I love that Thanksgiving and Christmas are all contained within the same five weeks. If nothing else it means just one cleaning deposit on my padded suite at the "Holiday Inn".
December is loony time for me. I know, you all think it's busy for you, too. But I'm really busy, not just that 'sissy' busy of providing Christmas for your family and decorating and making fudge and attending middle school orchestra concerts (because you found driving an ice pick into your skull wasn't painful enough).
I'm a music person, which means that on top of all of the above joyful activities, I'm also in the middle of the wildest concert season of the year. Mega rehearsals, uniforms, recitals, singers contracting laryngo-bronchio-phlegmatic-no-can-singy and sharing it with the entire soprano section (that's a gift that keeps on giving) - all of these come together to make my Decembers nail biting and Valium intensive.
Which is why I love November. November is the calm before the storm, the flash before the boom, the end of term before the report card. I start listening to my Christmas CD's - on the sly because doing so that early gives my husband PTSD - and I revel in the peace that, next month, we'll all be singing about but not exactly experiencing.
And I really love Thanksgiving. Most civilized places, as well as Las Vegas, have some type of Thanksgiving holiday, and I believe the day we decide such a pause in the chaos is no longer necessary will be the day the apes take over for good.
So, in the spirit of the week and my eternal quest for distraction, I offer for your consideration a few things I'm thankful for...
1) Of course we always start with family. I'd be crazy not to; they're the only ones reading my blog who also have access to my plate on Thursday. There's nothing like a loogie in the gravy to remind you that the occasional expression of appreciation goes a long way with a mother-in-law who has been cooking since Hallowe'en. I love you all. Even the crazy sisters who take infants to vampire movies, or turn me into a drug mule because the Herbal Weight Loss company won't ship their snake-oil pills to Utah, or sneak out to go sledding alone on Christmas Eve and wind up stranded in the middle of a frozen pond with no one even aware she's missing because not telling her kids was sort of the whole point of the matter. And even the talk-first-think-every-other-Wednesday brothers who mouth off to Mexican policemen while said officials are holding both their driver's licenses and their credit cards in their corrupt little fists. They don't grow them any loonier than my clan, and life with them more than adequately prepared me for life as a mother and free-lance musician.
2) And we have to include the gospel, and the Savior, and the blessing of knowing that the same wacko ensemble sitting around the Thanksgiving table could do that for all eternity, although I'm not sure how the celestial turkeys would feel about it. ("You mean exaltation for turkeys is an eternity of having soggy bread crumbs up their kiesters?? Whose idea was THAT??")
3) I'm thankful that none of my children plays in the middle school orchestra. More on that subject later.
4) I'm thankful that we live in a land so tolerant that I, a hard-core choir gal, can finally come out of the closet and admit I absolutely LOATHE "The Hallelujah Chorus". Seriously, I'd rather sing "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" in pig-latin.
5) I'm thankful for "The Grinch" with Jim Carrey. Favorite line? "BLAST this Christmas music! It's joyful AND triumphant!!"
And can you believe that's really him singing "Mr. Grinch"? The boy's got skills!
6) I'm thankful for my swimming pool. The same kids who are going at each other with the tenderizing hammer inside the house are transformed into the Brady Bunch when drop-kicked into the pool. It's a miracle, and the only thing that keeps me from taking an Uzi to a Wal-Mart during those long, Las Vegas summer vacations.
7) I'm thankful for my big, red, gas guzzling Yukon. I can load that baby up with eight suitcases, four violins, two music stands, five choir kids, and junk food for a seven-hour trek to Salt Lake, and still have room for a gal-pal / administrative assistant who takes photos of boys exercising their constitutional right to mark their territory all the way up the I-15 corridor. (Things have been a lot less entertaining without her this year...)
8) I'm thankful for Spandex, when it's woven into the denim of my jeans.
9) I'm thankful for my mom's rolls, and my mother-in-law's stuffing. I intend to test the limits of those spandex jeans this week.
10) I'm thankful for parents who believe their kids need to play the piano instead of, say, the bagpipes. This means I get paid to do what I love to do. (And, as a side note, may I add that one more reason I love my church is that, despite "Praise to the Man" being sung to the tune of "Scotland the Brave", revelation has never come to call a ward bagpipist. Bagpiper? Let's just call them "alley-cat inflator" and move on.)
11) Finally, I'm thankful for sane neighbors and nutty friends and people who wave at you from the other side of a restaurant even though the only thing they know about you is you point a baton at their 14 year-old violinist for a couple of hours on Saturdays. But for them that's enough; you matter.
I'm thankful for getting the benefit of the doubt in the express line at the supermarket, and for drivers who smile at you because you won that race to the parking spot fair and square, and for kids who both carry in the groceries AND remember to put the cold stuff in the fridge before it morphs into the sticky, runny stuff.
I'm thankful for a husband who empties the dishwasher and knows what a hamper is for and rubs my gimpy shoulder after a long rehearsal without even being asked.
I'm thankful for Christmas lights on houses and Puerto Rican carols sung by ebony-eyed Primary children and fondue on Christmas Eve.
And I'm thankful that every November, we all slow down long enough to take a snapshot of this gift called life, and remember to express our love and gratitude and devotion to the Giver.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.