My daughter, Emily, texted me the other day. She wrote that she and her steady, Jeremy, planned to split their holiday between his folks and me. Fine, I thought. I may be a late bloomer, but I had sharing down by the eighth grade.
She added that they planned to spend Christmas Eve with Jeremy's parents and Christmas morning with me. I saw the logistical glitch right off, since Em is in Portland, Jeremy's folks reside in Spokane, Wash., and I'm down here.
Texting is good for some things. For instance, the other person can't hear your voice inflection rise several octaves in a panic. Responses remain relatively neutral, even when you're shouting on the inside, though excessive capitalization and exclamation point overkill do help convey a sense of urgency. I resisted.
Even with an airplane, their plan presented a challenge, I thought. A couple of days earlier, she'd texted me a picture of herself in a Santa Claus suit, holding a small child on her lap. I began to wonder whether she wasn't taking this Santa thing too far in believing she could be in several places delivering presents within a few hours.
Santa has the necessary equipment, sleigh and flying reindeer. The kids have a Subaru Forester and two cats, and though one of them is named Batman, the other, Arrow, as in straight as ... I doubted this would suffice.
She's not the only one with the Saint Nicholas delusion. I've noticed other would-be Santas recently, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Or the most obvious exhibition of ineptitude when one can't pull it off. At lunch the other day, in walked a couple sporting signature red hats trimmed in white. I looked for one iota of sincerity, but they pulled no candy canes from their pockets and boasted none of the holly-jolly merriment required.
Red hats don't make the man, people. Other well-meaning imposters give themselves away by showing up three weeks early or by posting selfies on Facebook. Poor.
During the final countdown, I see folks, most without the costume, trying like heck to mimic Santa's knack for beating the clock. Dad used to love going to the mall on Christmas Eve to take a bench break after his 15 minutes of shopping and watch for panicky looks on shoppers' faces.
I recall sitting with him as a child. We would nudge one another when a particularly pained expression strode by. There may have been points accrued for finding the best ones first, I don't recall. Dad was a competitor in all things.
As I exited Macy's the other day, I think I scored large in catching one woman running into herself coming and going. Dad would have been proud. Then I began to ponder whether, if one could manage it through some time warp trick, one could score twice the packages with the credit card bills of a single shopper that way.
This phenomenon happens with drivers, too, as witnessed in navigating the North Fred Meyer parking lot. I use the word "navigating" loosely, as that would indicate movement. A sub-version of the "coming and going" theory is being "beside oneself," as was the man behind me when he grew impatient with my benevolence at allowing drivers who'd lost all hope to go in front of me. I waved merrily to him and hoped his wife wasn't giving birth. You'd realize that this act of kindness was a seasonal miracle if you knew my regular habits.
I'll continue wrapping and baking until I see a black Subaru pulled by flying cats sweep through my driveway. Until then, may your chaos subside and may warm, Christmas fires dance for you and your loved ones during this season of miraculous light.
Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at email@example.com.