Monday, December 20, 2010

The New Julesvenn: A Made Up Story of Santa

Each year it was the same. There were maps, old maps, new maps all with color coded pins. Yellow pins meant 1500 - 1599. Blue pins meant 1600 - 1699. Green pins meant 1700-1799. White pins meant the next century, orange pins followed, we were in the reds now. There weren't too many of those on the maps. He followed his lineage since the day he "disappeared."

Cris was a carpenter by trade. He lived in Oslo with his wife Marta and his children Karl and Maria. In his spare time, Cris would teach his son carpentry but Karl would often ask his father to make toys. Cris would gather his woodworking tools and teach Karl how to take a piece of wood and give it a doll's face, or turn it into a wagon. Jul was fast approaching so Cris decided to make a couple of trinkets for the children to pass the time waiting for Julesvenn to come.

"Maria, make sure you help Mama keep this house spotless. Don't you want Julesvenn to leave us lucky barley stalks?" says Cris.

The children clean up and Marta takes a knife out. "I'm off of to get the pig ready. He's gotten plenty fat, he'll make a good supper."

The winter solstice was a community affair. Everyone in the village gathered in the big stone barn and each family brought their own yule log to throw into the fire. The pig was succulent and pastries were delightful. Cris adored the children, playing with the trinkets he made. They looked so happy. The night was getting bitterly cold and everyone bid farewell. As Cris and his family stepped inside their home, Maria cries, "Papa, I forgot my doll! We must go back for it."

"Now, dear it's cold and it's time for bed. Papa will collect it in the morning," says Marta.

"No, I'll get it. It's not too far. You must promise to go to bed and I'll have it for you in the morning," Cris replies.

"I will." says Maria.

Cris kisses his children and wraps his wool tight against his body and braces for the cold. As he enters the barn, he notices that the yule logs are still burning. "The embers must have started it up again," he thought. Cris finds the doll and decides to gather up some snow to snuff out the last of the flames.

As Cris walks towards the exit, the barn door slides shut.

"Who's out there? John? Good joke, come now it's freezing." Cris moves to slide the door open. It doesn't move. "John?"

The flames kick up again and a roaring fire shoots flames to the ceiling. It startles Cris and he falls backward. Looking towards the fire he hopes that the hay in the lofts above are moist enough from the cold that they won't catch fire. Looking back at the base of the flames, Cris sees a figure. As if a man is standing in the fire. The man steps out and smells of barley. He wears a long coat and his beard touches the ground. The flames turn into a faint glow and the bearded man steps closer.

"Come unto the flames or burn on the ground."

"What?" says Cris.

"Come unto the flames or burn on the ground." The man points and fire starts alongside Cris. Cris shoots up and tries to run but the line of fire chases him until he is face to face with the man. The man's eyes meet Cris's and Cris faints.

The barn burns to the ground in the night, somehow containing itself. No one knows how it burned while the snow built up around it. Karl and Maria wake up the next morning to find that their parents are not in the house. Maria walks over to the door, opens it and there in the snow is the little wooden doll. The villagers gather the children, asking for their parents.

"Papa left to the barn last night to get my doll. Here it is, he must be working in the back with Mama," says Maria.

When Cris and Marta are not found, the people rush to the barn. There, outside was Marta. Cris was no where to be found. The people carefully looked in the ash for anything but to no avail. Marta was buried in a hillside overlooking their home. Karl, who was 15 picked up his father's work and Maria tended to the house. The doll stayed on a shelf, as a reminder of her father's love.

Cris wakes up in a bright white room. Confused he walks around. The bearded man appears. "I am Julesvenn. I have collected you and you will serve. My time is drawing near and you will do the work."

"What about my family, my wife, children, I-"


"What work will you have me do? Leave barley? Turn the sun for the solstice?" Cris said, with anger rising. Scoffing, Cris says, "My work is my family."

Julesvenn grabs Cris by the neck, dragging him to a wall. Julesvenn takes his finger and draws a circle of flames and step through it. "What family do you have?"

Cris sees Marta's grave. Karl's grave, marked a few years later, then Maria's grave with fresh dirt. A young girl cries over it, almost hugging the mound.

"Where am I you evil spirit? What have you done? My children, my loves." Cris weeps.

"I have prepared you for the work. It must be done every hundred years. A man without ties, good in heart, mind and spirit must take the work of the other, so that the one who has worked a hundred years may be born again, " replies Julesvenn. "You will have your chance to come back to the earth or take your place in the upper realms. I must go, my wife she bids me home."

Julesvenn makes another fire space and walks through, Cris follows after but is taken to another home. All around him is white snow, his woodworking tools and stacks and stacks of wood. The walls are covered with maps, marked with places he's never even heard of. He slumps into a chair. The fireplace roars. The old man's wools are neatly folded on a table. Cris grabs them and contemplates throwing them into the fire but in a split second he changes his mind. He has a sudden urge to wear the wools. His hands feel hot...not like a heat like a flame but like his hands should be working. He looks over to the stacks of wood. Cris, with a tool in one hand starts to carve. His fingers are nimble and quick. Before he realizes it, he's made over 4000 figurines but his hands still feel active. He forces himself to rest. Looking at the white wools, he thinks of his pure children, so loving. His wife.....his wife......he could not remember her name or her face.

"Why did I receive this curse? Why did he have to sacrifice them? I would have gone willingly," Cris thought. "I cannot live without them."

Cris then grabs his awl and pierces his heart with all of his strength. As he lay there bleeding...he becomes weak and drifts of to eternal least he had hoped. The burning grows stronger in his hands and awakens him. The wools have dried with the help of the fire giving them a new shade of oxidized red blood. The awl is in his lap and there is no wound. Disappointed and out of tears to shed, Cris thinks to himself, "My children are still, sleeping with the angels of heaven, yet I have so much work to do. Who will receive all of my trinkets?" Cris continues to carve and shape toys until one day, his hands stopped burning. He is surrounded by toys and a door opens. The toys organize themselves and a wind comes in. It lifts Cris high above cities and he realizes it must be winter solstice again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So This Is Christmas....

This will be my very first Christmas away from the big extended family get togethers. For the last few years, I would go to my mother in law's house and start making tamales the week before or the week of Christmas. We would divide and conquer. Mom makes the very yummy red chile meat, we (sometimes, if allowed) made the masa, then we would all spread masa on the corn husks or hojas and Mom would fill them with meat and fold them. We would make about 12 to 15 dozen tamales. Sometimes we'd make green corn ones too.

We'd have a Christmas party where we would have a white elephant exchange and laugh at the clever gifts. Usually it's something odd, or funny but sometimes it was something that was actually useful. We'd sing karaoke or play Rock Band late into the night, laughing it up. On my family's side, we open gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. I didn't experience opening gifts on Christmas morning until I started dating my husband. As kids, the wait for midnight took FOR-E-VER! As we got older, it got easier. Once the clock struck 12 we hugged and kissed each other then we passed out gifts. Sometimes, even after the hub-bub was over, at 1am, we'd eat. Everyone would get a second wind and we would just stay up, riding a Christmas high. The next day, Mechanic Hubby and I would show up at his Mom's house at 8am and start making breakfast with the whole family. It was potluck style and last year my sister in law brought some awesome sourdough...yum. Anyway, we would eat some breakfast, then we passed out gifts (we did secret santa and bought stocking stuffers for everyone). Then we would lounge around the house like lions putting toys together, play another round of Rock Band and eat....then eat some more!

I'm not saying that this Christmas won't be just as special..I mean my toddler will be overwhelmed and it'll be nice to see her rip paper (one of her favorite things to do) and say "Wow!" But I will miss seeing the array of smiling faces, seeing all of that love in the air and receiving all of those hugs. I read that what people really want for Christmas is your presence, not your presents...and it's true.

Merry Christmas blogosphere.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fun With Skinned Knees

This is me. I think I was about 7 or 8. My mom liked to experiment with hair cutting so my mop-top is the end result. I'm pretty sure I had some kind of scab on my knees about 80 percent of my childhood. I can't remember if I've ever had a skinned knee as an adult. I don't think I have. I remember being a rambunctious kid, running all over the playground at school and whaling a tether ball (the popcorn move by the way is cheating). I remember blister upon blister from going on the monkey bars or the giant steel rings we had at school and it was a non-issue. We'd pop the blisters, slap on a band-aid and move on. I remember being very competitive when it came to sports and when I used to be a catcher on a softball team, I had no problem having girls run into me. I remember getting a bad concussion and scraped palms, bruises but it didn't matter. I was having fun, I was playing.

Each of my sisters have a crazy injury story. Radio Momma decided to roller skate in the cul de sac where we lived. This led to two very scraped knees and a ton of iodine. You know, the brown bottle with the red liquid that's supposed to help you heal. My Dad took it out and put it on her knee. I think it might of hurt her more than the injury itself. My other sister, ASU Grad had a total freak occurrence with her head. She was 3 and Radio Momma was 4. They went upstairs to jump on the bed and when they heard someone coming to tell them to knock it off, Radio Momma jumped off, darted out the door only to realize that her little sister wasn't behind her. ASU Grad ran right into the door, splitting her head open with a good stream of blood going down her face. Both of them still have their scars.

This spunky looking kid is my daughter. She is very daring and loves the outdoors. Dirt is her friend and she laughs at barking dogs, well as long as she's holding her Mommy's hand. She has yet to scrape her knee. Sometimes I think I might be a little to protective of her. It's hard to see your kids injured but I don't want her to be afraid of everything either. We've endured busted bottom lips, squished little fingers, and falling; lots of tumbles from learning how to walk and run. What I love about experiencing this as a Mom, is that Baby Sagittarius shakes most of it off. She doesn't lay down and cry and I'm not one to rush over and coddle her when she takes a fall (only if there's blood involved is when I make an exception). I know I have more injuries to look forward to with her but if she gets them while having fun...I know they will heal quickly.