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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Merry merry, dear readers! My BLOG OF CHEER rolls on!

First, a reminder about the Girl At Sea holiday contest. If you want a shot at winning a copy of the book a full SIX MONTHS before it comes out, get your questions in now! The deadline is midnight tomorrow! The winner will be chosen on Wednesday morning.

Second, I have just gotten in a whole new batch of supplies for my holiday signing cards, which I continue to hand-craft for you. Each one is a little bit different, like Cabbage Patch dolls. The workshop will remain open until December 22nd, so you still have plenty of time to get your requests in.

The questions I have gotten so far have been absolutely top-notch, and I am working up some answers in my holiday workshop right now. Today, though, I am going to tell you a wonderful story about how I met Santa, and how it was all because of my nose.

It may surprise you to hear this, but when I was a little kid, I was not a genius.

“No!” you say. “Stop it, Maureen.”

No. It’s true. My parents got a number of signs that they didn’t have a little Mozart on their hands. Like my predilection for chewing things. My absolute favorite thing to chew was the footboard of my bed. I did this almost every night, as soon as the lights were out. I would climb down and just take a quick nibble off the back, just enough to leave a tooth mark. Then, satisfied that my work for the night was done, I would go to sleep.

I also once ate the face off of my Sigmund the Sea Monster bath sponge, including one of its eyes. My mother, an extremely competent nurse, had absolutely no idea what effect this would have on me. This eventuality had never been covered in any of her extensive training. She had to the call the doctor, who was equally puzzled for a moment.

“I guess she’ll be fine?” he finally said.

A face good enough to eat.

One cold night, just a few days before Christmas, there was a terrible snowstorm. I was three at the time, and I had just been to the Christmas version of the infamous Halloween party that my father’s company threw for its employees’ children. I loved this Christmas party because they always gave us a box of Lifesavers in the form of a little book. (These Lifesavers caused trouble again in my life when I very nearly choked to death on one the following year. To this day, they scare me a little.)

Anyway, I must have gotten bored with eating things. This night, I decided to shake it up a little. I tore off some of the cardboard that formed this paper book and decided to shove it right up my nose.

The nose, I should point out, is an important part of the holiday tradition. Santa himself has a “nose like a cherry.” Rudolph has a red nose. Frosty has a button nose. So in my confused little mind, I was actually being very season-appropriate.

The result of this experiment wasn’t good, though. I had shoved the paper so far up my nose that it wouldn’t come out, and I didn’t like it. I ran to my mom and explained what I had done.

“You did what?” she said.

The good thing about having a nurse for a mom is that they have already seen much, much worse things than anything you can possibly come up with. My mom had dealt with accidentally shootings and dismemberments, and she once had to chase an actual axe murderer across the grounds of a mental institution . . . so she was pretty much primed and ready for anything. She got out a flashlight and looked up my nose. She could see the paper. She tried several nursey tricks to try to extract the paper, but all were unsuccessful.

“She stuck paper up her nose,” she said to my dad, as he came in from the storm. “I’m afraid it’s going to do into her sinus. We have to take her to the hospital.”

This was no night for driving around. The snow was falling hard and fast, making for some dangerous driving conditions. The car turned sideways when we tried to crest the hill at the end of our street, and my father almost wasn’t able to turn it around. We skidded and slid the whole treacherous ride. It should have taken about 15 minutes to get there, but even with my father’s somewhat aggressive driving, it took a nerve-jangling hour.

Just as we pulled into the parking lot, I sneezed. Out came the paper. My mother was stunned.

“Oh no,” she said. “We just drove you here. You are getting checked out in case there’s any more.”

The emergency room was deserted. No one was sick enough to venture out on this scary night. The staff was actually a little bored, and so was the volunteer who had dressed up as Santa. He had obviously come to the hospital to spread a little holiday cheer, only to find himself sitting around with a bag of toys and nothing to do.

Enter me: age three. Not bleeding. Just having sneezed out the paper I shoved up my own nose. The staff fawned all over me, checking me over carefully. They gave me candy. Then I got to sit on Santa’s knee, and he gave me a doll. The nurses waved goodbye to me as I left.

I was, my mother reported, extremely pleased with the entire afternoon. I was full of cheer.

“This isn’t good,” my mother said. “She’s going to think this is always what happens when you go to the hospital.”

My parents faced an even more dangerous ride home as I happily played with my new doll. They eventually made it, but the dinner that had been cooking was now ruined.

A month later, while we were walking through a store, I told my mother that I had just found a piece of Styrofoam and shoved it up my nose. Apparently, she had guessed correctly that I now associated sticking things up my nose with seeing Santa. She extracted it, and told me in no uncertain terms that if I ever did that again, she would glue my nostrils shut. And you know what? I haven’t.

But still, everyone . . . if you want to see the big red fella, you can always give it a try.

Let the nose guide you!


Anonymous mary said...

When my younger brother was about 5 he shoved a bead up his nose. He refused to let my mother--also a nurse!--use a pair of forceps she had at home to pull it out, so she packed us 3 kids in the car (did I mention this was about 9 on a school night? and my dad was deployed?) and drove us to the hospital where she worked. After sitting in the waiting room for 2 hours a nurse led mom and stuffed-up little brother into an exam room, where--can you see where this is going?--the doctor used a pair of forceps to pull out the bead.

To this day my brother blames my sister for the whole incident, since she was the one who gave him the bead to stay out of her room.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Cat said...

I have a lot of holiday trip to the emergency room stories!

Story 1: I was nine or ten and it was the night before the last day of school before the Christmas holidays. I was sitting in the kitchen telling a joke to my dad. As it was very cold, I was wearing an oversized sweatshirt and had my legs tucked in it. I lost my balance, fell off the chair, and landed face down on the tile floor. One side of my nose was very swollen. I stood up and said I was fine, but my mother saw my nose, freaked out, and demanded that my father take me to the emergency room. The doctor x-rayed my nose, told me it was just swollen, and sent me home. I do not remember what the joke was. I do know it involved an airplane and was not very good.

Story 2: This one took place on Mother's Day when I was seven. I was roller-skating with some friends when a stray cat ran right in front of me. I was unable to stop in time, so I tripped over the cat and broke my wrist in two places. The neighbor whose house I was in front of brought me home. I was in tears, but my mother seemed to think I would be just fine. They finally took me to the emergency room when I woke up at 3 am still crying about my wrist. I got a yellow cast with teddy bears holding balloons on it.

Story 3: This time, it was Halloween. I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible stomach pain. My parents rushed me to the emergency room. When we got there, the pain stopped, so we went home. It never bothered me again.

I guess holidays are just a bad time for me.


3:16 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

Oh mighty might, the LifeSavers book-gift-candies. Thank you for that elementary school flashback.

3:10 AM  

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