OUT OF SPIRIT (Bah Humbug)

A small girl in pigtails, stood up in church two weekends ago and announced she was getting an iPhone for Christmas. She smugly smiles to all of us and mentions that her sister is getting an iPad. Sitting in the pew, wringing my hands tightly together against my jeans I inwardly groan. Oh God, I thought. Here I am, sitting, attempting to be inspired on this Sunday of Peace and I am instead grinding my teeth against each other, eyes rolling into the back of my head.

I pull into the parking lot at Chinook, going back for the one little tiny thing I forgot to get the last time. I see from a quick scan the lot is beyond full. I park near Grandma's house and walk over. In the lot there are two women screaming at each other, their fight is over a parking stall impossibly far away from the front. One woman calls the other a Bitch. The other woman responds by screaming a string of profanities that would make a pro NBA player proud.

I am working Coat Check at a large, fancy Engineering firm's Christmas Party. The drunk man is defending his so-drunk-she-can't-stand-or-speak-wife. That is her coat, he says, pushing me aside grabbing the brown jacket. No it isn't, I repeat over and over again more firmly than the last. A tug of war breaks out between Drunky and Me. He gets louder and more enraged. I am unyielding. THIS IS NOT YOUR JACKET SIR, I tell him, losing the ability to be kind, charitable, social. He punches me in the shoulder and throws his business card at me, running away into the night. Several phone calls later, a huge search of the firm and a kind taxi driver ends the Christmas jacket fiasco happily. The man's final words to me on the phone? You Suck, he says, slurring the words so they actually sound more like yewsick. But I got the point.

IN SPIRIT (Christmas Merriment)

Hillary and I were walking through Kensington, deep in discussion about something very important happening in our lives when, suddenly, she stopped. My twenty five year old, finance super star, CFA candidate sister pointed. Her face lit up and my gazed matched to where she was pointing. She let out a huge exhale with a smile. SANTA. She said. We both paused. I laughed as a twenty foot inflatable santa blew gently in the wind in between Starbucks and Higher Ground. We giggled like little kids and repeated this a whole bunch of times, and together we remembered when the three of us would make a map the night before Christmas every year. A literal map and a plan for 'What To Do if You See Santa."

On the tree lot a small boy asks us if we need help. We are looking for a pretty tree for our condo, we tell the small boy. He smiles and proudly walks us through the Boy Scout Tree Lot. He shows us a few before picking one out, a tall skinny one with a lot of promise. I like this one, he tells us, and happily marches us to the front with our purchase. We bring him home, feed him water, and despite *some* peoples notion that he is too lean to be a beautiful tree, Hillary and I love him. We named him Douglas, after Douglas Fir. We lovingly water him daily, and he as a result has opened up his tight branches just a wee bit.

I am popping bits of candy into my mouth, as we decorate our Gingerbread house. The other team's roof collapses, so they make a dance floor with gummy bears partying hard. There are many laughs, icing licking, a Gingerbread person with their gender in question, and many photos taken. The girls create a 'Euro Roof' on ours, which we think is beautiful and creative. Also a backyard. We felt like we were the winning team.

I am composing the annual list, the one my brother groans loudly about each year. The title at the top is simple: 2010/2011. It follows the last eights years we -as a family, and sometimes others- have done this annual question/reflection worksheet. Created lovingly by me, designed to ask, challenge, provoke and think about the year past and what lies ahead. There is sometimes wistful words, pouring out of relief, re-living of incredible moments. Memories are shared, tears are shed, laughs are had (much too often at my expense). I find myself casually twirling my pen in between my fingers, looking at the blank page I have entitled, "End of 2010, Beginning of 2011- A Year in Review". I put down my pen for a minute and stretch my arms up and watch the other people bustling around Bumpy's. In this moment I am happy, satisfied, content with the blank page that will be filled.