Update to last night's UPS Truck Watch: like a great boxy hulking savior in the black of night, the UPS truck pulled up in front of my house late after the two littlest were asleep Christmas Eve. I whooped with delight, and ran to the kitchen to get some treats for the hard-working drivers. By the time I got back, the truck was gone. Like, GONE gone. I went WHA WHA WHA? and my teen told me that it appeared that the truck could not make it in the icy snow mess, went back down the hill, and left for GOOD. No packages left. I waited for the Men In Brown to return, carrying multiple festive parcels to my door by foot, but no one came.


Well, no matter, After 10PM or so, I finally got to wrapping what I did have to wrap, finished by midnight, got to sleep a couple hours later.

The kids started making some noise around 8AM, which seemed particularly kind and restrained of them. I had told the two little ones not to leave their rooms because they might frighten Santa away the night before (meaning: DO NOT CATCH ME BEING SANTA), and I was pleased they had listened. My smugness in parenting effectiveness was dashed completely when a waft of something-you-should-not-be-smelling-there came drifting out of my daughter's bedroom.

Me: What is THAT SMELL?
MissSix: I had to go, and you told me not to scare Santa.
MissSix: In a box.

Do they make litter boxes for children? DAMMIT.

The holiday crap was dealt with, which then had the unfortunate effect sending me into the bathroom for what seemed to be an hour. I should just not smell things, or eat things, apparently.

After several inquiries into the toilet asking if I had passed away or what, I recovered and we opened the presents. Everyone was very happy, and then went about grooving on their items. We ate donuts and drank coffee and milk and laughed at the dog eating her lovely decorated dog cookies and then eating a pile of snow after. I spent the day loading songs into my new and very unexpected iTouch, got up to the "N"s in iTunes and decided I needed a break, and ran a bath for a lovely long soak.

I don't often make time for the Soak Bath, with the candles and body scrub and bath salts, it just never seems to fit into the day. If I am going to be indulgent it is usually going to be by sitting on the internet yabbering or writing, or going out for coffee at 4 bucks a pop. But today I felt like I really needed it. I hoped the warm water would drain out all the toxins from my skin and brain and heart, kind of like a French press coffeemaker, where you would be left with only the good stuff and all the bad stuff would be down the drain.

I am not sure how I ended with with only Food-Smelling Things in my bathroom: blueberry bath salts, vanilla pound cake body scrub, and Butter Mint candles. In any case, it was all yummy. I turned on the Sirius radio to whatever the teen had on last, which was the blues channel, now playing all-blues Christmas music. The very late afternoon sky was a deep cobalt blue, the bathwater the lightest baby blue with a smooth white milky soap topping, blue everywhere. Ah-Ah-I'll Ha-Ah-Ave A Blue Christmas, sang Elvis. The only thing he is soaking up now is stagnant coffin air, I guess.

It occurs to me as I lie there contemplating my toes sticking out of the water, that I am a Soaker. I take things in deeply, good or bad, porous to a fault. I want to take every last bit of something I can, see it and feel it and touch it and know it, think about it, turn it over and around and upside down and inside out. I want this richness of experience in everything that I do, whether it is in music, or photography, or people, or anything. There doesn't seem to be any point to hanging out just to skim the surface, right? I want to dig for all the good stuff, but of course sometimes I hit intractable rock or, better still, a massive sewer pipe. I am not just talking Christmas Crap In A Box; I am talking Lake ShittiCaca, pouring over me in a great brown tsunami. It is part of the deal, I know, the cost to taking on the world bravely.

I let the bath water go tepid, then jump in the cool shower to wash my hair and face. I come out smelling like a delightful little dessert cafe, not entirely free of sewer remnants or UPS Fail, but at least I have really soft skin now.

Soak up the last of the season. A new year is coming...another truck pulls away.

"Blue Christmas" -- Elvis Presley