party on Sunday, the 27th. Everyone was done with Christmas and we could focus just on Maddo’s magical first year.
This year? That has proven to be a different matter entirely. Christmas is on a Saturday, which knocked out the rest of that weekend. So, we planned on holding the soiree on the Sunday prior. My wife did up invitations and soon enough, we had about 40 people, kids and parents, lined up to join us. We got a small bouncy room for the deck, in case the weather held out, and also a puppet stage where my wife and I planned on putting on an Old MacDonald show with various hand puppets. We ordered an awesome ice cream cake and were set for the festivities.
And then Maddo got sick. And when your almost-two-year-old comes down with a 102-degree fever and starts coughing and hacking like a victim of consumption, you go to Plan B: Cancellation.
There was no point in even trying to have the party. Maddo is adorable, but she was a mess. The Domino Theory may not have completely panned out in Southeast Asia, but when you have a sick kid and she gets around other kids, you know it’s just a matter of time before an epidemic hits and one by one, every kid in the vicinity turns into a runny nose factory. The last things we needed were Death Stares from a handful of parents as their kids got exposed to Maddo’s illness.
So, we got on the phone the day before the party and called everyone to cancel. It was the right move. But, I thought it wasn’t a complete loss. That ice cream cake was in the freezer and calling to me.
“Oh no!” said my wife. “We’re saving that for her party!”
“What party?” I asked, with my fork about to pierce into a 10-inch diameter of strawberry-vanilla ice cream goodness.
“Maddo’s party,” she replied. “We’ll just have it in a couple of weeks.”
I put the cake back in the freezer. It should still be good after New Year’s. Happy Birthday, Maddo…Better late than never.