One of my favorite lines in the film "Love Actually" comes when Emma Thompson's character's children return from school and tell her the roles they were given in the school play. Her daughter proudly announces that she was awarded the role of first lobster, to which Emma Thompson's character replies, "There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?" The daughter responds, "Duh."
Last night, my family and I attended the Christmas parade that marched merrily and vibrantly through downtown. And not only did our parade have second lobsters but we had a swarm of them -- many of whom were playing the sousaphone. There were floats featuring rock-'n'-roll singers belting out tunes while pretending to wipe their bums in hyper-voltage outhouses. There were Muppets and mermaids and dancing candy cane jellyfish. And of course, we saw a fair number of Christmas trees. Children zigzagged through the crowd standing on the sidewalk along the parade path, handing out candy canes to children younger than they. My children squealed, high on our shoulders, high on sugar, waving all the higher at the passing firetrucks and Christmas clowns and, naturally, camels dressed as stegosauruses wearing Santa hats.
But we almost missed all of it.
Icy rain was falling as I picked up the kids from school and day care later than usual because of sudden work deadlines. They were cranky in the car. I asked them how their school days were. In unison, I heard "bad!" Righto.
I blasted the Christmas tunes. The baby cried louder: "No, Mama. No singing. Bad singing." I changed the conversation to the Christmas parade. We still wanted to go, right? Isn't this going to be fun? My kindergartener gave a halfhearted "yeah." My baby said, "Mama! No singing! Never singing!"
I called my husband and asked him to meet us downtown. He was worried about parking, so he requested that we drive all the way back to the house to pick him up before returning to town for the parade.
Righto. Christmas cheer pumping through my blood, I turned the car around.
My husband slid into the car with a loud sigh. Work had pummeled him, the same way it had me, the way it had the kids.
As we drove back toward town, the soundtrack of Rudolph's bout of bullying in the background, my husband turned to the tired kids and asked, "How are you all?"
The baby screamed, "Mama bad singing!"
I wasn't even singing!
We hit traffic and roadblocks. The kids were cold. They were hot. They wanted to go home. And then they didn't. They were hungry. They were full. And when we finally looped the neighborhood streets for the billionth time and found a parking space, they demanded to know why I had parked so far away.
My cheer snapped like a candy cane.
"Because I like trudging through freezing rain. I think it's a jolly good time. Ho-ho-ho!"
They looked at me, all three of them, unsure of whether I was kidding or not.
I opened the car door.
"Now we are going to go out there and we are going to have some flipping fun. We are going to be full of flipping cheer. We'll be flipping festive. And we are all going to be exceedingly merry and bright. Do you hear me?!"
What is it about breaking Mom that puts everyone in good holiday spirits? By the time we walked past a traffic gridlock argument that was about to turn into a fistfight, the kids were practically skipping.
My son waved at the man screaming from his car and said, "Merry Christmas."
He did not respond. I reckon that's a good thing.
We found a spot to stand by the front of the parade. The kids insisted on sitting on our shoulders as we waved to friends who were inexplicably dressed as Christmas pirates and the ghosts of snowmen presiding over the manger. An elf kicked off the parade, and my children squealed. It was a Christmas miracle.
A miracle that promptly ended when it was time to walk back to the car. The kids decided their legs had fallen asleep and they were too hot and too cold and too hungry and too full. But still, they were happy to have attended. So was I.
And in case you were wondering whether there was more than one camel dressed as a stegosaurus at the birth of Jesus...
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.