Thursday, December 25, 2008

T'was the Night Before Christmas

I've always believed in the magic of Christmas, especially the magic of Christmas Eve.
I've told this story many times, but I need to share it, just "once more," for others whom haven't read it. This story, from my childhood, ties in with the magic that filled my heart this Christmas Eve.

My Mom always sang, "Away in a Manger" to my sister and I, every night at bedtime until we were about 11 (me) and 7 (Diane). My Mom also told us the story about Baby Jesus and how the magic came to being at midnight, the night He was born. My Mom said, "At midnight, all the animals that were in the stable, the night Jesus was born, talked to each other and they continue to do so, each Christmas Day when the clock strikes 12." My sister and I were usually at midnight Mass, so we missed witnessing this miracle. On Christmas Eve, it was a tradition, for my sister and I to take a nap after dinner and be awakened about 9 pm, so we could get "dressed" for Mass. Even back then, we fussed about our clothes. I miss those days. Do you remember when young girls dressed like young ladies? Velvet or wool double breasted coats, fancy velvet hats -- trimmed with a satin bow and a ribbon that dangled down your past your shoulders and tickled your neck, boots with fur trim and muffs and mittens in the winter; pastel colored coat, Mary Jane patent leather shoes, anklets with lace trim, gloves edged in lace in the spring. I loved living in that era. When children referred to adults as Miss, Mrs. or Mr... when children never interrupted a conversation...and the words/phrases, "Excuse me"..."Thank You"..." You're Welcome"..."May I" and "Please" were part of their every day language? Politeness, kindness, and manners were never practiced, they came naturally. The only things practiced were piano and ballet steps. My dad insisted I was dressed in shades of pinks and blues;, my sister in shades of lavenders and yellows, but for Christmas I wore red or navy blue velvet and my sister wore forest green or black velvet. One Christmas Eve, Diane and I asked our parents if we could stay home and attend Mass in the morning instead, so we could hear the animals talk at midnight. Well, at 10 pm, my sister and I walked down to the stable so we could be with our horses -- Bootlegger and Glory. We took Pierre and Susie and Venetia with us. We settled down, sitting on bales of hay, clutching our lunch boxes that contained Christmas cookies, cubes of sugar, raw carrots, dog and cat treats and a thermos filled with hot chocolate. We sat there for a LONG time, paying close attention to our "friends" and thinking about the questions we wanted to ask them. The next thing I remember was waking up, in my own bed, early Christmas morning. We missed midnight Mass, the sound of "bells" signaling Santa's arrival and hearing our animals speak. :(
Years later, I STILL believe I'll hear my animals speak, at midnight, on Christmas Day. I haven't yet, but one day I'll welcome a fur baby into my home and heart and on Christmas Eve, I'll be ready!

This Christmas Eve, Dave and I were wrapping the last of the unexpected gifts. Earlier that day, at precisely 2:17 the "peace and calm" I've always experienced on Christmas Eve day/night flew up the chimney, out into the desert air. That's another story and I'll share it with all of you in my next post. Anyway, I noticed I was missing a gift. A DVD, Wall-E, that I purchased for ShanaSue's friend, Ronnie. Before I began the ghastly task of tearing the house a part, Dave told me, "Debra, look in the car." Dave is always right. While Dave was hot gluing garland and ornaments to his packages of pumpkin bread, I went outside to the drive, unlocked the car door, and there on the floor was the DVD. As I was making my way back to the house, I heard a "rustling" coming from Dave's side patio. I shined the flashlight in that direction, and there, standing alone, was "Einstein." Awww, he's my favorite javelina. Einstein is one of 8 javelina's that visit me, yes me, every six weeks. Actually, I haven't seen them since the 4th of July. I was beginning to believe the wildlife association relocated them to another part of the desert where vegetation flourished because the developers' haven't found it...yet. Worse than that, maybe the Department of Justice got involved and placed the herd in the witness protection program, because an angry mob of Oro Valley residents want to stick apples in their mouths and roast them for their New Years dinner. ::horrors:: Dinner! The herds only crime was to savor the contents of their gardens. Excuse me, what gardens? Mary, Mary Quite Contrary never lived in the Southwest because it takes gallons and gallons of water to hydrate one blade of grass and we don't have vast quantities of water here. Okay, maybe they upset their trash cans. Is that a crime? Anyway, I must admit, something is up with the herd. They rarely stay for more than a few days -- they've been here for almost two weeks. They travel a circuit, beginning in the river bed, my community, the golf course, country club, then back to the river bed. A few days ago, the herd wreaked havoc in my neighbors, Elizabeth -- the mole, yard. Her flowerbed was destroyed. I believe they were celebrating Deb's coming out party. Elizabeth asked me, "You don't feed the pigs, do you?" I replied, "No, I don't feed the pigs."She said "pigs." I feed the javelina's.' Pigs? I know, I know, we aren't supposed to feed the wildlife. Well, man is not supposed to swallow up every piece of land and plow through vegetation and strike terror in the hearts of animals either. Where are they to live? The Hilton? Most importantly, what are they supposed to eat? Take out from Taco Bell? Think about it. Humans are edging them out, as if they have no right to exist. God created this Earth for ALL of us to enjoy. We all must do our part to give a hand to the animals on their journey; to give them a safe place to rest, a full tummy, a pond to drink from and pond to play in on hot, arid days. I've gotten to know them very well and I've named them. Ugh-oh, never name a wild animal. :(

Einstein : is the world's smartest javelina. First let me tell you how Einstein got his name. The javelinas' enter our community through Dave's backyard. Dave's home is the only structure, east of the wash, that isn't walled in, so the herd climbs the cliff that leads up from the desert floor, into Dave's yard. Dave's home, is also the only house that has a pond, and it's the only place, aside from the Oro Valley Country Club, where the herd can drink. The herd gathers and just "stand there," on the other side of the wall, waiting for me to materialize. They remind me of the children, from the movie, "Children of the Damned." We have a mental telepathy sort of thing going on. Also, when I know they're in the area, I'm forever looking out the windows of the French doors, to see if they're waiting for dinner. When they're "here," they come when I call do the quail. Not Dan and Marilyn. I bet, Dan spells his last name "Q-U-A-I-L;" not Quayle. :)~ Of course, the herd don't have manners, so they fight over the food. I toss peanut butter sandwiches, yams, potatoes and heads of lettuce and cabbage over my wall. Einstein, knows the food comes from my side, so he ambles around the wall, to my driveway and stands at the bottom of my balcony where he feasts alone. I thought that was a genius idea, hence the name Einstein.

Martha Stewart : is the bossy leader and a battle ax with the scars to prove it. The right portion of her nose has been torn - almost in half -- and is barely hanging on. She's adorable, absolutely adorable. Very wise.

Alexis "Lexy" Stewart : is the daughter of Martha; even in the wild. :)~ Lexy, is a bit of a snob, but has a disarming smile, and very sharp teeth. "Better to eat you with my dear," Lexy said. :)~ She's standoffish, and her snout is always pointing towards Heaven. Then again, maybe she picked up the scent of "Jimmy Choo." Alexis has a good heart. Yes, I did tell Alexis I named javelina's after her and her Mom. Alexis may mind; Martha will be delighted.

Mr. Magoo : is nearsighted and crazy as a loon! He ambles along and if anything stands in his path, he'll wait for it to move instead of going around it. Martha always comes to his rescue and nudges him in the right direction. Martha is tolerant to a point, but one day, when she reaches "old age" she'll nudge Mr. Magoo right over a cliff!

PansyCakes is the "squealer" of the group. The first time I saw him he had bits of wildflowers stuck in his teeth. He tried his best to remove them, but failed miserably. He has the sweetest heart.

Hoss is quiet. Yes, I named him after the character "Hoss" portrayed by Dan Blocker from the TV series, "Bonanza." Hoss looks like a grizzly bear but has the heart of a teddy bear. If he were human, he'd work as a bouncer in a bar. A sleazy bar, at that!

Seal is always splashing in the pond and he's quiet as a mouse. He's an old soul. His eyes are filled with wisdom. He minds is own business and his manners as well.

Deb, the debutante, was born this past Spring and had her "coming out" party in Elizabeth's garden. They had a ball, a debutante ball! Deb's twin brother, Sam, passed away on the 4th of July.

If you want to know Sam's story, and life with "the herd" for the past 7 years, you will have to buy my book...when it's published. :)~ My story is not based on the herd, in fact, they make up only a small fraction of the book. The few people who've read it, said there were times when they laughed so hard they cried; followed by moments when they cried so hard, they were happy when my words took on a different curve and they were back to smiling. The readers were in complete agreement when they said, "You couldn't have the laughter without the tears." I do go on! Now do you know why the words "the end" don't appear in my books? I have too much to say. I'm always adding on. ARGH! I'm supposed to be writing about what happened on Christmas Eve. Let's begin...

On Christmas Eve, Einstein, followed me up the drive and took his place below my balcony. I should consider renaming him Romeo. I looked over to Dave's side, and the herd wasn't waiting. It's unusual, very unusual, for Einstein to be on his own. I always have "take out" available, so I grabbed the bag from the fridge and tossed sandwiches and yams, down to Einstein. I decided to keep him company while he ate. The night was peaceful and calm, the only sound to be heard was that of Einstein's chomping on his yams. I started to sing. "Silent Night"..."O' Come All Ye Faithful"..."The First Noel" and ended with "Away in the Manger." Einstein listened to every word. When I hit the "high notes" he quit chewing and stared at me with the most adorable expression on his face. Tears were streaming down my face. I was experiencing the best Christmas Eve of my life with a beast. A beautiful beast named Einstein, my Romeo. I wonder what story he told his family when he got home.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
May God, G-d ::the Jewish part of me is peeking through::, Bless the beasts and the children.

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