hung by the chimney with care
December 18, 2006
Conversation as I upacked the stockings:
“What are those BIG socks, Mommy?” asked by my 3yr old daughter.
“These are our Christmas stockings.” I answered.
“Oh, Nooooooo. I don’t want to wear those on Christmas.”
Here I thought we’d all go nude except for the one one big sock and perhaps a few strategically placed ornaments. My plans foiled again.
Posted by Chris @ 10:34 am
’tis the season for uncomfortable family gatherings
December 15, 2006
I am feeling decidedly lacking in Christmas spirit this holiday season. I am not sure if it is because the weather has been so freakishly warm or that my children already own every toy ever manufactured or that my mother is coming over to my house for Christmas dinner this year. Let that last one soak in a minute while I do a shot of tequila over here.
When I casually mentioned to her a month or two ago that she could come over for Christmas and see her grandchildren that she hasn’t seen in 7.5 YEARS, most of whom weren’t even born yet, well I didn’t really think she would say yes. But she did. And she is bringing scalloped potatoes. I am trying to be calm about it and adult like, but holy crap I have invited crazy to my house. Rob is less than pleased and keeps saying that there had better not be any drama.
I know that my mother will come out with some ridiculous story about how great Christmas was when I was a child and relate some heartwarming moment that she stole from a Lifetime channel movie and has now convinced herself really happened in our family, even though I don’t have a one legged brother who befriends the elderly shut-in neighbor only to discover she is our long lost grandfather who had secretly had a sex change operation and moved into the house next door in hopes of being a part of our lives. Somehow those pesky details will be overlooked. But I have promised my husband that I will bite my tongue, smile and nod, and agree that yes it was simply magical when Johnny hopped on his one good leg down the icy walkway to our neighbor’s house carrying the Christmas ham.
This isn’t what I intended to write about when I sat down here, it’s funy how that happens. I was going to write about my children and the fact that I am going to end up buying my children more crap this holiday season just like the crap they already own, don’t play with, and leave all over the floor for me to trip on. How many legos, matchbox cars, and pretend kitchen stuff can you have before it is too many? I am not sure of the exact number, but think I can safely say that it is significantly less than we already own.
I asked bargain shopping guru Mir for advice and she suggested laser tag guns, proving that she does not live with an army of boys who need no encouragement in this area. They would run and stomp through the house screaming and shooting at each other until the plaster fell from the walls and my hands shakily reached for a bottle of tequila and a bottle of pills.
So I am at a loss. So much so that I almost suggested we get a puppy for Christmas. Which would certainly break the tenuous grasp on my sanity I maintain these days. But then I weigh one hand against the other…. my sanity versus my children’s happy smiling faces, and the decision isn’t so easy. I am sure I could make some sort of tequilla bottle holster to wear at all times. Maybe with a straw.
And that holster would be perfect on Christmas day, enabling me to have my hands free for installing batteries, holding two wine glasses, or strangling someone in the closet.
Posted by Chris @ 10:30 am
all i want for Christmas
December 14, 2006
I am totally getting my assed kicked. KICKED I tell you.
It probably doesn’t help that I have forgotten to vote for myself. And that when I called my husband to remind him, he had forgotten also. (Let’s pretend that I am only losing by two votes, okay?)
“We suck at this, don’t we?”
“Yeah. But that’s because it’s dumb.”
“You’re right. But you know I hate losing. I hate it. It make me want to go all Tonya Harding on everyone”
“Honey I hate to break it to you, but there is no coming back.”
And so it is. And once again the realization that life is STILL like junior high. I will not be getting a weblog award for Christmas. But that’s okay because where would I keep it? It would just be one more tsotshke to dust ayway.* There are much more exciting things I am getting for Christmas.
Like a new vacuum.
And a front end alignment of my big van.
And a new waffle maker.
Maybe I should just throw a root canal in there, you know to spice things up a bit.
(* what? you mean there isn’t an actual solid gold award? no million dollar prize? no record contract? I just get to keep that little icon over there on my sidebar? Hmmmm. In that case, bring on the waffle maker.)
Posted by Chris @ 5:24 pm
To Miles on your 24th month of life,
December 12, 2006
This morning I woke up to your arms hugging my neck, your 28 lb body draped across my chest. I kissed your neck until you laughed and kicked me in the stomach a few times. This is fairly typical of our mornings, with you snuggled in between me and your father, having joined us in bed at some point in the middle of the night. Many mornings your sister will be in bed with us too. And I love the way you two will greet each other when you wake up, as if you are long lost friends who have been apart for a long time.
Every day you become more independent and more assertive about your opinions. (And for someone only 24 months old you certainly have a lot of them.) Every day I think that you must have reached the pinnacle of your oppositional behavior, but then you go ahead and surprise me by taking your oppositional behavior to new heights.
This morning as we lay in bed I said, “It’s your birthday. Happy Birthday!”
You said, “NO!”
I said it a few more times to convince you that it was in fact your birthday, but you just screamed “No” each time I mentioned it. I know how you feel, but it didn’t happen for me until I turned 35.
You exhaust me. Your endless climbing, jumping, and coloring on everything but paper. You wear me out, child. And it makes me glad that I am at the end of my baby and child bearing days, and not just starting my family like many of the people our age that your father and I know.
A couple of weeks ago I returned home from a weekend away, filled with Christmas shopping, eating out in restaurants, and not heeding your every tyrannical whim, and you were already sound asleep. In the morning you began calling for me from your crib as you do every mornning. “MOM.MOM.MOM” As I went to get out of bed to go get you, your father excitedly stopped me. For a brief, oh-so-brief moment I thought he was going to get up and get you.
Instead he called to you, “Show Mommy how you learned to climb out of your crib this weekend. Go on, show Mommy.”
I almost dropped dead right there on the spot.
“It’s so cute. Just watch how he gets out all by himself.”
Did your father not realize the importance of your daily afternoon nap for my sanity? The nap that you hate and fight tooth and nail to avoid everyday. The nap that you continue to take because you are trapped in a
cage crib and can not escape…
And so like any SANE parent, I jumped out of bed, screaming, “Are you crazy? No! No! NO CLIMBING!!!”
You didn’t climb out again for a awhile. And I was so happy. And so thankful that this was the one thing you decided to obey me on. Everything else I tell you not to do, color on walls, climb on the stove, throw balls at the windows, you promptly discard as unwanted advice.
Yesterday though, perhaps in celebration of turning the big T-W-O, you decided to climb out of your crib after I put you down for your nap. After you ransacked the room you grew bored and began banging on the door and crying. I heard nothing of it since I was downstairs revelling in my two hours unfettered by your whims, eating bon-bons, and drinking martinis. Okay, the bon-bon eating and martini drinking were in my head, and in reality I was supervising your sister with her watercolors, which is really only marginally better than dealing with your whims.
But I didn’t hear you. Your oldest brother was upstairs in his room and came to your rescue. When he brought you downstairs to me you were sobbing so hard that you could hardly catch your breath. The guilt was overwhelming. You wrapped your little arms around my neck and kept saying “Mama” over and over again. I carried you upstairs and laid down in my bed with you. Your body wrapped around mine. I rubbed your hair with my hand and kissed your chubby cheeks over and over again, while apologizing to you. You promptly fell asleep. But even in your sleep you kept shuddering with sobs, trying to catch your breath. And each time your body shook I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart.
After a little while I extricated myself from your clutches and tucked you in, building a fortress of pillows around you. I looked around the room for the first time and noticed all my books strewn about the floor, the dust jackets taken off and crumpled up like garbage, the clothes emptied out of the hamper, mixed with those pulled out of your drawers. There is a reason toddlers are so cute.
You love your older brothers and will frequently go to one of them if I reprimand you in anyway. You’ll grab them by their legs and yell, “mama bad boy” And yes, they will agree with you. Especially funny is how you have decided to call your 10 yr old brother “Joe.” His name in no way remembles “Joe” and yet you insist that is his name.
You have decided that you hate having your photograph taken. This means that I have lots of pictures of the back of your head this month. Taking photos for our Christmas card this year was a real battle of wills. You didn’t want to be in a picture until someone else was being photographed. Then you would run to get back into the picture. Where you would pose nicely until I brought my camera out. I also have quite a few photos of you screaming and everyone turning to look at you.
Gone are the days where I could do this, and you would just sit there, like your very first Christmas:
Going to see Santa this year should be a lot of fun and add to the side show feel we already bring with us wherever we all go.
This month you have decided to walk up and down the stairs like a big person. No more crawling or using your hands for you. Instead of turning around and going down the stairs backwards on your stomach, you walk down facing forward, your left hand just casually dragging along the wall. I can hardly stand to watch it, so sure I am the the next step will cause you to trip and fall down the wooden stairs and break your neck.
Your vocabulary has grown exponentially this month. You string words together in complicated sentences. By far my favorite is, “My yuh you” (I love you), though “I NEED CAKE!” is up there on the list. And when your father is watching a sporting event of some sort on television and you pause to watch and yell, “WHOA!” well, it cracks us up every single time. You don’t sit still, ever. You are constantly running around the house, screaming, laughing, and trying to be a big kid. Your giggling fills this house.
One of our Christmas traditions is to read every night by the light of the candles on our Advent wreath. You spend the entire time I am reading climbing onto the table and trying to blow the candles out. You are so serious about it and you puff your cheeks up so big, huffing and puffing to the point where we think you might hyperventilate. And so this year will be forever remembered as the Advent we spent pulling you back from the candles every other sentence. And laughing in between.
If that isn’t what good Christmas memories are made of, I don’t know what is.
People ask me all the time if I am having any more babies. I guess they haven’t gotten the memo. Usually I’ll look at you and then back at them and say, “I have achieved perfection. There’s nowhere to go from here.” And while it is something of a joke, I mean it. I have never won anything in my life. I have never been lucky. But somehow, inexplicably I have won the kid lottery.
Happy Birthday, baby.
Posted by Chris @ 3:07 pm
Two years ago
December 11, 2006
I went to bed looking like this:
And now I have this:
And I can not imagine that I lived 35 years without him. 35 years without knowing him. 35 years without missing him. It is inconceivable now.
Posted by Chris @ 11:12 pm
It’s like an Aesop’s fable for grow-ups
December 10, 2006
The moral of the story is: Garbage bags are for garbage, ONLY garbage.
Alternate moral: Don’t throw anything away, ever. Squirrel it all away until your house looks like one of the ones featured on the 5 o’clock news where they had to use a bulldozer to rescue the family that was trapped inside behind a fortress of their own garbage.
The story begins…
In early January when you are sick and tired of looking at all the dusty holiday decorations, the dead pine needles that have gathered in all corners of the rooms, and the sound of Christmas carols makes you want to tear your hair out and strangle the general public with it, you might decide one day that you have to put all the decorations away now. As in RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT.
However, as is always the case, you may not have enough rubbermaid bins to store the decorations because you have purchased more decorations during this holiday season. And even though you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will never use half of the itmes you have stored away in the boxes marked XMAS, you can not throw them away. Baby Jesus doesn’t like wasting perfectly good, albeit outdated and dusty, things.
And so you may decide to put all the garland, wreaths, bows, lights, and other non-breakable assorted things into a black garbage bag with the intention of buying a new rubbermaid bin the next time you are out shopping. But after you carry the black garbage bag up two flights of stairs and deposit it in the far corner of the attic, shut the attic door, walk back down two flights of stairs… you will have forgotten all about it.
And the months will pass by. Christmas will be a distant memory.
So distant in fact that when summer comes along and you decide that you want to clean out the attic and purge all the junk that is stored up there you will throw all the junk into black garbage bags and leave them in various locations in the attic. And then a few weekends later you might
harass instruct your husband and sons to get all the garbage out of the attic, for crying out loud, and bring it to the dump.
And you will be blissfully happy with your newly cleaned out and tidy attic. And you might even go so far as to make oboxious sweeping statements to anyone who will listen about how much “lighter” you feel now.
Then come December you might find yourself opening up every single storage bin in your attic looking for the missing items before it all flashes before your eyes. And your mouth will fall open and you will yell, “No fucking way!” And then you will curse to yourself all the way to Micheal’s where you replace it all, and possibly more, making a mental note to purchase some new rubbermaid bins.
And in case you were wondering, the same hold true for the children’s winter outwear accessories… hats, neck gaitors, expensive ski gloves and pants… You will not discover this until the first snowy day in December when you try in vain to locate the things for the children to play outside. And the children will be forced to wear cheap mismatched stretch to fit gloves, and hats that have been rejected for so many years that they never even made it out of the attic last winter. And when the children complain about their hands being wet and cold you might just find yourself telling them to play outside without touching the snow.
Or maybe suggest that they wear black garbage bags.
Because saving their hands from frostbite is not nearly as important as having a well decorated house.
Posted by Chris @ 11:26 pm
Santa also has ties to the coal industry, battery manufacturers, and overeaters anonymous
December 8, 2006
My 10 year old is on the cusp of not believeing in Santa any longer. Logically he knows the truth. But there is still that part of him that clings to it, a part of him that isn’t fully ready to abandon his childhood yet. Last year he had asked me if there was really a Santa. It happens every so often during the holidays.
I gave my standard non answer, “Well, what do you think?”
“I’m not sure. I really really want to believe that there is.”
“But it doesn’t really make sense. You know?”
“I think I still believe. Yes, I believe.”
“Well, that settles that then, right?”
“Yes. Do you think Santa would bring me a grenade launcher if I asked him?”
“Definitely not. Santa is a pacifist.”
Might as well keep the lies coming. Why stop now.
Over on my other blog I am writing this next week about the holiday traditions that my family enjoys. I’d love if you wrote about some of your traditions and left a link over there, no matter what holiday you celebrate.
Posted by Chris @ 9:29 am
not sure what they are smoking…
December 7, 2006
but I do wish they would share.
And add to the things I never thought I would hear myself say:
“The living room is NOT a mosh pit. There is NO slam dancing to Christmas carols! It’s called SILENT Night for a reason. And that reason is that the baby jesus likes peace, quiet and goodwill to men, not jumping on your brother’s back and throwing an elbow in his face.”
Posted by Chris @ 7:37 pm
No, just no
December 6, 2006
I was hoping there would be a miracle. Isn’t this supposed to be the season for miracles? I had been hoping that this would end up being a frightening footnote in their otherwise long and happy lives. A story that they would tell their grandchildren, together, around the table at holidays.
My heart aches. And I am at a loss for words.
Rest in peace, James. Rest in peace.
Posted by Chris @ 5:20 pm
if only the king’s men had glue guns things might have worked out differently
I love decorating for Christmas. We have numerous wreaths, garland, trees (real and fake), and all sorts of other decorative
crap things that only come out at this time of the year. None of the things are terribly expensive since I do have children who feel it is perfectly acceptable to scale the fireplace mantle or climb the Christmas tree. The house always feels so festive when the decorations are up and then so naked when I take them all back down.
[As an aside I am sitting here at the kitchen table with my computer. My 3 and 6yr olds are having a contest to see who can catch the most goldfish crackers in their mouth. So far they have each thrown about 30 in the air OVER THEIR HEADS. And each time they seem genuinely surprised that they missed their mouth. I know I shouldn't laugh and encourage this behavior, but I can't help it. This is why I don't walk around the house without shoes or slippers on.]
Yesterday was the first day I had time to get the boxes out of the attic. It is always fun opening them up with the children. The younger children really don’t remember the decorations from one year to the next and so there is an excited energy from them, the realization that Christmas really is going to come sometime soon. Remember how slowly time moved as a child?
I took the Christmas stockings out of the box and laid them on the dining room table. My 3 yr old daughter came over and examined them.
3 yr old: Oh Mommy, What are these big socks?
Me: They are our Christmas stockings.
3 yr old (lip begining to quiver): But I don’t want to wear those big socks on Christmas!
Growing up I had no traditions to look forward to during the holidays, which would come as no surprise to ayone who has been reading this blog for very long. I swore that when I had children I would do it differently and I have. We read stories every night by the candle light of our Advent wreath. We sing christmas carols. We drink eggnog and hot chocolate with little candy cane stirrers in the mug. We bake and eat more christmas cookies than should be allowed for one family. By the time mid January rolls around we look forward to a tad less “fun” as well as adding roughage back into our diets.
But mostly during this time of year I try to remember to be generous in spirit, even when they are singing me Jingle Bells, Batman Smells for the 5000th time that day. I try to give my children my full attention, even when they are revising their Christmas list for the umpteenth time and it no longer contains anything that I have purchased. And to laugh when the inevitable happens, which today was the baby jesus being pushed out of his manger in Nativity set and being decapitated. Oh humanity… we are doomed and “baby jesus sat on a wall” jokes quickly followed.
Luckily I am semi-skilled with a glue gun and the baby jesus no longer resembles the headless horseman.
Posted by Chris @ 4:55 pm