Sprechen Sie Liebe?

Darth Christmas

‘Tis the season, people…

‘Tis the season…so they say.

The season of attending a seemingly endless whirl of Christmas parties and festive functions involving various degrees of fun, stress, inebriation and/or sugar.

The season of juggling multiple (not to mention competing) schedules to ensure that everyone gets to their ballet concerts, client drinks, end of year school assemblies and only Rudolph knows what else — and woe betide you if you forgot to charge your phone and failed to video your offspring’s rousing rendition of Jingle Bells for the grandparents to watch later.

And the season of wondering just how Marvel Girl’s school managed to schedule a swimming carnival and a carols night on the same date…and of trying to remember to smile (rather than grin fixedly or simply scream) when Santa Claus turns up on a trailer with a sack filled with brightly coloured lollipops to hand to your already delirious preschooler a full hour after her bedtime…

Elves

One for my bookclub lovelies…

It really is the season, the silliest of seasons, perhaps…but in amongst all the absurdity and there’s still a lot to be thankful for:

I remain (eternally) grateful, for example, that the lovely ladies in my book club are all firmly of the view that licensed premises are the best place to convene our meetings — particularly if there’s a courtesy bus to take us home.  Every last one of us will put up with our husbands’ japes about our reading glasses having stems rather than lenses if we can be left to talk about our…er, um, chosen book — yes, I’m sure it was a book we were discussing —  every six weeks or so, no matter what time of year it is.

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Nobody likes a half-assed jingler…part of my Christmas wall in my kitchen.

 

I am equally glad that Christmas gives me a brilliant excuse to indulge my love of cheap and tacky decorations and to bedeck my home with banners, candles, baubles, wreaths and whatever else we have to hand.  I love that my little Miss Malaprop reminds me most days in December that “there’s no such thing as too much tinsel!”, but I am also quite relieved that Marvel Girl was prepared to change the tone of her letter to Santa so it didn’t bear quite so much resemblance to a solicitor’s letter of demand.

I am definitely appreciative of the fact that my children are learning to verbalise what they are feeling at this time of year: from the dizzying, wondrous, joyfilled, frequently candy-cane fuelled heights, right down to the despairing depths of the massively over-tired, over-excited, and over-just about everything.

fabulous

It’s easy to run out of steam, riding the Christmas Crazy Train…

I will admit that my heart did break a little bit this morning when a pair of mournful greeny-blue eyes looked up at mine and Miss Malaprop confessed that “her love tank was not very full”: it seems that riding the Christmas Crazy Train isn’t always easy, especially for small people desperately counting down the days until the arrival of one S Claus.

But I am also grateful that she spoke up, so I was able to surprise her with a love-tank filling visit to The Kitchen Nook, her favourite cafe to hang out in before preschool, and that upon arriving there we simply sat down and were presented with our regular order (one life-preserving long black, one not-so-hot chocolate) with a smile and a nod — without even having to ask for it.

It’s the little things, people…they don’t go unnoticed, and they count — regardless of the season.

Because that’s all it took, really: it may not seem like much, but a few minutes spent sitting together in a welcoming cafe, sipping our drinks and having a bit of a chat was all that was required to help us rediscover our Christmas spirit.

Tinsel

Spend time, speak love…

And when you strip away all the parties and presents, the baubles and the bling, and even the tinsel, that’s what this season is really about: spending time with people you love, and making sure that you’re speaking the same language.

So — sprechen sie liebe?

Parlez-vous l’amour?

Do you? Go on…’tis the season.

 

 

 

The Real Pengilly

Lollipop hero

The Lollipop Man — or Crossing Guard, to you non-Australian types…

Every now and then, a person pops into your life who brings a smile to your face just about every time you see them. They might not be someone you’re particularly close to, but you see them often enough to know their name and to stop to have a quick chat about the state of the world when you see them, instead of just passing them by with a smile and a nod. These people are positive presences in the world — the kind of folks who restore your faith in humanity, and who make this planet a better place to live.

Today, I want to salute a man whose smiling face and cheery welcome brightens our lives — twice a day, Monday through Friday: our favourite Lollipop Man, Drew Pengilly.

For those of you who are unused to the unique way in which Australians name objects and occupations, the term “Lollipop Man” does not mean that Drew works in a candy store — as if I’d let my kids anywhere near a lolly shop twice every weekday.  It means he is the Crossing Guard who stops the traffic at the pedestrian crossing near Marvel Girl’s school and Miss Malaprop’s preschool. He’s the guy who keeps us safe.

Why “Lollipop Man”? Well, the stop sign Drew carries looks like a giant red lollipop. Obviously. (And, equally obviously, Australians don’t feel the need to name things quite as literally as they do in North American other countries — which is also why we drive our cars through roundabouts, walk on pavements, ride up and down in lifts, dry things with tea towels and wear thongs on our feet.)

But all this is beside the point. Drew, our Lollipop Man, is our hero in a high-vis vest — and here’s why:

Drew remembers all our names — and I mean all our names, including children, animals and sometimes even teddy bears —  and he greets us every morning with a welcoming smile that makes you forget, momentarily, the massive struggle it was to simply get out the door (you know the one, where you yell random words like “teeth”, “shoes” or “schoolbag” to unresponsive children in various states of dishevelment while holding an increasingly cold cup of tea).

Drew also notices details: he spots recently lost teeth, merit awards, band aids on injured knees, new shoes, haircuts, and all manner of minutiae at ten paces, and celebrates these little things with a high five or commiserates with a sympathetic word or two.

Drew is remarkably adept at picking which child is hiding within which costume come Book Week every year, and he’s also very good at remembering kids’ birthdays — which may or may not have something to do with the fact that he gets reminded exactly how many sleeps it is until the birthday of the child in question every time they cross the road (and yes, I do mean every time).

Drew is also brilliant at offering words of encouragement and praise — particularly to the preschoolers who visit his crossing each afternoon, proffering whatever artistic (and I use that word loosely) creations they have fashioned that day in his general direction. It doesn’t matter whether it is a stick covered in glitter, a page covered in random blobs of paint, or a couple of boxes and cardboard tubes taped together, Drew is always ready with an enthusiastic comment or an admiring remark…and those little people walk off that crossing feeling ten feet taller than when they stepped onto it.

October 2015 027

Thank you Drew! Goodbye and good luck!

But now, alas, our days with Drew have drawn to a close: he and his lovely wife moving house, and today is his last day of being our very own Lollipop Man before they head south.

Needless to say, Drew will be sadly missed.

Drew, thank you for brightening our mornings and afternoons, for being one of those people who makes a this world a happier, more positive place to live. And thanks for the multitude of “lollies” you have pretended to dispense to the my kids and their little mates — you’re the Lollipop Man they will never forget.

Move over McCoy — we’ve had the Real Pengilly.

UPDATE FOR FRESHIE PEEPS: Don’t despair…Drew’s last day is actually next Friday…so y’all still have time to say so long! Apologies for the error — Blue Jai 🙂

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