Well, it’s finally over. The holiday chaos …the Christmas rush … the wrapping and unwrapping, the ooohing over the hideous sweater, the aaahing over Aunt Betty’s inedible gelatin salad (and, can I just ask -- jello, or salad? MAKE UP YOUR MIND!) The cookies are gone, the tree is a shadow of its former self, and you’re wishing Jimmy Stewart would just go ahead and jump off the bridge already. (And, of course, you’ve gained a little holiday weight and are now the size of a Toyota Highlander.)
I may have mentioned that the days between Halloween and New Year’s are my favorite time of year, especially this little stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas. However, speaking as a parent, I am betting that if your home contains any children under the age of 20, life around now is just a big bowl of chaos. And, as the 25th approaches, the havoc will rise until you are spending Christmas Day hiding under your computer desk, chugging Jack Daniels-spiked eggnog, behind a big frozen turkey you forgot to defrost ... not that I ever did that.
I love being a teacher. Well, not every second of every day, but mostly I love being a teacher, especially the week before Christmas break. This week, in any school, is just such a trip. All of a sudden, there is spasmodic giggling and unrest in the classroom, whining in the office, and a general who-gives-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree attitude toward work of any kind ... and the students are almost as bad.
On Black Friday, I went with my daughter to take the children to see Santa, who was appearing at a shopping “village” near her home in Huntersville, with a central courtyard, a giant tree, some singing bears, and a warm little hut where Santa sits on his throne.
So, there I was, huddled with eight to 10 other poor souls on the stone front veranda of the courthouse in Hillsborough on a below-freezing morning, until a bailiff with a heart opened the front door and let us in. We all had to go through an airport-like security station, where I had to cover up the book club book I’d brought, with the unfortunate-in-a-courtroom name of “Necessary Lies.”
Sorry, but I’m taking a tiny detour in the story of my court date this week, just to remind you all that my birthday was this past Friday (I know your present is in the mail) although the year I was born (around 1836) it fell on Thanksgiving. Yes, my parents wanted a turkey -- and they got me! Shut up.
Twenty years ago, in 2003, I was innocently tooling along Hwy. 421 through Yadkinville when I was suddenly accosted by a highway patrolman, who insisted that I was driving faster than the speed limit, which I almost ... uh ... never do. I batted my lashes, but to no avail; I still got a speeding ticket.
We had a friend over for dinner recently, who was visiting from the mountains. Michelle’s a hoot. Before dinner she had a couple of margaritas with us, and told us a story she made me promise not to tell, but I’d had a couple of margaritas, too, so I consider that promise alcohol-induced.
The reason she didn’t want it spread around was that it was about her husband’s dog, Bubba, and he didn’t know the whole story himself, so all you people who may visit Blowing Rock – ssshhhh!
Good morning, boys and girls! My name is Ms. Wentz, and I’m here to teach you music while your teacher is out, and I’m so excited to see you all! And, this is my kindergarten class, is that right? Well, my goodness, you look much older than that -- you look as big as the bigger kids! We’re going to have so much fun today because -- Yes, dear?
Don’t you just love it when you’re traveling, and it’s 6 p.m. and you’re starving, and you’re on a country road, and it’s 92 degrees outside, and suddenly you come to a complete stop, seeing cars stopped for miles in front of you and there’s nothing around except an occasional cow and some trees, and for some reason the folks going the other way are zipping by, no problem, looking at you with gleeful smirks, and you don’t know how or whom to call to find out what’s going on?
I have been building a small volcano in my stomach in recent months, and unless I eat only white things like rice, bagels and plain pasta, it will erupt, involving anything from minor to please-shoot-me pain. The doctor says I have an ulcer (please, I raised two children alone from babyhood with no money and mostly no job, no car, no washer, no dryer and no air-conditioning ... I am WAY overdue). She gave me medicine, which I take reluctantly, because being Italian and a Scorpio, I believe I’d be fine if everyone simply did things the way I want them to.
Today, Oct. 6, is my granddaughter Gracie’s birthday.
She is four years old and adorable, with soft, light brown hair (normally in a ponytail with a big bow), chubby cheeks and twinkling, chocolate eyes. She walks with a determined march, she orders her big brothers around, she adores make-up and baking with Mama and she loves carrots dunked in peanut butter (although she mostly uses the carrots as handy spoons).
Her father calls her “the tiny terrorist,” but she just knows exactly what she likes, and she expects to get what she wants when she wants it ... not that she’s spoiled or anything.
To: Mr. Joe Rich, President of Bumpy Mountain Medical Center.
Dear Mr. Rich: I do apologize, I know your name isn’t really Mr. Rich. I know it’s Mr. Higgenbothamous, or whatever, but Rich just seems more appropriate somehow ... and a lot easier to spell.
I love my friends, I really do. They are sweet, funny, generous, good-looking and fun-loving women. You’ll notice I never said “smart.” Although they are without exception off-the-charts bright, some of them are, as my grandfather once said, educated beyond their intelligence. I’m talking about common sense, not SAT scores.
It began with 15 simple, naive words: “Of COURSE I’ll come watch the kids while you two get away for the weekend!”