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Friday, December 22, 2006

For Jen

This is the special Jen Alves Christmas Edition of Sand in the Gears. Jen and her husband are two of my very most favorite friends. Some might note that my relatively small number of friends makes this a dubious honor, but I like to think that it merely reflects my discriminating taste.

But the point is, Jen got hit by a car, and so now she's laid up for the next few weeks, which means I'm catching crap for not updating SitG. Therefore, dearest Jen, this one's for you. So back off. I mean, I know you got hit by a car and all, but really.

Today I will work on Christmas cards. Some of you may actually receive such a card. I would like to warn you that your card, should you be so lucky as to receive one, will be late. At first I felt really bad about this. But then I remembered that little baby Jesus had to wait, like, six months for his Christmas presents. And you know what? He didn't complain even once. So unless you think you're better than the Prince of Peace, just get out of my grill about the late card.

Today I also have to drive to the Prairie Rose cowboy store to get Isaac a holster and pair of toy six-shooters. Some of you might recall my last Christmas adventure in search of cowboy guns. I'm not going through that again, so this year I'm heading straight to a place that will have what I need.

The boys are all beside themselves about Christmas. Once we got the tree up, Caleb exclaimed, "That tree is hunormous!" That's how we do it in the Woodlief house: lights everywhere, a tree in every room, even an Isaac-sized old fashioned light-up plastic Santa in the classroom. Santa is just barely holding his own against the boy, who sometimes confuses hugs with tackling. At least Santa doesn't have to contend with a flying, groin-high tackle-hug every time he walks in the door. I'm afraid the only memory my boys will have of me is this funny cross-legged thing I do every time they rush me.

It turns out that they are all musical. Eli is excelling at violin, which he is eager to transfer to guitar, having realized that chicks don't rush the stage at a violin concert. Sometimes he crawls under the piano bench and holds down the pedals for Caleb, whose piano teacher believes he has perfect pitch.

Caleb had his first recital a couple of weeks ago, which I watched from a back room, because Isaac chose that exact moment to begin throwing up on me. I suppose there is never really a good time to get vomited on, but this seemed like a decidedly inconvenient time. Caleb played beautifully, however. And by that evening, Isaac was back to his old self. My ridiculously expensive and fashionable shoes, on the other hand, are a different story.

As for Isaac's musical ability, it amounts to a stomping wiggle-dance that he does whenever music is playing. He also taught himself that old Christmas classic, "Stinkle Bells."

I never really felt my age until this boy came along. A few weeks ago he got up at 4 a.m. and decided that he needed some medicine for his cough. Unable to reach the medicine cabinet in the boys' bathroom (not that it would do him any good, seeing as how it's loaded primarily with tinctures and ointments and other such voodoo-type treatments) from his footstool, the boy ventured downstairs to get a child-sized chair. We know this because we later found the chair halfway up the stairs. Growing tired, apparently, of hefting a piece of furniture up the steps, he decided to help himself to about a dozen Twizzlers, and a juice box. Then he got a spoon and pounded on our door to inform us that he wanted medicine.

Trust me, it is so much more enjoyable to read about this than to hear that fat little fist jouncing your door at four in the morning.

So, I had a birthday on Monday. Some of you sent presents. You are very good people, and I am thankful for my presents. I very much like presents, in fact. One reader, Lori MacKean, sent me a lovely book and Johnny Cash CD, without even knowing it was my birthday. Unexpected, undeserved gifts are always the best, don't you think? And that's really what the first Christmas gift was, though we usually forget it, caught up as we are in getting paper cuts from Christmas cards and trying to find exactly the right tchotchke for Aunt Hilda and shouting at our children to just please, for the love of God, be quiet until we get through the five-mile check-out line at Target. It would be nice if we could all just put a stop to this escalating Christmas arms race and take just one day, or one hour in a day, and remember that first gift.

Not that I want to discourage any of you from sending me lovely, thoughtful gifts like dear Lori. I mean, who am I to tell you how to spend your time and money? It's a free country, and if you want to go to my Amazon wish list and buy me something pretty, I won't stand in your way. So thank you, Lori, and I hope you and your family have a delightful Christmas.

But back to me, and my birthday. I got many very nice things, but one gift in particular stands out. It came from my boys. It was their idea. It is a nose-hair trimmer.

As Caleb explained, they got it for me because I have "lots of hair up there." He made this little wiggly-finger motion as he told me, his eyes fixed on my nostrils. They insisted on watching me try out the contraption, which, I was thrilled to learn, also has an eyebrow-trimming attachment. A word of caution, however. One wrong move, say, because your two-year old decided to hug your leg in mid-trim, and you'll have a funky-looking eyebrow. And people notice that sort of thing, believe me.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Notice that I didn't wish you a "happy holiday." I'm wishing you a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified, descended into hell, rose from death, and ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, waiting until that blessed moment when he descends once again to separate the sheep from the goats, to slay the false prophets, and to judge the quick and the dead. So all of you politically correct, watered-down ecumenical types can bite me. And anyone who thinks the false prophets are just in the other religions can bite me too.

Those of you who don't share my faith know I love you anyway. But it's Christmas time, and I hope you have a merry one. I also hope you consider that first Christmas gift, which was given to you too, whenever you choose to unwrap it. Merry Christmas.

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