Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Feast of Stephen

While I tend to find that my amused contempt for our human ability to disguise our own greed and selfishness under a wreath of holly and mistletoe prevents me from regarding the "holiday season" with much more than idle appreciation for the pretty decorations and a wry enjoyment of the hypocrisy of burying the birth of the impoverished, tragic Prince of Peace in his humble stable under a snowy Christmastide heap of war toys, gimme-gimme, useless bling and pious sanctimony (while ignoring most of the genuine suffering and want around us) my children are not so cynical.

Mind you, being as heathen as I, their only real interest is in the material gain and the pretty lights.


I HAVE been enjoying our past week of sub-freezing weather. We've missed the bitter East wind typical of this sort of cold spell here in Portland, and the result has been a series of glorious frigid days, spectacularly deep blue skies over hoarfrost and icy patches where broken pipes have wept their sad tale of domestic expense onto the streets...But even a Grinch of a Daddy has to break down and give the littles a place to park their loot. So Mojo went ahead and booked us a ride on the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad "Christmas Train".

By the way; note the faces below. There was whining. There's ALWAYS whining. But more on that a bit later.What we didn't anticipate was the weather breaking the very night before; finally our typical December rain pushed up from the south and this morning the region was covered in ice.

Now this sort of "black ice" is VERY Pacific Northwest, and we usually wait it out. Typically the warm air follows, the warm rain - well, okay, it's forty-two, but that's "warm" compared to the frozen ground - melts in and the next day we're back on the road.Today, however, we had to chance it. So we got in Bob the Subaru with all the impedimentia of a family with two kids under eight; sippies, blankies, snacks, toys, etc., etc...and drove up to the wilds of Clark County, Washington.

Yacolt is about as rural as you get within an hour of Portland. It's an artifact, a tiny timber town kept alive by its whiteness and proximity to the Vancouver/Portland area. If you want to live in the country undisturbed by scary black or brown people, hipsters, or people who think that Dick Cheney is the AntiChrist - but still need to work in the Big City - Yacolt is your kind of place.The drive in was frightening, a controlled slide through the shaded northwest woods, but the sun was out in Yacolt, the train was waiting, and the ride was sunny and chill. The icefalls, artifacts of our freeze, were spectacular. Santa had cookies and presents, and the proper douglas-fir was identified by the Boy, tagged and loaded, and al we had to do was ride back to the little town and drive home.Mind you, on the way home there were haircuts and carousel rides at Jantzen Beach - we spare no expense for fun here, y'know. And in general the kids were happy and fun to be around. There was whining and pouting - especially from the Peep, who seems to be having a hard time being a first grader in general beyond the greed-specific whining, pouting and tantruming he's experimenting with. Frankly, he's been something of a pill lately. The boy has toys to die for and yet within moments of coming indoors he's whimpering about how bored he is.

I was a truly impressively self-entertaining child. I would set up my little armies and conquer Parthia, or storm the walls of Minas Morgul; arrange my little cars and trucks for chases or traffic disasters. I loved to read and still do. So it really sets my teeth on edge to hear this whingeing - it makes me want to toss his toys in a bag for the Goodwill. We're working on this attitude, Mojo and I, but the boy is a stubborn little curmudgeon. I see a lot of myself there, unfortunately. I did NOT have a productive and successful youth and young adulthood.But the littles decorated the tree with minimal help from the bigs, and were quite proud of their work, as well they should have been. Little Girl watched her Barbie Swan Lake for the third time, sighed happily and went to bed with the soft teddy Santa gave her. Big Peeper cried because his Grandma didn't send him a toy he could play with right now and went to bed with his mother.So this is how the world wags; a little happiness, a few tears. And tomorrow I have to be up at three to be down at the coast to work.Ah, well. Hope you and yours had a lovely last-but-one-weekend-before-the-Big-Explosion-of-Gifting.


Pluto said...

I just noticed that your daughter isn't wearing her glasses in any of these pictures. Is there a reason for that?

FDChief said...

She doesn't really love them. Not to the point of fighting, really, but if she can "forget" to put them on she will. The prescription is pretty strong, and I suspect that her eyes tire after a full day of wearing them. That morning we were in a bit of a rush, and so she managed to "forget" them.

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing the lovely pictures. Though that kind of cold scares me, I am sure I could reacclimate to four seasons in order to enjoy pretty winter wonderlands.

Lisa said...

p.s. -- I know what you mean about entertaining ourselves when we were younger. I had a very anti-materialist mother, so never quite got the "I want it!" bug. I am quite pleased with what I have.

Hmmm... I guess this is sometimes to my detriment in a society which esteem acquisition.