The stuffing wasn’t yet cold on the American Thanksgiving dinner table when the Christmas juggernaut started barrelling toward us. I have to admit, I was pressured to put up the Christmas tree almost two weeks ago by two tween-agers who could sense the rubbermaid totes in the basement, bursting with festive cheer mere meters below their feet. Although I really don’t love the mountain of mess that the holiday brings, I do enjoy the annual adornment of the good old fake fir that I keep stuffed into a cardboard box and drag up for 3 months every year. Yes, I said three. Last year, I forced myself to take the bloody thing down before I left for Mexico. On February 10th. I am blushing a bit when I tell you this. Early in the new year I had jokingly posted a photo of christmas cookies I saw on display at Foodland. I thought perhaps the store might want to venture past 50% off since it was more than a month since Christmas, and the freshness of said cookies was likely in serious jeopardy. One of my friends reminded me that I was in no position to judge, since we were still watching TV around an 8 foot replica pine in my own living room at the time.
So fine, maybe I like the pretty, shiny, flatteringly-lit tree to stay in my living room to keep me company until it really is way past the season. Whatever. Judge me.
After unwrapping a thousand fragile little ornaments, busting 5 in the process, and eating nearly a whole container of gingerbread boys, the tree was finally assembled and now sits proudly for its quarter-year of glory in our home. The kids danced about like tiny meth-heads, excited and justified in the official start of begging for gifts and self-control from their usual fighting and mayhem, lest Santa should see and banish them to the naughty list.
I swear 11 months out of the year I do not condone sweat-shop labour, but as a parent, I can get behind Santa and his little North Pole organization if it means that my kids try extra-hard to behave for a month out of the year.
My job as a mom means I have my own little dictatorship here at the homestead, so I declared that no Santa-list-making would be done until the bedroom sparkled. < insert evil grin > After a flurry of shoving crap under the bed and smoothing out sheets over lumpy beds, they were presented with the annual Sears Wish Book for their holiday perusal. I have to tell you, if you want to keep your kiddies quiet for an hour, hand them this catalogue, some scissors and glue, and find yourself a good book. I didn’t hear a peep from them, except for the occasional exclamation of joy over this toy or that one. Motherhood bliss!
This years crop of requests looks pretty innocuous. No weapons of mass destruction, no drums, guitars or saxophones, and nothing that will grow, explode or spill onto the floor in a million pieces. MOMMY SCORE! In the past I have purchased snow-cone makers that yielded one product (that was one hella-expensive snow cone, TT!), microscopes that have never been peered upon (so much for your love of science, O) and a karaoke machine that never came out of the box. This year, I am getting what’s on the damn list. Does it matter that I am likely contributing to the future body shame of my children by buying them dolls that have waists that are 1/10th the diameter of their heads? Maybe. What about the potential broken arms and legs that will be a direct result of a shoddily-built pink scooter? So be it. My children deserve the best I can provide, and damn it, I will be providing!
A huge holiday tradition in my own childhood home was watching some version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Maybe more than one version. Actually, am pretty sure I have watched EVERY version available to man at various times throughout my youth. My mom always assembled us at the proper time on weekends in November and December to watch whichever version was playing that day. Bless her soul, she is a Christmas nut. We love that she religiously drags out the Christmas gear on November 1st and has her entire home adorned in holiday cheer by November 2nd. We laugh and taunt her about it, but secretly we love that she is the heart of our family and always provides us with an amazing Christmas experience. My kids know that if they are going to learn about the proper way to celebrate and decorate, they are going to learn if from her, and not me.
Therefore, it was no surprise at all to find the three of them holed up in her cozy den last weekend, watching the latest version of the Charles Dickens classic together, the first time for them, and no doubt, the thousandth time for my Mom. I smiled, and felt a very familiar wave of nostalgia rise in my heart, as I remembered all of the times my sister, brother and I did the same in our beloved family home for so many years. Of course, she insisted that they make room for me to join them to watch the much-loved finale, where Scrooge changes his surly ways and becomes the most cherished man in town. As always, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes to see this beautiful transformation. No matter how many times I watch it, it always has this affect on me, and now, on my kids too. Another beautiful tradition passed on to be enjoyed by a new generation. It isn’t every day that you actually see the thread of family tradition being weaved in front of you, but I saw it that day, and it made me very, very happy.
The season has begun, as has the time to welcome family and friends, share laughter and love and traditions old and new. Here’s to a very merry season to all of you, and much love and joy.
Now, wipe the freakin’ tear from your eye, and get on with your shopping and decorating,