December 24, 2007

Christmas Time is Here!

Christmas Eve morning is clear and crisp in Santa Barbara. My last minute run to the grocery store (just a few things for $106.54---guess that Domaine Chandon pushed it over the top) early this morning gave me a chance to catch a last glimpse of the full moon from last night, before driving west into the glowing orange orb of the rising sun. Beautiful way to start the day. My enjoyment of the 45 degree temperature was enhanced by my favorite feature in my newish car...heated seats. They are definitely an early morning treat.

As I listened to James Taylor's Christmas cd I spotted a coyote running across the road in front of me. I watched it crawl through the wire fence while two others, blending into the dry brown grass, waited for the latecomer to join them. I feel like my neighborhood in Goleta is smack in the middle of boring suburbia and I am always startled by the quick transition to rural/agricultural life that exists just across the road.

The highlight of Christmas this year has actually already happened for my family. Paul and I surprised Nora with a new car and she was totally unprepared for it. It was great to watch her disbelief as it dawned on her that the cute Mazda 3 sitting in the showroom with the red bow on top was for her. She was so blown away by the gift that she was too shaky to drive it home. Fortunately, she has recovered and is now bopping around Santa Barbara loving her new car.

We had concocted this elaborate scheme about Paul's old Focus, the car Nora has been driving for a few years, being recalled for a repair which had to be done by December 22. We'd even worked out a script to cover all unanticipated contingencies. Nora was supposed to get up early on Saturday and drive down to Goleta. Of course, our plans were foiled by the fact that the Focus actually developed a brake problem on Thursday and she had to take it to the dealership in Berkeley for repair. When she dropped it off she mentioned the recall and the service worker looked up the car and said there was no recall. We thought that might tip her off, but she just assumed that the Berkeley Ford guy had made a mistake. I love that she automatically thought that Paul was right--she still thinks "Father Knows Best!" Fortunately a friend of hers from high school was driving to Santa Barbara on Saturday so Nora came down with her. We created a feeble excuse as to why we had to stop by the Mazda dealership that afternoon, and the rest is history.

We've never done the "big gesture" gift before, and I have to admit it was fun. I know now that Nora will not be a screamer when she wins the lottery or the championship on Jeopardy. She won't hop up and down or throw her arms in the air. She has a gentler but very appreciative response. I, however, am definitely a sobber--no, make that a blubberer--and certainly can't be counted on for any coherent comment at a moment of high drama. Paul just smiled--happy that his daughter now has a safe car (exceptional air bags) to drive and delighted that we were able to surprise her. A great Christmas was had by all.

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