Merry Solsmastivus

The magic of the holidays this year has been transposed from one child to another. The feelings of anticipation and wonder and joy have now infused a younger heart. Lil Miss Austin is well aware of who Santa is and that he brings presents. It'll be a while before she understands the meaning of Christmas, whether they be pagan, christian or commercial reasons. At this point all she knows is that she has presents to open and toys to play with.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The holiday actually started before December 25th. LMA's school had an International Night. Not to be seen as Scrooges for avoiding any kind of holiday party, but being comprised of children from nationalities that may not recognize Christmas, the school did a very interesting thing and put together an International Holiday Night. The children were encouraged, but not required, to come representing a country. Being the 1/8th Italian that I am, I decided Italy would be a safe bet. I wanted to do Canada, dress her up in a little hockey outfit, but you also had to bring a dish and I didn't think LeBats Blue would have been wise at a school function. So we went with Italy. You can't really tell from the photo, but she's supposed to be a gondola pilot.

And let me tell you, these school functions are just a MAD house. First off, the herding of the kittens began shortly after we arrived as the teachers attempted to coral the kids onto the stage so they could sing...maybe shout...the three songs they had to push through. The microphone was given to a couple of the older students to "lead" the children in song. Most of the kids were just flapping their sandwich board flag signs around, or hitting each other with their hats. One little gentlemen with the microphone was obviously destined to be the next Rage Against the Machine lead singer. The whole night was a bit unnerving and eventually Mrs. Austin requested we leave before she take a life.

With any family that has new children, there are also grandparnets. With every marriage, there are also in laws and parents. With every Christmas, there is always a visit. With us it's either a drive to Conroe, Texas or a flight up to Colorado. This year we stayed in town because of Mrs. Austin being pregnant and we had gone to CO last year. A quick 3 hour drive later and we're in Conroe. All the family is there and this time we were the last to arrive. We got there just in time to see the Santa on the JetSki, apparently an East Texas tradition. I have no idea. We hung out for a bit, crashed at the hotel and returned the next day well rested and ready to start ripping into the presents. (I'm not overly sentimental or religious, can you tell?) Mrs. Austin's family and mine differ usually, but I can pin point one aspect for you today. There will be crying on Christmas! It happens every year. One person gives someone or a group of people a gift and the tears flow like Niagara. I was guilty of it one year; Mrs. Austin got me a playstation when I first moved here and the thought alone made me weepy. I knew she hated video games, so it meant a lot. But these people are just masochists. They're purposefully out to make someone cry and it's usually family oriented, meaning the two of us that married into the family are left looking at each other and saying, "So, uh. Wanna go smoke?"

But it was a good trip and after a fine dinner the three of us headed home. Christmas Eve arrives (keep in mind, Solstice was on the 22nd, so the rest of this is for the Catholics) and we find Mr. Austin working a half day at his lovely job. The market was open on both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. The reason for the day after is the market can't be closed for 4 days in a row. See, you learned something today, good for you. So after my token appearance at work during which I got real good at Diamond Mine, I came home to find Mrs. Austin geared up for a new holiday tradition. This was something I'd heard about, but had never been involved in, unless I was 3 and my parents did it that one time and I just don't remember, that doesn't count. She wanted to make a gingerbread house. Yeah, that's what I said. A what? You mean, to eat or just make? (I'm clueless.) So we did our best, she made the structural parts and I assembled the candy. We got some frosting and graham crackers and went to it. Well, while it was a complete hoot to do, I'm just glad we don't work for HUD or something because we suck at building stuff. Unless it comes with little interlocking pieces and instructions, I'm in a fog. After a good bit of eating candy and frosting, the house just caved in on itself. We put it outside for whatever birds or cats wanted it. Good foundation of knowledge for next year.

The big day was at hand. This year I could feel the roles reversing from child to parent. I was no longer welcoming the sweet glow of the Christmas tree as I crept into the living room to see what Santa had left. This year was mostly about LMA, but a good deal was to see if Mrs. Austin liked the gifts I got her. So we stayed up late putting LMA's new bed together and moving gifts under the tree. The next morning LMA slept unusually late, but seeing as she's not quite 3 years old, I don't think the anticipation has worked its way into her system yet. She's been thinking Santa had been to our house for about 2 weeks, so she still has that temporal thing to work on. So just like my dad before me, I put on a bathrobe, made some coffee and started looking under the tree for things to hand out to people. It was a good time. Mrs. Austin started to feel a little under the weather so the rest of the day was kinda dark and medicated, but it was still jolly.

Now I have to work on thank you cards and shopping for some more stuff. One bit of the holiday I like is that immediately after December 25th, you have a guilt free day of going and buying anything you want, even if you got all you wanted for Christmas.

Yeah I'm a merchandise whore, I love having things. So what.