It’s been a while since I’ve outlined my thoughts on those oh-so-popular activities that were all the rage, but the holidays are almost here, people! And they are reminding me of so many trends and traditions that I just don’t get.
Of course, this blog was never to change your opinion on stuff. You can go right on ahead loving your suburban chicken coops, sewing your hand crafted doo hickeys and riding bicycles in public. Really, let the record show that I will never sever a friendship if you do these things that just seem so strange to me.
But, you guys…the holidays are so weird! Especially now that my kiddos are going between my house and their dad’s house. I’m super happy I’ll get to see my favorite little faces this year (Woo!) and I want to be sure it’s a better Christmas than we had last year. (Seriously. They fought ALL DAY. It was awful!)
“Merry meltdown, mom! We’ve decided to get you migraine and an excuse to put us to bed early so you can cry on the couch with wine. Love, your kiddos!”
But not this year!
There are a few things I will be avoiding this season.
::insert Grinch-like eyebrow waggle here::
Suck It, Elf On The Shelf
There. I’ve said it. And you know what, I’ve always hated that creepy little token of mischief.
I know some moms who’ve tried to add it as a new family tradition because they are awesome and love the idea of their children waking up to joyful moments. Their kids would scamper around the house, hunting for the mini dirtbag to see what trouble he’d caused in the night.
But then they got burned out. Or maybe one night, they were too busy dealing with laundry, dishes, packing lunches, etc to remember to move the elf, and all hell broke loose.
Those moms have now affected over to my side. The side that says, “Elf…I don’t care if you come with an adorable storybook, creative packaging or if Target put you on sale! You can just stay the crap away from my house cause this mama’s got no time for your tomfoolery!”
And by “no time for your tomfoolery” I do NOT mean I am unwilling to commit copious amounts of time to the goal of surprising my kids. Oh, heeeeeeck no. Trust me. I am quite good at wasting time as I doodle on their mirror with dry erase markers or surprise them with mystery Post-It notes. I’m all for a good “spend time to surprise them and make their day” activity. (I write this after I just dug through my couch cushions looking for tooth fairy money. Plus, I had an accomplice write the handwritten note so my seven year old Sherlock wouldn’t be able to make out my handwriting. Oh, no. I LOVE planning and giving my kids a thrill, people!)
But the Elf on the Shelf? I think the whole thing got really sketchy for me when I read that he was in your home to watch you. Then he’d go to Santa and tattle on you. That’s how Santa knew if you were naughty or nice.
I’m gonna just tell you straight up that I find that totally creepy. What? A weird looking doll is WATCHING ME and plans on tattling on me in the night? Sweet Jesus…Isn’t that Satan’s job? Hashtag “The Accuser”, hashtag “Bible story reference”, hashtag “Revelation 12:10”. It would be so awesome if that Bible verse was something like “And the Lord said unto them, ‘Stop killing yourself for weird holiday traditions. Unless you’ve got lots of free time and your kids love it. Then go right on ahead. I honestly don’t care. Just love each other already, OK?”
Yep, I know. I’ll stick with writing my blog.
But simmer down friends who love Jesus and also their little red elf. Let me guess; you made the tradition less creepy and personalized it for your home and your faith? Well, of course you did! Here’s my slow clap of appreciation for all your wondrous ways, you super mom, you!
Or maybe you just said “Meh. We just make the elf do silly things and we don’t do the whole “tattle to Santa” thing. Whatevs. You work your butt off to make your kids smile and this is something I can stand behind.
I just personally can’t sustain that level of magic in my own home. And I think the doll is kinda weird looking.
A Real Live Tree!
I have never had a real, live Christmas tree, just an artificial tree. And when I’d go to my Arizona grandparents’ house when I was little, they’d have an artificial tree too. Real trees were just not done in my circle of life. Blame it on the desert conditions or whatnot, but nope – I’ve never had a Christmas with a real tree.
And they kind of freak me out. There’s just something so unbalanced about real nature that makes me unsure about the whole idea.
You see, when I was young, my mom had a certain “spot” for her ornaments on our tree, and it was like our tree (“Count Christmas”, as he was lovingly referred to) knew that too. There’d be the perfect little indent at the top for Grammy Belle’s antique ornament. It was nice and high and out of reach, which was a good thing, since I was a lazy six year old who’d insist on squeezing between the tree and the edge of the dining table to get to my seat, making the whole thing shake dangerously.
I have lots of ornaments that my parents saved for me from when I was a kid. There’s Kermie, Strawberry Shortcake, my Winnie the Pooh “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament and my kindergarten gift exchange present of Sesame Street ornaments, still with the original curly ribbon my mom tied on so we could hang them on the tree. My tree is not the glamorous “matchy-matchy” tree that so many of my friends pull off with a gusto! Oh no…my tree looks like a kindergartner got loose and decided to hang all sorts of random stuff on there. And I absolutely love it.
But those old ornaments, and plenty of my new ones (shout out to my stuffed sock monkey ornament–hey!) are heavy little guys. And there’s just no way a real tree’s branches could hold them safely. Do I understand that a tree in the forest can hold and sustain life in its branches? Yes. Yes, I get that. But for some reason, I’m more worried about my ceramic Kermit than a bird’s nest. And for that you can shun me all you’d like.
Storing an artificial tree is a pain in the butt. Especially when you’re in single parent mode in a two-bedroom apartment. “Welcome to my home! There’s old faithful, wrapped in his red-zippered storage bag on the left to greet you when you come to my front door…” The trashiness rankles me to no end. My only hope is that my visitors can’t see over the storage wall because they are too short or that it’s too dark outside. Tall people in the daylight are out of luck.
But back to those crazy real trees. There’s the sap, the watering, the chopping it down (I’d totally have to go buy a damn saw, you guys!) or buying it in some random lot and then tying it to your car to get it home. EVERY YEAR. How are there not more trees all swaddled up lying on the side of the road? I promise you that I’d mess up some knot and my tree would be launched off the top of my vehicle more than once. Oh, yes…I’m sure I could come up with all sorts of ways to screw up that activity.
I say, mad props to those of you who’ve figured out the mysterious ways of capturing a live tree and bringing it into your home. I promise I won’t look at your tree and judge its unevenness or weird branch gaps too harshly. Do I get the allure? Nah. But I love that you love it. And your weird looking tree can’t ruin my Christmas. Carry on and be wonky, I say!
Lasso the Moon
Even if my Christmas trends differ from the mainstream, there are plenty of things I go mainstream on. Christmas movies, for starters. I still would choose “White Christmas” over “Elf” for tradition’s sake, yet I’m learning to allow new Christmas movies into my life.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”? Oh man…you have no idea how big that movie is in my Christmas upbringing. Besides watching it every year (and being allowed to stay up past my bedtime to see the whole, depressing thing on TV) my parents started collecting the ceramic light up houses in the “Wonderful Life” collection.
I’m not lying to you when I tell you that there have been MULTIPLE discussions on how the collection (now complete and freaking enormous) will be distributed to the family after my parents’ death. I need to check my parent’s will to refresh myself on the “Wonderful Life Collection” clause because I honestly can’t remember if my father agreed to split the collection in half (town buildings to this daughter, the neighborhood homes to the other) or if he insisted on keeping the masterpiece intact for all to enjoy.
Ah, the holidays…
One of my favorite scenes from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And it always made my mom laugh, which then made me laugh as a kid so I could be cool like her and pretend to get the joke.