Guess who Simone found in her stocking on Christmas morning?
Do you recognize him? No? Here he is with his customary companion:
Yes! It’s Schmutzli! See the cane, for child-thwacking? I think St. Nicolas has a rather resigned look on his face in this picture—resigned for a finger puppet, I mean. I sense that he and Schmutzli have a complicated relationship.
I doubt anyone will be quite as delighted by this as I am, except perhaps Jaywalker, author of the excellent Belgian Waffle. Jaywalker lives in Belgium, where they have Pere Fouettard (FATHER WHIP!), a Schmutzli analog, Her children were charmingly convinced that if they failed to leave beer for St. Nicolas they would be soundly beaten by his henchman, and I think this is a clever way to trick one’s offspring into pouring you a little drink before they hie themselves off to bed. If only St. Nicolas’ Day were every day.
So, yes, we had a lovely holiday, thank you for asking. My knee is much better—I got myself a spot of Vicodin, and after a few days of that, my recovery made a series of exponential leaps, and now Advil is sufficing for the remaining ache. Pain control really does wonders. At some point during my labor with Ames and Simone, it became impossible to tell whether the contractions were getting stronger or whether they were merely magnified by the fact that my uterus was so battered from hours of this abuse that even breathing hurt, and I think something similar was going on with my knee.
If we were religious, perhaps it would be gauche to visibly delight in the material aspects of Christmas, but as we are not, I feel no shame in telling you that seeing Simone with her presents was easily the highlight of the holiday.
Some favorites included the moose pictured above, a small tag-festooned piece of blanket, and most especially this:
This squeaking, rubber giraffe is essentially an overpriced dog toy, but was recommended by so many people that I bought one for Simone (actually, the tag said “FROM SCHMUTZLI”—very out of character of him to be bringing gifts). She has spent the past few days sitting with her toys piled companionably in front of her, sometimes grabbing one in each hand and squealing with the excitement of it all, then seizing the poor giraffe and stuffing its face into her teething maw.
It is hard to predict what toys babies will find most diverting. Simone’s hands-down favorite had been this…thing I found hanging on a clearance rack at Target and spontaneously tossed in my cart as I passed by. I can no longer find it anywhere online, which means it must be long gone, but it was by Dwell Studio and comprised several plush pieces festooned with various plastic rings, crinkly bits, a little mirror, etc. Of course MY favorite thing of Simone’s is a book she got last week from her aunt Amy, so if you are in search of a baby gift geared toward an easily-amused parent, may I suggest Louise: The Adventures of a Chicken.
My Christmas presents were almost as exciting as Simone’s, though they engendered (slightly) less drool and shrieking: a bottle of perfume, a Shinzi Katoh schedule book, and my gift to myself (besides the Hayden Harnett black patent Corcovado tote I got for $110 marked down from $650, can I get an AMEN) was a batch of these cookies, to which I added a splash of vanilla-infused cognac, because the bottle was just sitting there on the counter, so why not? I also added some cinnamon and used half pecans/half walnuts for the nuts, if you are interested, which you shouldn’t be if you have any desire to maintain your girlish figure.
I kept the cookies in an airtight tub to preserve their freshness, but let me tell you there is no way to preserve your dignity while calling “Could you bring me my tub of cookies?” to your husband as you recline on the couch. Scott laughed and laughed at my cookie tub, finally declaring that he is going to call me TUBBY from now on. Which I assure you he is not, not if he likes having his scrotum conveniently attached to his body.
I hope you all had lovely winter holidays, however you celebrate them. Personally, I find the family/presents/cookies combo particularly festive. Saxby Chambliss, friends.