This morning Trombone and I went to a Christmas party at the local drop-in play-gym. It looked just like the usual drop-in play-gym, except there were balloons everywhere, stations for decorating cookies and paper ornaments, and there was Santa. Hell of a deal, actually. $3.25 gets you in, an emailed photo, a cookie and non-stop FRENZIED SCREAMING ENJOYMENT.
We saw Santa first. Trombone was very serious, the way he gets when he rides a train. It’s so funny, he gets on a train and sits there, hands folded, looking around. “This is my train face.” Other kids are whooping and hollering. Hell, I am usually whooping and hollering. Trombone is just, “I am on a train.” Like it’s his place of worship. So he went up to Santa and sat on his knee, very solemnly. The photographer and her assistant (both community centre volunteers) tried to make him smile. He just looked at them. Granted, they were using a tambourine, like he was a 3 month old infant. They could have just said, “Smile, little boy,” and he probably would have. She took two photos. “Well, it’ll be funny,” the photographer said to me.
“All our photos are funny,” I reassured her.
“What did Santa say to you,” we asked Trombone later.
“He asked what I wanted for Christmas.”
“What did you say?”
There was also a supply room filled with balloons and kids could go in and jump around. I was talking to another mom. I said, “That freaks me out.” Not for the kids – they all looked like they were having fun – but for me. I would not have wanted to go in there. Every once in a while a balloon would pop and kids would shriek and it was slightly dark. No thanks. The other mom said, “I know. I would hate it in there but my daughter keeps going in.” Lesson: Kids love dark rooms full of balloons. Moms think they’re creepy.
There was cookie decorating. The cookies were actually Ritz crackers and then you could spread pink or green icing on them. This one kid, about 5 years old, just spread and spread and spread. Dumped star shaped sprinkles all over the icing. He was so happy, he ate the whole thing in one bite and made this “Wheeeeeee!” noise while he was chewing. It was a perfect Christmas cookie moment. Trombone took a slower approach but enjoyed his cookie immensely. This woman came in with her daughter, spread the icing for her daughter, gave her three sprinkles, said, “Here you go, now be careful, don’t get icing on your dress.” Fun, mom. Thanks.
We left just as the place was heating up. The shrieking and the floor stomping and the sugar rushes in full swing. Studio 54 at 4 am. I lured Trombone home with the promise of a fig bar and his beloved mama nonna (who was at our house looking after Fresco) waiting to play with him. He went quietly.
Here’s today’s Christmas-themed photo. I see in Santa’s eyes a certain longing, a love lost. I think that love is holding the camera. I hope they find community-centre-employee happiness.