Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The One With the Resolution

This is not a New Year’s resolution. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a clean slate… a fresh start… January one… just as much as the next person. But this particular resolution has been six years in the making, and if I must put a date on it, it would be November 24th, 2008. So I can’t really call that a New Year’s resolution. This is it: for six years, I have been resolving to make an album. A musical album, consisting of songs I have written. In 2009 it is going to happen.
Santa didn’t leave all my recording equipment and software under the tree, but that is okay. It has been some years since I depended on him to make my dreams come true. I am taking steps to equip my own studio. This album is going to contain no less than nine original Christmas songs (some of which you have already heard here on the blog in their rough form). I am working on new arrangements and writing new songs. I am securing just the right voices, and even a couple of amazing instrumentalists.

There is a part of me that would like to say, if I can just make the CD, then I will have achieved my goal, even if I don’t sell a single one. But that would not be truthful. These recordings are going to be as amazing as I can possibly make them, and I am going to market them in a serious way. That is my resolution. I am throwing my hat into the ring.

As I have begun this process, I have realized certain things about my music. Here is a startling one: every good song I have ever written has simply poured out in about five minutes flat! That is a very humbling realization. To receive that kind of inspiration, I have to be a more worthy person. My scripture study and prayer has to be more earnest…more fervent. It occurs to me that if I am really going to accomplish this daunting task, I have to prepare in a very unique way: I have to keep Christmas for an entire year. The tree has to go. The smallest spark, and mine would go up like Chevy Chase’s tree in “Christmas Vacation.” The reindeer…the Santas… they will all be packed away on January 2nd, just like every other year. But Christmas must stay. How do I go about keeping Christmas? Performing acts of service is part of it. A certain feeling toward others is part of it. I had some ideas, but last night a phone call from a close friend brought it all crystal clear for me. It comes down to one thing: Charity.

I think I may have found a New Year’s Resolution after all. What follows is my personal theme for 2009. It is the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. In case you are an auditory learner, I have added one of my favorite hymns. It is just me, on the piano…nothing fancy. I can’t put any songs up for awhile, because I will be working on new arrangements and recordings. But don’t worry, I’ll be making it up to you with a really amazing CD in a few months. So listen...What are you going to do in 2009?


1 THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away,
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The One Where Hell Froze Over

Did I happen to mention that I spent the night in a snowstorm in Primm, Nevada last week? I know. It sounds like I'm making it up. It is a single week before Christmas. I have just finished playing for a large Christmas concert, and I am trying to make up for all the lost time, when DK happens to mention that we have to make a "day trip" to St. George, Utah. I think I maybe rolled my eyes at that point. I mean, a day trip to Utah? But he assured me that we would leave at 5:30 when the boys left for seminary in the morning, and we would be back by midnight that night. Six hours there, a few hours in a meeting, and then six hours home.

We pulled out of the driveway at 6:10 a.m. Forty minutes late is actually pretty good for us, when it comes to leaving on a trip. I packed a little makeup, a brush, some aspirin and some eyedrops in my purse. That was the extent of my luggage. As we drove down the street in the dark, I looked down at my four-inch black-patent heels, and thought, I probably should have brought some more practical shoes, just in case. Nah... DK said we would be home by midnight.

At 7:10, exactly one hour from home, we were driving through several inches of snow over the Cajon pass. One hour from Orange County, California... snow. A lot. Of. Snow. That was the first time I said, "KH, are you sure you want to do this???" That was the first time. I think I asked him that about twenty times before we reached St. George. (In case you haven't read the older posts, DK stands for "Darling Kevin," and KH means "Kevin Honey." I usually refer to him as DK, but it is often Kevin Honey, when I want something...)

We sat in our meeting in St. George for about four hours. About halfway through that four hours, it began to snow. St. George doesn't get a lot of snow, but over the next two hours, it got about four inches, so we headed out as quickly as our California tires would carry us. Don't worry, everyone said, as soon as you head south there won't be any more snow. Famous last words. We drove through several inches of snow in Las Vegas. I did not say it, but I was thinking it. I was thinking it really loudly: "I told you so...I told you so... I TOLD YOU SO!" Home by midnight, right, DK?

I called home and asked one of the boys to google road conditions for highway I-15. He told me it was closed at the state line. "Which state line?" I asked, hopefully. I'm not good with directions. Maybe I-15 was closed at the Colorado state line, or maybe the North Dakota state line. Montana? Wyoming? Nope. No such luck. Closed from Primm, Nevada to Baker, California. We were fast approaching Primm, and plowing through increasingly bad roads and driving snow. Everywhere we looked, trees were bent and broken under unaccustomed loads of snow. In Nevada.

Sure enough, when we reached Primm, we were immediately directed off the freeway... into a madhouse of stranded travelers and semi-trucks. There are three hotels in Primm, each with about 1200 guest rooms. So it should be easy to find a room. DK crunched through the snow at the first hotel while I sat in the car, calling the kids to tell them we wouldn't be home. As soon as he set foot in the casino he realized we were in trouble. There were at least a hundred people in line for rooms. It was 9:30 p.m., and we found out that the road had been closed since 10:00 a.m. Not good news. He went to the front of the line, and approached a man who had just been helped. He told DK that he had been in line for about six hours to get to that point. He said that customers without reservations were being charged the rack rate for rooms, which was over $200 per night, and that we would be lucky to get one at that price, because there were almost no rooms left. He handed DK a toll-free telephone number, and told him that he should call immediately for a reservation, even though he was standing in the hotel.

DK did not realize until after the man left, that he was very likely one of the Three Nephites... because he saved us that night. DK called the 800 number, and was told that of the three hotels, they had a handful of rooms left in only one. He said he could book us in a room, but that he would have to charge our credit card immediately. DK braced himself for the impact, and asked the price. The operator replied, "Well, sir, I can offer you our promotional 'Wednesdays in December' rate. That will be $5.00." DK wasn't sure he heard that right. Maybe it was a service fee. Or maybe they were charging by the hour. But no. He charged the card for $6.18, including tax! It turns out, that the hotel they booked us in...actually had no rooms. But they sent us to the third of the three hotels, where we were given VIP status, and had a room key within minutes. Between the three hotels, we saw at least 300 people standing in lines for rooms, who would no doubt be spending the night in the 20-degree weather in their cars, or on the floor of the casinos, while we watched the newscasts of the record-breaking snowstorm from our comfortable five-dollar room.

We had 12th-floor view of the freeway, where at about midnight, semi-trucks were beginning to line up on the freeway in anticipation of the 12-noon freeway opening the following day. By morning, there were thousands and thousands of cars and trucks lined up waiting for the opening. We pulled out of our hotel parking lot at about 10:30 a.m. after a nice steak and eggs breakfast, still doubtful that we would make it home that day. We were worried that it might take hours and hours just to get on the freeway. The Nevada state troopers were letting 1,000 vehicles at a time onto the freeway, with ten-minute breaks in between. At 11:50, a police car came around with a loudspeaker. "Please get in your vehicles and start your engines; we are going to put you onto the freeway first." We just looked at each other. Once again, we were the luckiest people in Primm. At 12:00 noon, the freeway opened. At 12:06, we were flying along at freeway speed...in the first 100 cars on the freshly-plowed road.

There is definitely a moral to this story. First, I'm not going to fall for that whole "day trip to Utah" ploy ever again. You know... fool me once, and all that. Also, I will probably be carrying my toothbrush in my purse for awhile. I will never go more than an hour away without some comfortable shoes. Although in my sexy black pants and high heels, I made some really interesting friends in the Primm Valley Casino. There was this one biker guy with gold teeth, some pretty sweet boots and awesome hair. Think Kurt Russell in "Escape From New York." We bonded. That was pretty funny, too... DK put me in the back of the line there while he passed the 100+ people to go to the front of the line, which is what DK does... my new friends all kept telling me that they had been there for hours, and it would not do any good to go up there, and I kept telling them that they just didn't know DK. Of course I was right, because half an hour later, the line hadn't moved three feet, and DK was back, whisking me off to the VIP line at Buffalo Bill's... ah, but I'm getting sidetracked. Sorry. The moral of the story is, pack a little bag. Even for a day trip. Because things happen... even when there isn't a snowball's chance in... well, you know.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The One Where She Didn't Get What She Wanted

Was there a new iMac loaded with extra RAM and a super-duper hunky-dory 500 gig hard drive, preloaded with Logic Studio and covered by three years of Applecare under my Christmas tree? I don't think so. Let me check through the dry needles littering the carpet under my dead tree just one more time. Nope. No computer. Not even so much as a teensy weensy flash drive. But not to worry... Christmas is not about presents. Which is evidenced by this wonderful collection of gifts that you may or may not have found under your own tree.

1. The Razorba Back Hair Shaver. Yup. It's a shaver for those tricky places you can't reach. I don't have much hair on my back. But I did know this guy who was pretty much bald on top, who had so much body hair that it was like a pelt. The fur poked out from under the cuffs of his long-sleeved dress shirts. It peeked above his button-down collar. I never saw his feet, but I picture something along the lines of Hobbit feet. I can only imagine how the Razorba could have changed his life.

2. Casserole Caddy. Yes, this little beauty carries your tuna casserole in style, and then doubles as a lovely placemat when you reach your destination. I actually found two of these under my own Christmas tree. Imagine my happy surprise! I have to guess that this is the basic, or generic model. I have a most quaint and picturesque calico version. What a
great idea!

3. The Hot Pink Nutcracker Sweater. This is only one of the countless Christmas sweaters with which
you could have been blessed this season. A beautiful specimen. You know you have a favorite at home in your closet.

4. "A White Trash Christmas" CD. This is one of those CDs that you will want to listen to the whole year through. Included are such classics as "Osama Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "The Little Hooter Girl.

5. Finger Nose Hair Trimmer. I know... right? A trimmer in the shape of a human finger. Fun
and practical. I haven't tried this one out, but I understand that it is equally effective on ear hair. I was attracted to this one for so many reasons... not the least of which is, I think I know this guy. He lives on my street.

6. Ann Coulter Talking Doll. Push the button, and Ms. Coulter will deliver such witty one-liners as "Liberals can't just come out and say they want to take more of our money, kill babies, and discriminate on the basis of race," or "Swing voters are more appropriately known as the 'idiot voters' because they have no set of philosophical principles. By the age of fourteen, you're either a Conservative or a Liberal if you have an IQ above a toaster." Or, my personal favorite: "Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil. What do Hollywood celebrities imagine fuels their private jets? How do they think their cocaine is delivered to them?"

7. Obama Limited Edition "Batmobama and Robiden" Giclee. In case the Ann Coulter doll is not up your alley, this one is sure to please... My favorite part is Sarah Palan as Catwoman. This is a true original.

8. "Miss Vera's Cross-dress For Success" Guide by Veronica Vera. Didn't get one? Probably a good thing. This is only for that very special someone on your shopping list.

9. The Jitterbug. This one had to make the list. It is an oldster-friendly cell phone. It has giant numbers for the visually challenged. Operator-assisted phone calling... and the best darn jingle on TV. It's a must-have.

10. And in case you didn't save up any of your cash for any of those after-Christmas sales, here is a budget-friendly alternative. These little beauties are marked down to move quick.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The One With the Heartwarming Christmas Story

I can't deny it. I am a sucker for a sappy Christmas story. I can't help myself. I love "Gift of the Magi." What follows is a story from my first year of marriage, that is my own personal version of "Gift of the Magi." The only difference is, that my story doesn't really end with a moral. And, it doesn't involve gift-giving. Okay fine. It is not even heartwarming. But it is true. And pretty funny...at least in retrospect. And given the "Magi" reference, I will try to endow it with a moral, charm and heartwarming style, even if the story itself is lacking in all three.

It was the winter of 1984. DK and Victoria were poor college students. They lived in a cozy little upstairs condominium in quaint downtown Orem, Utah, furnished with nothing but love. Well, love...and all the wedding presents they received from two wedding receptions. Oh, and some pretty happening oak tables and a couch/loveseat combo in plush blue velvet. Despite the snow on the ground and the chill that crackled in the air, DK insisted on riding his motorcycle to school, so that Victoria could take their only car to work at the law office.

A word or two about the car: It was a two-toned Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Brougham Edition. Very posh. It only had one little flaw (well, besides the fact that it was two-door, and in the coming years would, most inconveniently, house three car seats. But that was not really the car's fault. We might blame that particular inconvenience on DK and Victoria, or on car manufacturers for not inventing the mini-van until about 1987, or perhaps more fairly, on the failure of every contraceptive known to man. But, I digress...). The Cutlass was a lovely, comfortable car, a joy to drive...until the temperature dipped below about 30 degrees. Then it had just one slight problem.

Victoria was driving home from work one early evening in the near-dark of that cold December. Beautiful lacy snowflakes fell, swooping away just before touching the windshield, and sparkling in the headlights. Suddenly a piercing sound startled Victoria, drowning out the Christmas music coming from the premium sound system. It was an awful blare, varying in pitch, deafening and unrelenting. The car horn. It was stuck. Victoria quickly pulled over, and began to pound on the steering wheel. After a few moments, relief. The horn shut down, and Victoria's heart rate began to settle back into the safe zone.

Shaking, she drove the last two miles home, and parked in her reserved parking place, there in the carport under the window of their little apartment in the hundred-unit complex. Victoria perused her pristine Pillsbury cookbook, looking for the perfect recipe with which to surprise DK's taste buds on his return home that night. She was barely halfway through Meat and Poultry, when a horrifyingly familiar sound reached her ears through the closed window...the horn was blaring away again. Victoria did what any rational person would...she hid. As the horn blared on for a full two minutes, she sat on the floor behind the couch, clutching the phone. She frantically called DK at his work. DK was a mature man of 22, and he tried to calm his young 20-year-old bride. "Go down and hit the steering wheel again...shut it down..." he encouraged. "I can't, " she replied rather shrilly. "I'm hiding right now."

DK arrived home at about 9:00 that evening, to find that our young heroine had moved the Cutlass out of the carport, and into a parking space thirty or forty yards from the condo. He was tired from work, and while he listened sympathetically to Victoria's description of her traumatic evening, in his heart, he could not quite believe that the sound was so terrible. The two of them fell fast asleep, huddled together against the cold of the night.

At 2:30 in the morning, Victoria awakened to the distant, but still startlingly loud sound of the car horn blaring. She pounded DK awake. "KH! Do you hear that? That is the car horn. You have to make it stop!" DK patiently climbed out of bed, put on his shirt, pants, shoes and coat, and headed out to the car. He pounded on the steering wheel and made the sound stop. He trudged back to the apartment, undressed and went back to bed. Only thirty minutes passed before it happened again. "DK! Please make it stop! It is going to wake the neighbors!" This time DK threw on his pants, shirt and shoes, and went out to stop the offending sound. By the time it went off for the third time at about 3:30 a.m., DK did not bother with the shirt and pants. He jogged down to the Cutlass wearing nothing but untied shoes and his Mormon underwear...

By this time, DK was tired and cold. He opened the car, ripped out the fuses, slammed the door and headed back to the apartment. Only this time, he was greeted by a whole welcoming committee of fellow residents, who had also been awakened by the repeated horn blaring. Victoria and DK's next-door neighbor asked if there was anything he could do to help. DK just stood there in his underwear, smiled, and said "No, thanks. It's all under control." Completely nonplussed, he marched past the onlookers, kicked off his shoes and went back to bed, falling asleep within moments.

Now, if there is a moral to this story I honestly don't know what it is. But I must observe that over the ensuing years, DK remained calm and steady under pressure, impervious to embarrassment. This calm did eventually rub off on Victoria, and having sons gradually rendered her insensitive to any small embarrassments, inuring her to all but the most profound humiliation. Gone are the days when she might cower in the dark because of a blaring horn. These days it would take, say...flames. We must not make light of that, either, since the family Suburban did actually catch fire in the high school parking lot one year (which event, while it did cause our heroine to flinch in embarrassment, was unquestionably the highlight of Casey's senior year).

We leave our young newlyweds, then, happy and snug in their little condo in Orem. There were many more cold Decembers to folow...but none with blaring horns, as DK and Victoria never could figure out how to replace the fuse in the Cutlass, and thus went hornless until 1989, when DK surprised Victoria with a Dodge Caravan. Romance is not dead. They lived happily ever after, at least for the almost quarter century since then... and at this juncture, DK would probably say, "25 years? Are you sure that's all? It seems like so much longer..."

I know... O. Henry does it so much better...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The One With Old MacDonald (Or Things That Go Oink in the Night)

All afternoon and evening I kept hearing music. I couldn't exactly place what I was hearing, but I ruled out angel voices pretty early on. It was definitely not inspiration...whispering a new song for me to write. You know how crazy you sound when you look someone in the eye and ask, "Do you hear that?" That was me all afternoon. As evening wore on, I decided it was someone in a neighboring home having a Christmas party, and I got a little grumpy thinking that it was going to keep me awake when I went to bed.

So as the poem goes, I in my kerchief, and DK in his cap, had just settled down for a long winters' nap, when out on the balcony there arose such a clatter... oh no! The sound was coming from my master bedroom balcony. It turns out that we were the bad neighbors keeping everyone for houses around awake. I rose up from my bed to see what was the matter, and there it was: Skippy's Fisher Price Old MacDonald's Farm. Yes, there was music. (Sing it with me... E-I-E-I-O!) But that was not all... no. Every time it played Old MacDonald, every animal on the farm was chiming in. There were pigs, horses, cows, chickens... it was awesome. It seems that Skippy had been playing with his toy there and left it. Yesterday we got about four inches of rain, and it brought Old MacDonald to life as though it was on the Island of Misfit toys. So DK brought the farmer and his animals inside and set them in the bathtub. End of story? NOT. It puts me in mind of the Happy Birthday incident...(Insert Flashback/Dream Sequence Here)

About 15 years ago, DK/KH got a birthday card, which we thought at the time was pretty revolutionary... when you opened it, it played "Happy Birthday to You!" We thought it was fun and inventive. Until one of the kids removed the small player from the card. Without the card to close, there was nothing pressing the little trigger that kept it from playing. So it played all the time. In the bottom of a toybox, where it would take half an hour to find. In someone's bed. Under your own bed in the middle of the night. I threw it away so many times, I can't even count. But to my horror, somehow it always found its way back into the possession of my children. Until one day, when one of them flushed it down the boys' bathroom toilet. That should have been the end of the story, at least for me. Happy Birthday should have been entertaining the rats and alligators. But no. Somehow the music box from Hades managed to get stuck in the toilet. I tried everything I could to reach it, but it played at random times for weeks and weeks. When it finally died, it was not a peaceful death...the kind where you just fall asleep and don't wake up. Oh, no. Instead, the music began sounding more and more as though it was being sung by one of the drunken sailors in the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland. "Happy Birthday to You." It was never a great song. But I would not mind if I never had to hear it again.

So, back to 2008. Bedtime. DK assured me that it must have been one of the kids making the farm music play, because look... there it is in the bathtub, all innocent, not playing at all. So we settled back in for the aforementioned nap, and had no sooner closed our eyes, when the barnyard went crazy. It was like a hoedown in my bathtub, what with all the music and animal noises. DK scrambled to remove the batteries, only to find that they were housed behind a panel attached by screws. The really tiny kind that you need a special screwdriver to open. It took a few minutes and a couple of different toolkits, but DK managed to open it. I was standing by with a really big hammer, just in case. Because we will never have a repeat of the Happy Birthday incident. And with an oink-oink here and moo-moo there... I was tucked back into bed, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. So Happy Christmas to all... and to all a Good Night!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The One Where The Big Guy Helped Me With the Dishes

Tonight I was doing dishes at 11:30 p.m. I was using copious amounts of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Dishsoap. You probably think that is really wasteful of me to buy dishsoap at a high-end kitchen store. I do it because it there has to be one tiny little ray of sunshine in the whole dishwashing thing. It smells so good that sometimes I wash my hands even when they are clean, just so I can sniff the stuff. Most people think that clean dishes are their own reward. But you must understand that for me, dirty dishes are the worst job in the house. I would rather clean three weeks of mildew out of the shower than do dishes. I would rather scrub toilets. With my bare hands. I would rather scrub the boys' bathroom with my bare hands. No big deal, you say? Do you have five boys in your house? When you do, then we'll talk.

So, 11:30 p.m. dishes. Peppermint dish soap. Listening to my iPod. Christmas tunes. I turned to pick up a stack of dishes, and suddenly there he was. The big guy. That jolly old elf. Santa himself, in my kitchen. We're not talking about a cheap imitation mall Santa with alcohol on his breath and a fake yellowing beard and teeth. Not this one. He smelled of candy canes and pipe tobacco. I've never been a fan of smoking, but all in all, it was a pretty pleasant combination.

My first reaction was, "Quick, get Skippy! He isn't going to want to miss this." But Santa put a finger to his lips, shhh, and grabbed a dishtowel to start drying my dishes. Santa. He's on the list! You know, the list of famous people that, if they knew me, would be my best friends? It's not an idol list...there are plenty of people I admire that I know I wouldn't get along with at all. The ones on this list are the ones with BFF potential. Santa's right there with Tom Hanks, Matt Lauer, Amy Grant, Orson Scott Card and Gordon Ramsey. And do you know what? I was right. We totally hit it off.

He wanted to know why I was up at 11:30 doing dishes, when I have to be at a rehearsal at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow for a big Christmas concert for which I am playing. I told him it was the first time I've had all evening to do them. A friend called tonight and needed to go for a walk, and I went. The missionaries didn't have a dinner appointment, so I made them some soup, muffins and apple pie. A soloist needed to go over parts for the concert tomorrow, so I rehearsed. There were so many things to do, and so many places to go, that I was just getting to the dishes shortly before midnight. I expected a lecture about how I shouldn't overschedule, but I suppose Santa knows all about deadlines and fitting everything all into one night. So he just nodded sympathetically, and dried dishes.

We talked about my kids, his reindeer, gift lists, to do lists, and cookie recipes. I could tell we were working our way around to the big question. I can guess which one you're thinking: Why doesn't avocado come off in the dishwasher? I know, right? But no, it was the other big one: What do you want for Christmas? I had no desire to sit upon, nor did he offer, his knee. But there was the question, all the same. And my head began to swim with the possibilities. Visions of sugarplums were dancing. And I don't even know what a sugarplum is. I thought to myself, I have the actual Santa Claus right here in my kitchen, and he wants to know what I want for Christmas! New dress, new computer, look good in a swimsuit, movie tickets, a laundry elf (he has got to know some, right?), HD TV, a tummy tuck, laser hair removal (okay, that last one...I don't even know where that came from. No way I am going to let someone laser my hair follicles... and the one before that? I can see the headline now: MOTHER OF SEVEN DIES ON OPERATING TABLE...GETTING A TUMMY TUCK. I would be reduced to a cautionary tale. No, thank you). But even so, the list in my head grew longer and longer.

But then I realized a couple of things. First of all, that it was nice to have a little company while I do dishes late at night. Thanks, Santa. Secondly, there wasn't much that I want for Christmas, and even less that I actually need. That is a good realization.

I told Santa that he didn't need to worry about my friends and family, either, because it is one of my favorite things in life to give them gifts. He laughed at me then, and it was a quiet laugh. Good thing, since, everyone else in the house is snug in bed. But he still shook like a bowlful of jelly. He told me that was good, because a) I am 44 years old, and if Santa was dragging around gifts for people that old, that his sleigh would probably have broken down years ago, and b) I live in the same town as the "Real Housewives of Orange County." Apparently Santa doesn't visit any town that has that many people on the naughty list. "So I'm on my own? That is what you're telling me?" I asked. He winked and said, "Of course not. I'll still help you with the dishes." (I'm not going to lie...I think the old guy was flirting with me) And so he did. The last dish done and the counters all shined, I bent to start the dishwasher. When I turned around, he was gone.

Hallucination, brought on by the potent combination of stress, peppermint dishsoap and Christmas music? Perhaps. But I don't think so.

Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa Claus.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The One Where He Grew Up

This little song that I wrote, "Did You Know?" is so simple that kids seem to pick it up after only hearing it one time. That is part of what I love about it. The other thing I love is that it talks about Jesus, the grown man, not just the baby. I love the Savior and everything he has done for each of us. That is the true gift of Christmas. In the tradition of giving, I hope you enjoy this little Christmas gift from me to you. Vocals courtesy of Garry Pfile.

Did You Know?

Did you know when Jesus was a baby
That His mother laid him in the hay?
Did you know He slept among the oxen,
Safe and warm until the break of day?
Did you know He was the promised Savior,
Born to bring us love and show the way.

Did you know that Jesus was a shepherd,
That His lambs were people just like me?
Did you know that Jesus blessed the children?
Did you know He held them one by one?'
Did you know that Jesus came to save us?
Did you know that He was God's own son?

Did you know that Jesus healed the blind man?
Did you know He made the lame to walk?
Did you know He walked upon the water?
Did you know He calmed the troubled sea?
Did you know that Jesus loved the children?
That is how I know that He loves me...
That is how I know that He loves me.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The One Where Joseph Was Missing

I let Skippy set up this little nativity set. It was a good choice, as it seems fairly indestructible. Unfortunately, as I came to the bottom of the box, unwrapping and handing him each figure as I went, it became apparent that there was a missing figure: Joseph. Even the other nativity participants seem a little dismayed...just look at their facial expressions!

I have always been fascinated by Joseph. What would happen if Joseph really was missing? Where would Mary and Jesus have been without him? It wasn't an easy role he had to play. I am sure it wasn't exactly what he thought he was signing up for when he made plans to wed Mary. And yet he went on to personify grace under pressure. He must have really loved Mary, and he must have really loved the Lord, to respond to the call he was given and to protect them with all that he had. Don't you just love Joseph, when you think about that? I do. I wrote this song to be sung from Joseph's perspective. I apologize that it is about the worst recording I have...it was recorded live at a Christmas concert, and although you can hear vocalist Ric Starnes quite well, the piano sort of fades out. There is a fair amount of audience noise as well. But perhaps you can overlook that and just hear the spirit of the song.

Joseph’s Song

In a thousand anxious moments
I have seen this very night
I’ve imagined how I’d feel now
And I’ve wished with all my might
That I’d know you when I saw you
And I’d love you as my own
Though you’re God’s son born to save us
You’ll be mine until you’re grown.

In this city full of strangers
There is no place left to stay
But a stable meant for cattle
And a manger full of hay.
Not a place I would have chosen
For your long awaited birth,
But it’s quiet and it’s safe here
As we welcome you to earth.

Lay your soft head on my shoulder
Sleep until the night is done.
Hear my song and feel my heart beat,
You’re my little baby son.

I have seen how in an instant
Things can change like night to day.
From the moment you arrived
Life transformed for me that way.
When I held you for the first time,
Angels sang and shouted praise.
Then a new star burst from heaven
Bathing earth with silver rays.

When I gazed then at your mother
My heart swelled; tears filled my eyes
For her beauty burned like fire
As she smiled and soothed your cries.
In the glory of that evening
I fell on my knees to pray
Thanks to God for my sweet family
And this Savior come to stay.

Lay your soft head on my shoulder
Sleep until the night is done.
Hear my song and feel my heart beat,
You’re my little baby son.

Lay your soft head on my shoulder
Sleep until the night is done.
Hear my song and feel my heart beat,
You’re my little Jesus son.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The One Where Victoria Finds You the Perfect Present

Your troubles are over. You are going to be so glad I am the queen of infomercials, because I have done it. I have found the perfect gift for every single human (and some of the larger dogs) on your shopping list. It is called the Snuggie. It is a blanket...WITH SLEEVES! I am not going to lie...I have watched this video over and over and over. Every time I roll on the floor laughing. It is the best gift ever. No, really. Watch it. Witness the frustration that ensues when the lady in the regular blanket tries to reach for the cordless phone. It is classic. And don't cheat and stop watching before the end. If you do, you will miss the Jedi family. Yes, near the end of the video, there is a part where the whole family is roasting marshmallows...in their Snuggies... and they totally look like Jedi warriors! Oh, and I can totally see DK/KH and me doing that high five at the ballgame in our matching Snuggies. Now, I know there are those of you who will not see the intrinsic value here...for instance, Lisa, my "smart" friend (I have to call her that because she is 38 years old, and she reads at a 40-year-old level) points out that it is simply a bathrobe, worn backwards. Ahhh, Lisa, where is your Christmas spirit? 'Tis the season for gifts that come two for $19.95 and come with a free gift. The only question now, is what colors to buy...

The One With the Baby Piano

Stupid things I do when I'm distracted. Thursday I had a turkey in the oven (turkey? on the last Thursday of November? I don't believe in coincidence). About midway through cooking time I was feeling so in control of my fate that I decided to risk taking a shower and putting on clean clothes. I came down an hour later to find the turkey sitting in a cold oven. I apparently turned the oven off when I checked it before my shower. I tried to blame it on DK, but I know it was really me. This morning I wasn't feeling very well, but we are out of bread, and domestic goddess that I am, I realized that I needed to get bread made before the missionaries came home for lunch. I threw everything (well, almost everything) into the mixer, and sat down to check my e-mail for the six minutes it takes to make the magic happen. After six minutes, I turned the dough into the bowl, covered it with a towel, and placed it into a warm oven. Ten minutes later, it came to me in a flash...I didn't put in any yeast. That whole mound of beautiful dough...straight into the trash. Start from scratch. Couldn't blame that one on DK. This is a stressful week. What else am I going to do? Forget Skippy at kindergarten? Go to church with my skirt tucked into my pantyhose? (I actually don't wear stockings anymore...this is Orange County, after all. But I totally did that once when I was pregnant...let me tell you, it was super attractive!) When I'm under a lot of stress, it finds its way into my dreams. Sometimes I even go sleep-walking. The worst was a couple of years ago when the whole family was staying at the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City, and in the middle of the night, I went sleepwalking. Out of the hotel room. I woke up enough to realize that I was in a hotel, in my pajamas (thank you thank you thank you), and I didn't know what hotel, why I was there, or where my room was. Fortunately, as I woke up more, I remembered some details, and was able to find my way back to my room without providing amusement for the desk clerk. Sleepwalking. It is why, in a house with teenage boys and missionaries, we sleep fully clothed. Anyway, I can tell this week is getting to me... last night in a pretty graphic dream, I gave birth... to a piano. It wasn't a large piano, as pianos go, but come on...where is that anesthesiologist when you need him?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The One With the Baby

There is something about the night the Savior was born... the Christmas story... that first captures my imagination, and then transports me to that place and time. I have had some very sacred moments as I have studied and prayed to create Christmas music. Heavenly Father sent a Savior to provide us with an Atonement. But he didn't send him fully grown, clothed in power and glory. Instead, he sent him as a tiny baby, in the most humble of circumstances. I love to think of angels and shepherds together in a crude stable to see the baby Jesus. In an earlier post today, I found some humor in childbirth. I am grateful that there is some to be found there. But then the baby arrives, and it is profoundly moving to feel that powerful love you didn't even know was possible. So there, in Bethlehem, was a convergence of earthly, primal love for a tiny newborn baby, dirty and coarse surroundings, blood and pain...alongside heavenly visitors, a bright new star directly overhead, and in the center, the perfect only begotten son of a loving Heavenly Father: the most precious gift He could send, not just for Mary and Joseph's generation, but for every generation that ever did, or ever will, live on the earth. What story could be more compelling? This is a song I wrote a couple of years ago called "Mary, May I Hold Your Little Baby?" sung by Karen Lake.

Per request, the words:

Mary, may I hold your little baby?
Let me rock him while you sleep awhile;
I will keep him safe from harm.
Wrap my poor cloak around your shoulders;
I know that it is worn and old, but at least it will be warm.

Rest, now; when you wake I will still be here
Kneeling at the manger bed,
Watching o’er your little baby dear.
Mary, I heard you sing to your little one.
Even angels and shepherds wept at your lullaby to God’s holy son.
Mary, may I hold your little baby?
I believe that when he fills my arms,
My heart will be full too.

I know that you must be so weary.
There was not an inn in Bethlehem
That would take you for the night.
I came to see the little Savior.
I felt the Spirit whispering to come and feel his light.


Prophets have waited for a new star
To shine up in the heavens
To guide them to their King.
Look how it shines upon the stable,
Bringing rich and poor to worship him;
See the wondrous gifts they bring.

Rest, now; when you wake I will still be here
Kneeling at the manger bed,
Watching o’er your little baby dear.
Mary, I heard you sing to your little one.
Even angels and shepherds wept at your lullaby to God’s holy son.
Mary, may I hold your little baby?
I believe that when he fills my arms,
My heart will be full too.