Over the River and Through the Woods

The holidays can mean different things to different people.

To the young child it may mean that their parents will dress them up and drag them all around town, and if they have been a good little boy or girl this year they might have a Hot Wheels wall track or a pink LeapPad Explorer waiting for them under the tree on Christmas morning, Santa willing.

Hey Santa! This is number one on my wish list... an inflatable remote control flying shark. Awesome, right?

To the young couple it means spending lots of time with each other’s relatives, usually with excess stress and excess food and excess alcohol, all the while making whispered promises to each other that their lives will never, ever resemble those with whom they share those inextricable genetic links.

To the parents of teenagers it may mean being able to enjoy the Christmas Eve church service without (as much) fear that it might be their child who drops the taper candle during the congregation’s rendition of “Silent Night,” thus setting a pew or a hymnal or an old lady’s wig on fire.

To the grandparents it may mean a renewed spirit, and seemingly new eyes through which they get to watch the next generation experience the innocence and unguarded joy of believing in flying animals and toy workshops and true, untainted Christmas magic.

I have been running around for the past month like a crazed (yes, even more than usual) lunatic, slowly but surely crossing things off my To-Do lists, which were constantly being extended and amended and created anew.  I have been planning and shopping and wrapping and baking and decorating.  Sheepdog has been traveling for work all month, right up until he flew home from California on the 22nd.  The kids have all participated in their classroom parties and team celebrations and gift exchanges.  Then yesterday the seven of us piled into the car and drove well over five hundred miles to be with Grandma and Grandpa in West Virginia.  We are all still swirling around, caught up in the glorious enchantment that reaches its pinnacle tomorrow morning.

This afternoon we will finally slow down as we come together to spend time with even more family.  Tonight we will watch a reenactment of the birth of Jesus at a family friendly church service in town.  Finally, when the kids are just about to burst with anticipation, Sheepdog will read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and everyone will eventually fall into bed.

In theory, Christmas is supposed to be about simplicity.  It is about Jesus being born in a stable.  You don’t get much more unelaborate than that.

In reality, Christmas is complicated and stressful and expensive and anxiety-ridden, especially in the weeks and days leading up to it.  But, if you are really lucky, you will also get to experience those moments of calm and peace and love and true magic that make Christmas such a wonderful time of the year.

Here’s to you and yours.  May your weekend be filled with the people and things that make you happy, even amidst the crazy.  Make sure that you take the time to stop and smell the Christmas cookies.  Joy to the World!

Why I Don’t Bring My Kids to the Grocery Store

I usually try to go to the grocery store while the kids are all in school.  Then there are days when I run out of something specific (usually wine) but my morning schedule does not allow for a grocery run, so I just take Kid E in with me after I pick him up from school.  Nick the Meat Guy, Bill the Deli Guy and all of the checkout ladies were shocked recently to hear that I have five kids.  They all thought I just had the one.  I was flattered at first (“NO WAY that you have five kids!”) but then I wondered who in the world they thought ate all of the food that I buy.  No joke that if Kroger had a Frequent Flyer program, I’d be going free and First Class to Fiji right now.

Anyway, attempting to the grocery store with one kid is not so bad.  I can even occasionally tolerate shopping with two kids in tow.  But three or more kids tagging along is clumsy and crowded and not ideal.  They all want stuff (“Can we puh-leeeeese get Lucky Charms?”) and try to push the cart (usually into a very tall and breakable display) and get all needy and have to go to the bathroom or lose one shoe somewhere along the way, thus wrecking my dream to ever get recruited by the Supermarket Sweep people.

So when I realized today that I was again out of wine I tried to go to the store early to stock up.  Unfortunately, I was at the salon all morning undergoing Step Two of a multi-step process by which I am becoming a redhead (a post for a different day), and I was unable to make it work.  I had to wait for Kids C and D to get off the elementary bus and then we all headed out for just a few things.

I don’t know if it was the full moon or that it is Friday or it is so close to Christmas or my kids are just weird, but it was complete chaos in the store and it ended with a fit of giggles on the car ride home.  It was actually a really fun time.  This is how they looked right before we unloaded our haul:

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

The House Where Christmas Threw Up

Let me start by saying that I am a modified Christmas traditionalist.  I believe in starting my shopping closer to December than August, and I make most of my purchases online.  I believe in putting up my fake Christmas tree after Thanksgiving.  I believe in putting money into a Salvation Army bucket every time I see one.  I believe that the Elf on the Shelf was cute and funny for one or two seasons max; by year three I wanted to take it out back and rub its face in some yellow snow.  I believe in Angel Trees, but I’m not even getting Beats by Dr. Dre headphones for my own kids.  I believe in opening my door for carollers, as long as they show up before we are in bed for the night (porch light on vs. porch light off… it is common sense, people).  Of course, I believe in Santa.  I believe in making (and eating) Christmas cookies together as a family while listening to Frank, Tony and Barbra singing the Christmas classics.  And I wholeheartedly believe that your decorations should reflect the way that you feel about the holiday season.

So my guess is that these people in my neighborhood hate Christmas.

Why else would they have all of that stuff in their front yard?  Is is a joke?  Maybe.  It is pretty funny.  Are they doing it ironically?  I just don’t get that hipster nonsense.  But maybe their next-door neighbors get it, because this is what is decorating their front lawn…

Only 18 days left until Christmas!  Hang in there, friends and neighbors.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…