Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Ordinary Angel

I reach my hand into the gift bag with a level of excitement not felt since Santa and God answered my Christmas-time prayers with a Cabbage Patch doll.

Long before my fingers touch the sculpted plastic skirt, I just instinctively know it will be a most unnatural shade of yellow. Oh my niece has outdone herself this year.

Yes! This is THE one.

I fondle the eighteen inch molded figurine like an actress does her first Oscar. Running my thumb over her synthetic hair and admiring the carefully applied blue eyeshadow, I am teary eyed with gratitude.

Her arms are locked in what appears to be the "open for hugs" position and my heart skips a beat. This is no ordinary angel. My day-glow doll has a purpose.

My niece shyly produces a roll of toilet paper, carefully lacing it between my angels arms.

"Auntie, now pull the toilet paper. Pull it!" She giggles.

My wildest imagination could not have envisioned a more perfect gift. I lean closer to my husband, who is watching the toilet paper unravel with envy.

"Top this one, pally."

I look up at my niece with sincerity, clinging to my toilet paper wielding angel. "This is the Best. Gift. Ever. I have just the place for it."

"Your niece gave that to you. You wouldn't dare." TK whispers in my ear, envy seeping into every word.

"It's my gift."

"But your niece gave it to you. You shouldn't re-gift it. That's just wrong."

"Look, clearly this is a set up. She gave it to me knowing it's final home would not be with me."

"In that case I don't think it qualifies."

"Qualifies? Oh there are rules now?"

"The whole point of the after Christmas swap is to bring your worst gift. It's not the same if it's a gift given with the intent of re-gifting."

"Bring your worst gift swap. Not bring-your-worst-gift-that-the-giver-thought-was-awesome swap. And hey, it's my party." I nudge him. "What about when we bought the Nascar coffee mugs because all our real gifts rocked that Christmas? Or the year I gave you the leopard print thong and you swapped it?"

"That was different. Besides, I think you actually wanted me to wear the thong."


"Those gifts were different. This is just... well, it's just different. In a bad way. You need to keep that angel. It's only fair."

I stood, careful not to unravel the toilet paper as I lovingly placed my gift on the mantle.

I leaned in close, my cheek brushing the waving cascades of yellow hair as I smiled and whispered to my Christmas Angel.

"Don't you listen to him, angel baby. He's just upset about the leopard thong."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Ultimate Gift

I was dreading the call as much as I was anticipating it.

My angel of Christmas, in the voice of my social worker, gave me the only gift I had hoped for this year.

"The judge has terminated parental rights."

She reviewed the finer points of the decision. The parents' right to appeal. The process. The timeline. DCF's involvement. We discussed post-termination, post-adoption.

Both bio parents currently missing. Neither one successfully rehabbed off of the heroin they poisoned my babies' system with during pregnancy. One possibly in jail, the other who knows where this time. The court's leniency in future visitation. The likelihood of the appeal, and the certainty of the outcome.

We talked about the case in a factual, intelligent manner as if we were discussing politics and not the future of the little people who were waiting at home for me.

The two not-quite-toddlers we met for the first time a year ago November. Who have taken over our house with their toys and diapers and crayons.

Who have taken over our lives with their runny noses and nighttime fevers and tantrums in airports.

Who had taken over our hearts with their hugs and kisses, their cuddles and their sleepy-faced smiles first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

We covered every aspect of the thirty page ruling while I drove, barely noticing the highway as it sped past.

"I'll get these pages faxed over shortly and we'll talk again soon in the coming month. I think that's everything, any other questions?"

I thought about all the information I had just heard. The legal aspects, our responsibilities going forward, the adoption that can finally take place this coming spring.

And I asked the only question that really mattered.

"So they're ours now. Forever?"

"They're yours forever. Merry Christmas."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh hey, Christmas.

Oh hey, Christmas.

How long have you been standing there?

I mean, I knew you were coming but you didn't have to creep up on me like that or anything.

I sort of wish you would've, you know, called first.

Or texted maybe.

Sorry the place isn't quite ready. I really meant to clean up those leaves before you got here. Did you bring any snow?

What's that behind your back? A light up inflatable Mickey Mouse in a Santa Suit? Um, right over there is good. Just nudge those rotting pumpkins aside.

You know you're always welcome here, right? But we haven't even polished off the Halloween candy and now I'm expected to go all candy cane and fruitcake. Don't even get me started on those sugar plums dancing in my head.

I'm not using a tone. No, I don't have an attitude. Maybe you're the one with the attitude.

I mean technically you're a whole month after Thanksgiving but we both know you expect us to roll out the red carpet the second the turkey is out of the oven. Sooner even.

Like a whole flippin' season of Christmas.

No, no, don't go! I'm sorry, of course we're excited to see you! That's crazy talk. Just a little unprepared, is all. Holiday moodiness and all. I'll be into the Christmas Spirit in no time! You'll see.

Tinsel? For me? Hey, you really shouldn't have!

I did! I did get you something too! Wait, it's right, um, here... I picked it up along with four thousand other things on Black Friday. You know me though, it won't be wrapped til just shy of six a.m. Christmas morning.

Well listen, you make yourself at home while I run around for the next 21 days or so.

Just throw your things on every available surface, wall and window.

I'll clean it all up sometime in January.