Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ho ho ho...and whatnot

In my own happy little corner of Fantasyland, you know how I always envision putting up the Christmas tree? It's a thoroughly touching scene, really--the children ooh and aah delightedly over the ornaments as they work together to lovingly place them on the branches. Meanwhile, we reminisce with heartwarming stories of holidays past, and share our wishes for what we hope will be under the beautifully adorned (faux, but whatever) pine on December 25th.

Hahahahahahahaha! Whew, that was a pleasant daydream. I forgot, for just a second, the teensy detail that prevents all this from happening: the people I call "my family"...are a group of unabashedly...big old gooberheads. You know what's coming, right? Yep, examples to illustrate my point. Well, to start with, remember how I exempt myself from the "assembling" and "installing lights" steps in the fir-decorating process? So I was in the next room over, pretty much ignoring what I assumed was much nonsense surrounding the Male Posse's activities. Suddenly, Husband called out loudly enough to get my attention, "What's the Spanish word for tree?" What you have to understand here is that Riley just started taking the language this semester, and has gotten pretty interested in it already, so  even though I was missing the context, it actually made sense to me that he might want to know this. 

"Arbol," I calmly replied, making a conscious decision to continue with my own business and NOT ask any questions. That is, until I heard uproarious laughter from the guys. Okay....I'll bite...what's so dang funny? Derek, hidden behind a particularly voluminous section of the flora in question and seemingly struggling to wrangle it into position, peeked his head out, shot me a wicked smirk, and repeated for my benefit, "I can't see the bosque for the arbols!" ("forest for the trees", en ingles...)

AAAAARRRRRGH! Let me 'splain to you the ways in which this is sooooo wrong: 1) he purposely pronounced "bosque" like "boss-kwee" rather than the correct "bose-kay", because a friend of his, who reportedly...ahem...let's go with "doesn't take Spanish very seriously", says it this way to be funny. It causes me physical pain to hear it, I tell ya...and he is well aware of that. Horrible brat. 2) the proper plural form of "arbol" is "arboles", spoken with all 3 syllables (ar-bo-les). I swear, 3 years of Espanol, and the kid can't (or won't) use it to Save. His Life. (Which he may very well be forced to do, if he chooses to repeat that kind of behavior on a regular basis...) Siiiighhhhhhh....

Finally, it was time to do the actual "making it look festive" part. And to be honest, we did enjoy revisiting the special ornaments we've collected over the years...with the possible exception of a couple of handmade preschool creations that decided to fall apart this season, for some reason. Oddly enough, one was Riley's, one was Derek's...and they were both from 2007. "Eh, 2007...not my best year," Derek cracked, as I said goodbye to the damaged goods. (Not terribly sentimental, that one...but I have to admit I wasn't heartbroken either, to lose a gingerbread cookie on a string, and a foam snowflake with glued-on sequins. Now that I think about it, though, I should have pretended to be distraught...and demanded that they make me new ones! Dang it--why didn't I think of that sooner? There's always next year...mwah hah hah!) 

So, one of the decorations that goes on every year is a...pickle. (Made of glass, fortunately! I'm not really sure why I felt I needed to clarify that...) This was given to us by a friend at one of our annual holiday fiestas; the story is that you're supposed to hide it somewhere amongst the foliage, and whoever finds it first on Christmas morning gets an extra present. Okay, we never adhere to that particular tradition, but we do display it every year and invariably get a good giggle out of it nevertheless. Anyway, this year, I think it was Riley who asked, "Didn't we used to have mistletoe that we hung up (in our house in Maryland)?" (No, I'm not clear where the segue was, either...but then again, I'm never 100% certain with this crew...just stick with me...)

I confirmed that we indeed used to suspend mistletoe from the light fixture in the living room. Then I believe Husband (since it was apparently his turn to be ridiculous) suggested that we could put the pickle up somewhere instead. (What, for people to walk under and...pucker? Who the heck knows? I do not endeavor to explain the Westman psyche, no sirree...) But...wait for the punchline...Derek immediately piped up and added, "Yeah, 'cuz nothing says Christmas like...a MISTLE-PICKLE!" (Oh. Good. Grief. Forehead, meet palm...)

And then when we were all finished with our masterpiece (which may be a strong word...but we were at least...moderately satisfied? Sufficiently pleased? Sure, we'll go with that...)...Heaven help was time to take the mandatory Team WestEnders photo. You know, the one that must be done, in order to include it on the seasonal cards, which can't be ordered until we have an acceptable shot of all four of us. What does this mean, you may be asking yourself? Oh, not much...just a few minor things like: everyone sporting a smile, but not guffawing at some stupid wisecrack their brother just made...Derek's eyes open (Why oh WHY can't this child keep himself from blinking at the exact moment the shutter clicks Every. Single. Time?) one making a strained "hurry up and get this over with" face (yeah, good luck with that one)...oh, and my hair looking reasonably....well-behaved, at least. (DUH!) can imagine that this takes a while. First, of course, I need to re-learn how to operate the self-timer on my camera...since I use it exactly once a year (at approximately this same time...go figure...). Here's Derek "helping" me get the settings right. You'll undoubtedly notice that I gave up on trying to tell them what to wear, as evidenced by the eye-scorchingly pink soccer shorts he opted to model. And the homemade shooting sleeve. Also the rakish...safari hat--which I have no earthly idea why he dug out of the closet for this occasion. (Seriously, am I even related to these people? Sometimes I wonder...)
Testing...testing (my patience!)
 Once the directions have been refreshed in my memory, and the initial test-frames have been taken, we're ready...for a whole boatload of shoot-and-delete efforts. All those criteria I mentioned before? Um...let's just say I'm ever-so-grateful for the digital age in which we live, so I'm not wasting film on these...less-than-Kodak moments. (Does Kodak even exist anymore? Well, you know what I'm saying...)

And since we're not, you know, wasting resources, when we've captured at least one version that I feel is worthy of sending out to friends and family, I allow the Yuletide gremlins to express their holiday acting like the mischievous imps they truly are, deep down inside. As you can see, Riley insisted that we take one picture in which all of us held a stuffed animal from his collection. (Sometimes he's 13 going on 25, and other times....not so much....) I have no answers as to why Husband is recreating the Heisman pose...or Derek is wearing a frog on his head...or throwing gang signs. But I get all mushy inside when I see how Riley is cradling Blue Bear...his favorite cuddly friend from when he was a baby...even though he's now taller than me. (Awww....sniffle...) Oh, and my hair looks fairly in-control, so there's that.

Eventually, we get a good-enough photo--NOT like the one below. (Derek's eyes shut...Riley's vain attempt not to burst out laughing. Huh...Husband and I are okay, though...maybe we should crop out the children next year? Just a thought...) Aaaannnd...we can call it a wrap. Time to drown my...sorrows? Nah....frustrations? angst--yeah, that's it! This calls for Christmas cocoa and cookies, for the (admittedly self-designated, but there it is) hardest-working elf on Team WestEnders...whoo hoo!

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