From the week of Thanksgiving to the end of Christmas Break our entire family is in a state of chaos. Since we are a blended family, my three older kids travel to their dads for a couple of days over our Turkey Break. Now the fact that they go down is not the problem since my oldest does the driving; it is the planning of when they will go down. I will ask every child and their dad at least 3 times before things are finalized. This year they had Thanksgiving dinner with us and then drove to their dads...however where they were going to leave from was not clearly decided until we were walking out the door. This one of many things that drive me insane during this holiday month.
Up above I posted what has to be one of my favorite Christmas Parodies - The 12 Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers. I can relate to every single one of the days he brings up in the song. The first one being finding a Christmas tree. When I was younger, cutting down the tree with my kids just seemed like the natural thing to do. Now it is fake all the way, and if you are smart, you buy a pre-lighted one in order to avoid the irritation of going through the lights. However, you can have issues with a fake tree as well. Unpacking a fake tree for the first time is easy because it fits nicely in the box making it easy to remove. What is still a mystery to me, is why the damn tree that fit so well before refuses to go back in the box the way it came out. This is where duct tape comes in handy because whether it wants to cooperate or not that tree is going to be contained. A downfall of forcing the tree back into the box is the chance of screwing up the lights causing the next year to have a tree lit at the top and at the bottom while the middle remains dark, which is why we had to get a new tree this year.
Next is putting up Christmas lights. We live in a 3 story house, not including the basement, so putting up lights is not a tradition we partake in. We do however have two columns leading up to our front door, which we do put rope lights on. If you have ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is attempting to out do every one in the neighborhood by putting lights on every inch of his house than you know that people can get crazy over lights. I have even known it to become such a battle that two battling neighbors would sabotage each other. One time in particular was when one took a bulb out of a large string of lights causing all the others to malfunction - just like the song. The neighbor with all the lights out had his wife and two kids out going through every string with him until the culprit was found, which is a good reason to have rope lights. I wonder if the person who came up with string lights has ever received threatening letters or calls?
I am going to skip over three in the song because I have not had a hangover for over 10 years, another casualty of becoming parents - no life and you become a light weight. . On to four - filling out #$@#% Christmas cards. Now as the woman in the family, this seems to fall on me...which I absolutely hate. It has to be one of the worst jobs at Christmas time. After one year of not doing it at all, and of course getting scolded for it...I discovered a much easier way to do it - HALLMARK! Hallmark has all of my addresses and after I get done creating my card with the kids on it, I pay and hit send. They make the cards and send them out. It is so worth the cost because I no longer have to hand write each card and lick the horrible sticky stuff on the envelopes which I have learned can contain insect eggs. BLECH! Now if you don't want to pay to have them sent another option would be emailing a card you have made with a short letter underneath. This way the only effort comes from making the card and typing in the note.
Since I brought up spending money let's dive into number five - the bills you are stuck paying after Christmas. All I have to say is I am very happy that tax refunds come out in February because if it were not for that extra money...our kids would be opening underwear and socks every year. While I am on underwear and socks - both of my boys are extremely picky about these two things. It has to be Under Armor for underwear and Nike socks, which after buying three of each item for each of the boys, I have to take out a small loan just to cover the cost. Whatever happened to those huge underwear and sock bins where each pair was no more than $2?
During every Christmas we try to spend time with both sides of the family (mine and my husband, Shawn). I have never really struggled with this as I have been blessed with amazing in-laws. No really they are great and I believe my hubby feels the same way. The only thing I would say is that neither one of our dads is still living and we greatly miss both of them. Now that being said I have friends who dread a day with the in-laws because, to put it bluntly, they treat them like they are less than worthy of being a part of their family. As a matter of fact this brings to mind one of my dearest friends, who has to be one of the most giving, loving, and overall amazing people I know, yet her in-laws are horrible to her, which is also effecting her kids. Her wonderful son even took it upon himself to stand up to them and defend his mother...yeah they still did not catch on. I realize that there are people out there who, as parents, we may feel are not suitable for our kids. However, once they have been married for over, ohhhh let's say 15 years it is time to pack up your ill will and get over it because eventually you may alienate your child's entire family including your grandchildren.
Now normally I do not mind putting money in the Salvation Army Ringer's kettle, however there have been a few that get a little pushy. Throughout the holiday season I try to keep some loose change in my purse so my two youngest children can feel as if they are helping out. On a couple of rare occasions I have been coinless and actually had the ringer tell me that cash works and even managed to explain to me where the nearest ATM is located. At that moment I wanted to give this young man a lesson in manners using my foot but instead I quickly walked into the store and silently cursed him in my head. Now I don't know if you have ever taken two girls under the age of 12 shopping with you, but it is kind of like jogging with high heels on...you can't go as fast as you would like, you have to stop and rest a lot, you seem to get side tracked quite often, and when it seems like you are almost at the finish line...your heel breaks off and you have to limp the rest of the way. By the time we got to the check out line, I was swearing revenge on their dad. I bet you can guess what is coming - so as I walked out of the doors with one of the girls pouting and the other girl weeping that moron bell ringer approached me again asking if I had change now (in a very condescending tone); I happily looked at him and said "why yes I do but I need it to put into the offering plate at my Coven meeting, we are buying supplies for a new spell." Yep that left him speechless.
We are getting close to the end of the song; number 8 is referring to kids and the blight that strikes them during this beautiful holiday season (insert sarcasm). I don't know if any of you out there have kids who have contracted this disease but I have to say the only cure comes at the end of Christmas Vacation. What is this mysterious disease you ask? It is called "I Want" and normally strikes kids under the age of 10. Just when you think they have it all figured out what they want under the tree some parent-torturing commercial comes on with the #1 toy on the market and they want that too. However there is good news, when it comes to this disease it seems to disappear once they hit the tweens. Instead the list consists of things that are far more expensive -the cost actually puts your car payment to shame.
I absolutely hate parking lots during the Christmas season because people are insane...kind of like the middle school drop off point with the psycho parents trying to push their kids out the door while the mini van is still moving. Parking is also one area where my husband and I disagree. I say park closer and he prefers the back. We live in Iowa, in December it is very cold... I hate being cold. The closer we are the less time I spend freezing my ass off. Did I mention I HATE being cold.
Speaking of being cold...okay batteries not included has nothing to do with the cold but I could not think of a good transition into number 10 in the song. Now sometimes toys do have the batteries included but more often than not they are those kind that last a whole 5 minutes after removing the toy from the packaging. Now my mom will give our kids batteries as a stocking stuffer, which I love but once the batteries are in the "battery drawer" (yes we actually have a drawer in the mud room solely for batteries) it is first come first serve. My boys have actually come to blows over this...any other time they will steal, yes steal, batteries from remotes, toys, and whatever else they can find that may have what they are so desperate acquire. 9 times out of 10 it is for their gaming controllers. Little do they know that I have figured out their game and managed to switch the desired logs of energy with ones that are almost dead. Yep I can be evil sometimes.
If I have not mentioned it before, I will confess it now...I am a T.V. junky. I would attend a support group but I am afraid I would miss a show. Anyway every year around the Christmas Season T.V. in inundated with Christmas specials. Some are great and some make me want to throw myself into a frozen lake...and you all know I hate being cold. Now my all time favorite special is A Christmas Story. There are so many great one liners and mishaps that even after seeing it at least 100 times, it still makes me laugh. However there is one I do not like and many of you may see this as horrific but It's A Wonderful Life is like nails on a chalkboard. I have never liked it - every so often - I will give it another shot but it never works. I could go on and on about this and the numerous shows that come on during this season but I will save you pain for fear that I might seem to resemble Scrooge.
And now we are on the last day of the song...caroling. To be completely honest, I really have never had an experience with carolers. So I am not sure if this is something that would be annoying or not. I guess if they were out of tune and had the words wrong I would be apt to throw the nearest item at them but if they were in tune and knew the words I may just join them. I do really like the Christian Christmas songs, with my favorites being: Do You Hear What I Hear, Emmanuel, and Noel. The beauty of these songs, if sung well, can make me tear up - but so can the stress of the season.
I know I have spent this whole post poking fun at the Christmas Season, but I really do love Christmas. Watching others open the gifts I have given them and seeing the look of surprise on their faces has to be one of my favorite memories of all time. It is hard to believe that this Christmas will be celebrated without my dad. I have been with him on Christmas for 43 years; this one without him will be tough. I want to end this post wishing all of you the happiest of holidays and a very blessed New Year.