Sunday, January 26, 2014

Volume IX, issue x, December 2013 (Part One)

The Many Faces of Sarah d’Evegnee

December offered me opportunities to temporarily trade-in my professorial/maternal face. It’s never pleasant for me to tip-toe outside of the realm of my comforting everyday roles, but December made me do it twice. 

Face-off I

In early November a member of our ward at church called me to see if I would help with something for the Christmas Party. Assuming she needed help with the music or the food or the decorations I immediately said, “Of course!” Never say that before you know what you’re agreeing to. (Eric learned that the hard way when we got married.) The question that she popped was so foreign and so drastically different from what I expected that I almost laughed out loud.

She asked me to do a dramatic reading as “Babushka,” the old Russian woman who searches for Christ every Christmas in the faces of small children. I honestly spaced completely out the rest of the conversation and I’m not sure what was said, but by the time I hung up I knew that I had just agreed to spend several minutes on a stage by myself in front of a large crowd as a woman who was OLD. . . and RUSSIAN.

Play the violin? Sure! Play the piano? You betcha! Whip up some decorations or some food? You know it! But. . . act on stage. . . by myself. . . as someone who (did I mention this already?) is OLD. . . and RUSSIAN? I can’t think of anything that had been further down on my Christmas to-do list.

A feeling of dread settled over me for the next  couple of weeks and I refused to allow myself to even think about my performance. You might think I’m kidding, but I haven’t been this down-right pee-my-pants scared of anything for years. . . including natural child-birth. The last time I did anything like this was when I had the honor of dressing like a chicken and playing the “Nightingale of Samarkand” for our high school’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” I had to screech out a squawking solo made up entirely of chicken “boks” (I need to find the video footage of that; I don’t think Eric has ever entirely believed that the event occurred in reality and wasn’t merely some symbolic junior high nightmare of mine).

I told my parents about the geriatrically Slavic role in which I had been cast, and they were laughing so hard that my Mother was in tears. I told them that I worried that if I tried to adopt a Russian accent, that I’d sound more like Tevye than anything else. You know, “I will be. . . the Babushka on the ROOF!” I whined to them about how if I tried to sound too old that people would worry that I would capture their children and hold them captive inside my gingerbread house to fatten them up so I could eat them. 

In the end, I pulled up my big girl/old woman bloomers and decided to write my own version of the story so that I could put my own voice into it, which made me much more comfortable with the whole idea. It started out “I would like to share a story that happened a long, long time ago. So long ago that it was before cell phones and Christmas shopping and cars. It was so long ago that I have to sit still and listen to the sound of the wind whispering through the branches so that I can hear the way the story calls to me. It is a Christmas story that has been passed down from generation to generation and it is called the story of Babushka. And though it is an old story, it has a new message. A message about travel and love and hope. A message about Jesus. It is my story.”

My accent was a cross between Joan Rivers and Dame Maggie Smith. (I’m totally kidding. I don’t know what it was. . . but there was a fair amount of British in there rather than Russian because I wanted to sound foreign, but just didn’t want to come across as  too inadvertently Gestapo-ish [Wow. I never would have thought I would put that in a sentence.]).

And. . . I survived. I refuse to listen to or watch the video recording that Eric made of it, but I couldn’t resist capturing some still shots. My favorite is the first one in the trio because it looks like “Babushka does JAZZ HANDS!” However, I love the array of facial contortions depicted in these shots. At least I was a sincere Babushka. If nothing else, I bravely cast out my inner introvert for five minutes. The forever painfully shy adolescent who still lingers in my bones is both embarrassed and proud. 

Face-Off II

Some of our good friends have an annual Christmas Costume Party, which requires Eric and me to crawl out of our social shells for an evening. After observing the voting trends for best costume over the past few years, I shrewdly discovered that cross-dressing was strangely appealing to the voters. Last year the instructions on the invitation were to dress in our “Best Red and Green” so we came as Al Green and Gloria Allred. (That still makes me laugh with satisfaction.) 

When the invitation came this year and said “Best Red and Green 2” I brain-stormed and came up with something that I thought would appeal to our voting demographic and give Eric and me a chance to show our “lighter side.”

Here we are:

There was enough cottony junk in my proverbial trunk that I could hardly sit down. I also had a pillow strapped to my backside as well as cotton batting wrapped around my middle to make me appear more “mannish” (which I’m sure is just what Eric dreamed of when he said “yes” almost sixteen years ago).

The results of our photo-shoot and the expressions of dismay on our kids’ faces as they watched us dance around are some of my favorite Christmas memories of 2013. Good times. Good cross-dressing times.

Christmas 2013 Highlights

My Sous-per Husband
Everyone should have a Little Honey like this to come home to. This was his Christmas present this year. If he keeps working hard and looking fiiiine, maybe next year I'll get him that new fancy vacuum he's been looking at in the catalogues.

O Nerdy Night

As patrons of pretty much all things nerdy, we happily indulged our offspring in some Whovian fare for Christmas and ended up playing Caleb’s Dr Who Monopoly game for several hours one night during the holiday break. It looked like Holden was going to be the victor of the evening, but he was unfortunately “hoisted with his own” monopoly money “petard” when Caleb caught on to his strategy and used it for himself. Several minutes after Holden had bankrupted me, he looked at one of his property cards and said, “Wait! I should have made Mom pay me $950 instead of $250!” (He was wrong, by the way.) Eric still teases him about adding insult to injury with his own mother!

Notice the greedy gleam in Caleb’s eye when he won the game.

On the Big Stage
Holden and Ethan’s Christmas cello recital was held in the acoustically beautiful Barrus Concert Hall on BYU-Idaho’s campus. As their trusty accompanist, it was my first time playing on that historical stage with the organ pipes rising up above us, faithfully watching over our performances.


Ria said...

And I thank you very much!

Ria said...

And it was never my intent to totally traumatize you...

Daniel and Lindsey said...

Oh how I love that Maria and I are the first to leave comments about this post! The two women who forced you out of your comfort-zone in December! Ha! I never would have guessed that you were nervous for your role as Babushka! You did fabulously. I was so proud of you - you nailed it. And, the same can be said for your role as Al Green. Both roles provided me with endless holiday delight. Better get your thinking cap on for this year - the 2014 Christmas party theme is to wear something associated with a Christmas song - I haven't yet thought of a creative way to title it.
Finally, the Beouf Bourginon (sp? - help!) was wonderful that you brought by. I wonder if it would work with elk? Will you please email me the recipe so that I can give it a try?

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh my goodness. You always give me insight, enthusiasm, and delight when you write.

I'm the mother of one of your former students (Ande Payne) and am so glad she had yours and Br. D.'s influence. Thank you.

Please, please upload a bit of Babushka! I clicked that arrow five times hoping it would play.

You are one incredibly talented, humorous, and woman full of depth.

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