In Which Our Heroine Reveals Her True Title

10 December 2003

I am the Christmas carol queen people. Do not mess with me. I had already sung some obscure medieval ones, and the verses to ones where people usually know the chorus, and then I caught Timprov off guard by knowing the verses to "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." For an encore, I did "Throw the Yule Log On Uncle John" by P.D.Q. Bach and "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas" and "Santa Claus, Santa Claus, You Are Much Too Fat," then switched back into the "Coventry Carol" and "Noel Nouvelet." And I could have done "I Wonder As I Wander" and "Christmas in Killearny." Take that, Christmas carol challengers! I can do trite! I can do tacky! I can do traditional! I am there. I can even make wassail as well as singing about it.

This does not mean I like holiday muzak at the stores. In fact, if stores just stopped playing muzak at all, I would be just fine. But alto-bass or alto-baritone a capella carol arrangements around the house are quite all right by me. My main problem with Christmas carols in church and other social caroling situations is that people don't let me start them low enough. Also they don't sing the really old traditional ones often enough. Also some translations of "Bring a Torch" are really, really bad. Still.

I managed to get Stella's cebu song out of my head -- only after writing three new verses for it -- with the Coventry Carol. Oh, happy joy. I just learned that lully and lullay meant "I saw." It's a witness song about the slaughter of the innocents. And a merry Christmas to you. It's so pretty, though.

I don't know what to read out of The Dark Is Rising at Christmas. I know what to read out of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe -- and I should probably go down and mark it now while I'm still thinking of it -- but The Dark Is Rising is all Christmas Book for me, and I don't think I could get the family to sit through a reading in its entirety. Even if we took turns to save my voice. Hmm. I'll have to ponder it.

I've been thinking of a story a friend of mine used to tell on herself. My friend Hilary was about two, and her family was out for a restaurant meal. The waitress looked at her in her high chair and said, "Aren't you the cutest little one!" And Peggy looked up at her with all the grave dignity of a two-year-old and said, "I smahht."

(Yes, her name is Hilary and I called her Peggy. Bonus points for anyone who can figure out why if given the extra clue that she called me Nancy and our friend Becca was Susan.)

I smahht, too. I'm just not sure why my brain is reminding me of it lately. Probably because I feel dumb when I'm doing edits. Not all edits, but these -- months and months after the book was finished, with no panting, drooling editor in sight motivating me -- feel a bit purposeless, even though I have very good reasons for doing them, and very good practical reasons for doing them now. But it still It still feels a bit stupid. I'm trying to kick that under the rug and deal with it later. I'm not sure how well that's working.

I think the problem is that editing this novel is not really what I want to be doing, but when I ask myself, "What do you want to be doing?", the answer is "Everything else!" Which is not helpful. Ah well. I can't edit forever; in awhile I'll be doing something else, which is something, at least. I'm not sure if trying to intersperse other writing tasks is good or bad right now. I just don't know. And that doesn't make me feel very smahht, either. Ah well.

On the front page of the Strib, it says, "Blowing and drifting may continue today, but no more snow is expected for the week." Which is funny, because it is what we Minnesotans know as "still snowing." The paper had snow on it, and the paperbeing's footsteps were no longer visible, not even a little bit. And I got the paper at 6:45 or so.

(You know the voice for that comment: "a virus is what we doctors know as 'very, very small,' and in no way could make off with a whole leg.")

Since I take awhile to write journal entries, it appears to have stopped snowing now. But we have a fair amount of snow, and it's supposed to stay cold for awhile, so maybe we'll get to keep it without having to worry about more precipitation while people are traveling? Maybe? Anyway, it's gorgeous out still. The weather page claims "very light snow or flurries" for tomorrow, in direct contradiction to the "no more snow" pronouncement on the front page. But my favorite Minnesota weather prediction is for Friday: "numbing sunshine." Numbing. Sunshine. Heeheehee. The sick thing is, I know exactly what they mean. I know those days. I missed those days, in a sparkly northern masochist hurt-so-good way.

Celia was talking about getting cold easily. I do, too, but it should be much harder now that Mark has found the bits of window that were slightly open and closed them. Sealing the triple-paned glass. Sometimes I just love my house. This should make it less frigid in the northwest corner, which is coincidentally where the guest room and the library (with fold-out guest futon) are located. Go figure.

Celia also says, "I have always held that when you love people, you love them because of their flaws, not in spite of them. And it is true of most of my friends. I have no one else to try the theory on yet, but I think it's at least mostly true. Some people, there's a little grey area between 'because of' and 'in spite of,' sort of like, 'with full knowledge of' and that's where the rest of my friends fall." I'll go with a yep on that one. Some of them are in the "with full knowledge of" category, but most of my very close friends, the ones I love and not just like, I can shake my head and smile and say, "That's [person]." Sometimes I also get annoyed or have to ask them to cut it out, but there's at least a corner of my brain glad they're around to be annoying me in that distinctive way.

I think this comes of being around old people a lot from the time I was little. When the great-great-aunts and -uncles got to be a bit much in the cheek-pinching susha-nice-a-lilla-gurrrl way, my mom would point out that very few kids got to have them at all. And I understood that; I didn't mutter, "Well, they can have mine." At least, not with most of the great-greats, not often. I was lucky enough to have old-old people who, for the most part, had redeeming qualities other than being mine.

Well. I finished reading Aegypt last night and was more relieved than anything. I'm going to catch up on periodicals a bit -- at least read an Analog or two so I can pass them on to Mark's pile -- before I pick up another novel. I'm more in the mood for novels than for short stories, or I think I am; what I'm in the mood for is a guaranteed good read, really, and I don't have that right now. For Christmas, probably, or a reread in the meantime. In the nearer meantime, short stories I can skip or get through quickly if they start to be sucky seems like it should be okay, decent-ish, sort of.

The Christmas tree has lights on it, fairly painlessly (while I was on the phone with Michelle, in fact), and the pepparkakor dough is chilling in the fridge. I'm doing those and some breads and truffles and teacakes, and Mark has already done a snack mix. I'm trying to figure out what else. I want to do something else that isn't what Mom and Grandma are doing (because why have more of the same kind when we can share around?), and I think it might be meringues with pistachios and maybe lemon cookies of some sort. And I'm not sure. I feel like doing a bunch of cut-out cookies, since I have lovely new cutters. But Grandma is already doing sugar cookies, and I don't have many cut-out cookie recipes, because I rank them last in my list, since they're more of a pain than bars or drop-cookies. Anybody with a good cut-out cookie recipe? Grandma's already making sugar cookies, so I'm a bit loath to make oatmeal sugar cookies, lest that be too much of a muchness. Maybe I will leave out the cut-out idea after I'm done with the pepparkakor and will just do oatmeal raisin or lemon sandwich or sandbakelser. Or something. Hmm. Thoughts are welcome, really.

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