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“For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas.”

What a way to wrap up the holiday season.  Every bit as sobering as 2004’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean: less immediately heart-rending, perhaps, but with clearer long-term global consequences.

Acorn returned from his sojourn with his father on Xmas day, and has spent the last thirty-six hours alternately opening presents and sleeping. His method for opening gifts involved long periods of playing with each new toy (and then going back to check on previously-opened ones) before going on to open the next one. In this household alone, he received far more gifts than a single toddler needs, and future holidays will probably be a little more toned-down; but I hadn’t been able to give him anything but a homemade gift last Xmas, and an ice cream sundae for last his birthday, so this time the largesse was as much for me as for Acorn himself. Fortunately, his personality is mellow enough to allow him to enjoy this spectacle without meltdowns and without creating an expectation that he will constantly be getting MORE.

My little non-talker returned from his father’s house with several more words than he left with. His use of “choo-choo” (a change from “choo” in the past), “car,” and “go” have been frequent in the last day and a half. Balloon is a new word (pronounced “baoon”), and the most interesting addition is “hee-ho.” This is his name for a fire engine: when identifying the engine, he calls it simply “hee-ho,” but when asked what sound it makes, he says (loudly) “HEEEEEEE-HOOOOOOOOO!” A perfect little siren. He has also correctly started forming plurals. One train is “choo-choo,” and multiple trains are “choo-choos!”

My baby is back. I keep finding myself smiling for no reason at all.

Dear Santa,

I think I have been a good girl this year.  I know I’ve tried.

For Christmas, if you bring me anything, I would like you to bring me a job.  Six months and counting of active searching is wearing down my spirit, and the seasonal gig I’ve lined up for the spring won’t help for all that long.

Thank you, Santa.  There’s milk and cookies in the fridge, so you can help yourself.  I didn’t want it to go bad before you get here.

Love,

Country Mouse

Her Most Serene Highness Lady Mouse the Sheepish of Old Yarkhillshire

 Seems appropriate, somehow.

(via Pharyngula )

I ran across this post earlier today. It’s a good example of something I could have found hilarious, if the lack of a good editor to tighten the prose (a mixed blessing of the blogging world, in my opinion) and the author’s cynicism about the Santa legend (he seems to be of the “Santa Claus = lying to your kids” camp) didn’t mar it for me. Still, the lines it gets me thinking along (How Google Earth killed Santa? Brilliant!) are enough to tickle my oft-perverse sense of humor.

This tidbit from the comments, though, is what really got my funny bone into action:

As a parent I don’t teach my children to believe in Santa or Christmas, they’re both pagan and satanic. If you want to give your children something to believe in, give them the truth. Tell them we work hard to buy their gifts. They’ll have more respect for their hard working parents then.

Why does this amuse me so? Well, for one thing, if “they’re both pagan and satanic,” I wonder how on earth my fundamentalist Christian upbringing managed to allow Santa to bring me gifts every year. And for another thing, I don’t really see how explaining to my two and a half year old that I worked hard to buy his gifts is going to engender “more respect.” He’ll figure that out as he grows up. In the meantime, I want to give him a bit of magic.

*

On a similarly dark-humored note, here’s an article from The Economist that also has me amused. Why? It’s about a Christmas card surviving from the 1840s, notable not only for its age but because it portrays a secular scene of endless gifts, feasts, and debauchery.

Again, why do I find that so amusing? Well, I hear people all around me decrying how commercial Christmas is becoming. How it should be a religious holiday, how the gifts should be simple and not the focal point of the celebration. Implicit in these declarations is always the idea that it was different “back then.” Some even complain that it gets worse every year; I suppose they’re comparing today’s greed-fest of material goods with the allegedly simpler holiday of their own childhoods.

Though there’s no doubt retailers are pushing Christmas sales a little harder every year, I think this is one piece of evidence supporting my hunch that human nature just hasn’t changed all that much over the years.

Dear Company That Claims to Want to Hire Me,

My name is Country Mouse, blogger, mother, and semiprofessional skeptic.

Titling your email regarding a job “(not MLM)” (which is to say, “not multi-level marketing”) does nothing to enhance my confidence in the legitimacy of your company. Neither does starting your message with “Your resume was found in our database” and ending it with “Also please attach your resume for our review.”

Your failure to accurately proofread your letter to me, coupled with your thoroughly generic job description and promises of “high wages” and “no degree required,” hammers the nails in your coffin.

I research every company that contacts me regarding employment, so that I may be knowledgable in my communications with them. I don’t have to do any research to know that I will not be submitting more information about myself to you. You see, I dislike having my identity stolen.

Thank you for not wasting my time in the future.

Signed,

Country Mouse

Update:  In the spirit of research, I entered the purported name of the company in a Google search.  “Your search did not match any documents.”  Big surprise.

At the risk of this sounding like some emo LiveJournal entry…

I miss my son. I miss him desperately. I miss having to shape my day around his needs, having him climb on my back for an impromptu piggyback ride, sharing my cereal with him even when it’s identical to what’s in his bowl. (One of the great truths of life, for a two-year-old: Everything tastes better from Mama’s bowl.)

And missing him, being alone these past 10 days and facing another week, is really bringing home to me how much I miss my husband. Not Mr. X, as he’s become, but my wonderful, loving husband, who I adored. I miss the life we were crafting together, day by day.

I’m having to build a new life for myself and for my son. I have not landed on my feet — 10 months of searching for a job in my field makes that clear. My family is as good a safety net as anyone could ever wish for: but — no matter how much they ease it — even they can’t erase the pain and the need to mourn this loss.

Were this a private journal, this entry will end there. It is not, so I feel I need to add for the sake of the public: I’m healing. I’m happy most of the time; I’m even mostly happy at this very moment. This is a snapshot of my emotions at one moment in time, emotions I need to acknowledge.

“So,” my dad tells me, “I’d been in the kitchen scrubbing the stove. And I stepped back into the living room, and the front door was standing wide open, and the cats were coming and going at will.”

Minutes later, he opens door to the garage, and in darts one skinny, perturbed black cat. We shake our heads and laugh.

“Not only that,” he says, “but after I closed the door and went back to working in the kitchen, next time I stepped into the living room, no one was there. But I heard giggling in the bedroom, and sure enough, there was Acorn, turning somersaults and doing headstands on the bed.  Opened the door and closed it behind him, the little rat.”

A few days ago, my aunt brought a tin of Christmas candy to my grandfather’s house.  Acorn was playing in the living room while the adults played a board game in the dining room, but he realized pretty quickly that there was a rare treat to be had.  So I made him practice saying, “Candy, please,” before he could have a piece.

This went on for a little while, and at some point my mother took over the handing out of the candy, as she was sitting closer to the box.  And then she took a piece out of the box and set it on the table so it would be ready the next time Acorn asked for a piece.   Of course, when he came over to ask for a piece of candy, he saw it sitting there on the table, and just took it and went back to the living room.

He sat down by his blocks, and started to put the candy in his mouth.  Inches from his mouth, his hand stopped.  He hopped up, ran back to the dining room, and set the piece of candy back on the table where it had been.

“Ca di p li z?” he asked.

Acorn’s having a great time with his dad, from the sound of things.  All our work on his speech is paying off, too: here’s what he said while I was chatting to him tonight.

“Hi.

“Nnn.

“Nng.

” ‘Kay.

“Bye.

“Bye!”

None of these were close to being perfectly pronounced, except for ” ‘Kay,” but it was understandable, and it felt like a real conversation.  Even if approximately half of it was made up of all-purpose syllables that can mean literally anything.