it is, for those of us who celebrate on the Christmasy end of the holiday spectrum, a season of wishing.

when i was a kid, it was wishing – with an ache and excitement so pure i can still nearly taste it almost thirty years later – for some cherished marvel carefully selected from the pages of the Sears Christmas catalogue, the wish book that arrived in July and provided my mother with hours of free childcare in the ensuing months.

when i was older and away from home for years and years, it was wishing – this time with a different ache – for comfort and joy and some sense of meaning and familiarity from whatever celebrations got cobbled together in places far from family, where the small rituals and traditions that had marked the season for my mother, my grandmother and i had little place.

now that i am a ripe old thirty-five and barely holding, i am still wishing.  but this year’s wish, oh Santa, it’s the simplest ever.  and the least likely to be granted.  i am wishing for sleep.

copious, bounteous sleep, the heavenly peace kind that the Christmas carols make sound just so damn luxurious and restful.  i want piles of it.  i want to be saturated in it, as if it were mulled wine and i was a plump, boiling raisin.  i want it bad.  and i don’t want to horde it, either…i’d like to share it around, wrap it up, give it as a present.  to Oscar, particularly, and to Dave.  because he’s been trying to give me extra by cutting into his own, bless his little heart, but it’s starting to show.

early Friday afternoon, i was hunched over my desk at work, researching Creative Commons Licensing and trying to write an email to a bunch of tech developers without sounding like a hopeless Luddite.  i was wishing that my headache would disappear, because some kind of ick had settled across my temples and in my throat like it planned to stay awhile, scratching to dig itself in. then i got the phone call: the babysitter.

Oscar had been down with the progenitor of my own case of ick throughout the week, resulting in Dave and i alternating half days home with him, or picking him up early and then catching up on our own missed work later into the evenings.  since he also wakes up earlier when he’s sick, poor lamb, the long winter naps in our household had been growing steadily shorter.  but Friday morning, despite an ungodly early start, he’d seemed good.  better.  we’d dropped him off at the sitter’s and trotted off to work.  until the sitter called just after lunch to say that his temperature had spiked three degrees and her own daughter seemed to be coming down laryngitis and really, maybe it would be better if i came to get him.

i grabbed my gloves – i was already wearing my coat, as my office is in a former cold storage room in the university library, and when they decommissioned the “storage” part of its handle they forgot to do something about the “cold” bit – and hit the road. picked up my glassy-eyed, wretched-looking little boy and bundled him home, where i administered infant Tylenol and sat with him in the rocking chair, singing Christmas carols and petting his ducky fluff head until he fell asleep.

then i took some nice extra-strength Tylenol for my own sick head (alas, the company pays nothing for all this fine sponsorship), crept downstairs, opened the computer and started in on my email to the tech dudes again, thinking how pleasant it is to work in these flexible times, where much of what i’m lucky enough to do is portable. secretly i was hoping that the late nap and the Tylenol would combine in O to produce a sleep so heavenly and drawn-out that i could basically get done everything i would have done at work, while still listening for my boy and feeling like a good mother. and enjoying the central heating of my own home, to boot.


ten minutes. ten whole minutes it lasted, that sleep. then little barking coughs so loud and urgent that i knew he couldn’t sleep through them, and…moments later…the cries. i went upstairs, picked him up, sat back in the rocking chair with him while the coughs wracked his hot little body. and then, faster than you can say “Merry Freaking Christmas,” he gagged and let loose with a spray of vomit so powerful and potent that he covered me like toilet at a frat party. still in my work clothes, holding a sick, frightened hot little child who i wanted to hold close and comfort, but didn’t really want to marinate in vomit.

there was no more napping that day.  the rest of the weekend’s been kinda the same.  little Oscar Lou Who, who is no more than two, has been a sad, sad specimen of a wee holiday urchin, without much interest in eating, sleeping, playing, or really anything at all.

but there’s Christmas shopping still to do, and groceries that need to be bought for the hugantic storm that’s coming this way today, and a fugly fake tree that i put up ten days ago but still need to decorate, plus piles of pukey, diapery laundry, and all that missed work to catch up on from last week…and a Christmas party last night and cards that still have to get written if they’re going to reach anybody before 2008 and i swear, baby Jesus, all i want is a twelve-hour nap.

so nine days before Christmas, just in case anybody’s been wondering what to get me, this is my wish…a little more healthiness, and a lot more sleep, and maybe a few elves to get caught up on all that seasonal stuff that this old Grinch hasn’t gotten to yet.  and maybe the heart to do it all.

but especially the sleep, if somebody could please slip that down the chimney with some eggnog…?

Oscar Lou Who (who looks just like this, minus the pink bows) would thank you.
cindy lou who