Happily, There is As Yet No War on Chambliss.

1. Data

(I know how boring it is to read posts about posting, and that what and whether I write here doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this cockamamie world, etc., but my quest to write more here is about more than writing more, here, and it is important to me, so I am keeping track of my progress. Think of this as about writing in general rather than blogging specifically, if that helps make it less annoying. If not, sorry! Baby picture at end!)

Obviously, I have not managed to post every weekday. A few times I had legitimate excuses, a few times I was lazy, but most often the difficulty arose when I was not willing to type-type-type-POST sans editing. Oh, I would say, I don’t have time to do a good job tonight, so better to do nothing at all. This is an attitude–worse, a behavior–that seeps into every arena of my life and has been ruinously destructive, hence this little project of mine. A good job! OF WRITING ON MY WEBLOG. What’s worse is that you are probably thinking it is only the public nature of this Website that presents a stumbling block, but no! I was SIXTEEN the first time I tried to institute a No Editing rule for my journal. A journal that I had no intention of showing anyone, ever, for any purpose. And yet, I remember having to get up in the middle of the night to tear out the one unedited page I had managed, because it was bothering me so much I couldn’t sleep. So, this is not the minor leagues of perfectionism, friends. I am in The Show. I am the Mickey Goddamn Mantle of this particular brand of self-sabotage.

Of course, I am always shocked when I am unable to shuck off years of habit with an impromptu flurry of effort, but rather than come over all self-flagellating about the days I’ve missed in my little posting initiative I made a chart:

See? More yellow than red! So I shall keep at it.

2. The Most Wonderful Time (If Not Day) of The Year

It was a uniquely eventful (or uneventful, depending upon how you look at it) holiday, here. A week or so ago, Swistle asked when (for those who celebrate same) it begins to feel like Christmas. For me, there are two answers: it begins to feel like the Christmas SEASON when the tree is up and decorated. And it begins to feel like ACTUAL Christmas on Christmas Eve Morn (I do not know how I came to type the word “Morn” just now, go with it). Specifically, at 9am, when I hear the beginning of the live broadcast of “Nine Lessons and Carols” from Kings College, Cambridge. More specifically, Once in Royal David’s City—most specifically, the bit where the conductor points to one of the young choristers (they do not know which it will be ahead of time!) and he begins the song in solo, nervous, voice sometimes quavery but always lovely and clear, the cathedral silent except for some program-rustling. I don’t listen to the whole broadcast, but that first song is a Christmas tradition. I sit still and quiet, and my eyes swim. It is beautiful, though the last two years they have changed the arrangement some and my favorite part, when the choir voices come back in soaring in a sort of sweeping, stirring way high over those of the congregation, is gone. Strange choice though it may be for an atheist, Once in Royal David City is my very favorite Christmas carol.

Anyhow, this is when Christmas begins for me. We are a Christmas Eve family, so later that day is when we gather for dinner, and then we carry on opening packages in a smaller group late into the night. The next morning there is breakfast and we rummage in our stockings and eventually head off to a party elsewhere, but the MEAT of Christmas happens on Christmas Eve.

This year, on Christmas Eve Morn, I had big plans. I had chocolate croissants in the oven. I’d made bacon. My laptop was tuned to the classical station for the start of the King’s College broadcast…and then half my vision up and disappeared. This is a thing that happens to me, now. It began during my pregnancy with Twyla, and while it is alarming to be suddenly unable to see much of anything on the right half of the world, these particular auras were only rarely followed by the actual headache part of a migraine, so as long as I was at home where there was no need for navigation, etc., I figured I was in for nothing more than a few hours’ annoyance. We’d finish breakfast, scrap the scheduled cookie making, and once I’d recovered we would bathe the girls and plop them into their Christmas dresses and be on our merry way! Fa la la la la, la la la la!

This time, alas, the aura WAS followed by the headache part of the migraine, a crushing, horrible headache the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in about a decade, complete with immobilizing nausea and panic. I spent all day Christmas Eve in bed, clutching frozen vegetables to my head, ill and weeping. The worst had passed by late afternoon, but I was left entirely drained and hollowed-out feeling, too weak to do much of anything, and Christmas Eve was, for us, effectively canceled. We made plans to go over to my mother’s the next morning for stockings and Christmas, Take Two, and we let Simone open her presents from us, and that was that.

I was awfully disappointed. I had been picturing it all for so long, and talking through the schedule with Simone, and looking forward to the familiar Christmas moments, and the first-Christmas-all-together-as-a-family-of-four moments, and I felt like it was small of me to be disappointed, but I was. I felt like the lesson I was supposed to learn from this was something about how Christmas lives in the heart, but really what I learned is to make sure you enjoy the preparations for/lead-up to Christmas, because the day itself may or may not actually materialize.

Luckily, I did enjoy the run up to the day itself, very much.

[Here is where I was going to talk about some of the things we did over the course of the holiday season, but I am having technical issues with my pretty pictures, so HOLD THAT THOUGHT! PROBABLY UNTIL MONDAY!]

3. And to All a Good Night

As an Internet Writer and civics nerd, one of the highlights of this past month was a comment I received a few entries ago:

“Schmutzli reminds me to wish you a very Saxby Chambliss! I read that original Saxby Chambliss post as a young Congressional aide, and I still laugh out loud at the thought of it. I think knowing who Sen. Chambliss is only makes the joke funnier.”

Putting aside for a moment the SHEER GLEE it gives me to know that a REAL LIVE CONGRESSIONAL AIDE (named Betsy!) read my Website, this comment brings up an important point: I never did wish YOU a Saxby Chambliss this year. Luckily, as an all-purpose, non-denominational holiday greeting, Saxby Chambliss hasn’t yet expired, and there is still time.

I am so grateful to all of you for your kindness and friendship. Thank you for showing up, even after my many months away. I feel lucky to have this space to come back to.

A very, very Saxby Chambliss, from mine to yours.



  1. Kirste says:

    I am glad you posted, including posting about posting! I am always happy to read your writing.
    I have a theory – most people believe they procrastinate and believe they are perfectionists. But people just have different ideas of what constitutes “last minute” and “perfect.” But tearing out pages of your old school journal? I think you qualify!
    Saxby To Chambliss!

  2. Carolyn says:

    I have the same problem with my own blog – I feel like I have SO MUCH TO SAY, but then I get bogged down in the stupid details (mostly about how each post should have some kind of visual accompaniment, and where will I find a great free graphic for today’s anecdote about Nathan gleefully stepping on a snail? That leads to an epic quest for “squashed snail” photos which doesn’t go anywhere, and then the babies have woken up from their naps and my quiet time is over!) and now it’s been a few months and I haven’t even posted about the fact that, OH YEAH, I had a baby! (Because I can’t be bothered to find the right photo *sigh* And the longer I go without writing it, the more pressure there is to do that before anything else . . . ) Anyhow, my point is that I get where you’re coming from :) And I think I might need to borrow your “write 3 things and post without editing” writing assignment sometime soon!

  3. Swistle says:

    I am RIVETED that they don’t know which one of them will sing the solo ahead of time!

    My Christmas Lesson this year was that Christmas doesn’t always go well. It doesn’t always CATCH. Sometimes we miss it, or something goes wrong and spoils it; sometimes it happens but it isn’t enjoyed for some reason.

    I don’t know why it took me so many years to notice this, especially considering all the years of Someone Had Stomach Flu For Christmas, but it was the first time I’d MULLED it. That Christmas is ruinable, and that sometimes it is ruined, and that that’s essentially okay.

  4. Leigh says:

    I’m so sorry you were felled by a migraine on Christmas Eve; those are awful even on boring days. I, too, started getting aural migraines while pregnant with my second, and I’ve discovered that if I take an Excedrin Migraine pill as soon as my vision starts going wonky and sit very, very still for about 30 minutes, the headache will either stay away all together or be just a manageable normal headache. My biggest fear is that I’ll get one while I’m driving and will have to pull over (because, you know, wonky vision), but that’s not happened yet.

    Saxby Chambliss to you and yours!

  5. Alyson says:

    So, my parents say “grace” before meals and we don’t (because we are HEATHENS!). One day I was like, why don’t we say a random first name before meals too (because they go around saying, “let’s say grace.” and settled on Paco). So now our 3 year old yells, “PACO!” before meals. It’s very cute. I also have some problems with the Christ in Christmas portion (because, hello, Jesus is not the reason for the season, the season existed and Jesus was grafted on by some wily Church PR people) but I’m thinking my parents would die if in addition to yelling, “Paco!” before eating my child started saying, “Happy Saxby Chambliss” around Christmas-time. Nevertheless, I just might instate this tradition. :-)

  6. Becky says:

    OMG Alexa, you just made my day! I’ve been busy and haven’t been here this month, but then I showed up and found posts!! Lots of them! Yay! Please keep with the posting three things, I love reading whatever you write. The girls are adorable. Happy New Year

  7. MJ says:

    I too love the Kings College broadcast but had no idea that the choirmaster didn’t let them know which boy he would point to ahead of time. Wow.
    I am very happy to have you back and posting, but I have to say that opening presents on Christmas Eve is a terrible idea and I can’t understand why anyone would want to do that rather than coming down the next morning to find gifts under the tree and stockings filled and to enjoy the present-opening when people are not all worn out. You would think that someone smart enough to wish others a Saxby Chambliss would have figured that out. Time for a new tradition (is there such a thing?), perhaps?

  8. Kara says:

    I would never wish the half-blind migraine on anyone, but you know how relieving it is to hear about other people experiencing the exact same thing you do? I felt that way in reading this, so uh, thanks for sharing? But I’m VERY VERY sorry that happened to you on Christmas Eve. I’ve gotten those things every once in a while since I was 22, and they’re just the worst. Except for me, it’s always the left side of my vision that’s gone. Yuck. But thanks for posting again even though you weren’t “perfect” for December. A dozen or so posts from you in one month? Perfect!

  9. Myra says:

    There is a coffee shop called Saxby’s on my way to work and every time I see it I think of you and say, “Saxby Chambliss!”

  10. liza says:

    I thought of you this morning when we sang that exact hymn at my dad’s church this morning. I missed the Christmas eve service, so for me it truly felt like Christmas this morning, 5 days later when that was the opening hymn.

  11. Val says:

    I don’t know about you, but stress [extra stress, outside my normal, every day stress] seems to be my biggest migraine trigger. Sometimes it only triggers the ocular migraine – I know the feeling of half-blind well – and sometimes it goes full blown. So sorry you got hit on xmas eve. Maybe all the weeks of stress and prep and plans triggered it. Or maybe it was something else. I never can tell.

    Good to see you back and blogging – I do love your stories!

  12. momma toast says:

    Beautiful daughters! Saxby Chambliss to you and yours, I guess…. I don’t get it.
    Alexa, you are weird (in a good way) and I adore you and your writing. Never stop!

  13. I feel a strong urge to adopt this Royal David’s City song – per your specifications – as one of MY holiday traditions. It sounds so lovely! And a SURPRISE soloist?! I love that. What incredible courage it must take to be one of the potential soloists! The anticipation alone would kill me dead.

    Why is there some sort of moratorium on blogging about blogging? I don’t find it tedious – I rather like it, often, because it IS about things that resonate, like time and perfectionism and making choices about what’s “worthy” of posting etc.

    Your children are VERY adorable. What a lovely lovely Chambliss photo.

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