Monday, December 22, 2008

Robot Love

First you must know this: When we put on Wall-E for Ayla and Indy a few weeks ago, they barely paid it any attention.

They showed only the slightest, passing interest in the little robot and his sleek robot girlfriend (Ayla took a moment to obsess over whether or not Grammy had the movie at her house, remember?)before turning to each other to scream and fight and laugh and hug and wreak general havoc while mom and dad slumped on the couch and turned up the volume.

So I didn't even consider buying it for them for Christmas. They weren't interested. Right?

Then, two weeks ago, Grammy mentioned to me that Ayla had been talking about Wall-E and Flushed Away. And I know Ayla does love Flushed Away. She asks for it all the time. If she sees a picture of that mouse creature in the British-flag blue jeans, she points to it and says "Mom, you forgot to get me this!", all put out and accusatory-like.

So I bought her Flushed Away. (Don't worry mom. Ayla can't read this). And didn't really give another thought to Wall-E.

But then it began.

Driving in the car one day, Ayla announced: "My name is Eva. And Indy's name is Wall-E".

That was fine.

Then she started imitating those little robots. Have you seen the movie? There is something highly addictive about the way they croon one another's names, back and forth at each other,their voices electronic and unhuman: "EE-va!" "Wall-EE!". Yes, Ayla was repeating it. And she wasn't the only one. Suddenly, every time I went out anywhere, I heard at least one child repeating the sounds, like a pre-Christmas litany, an unholy pagan chant offered up to the gods of consumerism (if you're feeling cynical) or maybe just to the gods of good story-telling (if you're not).

"EE-va! Wall-EE! EE-va! Wall-EE!"

Should I get her Wall-E for Chrismtas? I pondered aloud to Noah. No, says he. We already got her Sleeping Beauty AND Flushed Away.

What kind of parents give their four year old three dvd's for Christmas?

Next thing I know, Ayla is actually introducing herself as Eva. "Hi boy, What's your name?" she chirps at the children's section of Barnes and Noble.


"Hi Alex I'm Eva. And my stitcher's name is Wally." (Stitcher being sister in Ayla-speak).

And then. Last night, tucking Ayla into bed, nestled all snug with her new Wall-E blanket and pillow (thanks, Aunt Sophie), what does the little elf utter?

"I hope Santa will bring me Wall-E for Christmas."

Well that was it. End of story.

Wall-E is on the way to our house. On his way this very moment, thanks to Amazon. Target and Borders are sold out. What did parents do before Amazon? How did you survive it?

And why do children wait until three days before Christmas to tell you what they REALLY, TRULY, want the most?

Merry Christmas, baby.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Toast

Do you know what that is?

It depends. If you are an incredibly independent-minded four year old, that is a beautiful Christmas ornament.

If you are her bemused mommy, it is breakfast.

This morning Ayla and Indy had cinnamon toast for breakfast. (We won't discuss what mommy had with her coffee, since it was composed almost entirely of butter and powdered sugar).

At nap time, that is where I found breakfast. I had a good chuckle.

Ayla's other unique Christmas ornaments include books:

And princess necklaces, for a perfect tree topper.

Here are some other things to toast this December. Indy and Ayla are beside themselves with excitement, and need some things to toast.

Toast wandering around in your nutcracker pajamas with your hair just a bit mussed:

Toast licking the frost left on the inside of the windows after the overnight temperature hits thirteen degrees below zero:

And maybe toast the intricate patterns in the frost:

Monday, December 15, 2008

When Mama is Away at Sea

And Noah, the good father
Takes the little girls outside
To keep them happy still
And never tires.

And the goblins come.

They push daddy around
And pile daddy in snow
Until they have another daddy, all made of ice**

This is what Noah and the girls are doing.

Saturday mornings while I am either working at Paying Job.

Or out at Caribou.

(In case you were wondering)

Working Hard:

Freezing in the snowy blue world:

Playing little house in the snowy wood:

Eating snow:

Throwing snow:

And laughing:

Thanks daddy.

We love you.

**Adapted from "Outside Over There" by Maurice Sendak.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ayla Cassat

Ayla wants santa to bring her paints. A big, big, big one. A big wheel of paints. That spins and spins like that. And makes all the colors, makes MANY colors. So she can PAINT ALL DAY.

Glee lights in her eyes as she tells me this. Joy, at the idea of painting all day.

Ayla's rendition of Wilson from Castaway:

And Ayla, in a mad, painting frenzy:

Monday, December 8, 2008

They are not here. . .

We: Decorating the tree last night.

Ayla: (Holding a strip of jingle bells and pretending to be santa)Hohoho, merry christmas!

Mom: Oh, Santa is here! Santa, did you bring me the Nintendo Wii and the bracelet from Tiffany's that I wanted?

Santa:(fake deep voice) I don't have those things!

Mom: Can't you have the elves at the north pole make mommy a Wii and a Tiffany's bracelet?

Santa: No!

Mom: Why not?

Santa: They're all dead!

Mom:(stifling laugh) What did they die from?

Santa: They died from the north pole!!

Mom: (pictures workshops and cold and noisy, busy little people with high pitched voices eyeing your inferior progress on making Bratz dolls all day long): I think the North Pole would kill me too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Britt Recommends: December

Working at a bookstore is fun, because people ask me to recommend books, and usually, unless we're in the mystery/thriller section and they've already read "In The Woods", I can come up with a good one.

Here's my good one for December. If you're a fantasy reader, you must read this one. Even if you don't read fantasy, I recommend it. I discovered it when I was, hmmm, maybe 15. I didn't read alot of fantasy back then. But this one swept me away.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It's the Arthurian legend (think Guinevere and Lancelot and Camelot) retold from a female perspective. Traditionally, Morgan Le Fay has been a figure of evil, a wicked sorceress. I remember being shocked to see her so misaligned in that arthurian movie with Sam Neil as Merlin in it. Bradley's Morgan Le Fay (or Morgaine, in this book) was the first encounter I had with the figure, and in Mists of Avalon she is our protagonist, a woman trying to navigate her way through a turbulent time in history, when Christianity and the Romans were invading the British Isles.

It's a long book, and somehow reading about misty forests and ancient pagan rites and warrior women and men and great romance seems to be the perfect sort of book for December. A wonderful cosy up before the fire and immerse yourself kind of book. In my mind, Christmas and December are inextricably linked with Celtic religions and rites, and I have my parents to blame for this. They raised me on equal parts traditional Christmas hymns and songs with pagan origins, written to drive the dark away. Songs and 'Christmas' albums that recognize winter as a time to take notice of the cycles of death and rebirth, a time to find quiet and solitude in your soul; a time to be still, as the earth is still.We celebrate Jesus' birth in winter, a time when everything else is dying, and this sounds confusing at first, but is pretty neat symbolically, when you think about it. Jesus is, of course, the light in the darkness.

But I think, ironically, this terrible pagan music my parents played in my childhood, thereby unknowingly instilling in me a secret desire to dance with fir boughs and burn a yule log and eat a boar's head and wassail and recognize the solstice only deepens my understanding of the Christian meaning of Christmas. I mean, Christmas has been tied in with the old solstice celebrations since it's origin, and it's silly not to recognize this. And when you do, you start to understand about winter. About the symbolism of spiritual death to create new life. That we need the dark, as much as we need to drive it away. That dark is not synonymous with evil. That darkness can mean death, but the darkness of winter also reminds us to be quiet, and find stillness, and solitude, and reflection, and that is all necessary for spiritual rebirth and renewal.

Which, I think, is why some people tend to get sad around the holidays. Here is the earth, the cycle of life reminding us to take a time to be quiet within ourselves, and yet we spend the whole season bustling about, overstimulating ourselves with shopping and crowds and florescent lights at Wal-mart and long lines and nowhere to park at the mall and sometimes we stop to think: why do we put ourselves through this? But then we park and get out of the car and shop, because it's Christmas, damnit! And at Christmas we give gifts and drink a cup of cheer and we all act very jolly and carry on and on. And lord knows I am glad you do it, mom and dad. Because I do love getting those gifts so very much.

So. I leave you with these lines, from my favorite Pago-Christian cd, The Christmas Revels:

So the shortest day came.
And the year died.
And everywhere, down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people, singing! Dancing! To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees
They hung their homes with evergreen
They burned beseeching fires all night long to keep the year alive.
And when the new day's sunshine blazed awake, they shouted,
Reveling! Through all across the ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us.


All the long echoes sing the same delight this shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land
They carol, feast, give thanks, and dearly love their friends
And hope for peace.
And so do we
here now, this year and every year
Welcome Yule!
Welcome Yule!

And this, Fra Giovanni's lines, 1513 AD:

I salute you.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not.
But there is much that while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take peace.

The bloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy
Take joy.

And so at this Christmastime I greet you with the prayer
That for you
now and forever
the day breaks
and the shadows flee away.

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