Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec 2017

Watching out...

Since our new balcony railings were installed a couple of years ago, pigeons eschew railing in favour of decking. These two were hanging out on my upstairs neighbour's balcony floor, aka my balcony ceiling. I always find myself wondering why so often two of them... seldom only one.. and if another arrives the two incumbents quickly flee, before the interloper's partner arrives.

I also wonder what they're watching — or watching out for. They've got a good viewpoint there. I wonder how far they can see... surely all the way into December... maybe all the way to Santa's mythic voyage.

When I was a girl, my parents wanted Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve, but how to have presents suddenly arrive when we weren't asleep? They quickly established the tradition of my childhood: First we put out cookies and milk for Santa. Then we all three exited our back door and climbed into the car, with my daddy driving. As we backed out of the driveway, my mom suddenly said, "Oh, I forgot the binoculars!" Daddy pulled to the curb in front of our house and my mom quickly dashed up to the front door and disappeared into the house while Daddy reminded me to watch the sky around the brightness of the moon (or whatever brightness he could point out to me that year) to see Santa's sleigh in silhouette. Soon my mom re-emerged bearing the binoculars... which she reported having some difficulty finding. Then we set off.

We drove around admiring neighbourhood lighting displays, much less lavish than those today, but delightful to the little me. And at least once each year, Daddy pointed and said, "Look! There he is!" And I always just barely missed seeing Santa, but I always heard his sleigh bells. Always.

When we returned home, we went into the living room and sure enough, Santa had come and gone, leaving presents along with cookie crumbs and and an empty milk glass and even a thank-you note. Santa was always so pleased with our offering.

This was the routine even when we had visiting family... there were just more people crammed into the car.

When Peter was six, we returned from Australia and spent Christmas in San Antonio with my parents. Peter was at that age where he thought he knew there was no Santa, but he went along with the unfolding evening, willing but a little bemused. That time I got the full behind-the-scenes action as I helped my mom remove our coats from the entrance closet and ready them for the Santa-sighting trip... then we stashed the prezzies in that same entrance closet along with a prepared note from Santa and a plate with cookie crumbs and an empty glass with obvious milk film... AND the binoculars on the shelf... PLUS a strip of bells in her purse! The routine proceeded, but this time I was the one who ran inside and moved the prezzies to their place under the tree and exchanged the full plate and glass for the empty plate and glass AND placed the note... THEN grabbed the binoculars, which apparently were not where my mom had told me but which I found nearby and brandished with glee as I dashed back to the waiting car.

As we drove around the neighbourhood my dad did indeed point away and exclaim, "Looky! There he is1" while my mom removed the bells from her purse and gently rattled them outside the window she had rolled down "in order to see better." This was south central Texas, remember. Nobody complained about the cold.

And when we returned home, we were all surprised that Santa had come and left our presents strewn under the tree. Peter was agog. We all clapped with joy!


I think these pigeons know what they're watching out for. Don't you?
After all, you better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout, I'm telling you why...
Santa Clause is coming to town.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course