Old Post: XMAS 2013

A big fat Merry Christmas to all of you. Ours was relatively disaster-free. We dug the Sonos out of hell and put it to good use this time (the Halloween werewolf hunt was not the best idea) with a Santa sound byte: reindeer on the roof, ho ho hos, jingle bells and so on. We slept in a little too late, so it didn’t seem very authentic. It was 8.15 when it started–Lucy’s eyes were already boring holes into my face and the sun was firmly in the sky.

Forgive me if I’ve already written about this, but I’m often thinking of it so I want to mention it here. I signed up for iVillage when I got pregnant with my first. They send weekly updates on your baby’s growth, standard body and emotion changes, ‘it’s ok that you’re crazy’ mantras…stuff like that. It’s cool because it never stops–I still get emails once a week. ‘Does your 5yr 3wk old toddler have an imaginary friend?’ and so on. It’s a good source for medical info, weekend activities, other mother quips and tribulations. Babycenter.com, if any of you are interested. It was free when I signed up, for all three babies.

It was helpful for the last few weeks of pregnancy because it provided checklists, labor-plan templates (which are bogus. nothing goes as planned.) and stress soothers. The most forever-applicable advice I got was around then, when an email suggested that new mothers do this: mourn their imaginary baby.

You see, we construct pre-reality from a lifetime of tv, pictures, movies, books, orature, and experience. Any given situation has an imagination precursor. Like, by the time I take my girls to moonwatch from the shore of the Atlantic I’ll have done it a dozen times in my head. I’ll be excited, imagining how their faces will look in that light and nature.

Now this could just be my penchant for doom and distress, but I think a good amount of us experiences this. That night, looking at my girls’ perfect faces, something will be missing. The spiritual heart-to-heart with my oldest, the open-mouthed wonder in my youngest…something might not be quite right. And that’s my imagination’s fault.

You know how movies are always better when you haven’t read any reviews, or don’t know anything about it, or just stop by the theatre on a whim? (I used to do that in college, by the way. There was the coolest indie theatre in Grandview, Ohio that rarely featured mainstream film. I’d get a mondo-latte and sit through two movies sometimes, having no idea what I was in for. It’s how I stumbled on Dreamers, a difficult but pretty great movie I’m wondering if I have the balls to watch again.)

Anyway, this is what always happens to me. I had this image of the girls waking up to the sound of a crazy man on the roof. They shoot out of bed and to the window, pointing and whispering. Then they run, arms flailing, to the tree, tumble into the presents in an embracing, giggling heap. My partner and I are robed and slippered and perched on the couch, somebody has already made the coffee and it’s probably snowing outside.

What really happened was wonderful, also. But the problem with my perpetual precursor is that there’s always something left to be desired: unattainable perfection. Backdrops and musical scores and eye-glinting mutuality. So I’m often mourning my imaginary baby.

This sounds morose, but let me tell you something: I spent years wondering why the beach wasn’t as relaxing as it should be, or why a party wasn’t as exciting as it was supposed to be. Why everything was so romantic in retrospect. This little email–probably written by an iVillage intern that didn’t get any credit for it–changed my life. It helped me to get that things were perfect the way they were, just not the same perfection that was f*cking around in my head all day.

So Lucy was awake and Mila wondered aloud if the Santa noise was coming from one of our phones. They tossed each present aside because it wasn’t the one of the two most wished for: Goodguy Chucky and his bride, Tiffany. And when she got to Chucky Mila was appropriately happy for precisely ten seconds. They’ve spent every moment since playing with the Equestria Girl set that I bought as an afterthought and not a mention of Santa and his reindeer on our Florida roof has thereafter been made.

So aside from the bulldog eating all the poprocks gum, the niece falling off of her bike, and me getting shot in the ass with an airsoft bullet, it was a great Christmas. I hope yours was, also.

By the way: neither my boyfriend nor his sister has ever seen A Christmas Story. Isn’t that bizarre?