Me: What would you like Santa to bring you?

Tiny: [Sitting in the large polystyrene box he uses as a canoe] Popsicles, a rocket ship and 142 snacks!

PS: You may be tempted to ask, "What is that dog thinking?"


Merry is everywhere.*

Even in the midst of editing a critical discourse analysis on current health care practice.

*Two points for anyone who can find it.


Two years in and he is still a little in awe of the neighbour's big blow up Santa.

But he's up to the challenge of squeezing Rudolph's nose.

On a related note, this is what blogging everyday does to a woman.


I buy one a year. My one "homemaker" magazine indulgence.

Although this holiday issue promises to teach me how to make roasted chestnuts and Christmas ale, worthy pursuits both, nothing will ever come close to the Christmas edition of The Australian Women's Weekly of my childhood.* Nothing.

Mum knows what I'm talking about.

*If you follow the link to their website then you may be lucky to see some of the Australian Cricket Team butt naked except for some strategically placed cricket bats. Standards have fallen since my childhood, obviously.


As if yesterday's Winter Fair wasn't enough excitement for one day, we also went to see my OTL play in his first band concert in 30 years.

It was a little loud.

Watching his band, Advanced Band II, and the other bands, which we could charitably lump under the category Not Very Advanced Bands, made me ponder about the ideal of perfection. While it would surely have been satisfying to watch and listen to a set of perfectly in tune bands with metronomic timing, I would never have recognised the exchange of gifts that occurs at such an event.

As a typical end-of-year concert for amateur musicians it was standard fare. Friends and family gathered together to witness the fruits of months of musical labour--learning new music, learning to play it together (ish), and learning how to perform it. As my OTL said, it was a bit like playing all the pieces you'd learned but with your hair on fire.

While I sat there watching Advanced Band I (the second best band of the five playing, and the one just before my OTL's came on and blasted us off our seats with Carmina Burana), I was suddenly teary. Teary for it all. For there, up on stage, behind a row of festively placed potted poinsettia, were people giving it a Red Hot Go. Not one among them was perfect--not in the formal dress they had found to wear, not in their counting the beats in every bar (those testy flutes, always wanting to start first), and definitely not always in the notes that they played--but, nevertheless, there was something beautiful there.

It reminded me that sometimes it is better to give points for simply trying than it is to hope for perfection. And that is what the audience did, in standing ovation after standing ovation. This, I thought, was what it was all about. Giving the gift of trying your hardest to make a thing work, and the returned gift of enthusiastic applause that says "Good. For. You." It was all I could do not to rise and shout, as one might in Australia, "Good onya, mates!"


We have fallen hopelessly in love with Tiny's school. It is an earnest, Waldorf affair and today was its annual Winter Fair. It was full of homemade food, craft gifts fashioned by handy parents, puppet shows put on by teachers, and the coolest bearded bluegrass band you ever did see. It was mayhem but such sweet, heartfelt mayhem.

Tiny learned quickly how to blow his "gnome" downriver towards the "stars".*

And then candle-dipped like a pro with Dad (who was one of three men, manfully staffing the candle-dipping room).

And, yes, those halls were decked. Not a feather plucked nor a bird roasted.

Everybody else knew that we would love Waldorf except for us. Why is it that we are always the last to be revealed to ourselves?

*The gnome was a cleverly fashioned piece of felt stuck into a half walnut shell "boat". The stars were a big batch of homemade star-shaped gingerbread cookies at the end. Once the kids spied the end goal, those walnut boats faced gale force winds.


To be plucked and roasted for the big day.*

*Actually, to deck the halls for Tiny's school's Winter Fair tomorrow. I spent the week approximating the life of a Christmas elf in Santa's workshop. All I can say is that they had better have a good union because this production line stuff is pretty brutal.


One day, in a fit of weariness and overwhelm, I sat in our purple armchair and closed my eyes. When I opened them, this is what I saw.

Pete. Looking straight at me.

He's a carer, our Pete.

And a singer. Most nights. In full frog voice.*

Lately he's been singing Christmas carols. O Holy Night. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

When he does, we call him Placido.

*He is only 1.5 inches long, though, so you may need to adjust your imaginations to fit.


Christmas is a time for nostalgia and so it should come as no surprise that today, while wandering the local library, I was suddenly overcome with the quaintly old fashioned desire to borrow out a book. For research purposes! Oh, those were the days.

And what better way to help me puzzle out Canadian Christmas customs than from a book published in the early 80s? It has helped me answer many questions, the least of which is why Canadian children always bake in traditional German costumes. Always.

Luckily, there was a little reference to us foreigners.

I'm hoping I fall into the naughty category. By the looks of this Canadian, I think I've succeeded.


Overheard in passing today --

Chook: "Don't look now but there's a Christmas gnome lurking behind a small white pumpkin."
Rooster: "_____"