Tag Archives: Christmas

Tis the Season

I feel like December is a sprint to the finish line.  And I’m tired of hearing how I should slow down and focus on the reason for the season.  I think we all know what we need to do this month and we should all just get on with it as cheerfully as possible.

Being thankful was last month’s problem.

We don’t have to do that anymore.

This month we are supposed to focus on being cheerful.  Holly and Jolly.  Merry and Bright.  Silver and Gold.

So let’s do it.  Let’s go to three different children’s school performances all in one day with a smile on our faces.  Or go to those three Christmas/Hanukkah parties in seven days wearing a bright and happy Christmas sweater.  (Do they have Hanukkah sweaters?  Christmas has plenty of ugly ones to cover all denominations so maybe that was seen as being enough.) Let’s spend more than the suggested budget for our coworker secret Santa.  And laugh merrily as our kids switch their entire Santa list on December 23rd.

Come on everybody!  Let’s get going in the festivities.

We will have all the time we need to relax in February after we spend January trying to improve ourselves and lose weight.

Now is not the time to slow down and enjoy.

Now is the time to buy a box of chocolates and hide it in your underwear drawer so you can sneak a piece before every celebration!

I may not be found consistently on this site this month but when I am you will know it will be with a smile on my face and a box of Sees chocolates in my hand.

And if all else fails, I’ll see you at the gym in January.



How I Keep Calm in December

Sometimes, hearing or reading things about focusing on the REAL message of the holidays wears me out.

Because, deep down, I think we all try to focus on family and love and giving during this time.  But for some of us there is A LOT of family and love and giving and the REASON for the season can be overly stressful.

It’s just really hard to be popular.


But if it is important to focus on family and friends, then I think it’s important to show up to my grade school kids’ Christmas show at 12:30.  Then it’s equally important to show up for my middle school kid’s band concert that night at 6pm.

And there is the church party we go to and help out at so that everyone is fed and welcomed.  Plus the women’s meeting I’m partially in charge of.  (If I don’t show up, there will be no cake.  Might as well cancel the whole thing.)  We also enjoy throwing a skating party for my husband’s patients.  They get to skate, make some crafts, see Santa, eat cookies.  It’s a lot of fun.  (Just an FYI: we kind of have it down but throwing a party for 200-400 people can take time.)  We also do a few other things in the community in order to spread the spirit of cheer and happiness.  I even volunteered to make a fruit salad for a gathering I don’t plan on going to because there wasn’t going to be enough food.

I think all of these things spread the spirit of the holidays.  Being together; sharing; listening to children sing off key.

But that also means that we, as a family, together, loving one another, have 3-4 activities a week.  This is doable.  With constant ordering out of food, it’s even not that hard.  But it can get stressful.

And let’s be honest: If there are no wrapped presents at all, the reason for the season would get a little squashed in disappointment.  (I blame the parents’ of my kids’ friends.  If THEY didn’t give their kids anything, their kids wouldn’t go to school and talk about their new toys and then I could give my kids a nice stick with a pocket knife and tell them to make a toy.)

So this year I’m not listening to or reading any “How to Focus During the Holidays” articles or podcasts.  I’ve decided to use that time to wrap the gifts I purchased for loved ones.

On Thanksgiving.

This Devil of an invention DOES NOT apply to this post.

This Devil of an invention DOES NOT apply to this post.  This stresses out the best of us.  Especially now that it has a pet reindeer.  REALLY?

My Fear of Christmas Trees

I cannot go to sleep if the Christmas tree lights are still plugged in.  It freaks me out.

I have no idea why.

Never once in my life have I seen a Christmas Tree catch on fire.  Lighted or not.  I’ve actually never seen anything catch on fire.  Unless a member of my family lit it on fire.

And yet, the fear remains.  They’ve changed the lights so that they are safer now.  They say on the package that they are safe.  So they must be. (At least safer than when people pinned lit candles to dead trees.)

And you can touch them now.  I remember when I was growing up, once lights were plugged in, you couldn’t touch them.  And the aluminum tinsel would melt to them if they touched.  We used to hold the tinsel over the lights and watch them shrivel.  It was hours of fun.

My children no longer have that opportunity as a pastime.  It’s kind of sad.

But no matter how safe the twinkle lights become, if I leave the lights plugged in at night, there is a chance my whole house will go up in smoke.  Even if it’s only in my mind.

I promise to be one of those bloggers who takes amazing photos at another time

I promise to be one of those bloggers who takes amazing photos at another time

Anyone else have any inexplicable fears during the Holidays?

(In case you notice that the lights on our tree are all on one side of the tree, it’s because it fell over.  And then I just threw the lights up.  It looks great in person.  If you stand next to the piano.)

An Almost Christmastastrophie

I hope that in some small way this blog stops others from doing stupid things I do.  Like relying on the kindness of strangers.

Ok.  That’s not true.  I was channeling A Street Car Named Desire for a moment.  Let us get back to Christmas shopping.

As many of you know, I live in a smaller town.  It can be difficult to find the things my children have asked for for Christmas.  Luckily, we live in a time of modern wonderment and I’ve ordered almost everything online.

Brown boxes addressed to me have been arriving at my house for about a week.  I’ve just let them pile up because I know no one has opened them and they’re sealed for secretivity.  (That should be a word.)

I’ve been feeling wonderfully brilliant.  Shopping done.  Hiding done.  Life is sweet.

Then I decided to check the box of pajamas.  We have the tradition of getting new pj’s Christmas eve.  Some years we have a theme and some years the theme is “Found on the Clearance Table.”  That is my personal favorite theme, but not the kids’.

This year I went all out.  I ordered completely matching pajamas.  All five of us will be wearing the same shirts and pants.  Blue tops and blue and green flannel bottoms.

We are going to look like complete idiots.

But my daughter thought it would be fun and there are stores out there dedicated to this stuff.  The pattern I really wanted was sold out, but let’s face it.  When an adult wears the same pj’s as a 6 year old, the pattern doesn’t save that much ego.

I opened the box.  Only three pairs of pajamas were inside.  I looked for another box.  I read the label on the box and it said only one box would be delivered.  I was in shock.  The completely nameless people I put all of my faith and trust in made a mistake.  How could this be?  Just because half of the U.S. has this pajama tradition and probably half of them use this company, how could their overworked and underpaid employees make this mistake? Where are the Christmas miracles when you need them?

I frantically called the company and they apologized and I’ll get the adult pairs in 2 days.  I should’ve asked for a bar of chocolate too but I don’t think the company sells food.  They should.  Flannel pj’s need chocolate.

Then I opened every single box I’d had nicely stacked in plain site in my bedroom.  Then I realized that I had no memory of what I’d ordered and I didn’t want to go back through all of the emails and figure it out so I’ve decided I received everything else.

It's not as neat now.  And some of the boxes are upside down.  The biggest one is mine, though.  So don't worry.  I'm not spoiling the kids.

It’s not as neat now. And some of the boxes are upside down. The biggest one is mine, though. So don’t worry. I’m not spoiling the kids.

I’ve also decided I’m going back to “Clearance Table” theme next year.  It’s so much easier, way cheaper, and we look 10% less like mutants.

Elf on the Shelf or Spawn of Satan?

Around four years ago, a friend told me about Elf on a Shelf and I bought one with his book.  My kids were 6, 4, and 2 and only the 6 year old was very interested.  The problem was that our elf never moved.  I think it moved 4 times in the whole month and he is supposed to move every night.  I figured this would not be a good tradition for our family and packed the sad, little, slightly scary looking elf in a box.

6 years pass and the Elf on the Shelf becomes a huge phenomenon.  My kids’ teachers have one in the classroom to keep the kids behaving.  My friends’ post pictures of their elves on Instagram.  I have one friend who has the boy AND the girl elf.  Another friend bought CLOTHES for the elf.  Their elves do massive productions at night so that their kids wake up to strings across their doors, messages in m&m’s, messes made in the kitchen, half eaten sandwiches, etc.

Then these kids with the over achieving parents come to school and tell my kids what their elves do.  For two weeks, my 8 and 6 year olds begged and begged to get an elf.  So I found our old one in a box in the garage.  (Because I’m an underachieving mom who POSES as an overachieving mom.  It’s pretty much the same amount of work as being an overachiever but without the job satisfaction.)

It’s been four days of that elf moving every night.

The longest four days of my life.

On the first day, the elf spelled “Sorry I’m late” in peppermint m&m’s.  My 6 yr old looked at him and said, “I don’t think he’s real because his eyes are painted on.”

The next day the elf forgot to move until the kids were getting dressed and so he quickly found himself in a stocking before anyone came up.  My 8 yr old said, “I wonder if he’s always going to be upstairs.”

The elf has also gotten into some stickers and found the 6 yr old’s undies and put them in the tree.  I’m telling you this elf is HILARIOUS. (Except the 8 and 11 yr olds told the 6 yr old the elf was telling him to pick up his underwear which kind of killed the Christmas spirit we had going for 3 whole days.)

He gives me nightmares

He gives me nightmares

Unfortunately, I keep forgetting about this elf until about 7am when I have to wake up the kids.  Sometimes I remember after the kids are up.  Those twelve stairs are my saving grace.  I mean the elf’s saving grace.  Stupid, lazy elf with the memory of a tie tack.

And I haven’t noticed my kids acting any better even though Santa now has a spy in our midst and the elf reports every night if the kids have been good or bad.  I think my kids are a little too self-confident with the whole “being on the nice list.”  I blame the Santa at the skating party who told my kids they are on the nice list.  What kind of Santa does that the FIRST week of December?  What threats does a mother have for the rest of the month if you take that one away?  Luckily, my friend told me to ask them if they had it in writing.  They didn’t.  So they’re back to being scared out of their minds like good children should be for the month of December.

I really hope this elf is a passing fancy.  My mother didn’t have to deal with this pressure.  She may have had to use cloth diapers but that’s nothing compared to the pressure of the Elf on the Shelf.

Don't worry.  The undies are clean.

Don’t worry. The undies are clean.

What Exactly Constitutes the Christmas Spirit?

I’m taking a survey and I’m hoping you all agree with me because then I could tell my husband that tens of people agree with me.

Instead of baking homemade cookies that may not come out and some people may not like, I would like to deliver a plate of Pepperidge Farm cookies to all of my neighbors.

Everyone loves Pepperidge Farm cookies.  They have delicious gingerbread which is hard to do and they add peppermint to a bunch of stuff during this time of year.

The card would say: From our family to yours if we lived on a farm.  In the town of Pepperidge.

I think it would cause laughter and jealousy because everyone will wish they thought of it.  I mean, let’s be honest, no one WANTS to make 10 dozen cookies at Christmas.  We just want to look like amazing neighbors and make everyone love us.  (Especially if there’s a possibility our kid might pull out their flowers for Mother’s day.)

What do you think?  Is a plate of Pepperidge Farm cookies keeping within the Spirit of Christmas?  Would you like a plate?  (What’s your address?) 

I'd even put a store bought bow on it.

I’d even put a store bought bow on it.

Running out of Gift Ideas

I have a friend who is really difficult to buy for and this year I have no creative juices flowing when it comes to gift giving.  I sent my parents a check.  How sad is that?

I sent my sister restaurant gift cards but my friend does no gluten so I didn’t know what would be a good restaurant.

She doesn’t like box/chain stores so Target gift card is out of the question.

I made gluten free brownies the other day, tried them, threw them away.

She is into the environment so I was gonna get her some non-latex balloons she could open and put air back into the universe but I don’t exhale oxygen and helium is bad, I guess.

I’m thinking of giving her giftcards to local stores although she doesn’t live by me.  I figure:

1. it will force a visit or

2. she may regift them back to me for my b-day in 2 months.

(I blame my crisis.)


Christmas Card Dispute

Every year, about this time, my husband and I disagree.  It’s the only time all year.

He likes traditional family pictures.  He wants the family to get in their Sunday best and sit by a waterfall with hands in laps, smiling prettily as someone takes our picture.  I would rather have my kids in clothes they wear every day having pictures taken while they try to get in the waterfall.  It’s more real to me.  And we yell at our children less.

It’s the same with the Holiday letter.  He would like me to write a letter saying everything we did that year, but I just can’t.  I’m not sure if I think this is bragging or if I think it’s lying to only highlight the good parts.

I love getting Christmas cards that tell me what everyone is doing, but some can be a bit over the top.  If you tell me that your daughter won the science fair, your son played piano at a Yo Yo Ma concert, and your spouse threw a party for 500 and cooked all of the food in your one oven, I start questioning what your spouse soaked your piece of fruitcake in.

My card would say something like “my children love reptiles, but a little too much.  I finally threatened to send any more snakes I found in my house to Hermes to make a nice handbag.  Crying may have followed.”

I think it would make a nice clutch

So I am asking all of you, what do you do/like?  Do you like the Christmas letters where everything is absolutely perfect in life or do you like the cards that admit the flaws?

Latin Christmas Music update

I just figured out that I could look up “Navidad” and get more Christmas music. I started clicking and listening and realized that without the ability to speak Spanish, I could listen to Christmas music in Spanish all year round because I don’t know what they are saying.

I think I just wanted American Christmas music translated so I know what song is being sung instead of actual Latin Christmas music. I realize this is uncultured of me and I have now stopped.

And to top it all off when I searched “Navidad” Michael Buble came up because ‘Feliz Navidad’ is on his new album!  So he probably is playing in the Gap in Mexico City.


Latin Christmas Music

The latest story I am writing takes place in Mexico.  It is based on a personal experience and so to get the right “feel” for the story, I have been listening to Ricky Martin, but only the songs in Spanish (although I do like the occasionally shaking of the bon bon.)

Then I needed variety.  I searched for Spanish music but only got how to learn Spanish for children music.  You have to search for Latin music.  Then I bought 2 albums with good looking men on the covers.  (It helps me write a good leading male.)

Now it is the holiday season and I want  xmas music in Spanish.  I looked up Spanish Christmas music, realized my mistake and looked up Latin.  There are no albums with good looking men on the covers so I am at a loss.  Gloria Estafan’s album is in English.  Ricky Martin doesn’t have one.  Neither does Menudo.  And you can only listen to Feliz Navidad so often before you start thinking dark thoughts.  So I’m thinking my only choice is to drive to Mexico, go to the mall and find out what is playing in the Gap.

But what if it’s Michael Buble?  I will have driven 20 hours for nothing but a really good glass of Horchata.

I think I’ll call.  Does anyone have the number for the Gap in Mexico City? (If so, could you call them because I don’t actually speak Spanish.)

Santa is really busy right now and didn't have time to sign a release form so I thought this picture would work nicely.