Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas epiphanies (the toes knows)

My husband's mother Joyce has terrible taste. Well, maybe terrible is too strong of a word. It's just...drastically different than mine, which doesn't make it terrible it just makes it...

Ok, I hate it.

Her backyard is full of pink flamingos and hand painted cows. She has ceiling-high palm trees in her bathroom (when I go in there to pee I usually burst out laughing — will a coconut knock me out while my underwear's around my knees? It would be a horrible way to go). She jingles when she walks. Her clothes leave specks of glitter everywhere.

And her living room. It's full of fluffy balls and nautical-themed decor. Picture it: a lighthouse strung with a fluffy ball, strung with a buoy, strung with another fluffy ball. They say interior design can transport you, but to where, Joyce? Just where are you trying to take us?

When Chuck and I first started dating I skeeved Christmas presents from her. She always gave me stuff she would like, which seemed diametrically opposed to the spirit of gift giving. Isn't the premise of the holidays to give people stuff that they'd like, not the other way around?

Still, I was marrying into the family. And I knew, deep down, that her gifts came from the heart. She saw me as a little stuck up, and she saw herself as a woman spreading much needed glittery, jingly, pink fluffy cheer into my life.

So, each Christmas, I cheerfully accepted the Santa socks with beard trimming. The Christmas tree earrings with real working lights. The elf hat. The snowman socks. The penguin socks. The candy cane socks. The reindeer socks.

Each Christmas. For the last 15 years.

The next day the socks and chotchkies went right into my dresser, blissfully forgotten.

Until—yes, you guessed it—I had kids. Did you know kids go ape shit for tacky stuff that's over the top? They feed on it, and I should have seen it coming. I mean, if kids were into subtle, Chuck E. Cheese's would be nothing more than a quiet reading room with pastel walls (pssst, that's the only way I'll ever go to one). Kids are the embodiment of over-the-top tacky. They love Joyce's yard. They love playing with the bells on the bottom of her pants.

And when I wore the Santa socks yesterday?

Everett's head practically exploded.

"You wearin' Santa? You have Santa on your feet? That Santa? I have those? I have Santa? You give me Santa? Those your socks? You give those to me? I have Santa? I HAVE Santa? Please? Please you give those to me?"

Don't even get me started on the earrings.

Bananas. Fricken bananas.

So Joyce, it seems you were on to something. Perhaps your little living room fluff balls are actually mystical fortune telling globes and you knew that someday all those horrible socks finally would be welcomed with the squeals of delight they had given you. Perhaps you were right: I was a little uptight and your injection of glitz was just the dose of humor I needed in my otherwise banal existence.

Now can you call off your coconuts?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The caloric perspective of a snow day, from your somewhat jiggly ass

A snowy weekend, by the numbers:

9 AM
Calories burned from vacuuming the downstairs in attempt to suck up the entire bucket of popcorn that your kids and their friends overturned the night before: 180 calories/hour

10 AM
Calories burned from making pancakes and washing all the dishes: 160 calories/hour
10:45 AM-11 PM
Calories burned from saying "Not yet!" as your children incessantly badger you with "Can we go outside, can we go outside, CAN WE GO OUTSIDE???": 10,002 calories/hour

11 AM-1 PM
Calories burned from running through the snow, pulling kids on sleds, pushing kids down sledding hill, wiping runny snot from kids' noses, building jumps on sledding hill, carrying 35-pound toddler back to house: 346 calories/hour

1 PM
Calories burned from lifting 3 mimosas to mouth: 50 calories/hour (oh come on, it has to be true)

2:30 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes downstairs to dryer and shaking out sopping wet children and their gloves/hats/boots/sleds: 145 calories/hour

2:40 PM
Calories burned from realizing you have undressed a neighbor's child alongside your own because hell, they all look the same in their floppy hats and snow coats: Only 2 calories/hour but...

2:45 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes upstairs from dryer and redressing neighbor's child and returning him home: 145 calories/hour

3 PM
Calories burned from helping husband shovel after round #2 of snow (anything to stop the man bitching—anything): 408 calories/hour

4:30 PM
Calories burned from lifting 2 rum and hot ciders to mouth: 150 calories/hour (hey, it's true!)

4:40 PM
Calories burned from laughing out loud when your husband moans that he needs a massage: 10 calories/hour

4:45 PM
Calories burned from running snow clothes upstairs from downstairs dryer so kids can have one last hoorah in round #2 of snow: 145 calories/hour

4:55 PM
Calories burned as you wave to your husband and children from the warmth of your couch: Who cares, you're not outside

6 PM
Calories burned from bathing two squirming children and doing all their subsequent grooming (i.e., chasing them down the hall, wrestling them to the floor, slathering them with moisturizer and shimmying them into their pajamas): 144 calories/hour
7 PM
Calories burned from passing the eff out and sleeping until 7 the next morning: 95 calories/hour (it's true, Google it)

Grand total of calories burned: The mother load (I hate doing math). But really, after reading that, don't you feel like you can give the gym the middle finger for like, a whole week and eat some extra Christmas cookies? Don't you?

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm not raising little Christmas assholes, thank you very much

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon I came across an article from GMA, "Christmas Wish List From 1915 Will Make You Feel Materialistic".

It details an endearing little Christmas list written by an endearing little boy in 1915; he's so endearing he wished for nuts and candy.

As the title promised, I did expect to feel materialistic as I read the list because really, that's what everyone assumes these days: that every parent over-indulges their kid and that by consequence every child is a whiny, selfish brat, more intent on acquiring the latest gadget than on taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he or she actually has it pretty good. 

I mean, because my husband and I have enough money to get our children more than they need to survive, I should feel materialistic, right? If my kid has 15 things on his Christmas list instead of one (and one of them isn't nuts or candy) I've failed somehow, right GMA?


Plain and simple, this article is stupid. 

You cannot effectively gauge the merit of someone's character by what's on his or her Christmas list. My father grew up wearing cardboard in his shoes and as he tells it, his Christmas list was 10 pages long because there was so much more he dreamed of having—clothes, toys, food and a better house. And he asked Santa for all of it. 

When I was a kid, I sat down beside the Christmas tree with the Sears catalog—which in 1980 was about 500 pages thick—and dog earred 200 pages of it. In my working class household, it was a gift in itself to imagine that Santa might bring me everything my heart desired. Circling those toys was magical because I got to live in a few moments of "what if?" Much like we feel when we play the lotto. What if I had enough money to buy anything I wanted? What if there was no limit to my desires?

I imagine that a lot of children—many of whom have seen parents laid off, their hours at work reduced or their health benefits reduced—have eagerly sat down with the Toys "R" Us catalog and felt the same way.

This isn't to say that some children aren't overindulged. Clearly, that's a given. We've gotten too good at pacifying our children with stuff instead of giving them what really matters: our quality time, our undivided attention and the word "no." But to proclaim that you should feel ashamed because your child has an extensive Christmas list, well, that's just bullshit. 

Here's Everett's list (he's three; my six year old, Junior, drafted it for him):

He wants apple juice, milk and a Lego set. And Junior? He would also like a Lego set, as well as some surprises. They're good kids. In fact, for Junior's "What I'm thankful for" list for Thanksgiving, he wrote that he is thankful for life, freedom, animals and his parents. 

So listen here GMA: Not all kids are greedy assholes and not all parents are doing a shitty job raising their brood. There are a lot of families struggling to keep the magic of Christmas alive despite the natural disasters, the lying politicians, Obamacare, the lay offs, the cost of gas, the Kardashians, climate change and the high divorce rate. We're fighting against everything you feed us and expect us to digest. 

Don't admonish us as we do it, ok?

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...