Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Some go over the river,
Some go thru the woods.
We’ll fly through the sky,
And be happy we could.

Happy Christmas,
No matter where you go,
You’re what makes our holiday glow.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Team Reed Indy

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Drum roll please...umm nevermind...

Why I capitulated I don't know, but I was in the school band from 5th grade through my senior year. It's not that I don't like music, I do. I'm just not musically inclined, as any of my band instructors or anyone who's heard me try to sing or play music, would likely tell you.

As part of the school band, you had to be in marching band when you got to high school. It was terrible. My mother, who insisted on my and all my sisters' musical participation, routinely forgot to pick me up from the practices and parades. So I'd be there after a practice I didn't want to attend, waiting and waiting and waiting for my mom to look up from her Harlequin Romance and remember to come get me. The instructors, who couldn't go home til all the students were gone, LOVED me.

And the parades. Oh the parades. Initially I was in the clarinet section. My sisters, in order, had played the clarinet, trumpet, trombone and flute. Last in line, I was awarded the vintage, recycled clarinet purchased circa 1965 and left behind my sister Donna who had escaped it upon graduation.

In high school I staged a mighty rebellion and moved to the percussion section. What a bad idea. I'd been beaten with sticks my whole life by various family members, but I'd never actually wielded them myself.

Happily, the snares were occupied, so rather than learn how to execute an actual drum roll, I was paired up first with the bells. Apparently you need to know how to play piano to understand the layout of the bells. I tended to flail around making noise.

So it wasn't long before I was paired up with the bass. This is a fine and noble instrument. It's the heartbeat of the music; it's a beacon to the other instruments, sounding out the pace of the work. Well, that's the idea, I'm told.

For parades, nearly all of them carried out during the height of Indiana summer, the marching band was swaddled in wool uniforms and hats that looked like six sheep died to provide each towering Marge Simpson design.

The bass drum is roughly the size and weight of a tractor tire. It's carried in a metal Baby Bjorn on the bassists' chest. It might surprise you to know that I was no taller in high school than I am now.

That frickin' bass drum took on the proportions of a blue whale. It was wider than I was tall and I had to tote down the street. In front of people. While keeping step and remembering to bang on it every once in a while.

Full disclosure: that photo is of my sisters, Debbie and Nancy, also volunteered by my mother for the Shakamak High School band, but likely better musicians. At some point in my marching career, the school switched to slightly less hideous hats, but when I have flashbacks (parades and other gatherings of big crowds bring them on) I envision this rockin' look.

To this day, I hate parades. And it is on that hatred that I blame my latest discovery of how bad a mother I am.

Alison and her 5th grade class attended A Christmas Carol at the Indiana Repertory Theater this week. On the way, she'd passed by Indianapolis' Monument Circle, which for the past forever is turned into a giant Christmas tree thanks to local IBEW workers and a ton of lights and string.

She was entranced by the giant nutcrackers, candy canes and associated holiday decor. Yep. We've lived her her whole decade of life and I've never taken her to see the "tree" lit up. Not for the ceremony and not after. Why?

1. It's not a tree.
2. It's cold enough in Indiana in December to make you pine for that high school band uniform. (but not the hat; for temperatures cold enough to make you want the hat, you have to go to Antarctica.)
3. The idea of going to the annual tree lighting (attended by thousands religiously; considered a rite of passage for toddlers across Central Indiana) makes me think of going downtown for a parade. Huge crowd. Parking issues. Someone hits the lights. Wahoo. Back to huge crowd. Parking issues. In the cold.
4. Did I mention that it's not a tree?

Anyway, Alison had a dentist appointment downtown on Friday. So Jeff and I carpooled to work, he picked her up and took her to the dentist, then picked me up at work.

We planned to do a little shopping, have dinner downtown and see the "tree" in all its glory. Lucky for us, we were able to bring Ali's friend, Amanda, along. They wore matching minion hats and had their usual good time, oblivious to the cold and soaking in all the holiday fun the city sidewalks had to offer.

I need to take off my Grinch hat and embrace their spirit, I think. I might even have to reconsider my parade phobia. I am not, however, wearing that hat again.

PS: As a 5th grader, Alison is eligible to play in the school band. She has declined and I am not going to make her. Some traditions need to end.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's apparently Christmastime...

I'm going to have to edit my list of the "best days of my life."

The morning was kind of crisp and cold, but it didn't really matter because I had a bunch of indoor chores to accomplish. Ali was finishing her home work project so she could get to my iPad. Jeff was working on the outdoor Christmas lights, I was shopping online and getting a little organized for the holidays.

Ali and I went shopping together that afternoon. It was warm enough that my LL Bean vest and a turtleneck and jeans were all I needed. I convinced Alison to put on a jacket over her much-loved black sweats with one knee gone and her Justice sparkly tee-shirt. Neither of us had showered. Our hair was pulled back but not combed, and we both had our glasses on.

There's a little shop in Broad Ripple called Chelsea's that Ali wanted to go to because she wanted to get something unusual for Jenna this year (sorry Amer, your advice has been pre-rejected.)

Before got there, we stopped at Starbucks. Coffee for me, water for Ali, and then we strolled down to the store chattering away, laughing here and there and pointing out interesting things and people along the way.

It was one of those little slices of life that I hope to remember forever. The weather was just right. My daughter was thrilled to be hanging out with me. We we had nothing to do but be silly and buy stuff for people we love.

While it was lost on Alison (thank goodness) I remember Christmases past when the P.N. Hirsch in Linton, Ind. was a budget buster, so while we don't get crazy, it's a huge gift to me to be able to shop with a focus on making someone happy.

We called to each other across the stores -- "Ooh! Auntie Jen would love that! Look at all of these, Mom. I think Uncle James and David would like these."

We found a few things at Chelsea's including a Magic 8 ball that that Alison thinks Jenna needs. "Why this?"

"Well, I like it and I would LOVE to have one, so she should like it, too," reasoned Alison, echoing my own philosophy.

She tested it out with a question she made me swear not to repeat and then begged, "Please let it say no. Please let it say no."

We examined more than a few things at a shop I like even better than Chelsea's. Just down the street, the Bungalow has have fewer things, but they're more interesting, usually eco-friendly and the people are nicer. The Chelsea chicks seem to expect you to break things. At the Bungalow, I was juggling my coffee and wallet and a few trinkets and looking for more.

Suddenly there was a nice lady with a basket in her hands, telling me she thought I could use this. Sure, she wanted me to fill it up, but I was in similar shape at Chelseas and no one there did anything but raise her eyebrows.

Alison fell in love with some earrings and a little cat jewelry holder at the Bungalow. We couldn't verify the earrings didn't have nickel in them and while she was crushed that she couldn't get them (and act surprised on Christmas morning) she didn't dwell on it or whine.

She'd loved the penguins and the scotties equally but couldn't decide and then agreed that it didn't really matter as she couldn't have them. (The nice sales clerk helped me pull a fast one so Alison should be really happy when she opens them.)

The earrings and cat holder came back up later after we'd seen a dog wearing a sweater, a dog peeing on a garbage can and another dog that rushed by us "Sorry. He just really wants to get to his store," said his owner en route to the Dog Bakery.

That led to a discussion of cat videos and Uncle James and David. "They're cat people like me," Ali said.

We went into a store I'd never been in. Turned out to be a frat boy's garage sale or something like that. We left fairly quickly but not so fast as to be rude.

Out on the sidewalk, Ali asked me if I'd disliked the store. I said it wasn't what I expected but that I hadn't really thought there was anything there we needed. "What made you ask?

"I can just tell what you're thinking sometimes," she said, catching my hand. "It's a mom and daughter thing."

This morning she made cookies while I made my zero-point soup. She likes to spice the soup. She does a pretty good job of it, too.

Her cookie decorating skills have gotten way better since the first time we'd decorated at Auntie Jen's with Grammie.

As we shopped Saturday, we had talked about what we might do in Maine this year and I said we'd probably have to check with Jen to be sure we could do cookies again.

"Mom. It's CHRISTmas. Of COURSE we'll go to Auntie Jen's and make cookies. It's like. Well. It's CHRISTmas."

Of course it is. What was I thinking?