Dec 222009

One of my earliest and most vivid Christmas memories is standing in the corner of Mrs. Bush’s fourth grade class surrounded by four very tall children who were yelling, laughing, and pointing at me. They were calling me stupid and I was near tears, but I refused to back down because I knew I was right and they were wrong. You see, The Simpletons kept insisting that SANTA DIDN’T EXIST. And I was ready to defend my faith in the Red Man to the death.

Bubba and Tisha really set me up.

My family made it very, very hard not to believe. Every Christmas Eve after mass, we sat together on the couch and read Christmas stories. After the last line of “On the Night Before Christmas” Sister and I ran up the stairs and climbed into our bunk beds where she fell asleep immediately and I stared at the bottom of her bunk. This happened every night, not just Christmas Eve. My entire life I have been too excited to sleep. Another post perhaps.

A few hours after being tucked in, we would hear bells ringing outside of our window and we’d pop up in bed, deliciously terrified. Tisha would crack open our bedroom door and whisper “GIRLS, he’s HERE!” And we’d shake and cry a little, grab each others’ hands and follow my mom to the top of the stairs. The three of us crouched together in a little huddle and peeked downstairs to see SANTA CLAUS IN OUR LIVING ROOM. He’d sit in my dad’s chair for awhile, eating cookies and talking to “Jack Frost” about what good girls we’d been. Then he’d get up, open his sack, and put our presents under the tree. Sister cried and buried her head in my mom’s neck the ENTIRE time. After a few minutes, Tisha walked us back to our room, tucked us in again, and we’d hear the bells once more outside our window. In the morning we’d find chewed up carrots all over the front yard because the reindeer had dropped them when they flew away.

It was all enough to make a believer out of me. For a very, very long time. Don’t even get me started on the Tooth Fairy.

When I was in fifth grade, Bubba and Tisha sat me down and told me that Santa was actually the clown of Christmas, but the spirit of Santa was real. The Santa Spirit was loving and helping and giving. And Bubba showed me his Santa suit and explained that the Santa in the living room was actually him. I was sad, but also excited. If a kid has to discover that Santa’s not who she thought he was, finding out that he’s actually your dad makes the blow easier to take.

Ironically, the day I found out that Santa wasn’t “real” was the day his magic came alive. Because my parents invited me to participate in a Christmas miracle. It turned out that Bubba wasn’t just Santa for Sister and me. That wasn’t actually his Santa point.

One Saturday every December, Bubba got suited up and went to a center for special children and young adults. He would set them each on his lap, even those who weighed more than He, and tell them all how good they’d been and how special they were. He’d bring them presents and joy and some Santa friendship. And he invited me along. So for a decade, I got to be Bubba’s elf every Christmas.

And when Sister got old enough she became Elf Number Two. ELF NUMBER TWO.

It was special.

One of my favorite Christmas moments of all time happened Christmas Eve 2006. Craig, Sister, Bubba, Tisha, and I had just put Chase to bed and we were expecting Bubba to suit up and begin the Santa performance. But when we asked Bubba when he was going to get started, He and Tisha shook their heads, smiled, and passed the Santa Sack to Craig.

Anyone who knows Craig can imagine how thrilled he was about this passing of the torch. Craig has taken the Santa tradition to new heights, literally. Last year he climbed onto the roof so the kids would see him “taking off” through the skylight. He also was so desperate to be seen in his Santa glory that he decided to stop by the grocery store and pick up a six pack. He will not be doing either of those things again this year.

Thank you, Bubba and Tisha…for always, always keeping the magic alive for Sister and me. And now for the rest of us.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a goodnight.”

Love, G

Jan 062010

I couldn’t sleep last night for two reasons.

First, I was so astounded by what happened here yesterday that my head was spinning. Sister summarized the day pretty well:

Don’t look now, Monkees, but if I’m not mistaken here’s what happened today:
• We were honest
• We heard and comforted and understood and challenged each other
• We were outraged and horrified by organized evil against our sisters and brothers and children and we admitted our fear and feelings of being utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of it all
• We resolved to love on our little worlds and the great big world a little more and to fear a little less
• We had k(c)rumpets
And at the end of the day, three brave children will have a loving home and a cozy bed and the only sores on them will be ones they get running and playing.

I don’t know about you ladies, but that’s the best day I’ve had in a very long time.

Hot damn I’m so honored to know you. And so very thankful for what you did today.

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction
when it can be turned into momentum.”
Frances Willard (1839-1898)


Second, I couldn’t decide what to write about this morning. I knew that after yesterday’s intensity we Monkees were going to need a little breather today. But I so badly wanted to offer you something more than a breather. I wanted to come to each of your homes and knock on your door and when you answered I wanted to yell DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? IT’S A REVOLUTION! And then squeeze you really hard and pull you out of your house and bring you along to the next Monkee’s house and then the next and the next until we reached last Monkee’s door and when she answered there would be 250 of us standing on her doorstep yelling DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? IT’S A REVOLUTION!” and I would get to squeeze each Monkee first because I get up the earliest and that’s only fair.

That’s not going to happen today, but it will happen. Oh it WILL happen. Be prepared.

So I thought and I thought and I thought. What can I do for my Monkees? And about midnight it hit me.

I get lots of variations of this particular email, which I received a few weeks ago:


I love your blog and I’m a Monkee and you’re a great writer and lovely and so on and so forth.

Could you post some shirtless pictures of husband? The ladies in my office and I would really appreciate it.

Love, Caren

This email wouldn’t have been at all unusual or surprising except for the fact that Caren is my cousin.

So Caren, and all of you Monkees whose brains and hearts are a little tired from yesterday…I give you… HUSBAND.

Don’t worry, I plan to ask his permission for this post just as soon as he wakes his pretty little head.

I love you, Monkees. You are Revolutionaries.

Feb 022010

Have I mentioned yet that my husband is a model? He works for a few different agencies and does lots of print work and now that you know, you will probably notice him around here and there.

Craig never tells anyone about his modeling career. He is very shy about it. His friends tease him a lot and so do mine. My extended family is merciless, especially my Uncle Keith, whom you will be introduced to later in the week. Perhaps a better wife would be sensitive to her husband and refrain from writing about things that embarrass him. But it seems to me that there are many acceptable reasons for embarrassment, and being incredibly good looking just doesn’t make the cut. So sorry, Husband. Please consider this post to be an opportunity for character building. Sort of like your marriage to me.

I had a very dramatic pregnancy with Chase. In addition to the whole immaculate conception thing, which was REALLY hard for me to explain to skeptical people over and over…our doctor found a bright spot on Chase’s heart and a cyst in his brain at our first sonogram. These two markers, along with some other factors, led the doctors to believe that Chase had an increased risk for many serious health issues. We had appointments with specialists every week, and we researched and prayed and worried. It was quite a stressful roller coaster for two kids trying to get to know each other. It was like marriage boot camp. Craig and I learned early and fast how to depend on one another, and how to be dependable. We learned that in a marriage, you never crumble at the same time. You wait your turn. And we learned that when it gets really dark you just pretend you can see, or you sit quietly and hold hands until the light returns. It always does, eventually. During that time Craig and I learned that we could do hard things. It turned out to be a hell of a way to start a marriage, actually.

When I was seven months pregnant with Chase, he stopped moving completely. He didn’t move for 24 hours. I was teaching at the time, and during my lunch break I ate a candy bar and lay down, sure that the blast of sugar would get him going. It didn’t. I became terrified and called the doctor, who told me to get myself to her office right away. I called Craig, but he was in a meeting and didn’t answer his phone. I drove to the doctor’s office by myself, and sat in the waiting room and cried. I thought for sure that the doctor would tell me Chase was gone. I wanted Craig really, really bad. I prayed “help help help help.”

The doctor called me back to the examining room and asked me to change into a robe. She laid me down on the table and strapped the monitor around my belly. She told me that she would need to monitor Chase for several minutes and then she’d come back and meet with me. She asked if I’d like a magazine to keep my mind occupied and I said yes, please. But I didn’t really want a magazine. I still just wanted Craig really, really bad.

The doctor handed me a magazine and patted my head which made me both comforted and afraid. Then she left the room. I opened up the magazine with very shaky hands, and this is what I saw.

That’s Craig. That’s my HUSBAND. POSING as a STROLLER VALET.

In an ad that he’d done a decade before, and that neither of us had ever seen.

And here’s what I felt God say to my heart in that cold room all by my lonesome.

Look, sister, it’s ok. Craig will be pushing a real stroller soon and your son will be inside it. And no, Craig won’t be wearing that ridiculous vest, promise. But stop with the Immaculate Conception story, honey. Nobody’s buying it.

Craig busted through the exam room door while I was still staring at his picture in the magazine. He had listened to my phone message and talked to the doctor. He appeared to be completely terrified.

As Craig grabbed my hand, I looked up at him, smiled, and told him not to worry… everything’s going to be all right, I said.