Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s certainly getting to be that time of year, isn’t it?

Yesterday, the youngest gel landed the role of Mary in this year’s Christmas pageant at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church, and has been studiously rehearsing her lines gloating over the lovely blue robe she’ll get to wear by way of costume ever since.   I mention this not so much because of the role itself but because of the way in which she bagged it.

Apparently, there were four young ladies of a qualifying age and eager to play the part, and the teacher involved decided to settle the matter by writing down a number between 1 and 30 and having each gel guess what it was, the closest of course winning the prize.

Well, it would seem the youngest decided that leaving things to chance was a mug’s game.  While she couldn’t actually see the number on the paper itself (the teacher was holding a pad tilted up), she apparently watched the teacher’s arm and pen moving about, and from their directions was able to deduce what it was.  (27, by the bye, if you’re keeping score at home.)

I must confess that when she relayed this story to me as we drove home, my jaw sagged sideways a bit.   I wouldn’t go so far as to call it outright cheating, but she certainly seemed to have seized on what one might call an environmental factor (i.e., the teacher writing the number right out in full view) and exploited it.   I couldn’t think of anything to say except that if word of her methods ever got around she’d probably be barred from Vegas for life.

Yesterday also saw the installation of Advent wreathes on the front door of Port Swiller Manor.  (It’s perfectly awful I know, but every year part of me hopes that somebody will ask why the wreathes have purple ribbon on them instead of red.  I like to think of this as a sort of evangelical tiger-trap.)   This ignited two separate debates that have raged in the Port Swiller household for some years, specifically a) Resolved:  Dad is an old grouch for not allowing outside decorations other that wreathes on the door; and 2) Resolved:  Dad is an old Grinch for delaying the putting up of the Christmas tree.

Well, as far as the former goes, I simply point out that I don’t like outdoor decorations, especially ones that involve lights, and it’s my house and that’s the end of it.  (By way of mollification, I also point out that when the gels grow up and have their own homes, they can decorate them any way they want and good luck to ’em, but this doesn’t mollify much.  Veruca Salt-like, they want it now.)

As for the tree, I point out that when I was a kid we always decorated our tree on Christmas Eve or the day before.   This way, it was fresh and new and wonderful on Christmas Day, not old and boring and stale and already starting to wither.  Of course, what they actually hear is, “When I was a kid yadda, yadda, yadda…..”  Unfortunately, Mrs. R is with the gels on this one, and even more so this year because her mother is coming to visit in two weeks in order to celebrate Christmas “early” and Mrs. R wants all the fixin’s on full display.   (By way of compromise, I suggested that it might be nice for the gels and their grandmother to decorate the tree together when she got here.  This idea was met with a cold glare.)

Yes, it’s certainly getting to be that time of the year.