December 24, 2008

Merry Chrismakah

"Well, are you coming?" asks the conductor.
"Why to the North Pole of course! This is the Polar Express!"

Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my dad read The Polar Express to me and my brother before we went to bed. Then we'd put out cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer, and we'd crawl into bed. I have the entire book memorized and I adore it. I love all of the illustrations, though my favorite has to be the one where all of the children are drinking hot chocolate in the train car. The colors are so rich and warm that I feel like, even though they all jumped onto a strange train with a strange man, they are perfectly safe. One year when we woke up on Christmas morning, I found a worn bell that looked suspiciously like a sleigh bell on Santa's cookie plate. My parents said they had no idea where it came from, but their best guess was that Santa had left it for me. I treasured it.

These days my parents continue The Polar Express tradition at the store. They have the book, a portable DVD player with the movie, and a little basket of bells sitting on a table near the door. With each bell they have written this message, "Our wish is that this bell will always ring for those who listen. That the sweet sound reminds us of the true miracles of the holiday season, be they of this world or not" along with this quote from the end of book,

At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. 
Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. 
Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all those who truly believe.

I don't believe in Santa Claus anymore, but I have that sleigh bell that was left on our cookie plate years ago. It's hanging on the doorknob of my apartment door. More than Santa though, I still believe in that magic and the miracles of this time of year. Maybe that's why I can still hear my bell ring.

Tonight I'm having dinner with my family and Adam's family. Then I'm going to go home and read my own copy of The Polar Express that Bette gave me two Christmases ago (which was one of the best gifts I have ever received). I don't expect Santa or any make-believe magic like that; only the same safe feeling that I have when I look at that one picture in the book, and the magic of stopping to listen and hearing the bell ring. I hope you guys (the few of you who may read this!) have a happy holiday too!

December 16, 2008

the W word

I got two Christmas cards in the mail yesterday, one from my aunt and uncle and one my grandparents. I opened them before I had even taken off my coat because getting real in-the-mail mail these days is exciting. (that's not a hint, I'm just as guilty of sending 100 times more emails than snail mail.) The card from my grandparents started out innocently enough with my grandmother's note, followed by my grandfather's note, which took a sudden turn when he wrote this sentence, "maybe in the new year you will be planning a wedding." That was followed by this sentence, which escaped loudly from my mouth, "What the fuck? That is not OK! Why?!"

It seems as if the whole world (besides my close friends, and for that I thank you) is planning my wedding. Oh, and the two most important people in said imaginary festivities, and the w-word has not even crossed their lips. Not once. I know it's in fashion these days to get engaged after a year or less of being in a relationship, but I'm not a fan of being fashionable. I'm more a fan of doing things at my own speed and knowing that if they're meant to happen, they will.

I've never been the wedding obsessed sort of girl. I know people who have had their weddings planned out since they were little girls, dress, colors, place, table settings, the whole deal. Oh I played my fair share of "wedding" and my friends and I even forced my brother to participate in a pink tutu, even though he was the obvious and logical choice for the groom. My cousins had the most beautiful wedding dress that had been their grandmother's in their dress up box. It had long sleeves and a long row of tiny buttons up the back. I loved that dress.

The second I realized Adam was awesome though, I did not start to plan our future. I have no timeline, except for the one which involves moving back to North Carolina. I've thought about the future, but only in an abstract sort of maybe someday sort of way. Honestly the thought of being the center of attention in a white dress, which I would obviously get dirty immediately, makes me feel like puking. Walking down the aisle with my dad is hysterical. Being sentimental in front of lots of people is unthinkable. And the planning? Holy yikes. The only fun part in my mind is the party. Ask me to elope and come home and have a "HAHA we got married and you didn't know" party and I'll be yours forever.

So don't mention the W-word around me unless I bring it up because I'm sick of people making assumptions about a relationship that they are not in. Plus, you'll probably give me a heart attack:)