Monday, December 26, 2011

Blue Note or Blue Screen Christmas?

I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become... but there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress. ~May Sarton

The Blue Note Christmas 2005
I have an eighth note cookie cutter and every Christmas we always color them a pretty blue to remind us of Christmas 2005. Have a cup of rich, hot chocolate and a sit while I describe what I thought was the worse (and the best) Christmas of my life.

The Princess was just four and a half years old. She had been taking piano lessons for about six months and it was obvious from the beginning that she was destined to be a good pianist. Her tiny hands had been practicing on my Roland keyboard all that time, but we knew that to strengthen her fingers and develop her ear that she would need a real piano. I had seen an advertisement to sell off used pianos at a well known piano store in Atlanta, so we went to look hoping to find something worthwhile for under $2000 just a few hours before her very first recital—a casual coffee shop recital. We looked at the used ones and realized there was nothing worth having, but the salesman suggested a new one close to our price, just a bit more, but with a cast iron harp that would not warp.

At the recital she played simple songs with her right hand only, but she was just so relaxed yet poised—such a performer! Even one of the oldest students, who had taken piano lessons with Miss Trudy most of his life, expressed his surprise at how well that this petite four year old could play.

We returned to the store later as they had a very good sale going on because their Labor Day sale weeks before was terrible, since it was right around the time of the Katrina hurricane and the entire Southeast was impacted with trying to provide aid, bursting at the seams giving shelter, and dealing with gasoline shortages. The tone of the piano was nice, but after listening to the acoustics of a Steinway, costing as much as a house, nothing really compares. Still, it was a good piano and we purchased it.

Now my husband wanted this piano to be from Santa, so he devised this elaborate plan to have the piano suddenly appear on Christmas Day. First he would get a piano box from the store and place it in the living room covered up with a sheet. He would cut out a backside so we could simply slide it over the piano when it came. The Princess would see us put up this empty box and it would sit there for a few weeks until Christmas Day and then we would open it. This way the piano could be delivered at any time as long as I could keep her from seeing it being delivered.

So, we set a date for delivery with our salesman. Then we were asked to finalize everything with the sales manager, who listened to my husband's plan and suggested to have the piano delivered on Christmas Eve instead of two weeks before it, as that was a very common request. I had this strange feeling about that new plan. I thought our plan would be the best one as we would know the piano was there and we could have it tuned and ready by Christmas Day, but my husband decided that a Christmas Eve delivery would be better. So, the delivery date was reset.

My husband got a box later and we did as we planned. About a week or so later the salesman called and asked when would we like to set up the tuning. I told him that the piano had not been delivered yet, thinking that he may not have realized the date change. He called again about a week or so later and asked how we were enjoying the piano and again I told him the piano had not yet been delivered, but we were expecting it on Christmas Eve.

My husband's parents came to visit during Christmas so we were a bit distracted, but I began getting concerned when we did not get the phone call the day before giving us confirmation and an approximate time that the piano would be delivered. My husband said that they were probably very busy and would call that morning as they are supposed to do. Morning came, no call. By noon I began calling the delivery company, but after hours of trying to get a hold of someone, we were told all the deliveries had been made in the morning. There was no piano to be delivered to us.

This was the big present! The one we had planned so much around. My daughter had sat on a mall Santa's lap and told him she would leave a key for him so he could bring the piano through the front door—she has always been one to work things out like that, even then. Now those dreams shattered before me. That huge box in the living room was going to be empty on Christmas. I just went into my bedroom and cried and prayed and cried some more on my husband's shoulder. My husband had called the salesman, who was on his way to visit family out of state. The salesman told us that the computer records showed the piano had already been delivered and that is why he had called us, but he realized his mistake in not catching the error when I told him it had not been delivered, twice.

The salesman made some calls and after a few hours of trying to get past this terrible disappointment and stop weeping—this is what happens often when I rely on plans and have high expectations—we were told our piano would be delivered around 8:00 PM. I again went into my bedroom and thanked my Lord with more weeping yet fearing to hope.

Instead of going out to shop as we planned when the piano was to be delivered in the morning, I would have the Princess taking a bath in our big garden tub at the back of the house so she would not see or hear anything. The delivery men arrived later than eight and it took quite a bit of time to get the piano inside. The salesman probably paid lots of extra cash out of his own pocket to get the delivery company to deliver the exact model piano in cherry wood that was not the one set aside in the warehouse for us, the serial numbers did not match what was on our sales receipt and the delivery receipt, but the piano was in excellent condition.

In the morning we placed a large red bow on the sheet-covered box. After opening all her other presents, she was delighted to see her new piano, out of tune, but definitely materialized from her hopes into reality. To this day, the Princess does not know what a horrible-happy day that was for her parents, known to us as Blue Note Christmas.

The Blue Screen Christmas 2011
I hope you have some hot chocolate left because I may have another story that rivals the first one.

This Christmas had its similarities with the one six years ago. I call it the Blue Screen Christmas because the big present was in technology and everyone knows what the blue screen of death is, but instead of being focused on one thing, the real problems where mostly circumfluous of the new additions in technology and the Princess being sick.

Last year we had a very meager Christmas. As I was promised by God, this year has been a bit easier financially, but we had much to catch up, not with bills, thankfully, but taking care of broken things like the dishwasher and the vans and many other things. For this Christmas, my husband and I planned to get a Wii and Netflix. That was to be the big present.

However, my husband had this idea: while our twenty-some year old TV could be used, it would all be so much better on a HD, flat screen, wide screen TV. The prices were very good and we could get one that was Netflix ready, so we did not have to stream through the Wii. Technology is just advancing at lightning speed these days! My husband also mentioned getting a Blu Ray/DVD player; he had seen one for just $88. I just looked at him saying that we only have one Blu Ray movie that he had bought two years ago by mistake and they were too expensive, besides we were getting Netflix! We only really needed the Wii to stream it and play the sports games.

You have to live with my husband to know that when he merely mentions such things that often he has already gotten them. That is why whenever he just talks about something, I get nervous, and then he will say that I am getting upset over nothing, that he is just talking and he would not do anything without my agreement—Oh, yeah! What about the iguanas, the riding lawn mower,...(this list goes on and each has a long story)? Now I can add, the TV and the Blu Ray Player and...well, this is the story.

He did give me a bit of advance warning. He told me two weeks ago on Saturday evening about the TV and player. The next day's Sunday School lesson was about confessing to each other—such wondrous timing! So we had the TV in our closet and the first thing I thought of was that we now needed to go shopping for a console, because our old TV was a build in the console type. Another thing to buy, but he assured me he had it covered with the extra money he was making being on call the last two months. (His biggest confession was not the presents but what happened to the money he made that was supposed to be used to pay down our debts that I never did see.)

We went shopping at furniture stores on Thursday this past week after sending the Princess to her friend's house for a few hours, the one who had the cold; the Princess had already been well-exposed and was showing some signs of it so at that point it did not matter much. We found a cherry wood console for the price we wanted and purchased it. The console would be brought from the warehouse to the store for pick up on Friday the day before Christmas Eve. I began having a déjà vu moment there, but my husband assures me again it all will go well this time. It is obvious that the Princess is becoming sicker, so we did not go to our pastor's surprise birthday party that night.

Friday we wait for the call; no call. I asked my husband to please not wait until it gets too late as we did on the Blue Note Christmas. He makes the call. The console was not sent to the store—déjà vu. (I think we are cursed in this particular way.) Later on they contact us saying they had one we can pick up and my husband does that, leaving it in the van. The Princess is too sick to be playing outside, she was lying down, so she would not be seeing it there.

Friday night the Princess sleeps well and we wrap presents until 2:00 AM. Saturday she is lying around still coughing and sneezing, so it is obvious we will not be going to church that evening or the next day, which was a big disappointment for all of us. She had worked for weeks on "Still, Still, Still" to play Christmas morning. I will also have to cancel a horse riding lesson on Monday and find someone else to do chores at the horse barn on Tuesday.

Christmas Eve night, we hoped to set up the TV and all the components that night to have her see them first thing in the morning as if Santa brought it and everything was set up and working, even though the Princess informed us that she did not think Santa was "an electronics kind of guy." The problem: the Princess cannot sleep. At midnight, my husband gets antsy to begin moving things around. I decided that something needed to be done to keep the Princess from wandering out of bed in case she heard curious noises, so I lay with her in the daybed trying to help her sleep with my presence.

My daughter's room is situated so that she can hear way too much and we determined that it must be Santa so we need to go to sleep. My husband gets everything set up and the old TV in the garage. At 3:00 AM, when I am nearly at the end of my rope and in tears for my sick child and my own lack of sleep, he walks down the hall with a little blue pill, a OTC sinus medication that he says will help her sleep...I am not a violent person but at that moment I wanted to punch him in the face. Three hours since midnight, I have been staying up with my daughter while she suffered with coughing and difficulty breathing; NOW he brings something to help her sleep. He said he forgot he had them. We try not to use synthetic drugs, but he keeps some with him to use sparingly with his traveling and working in dusty environments. I agree there is a time that they are beneficial and, in this case, that would have been hours before he looked for them. Child was sleeping soundly in fifteen minutes and parents were out five minutes later.

Christmas morning was a late start, a very late start although I got up early to feed the furry ones and drizzle icing on the cranberry breakfast cake. All morning, though, I felt like something was missing, because we would not be going to church, I suppose. The Princess did not want to get out of bed, not typical ten year old behavior with presents waiting to be unwrapped, even with little sleep. She was obviously not her energetic self and she did not play with the Wii. We watched A Christmas Story DVD, a present to my husband to replace the one we used to have; we lost it letting someone borrow it, we think. The Blu Ray player enhances to near HD quality so the colors, details, and even the sound was just amazing. Yes, a very big difference! It is like when we went from a black and white TV with two snowy stations to color TV with cable, but in a 21st century way. We watched Avatar on it too—WOW!

Oh, and we found out that our Netflix-ready TV would work if we had a faster wireless router, so my husband went out this morning to get one. With electronics, it is never just this one thing and it all will work—never! Thankfully, some gift cards should cover the bulk of that cost and with that new router I will be able to move some things off my computer onto an external hard drive that I will access easily when home. My computer has been starting to have some problems because of hard drive space.

My husband is leaving early for the airport tomorrow morning, but he still got the new router in and working. He set up all the computers and the TV, which he did not think he would have time to do. The Princess and I watched a show streamed through Netflix and it worked quite well! Still, I wish she felt better and could play the Wii too.

Blue Note or Blue Screen Christmas?
My dilemma is my child is still sick so the latter is too fresh for me to be objective, so I am not so sure which one is worse. That is why I am asking you: Which Christmas do you think was the worse one, Blue Note or Blue Screen?

My Lord, thank you for the good and the bad years. One cannot be appreciated as well without the other. Please heal my daughter.


  1. Personally, I would think the Blue Note Christmas to be worse. That sounds stressful, and come Christmas morning the piano was there but not truly playable since it was not tuned.

    The Blue Screen Christmas just means that as soon as Princess is well enough she'll have lots of fun with her fully functional and ready to go new toy! Being sick on Christmas isn't such a bad thing, at least she spent the day snuggled up with Mom and Dad knowing she is loved! :)

    Just my two cents worth?

  2. I am still leaning toward the Blue Note Christmas because it was very stressful, but it had a good ending because the piano did come.

    Blue Screen was a series of disappointments and too much lack of sleep for everyone with a coughing child. I am still tired!


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.