Category Archives: Christmas

Happy Holidays!

I will preface this by saying that in the religion department we are Roman Catholic and we celebrate Christmas.  That, I’m sure, will have you wondering why my son Snags was standing before a lit menorah on our kitchen table on the first night of Hanukkah, singing his own twisted version of the Bare Naked Ladies version of the song, O Hanukkah O Hanukkah.  Snags’ version went something like this: “O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah, come light the menorah, O Hanukkah, O Hanukkah, we’re not very Jewish…”

We have a menorah because political correctness means that school children around the nation have learned just enough to be curious and somewhat envious about other holiday celebrations that occur at this time of year.  And when you are 7 years old, and enchanted by CANDLES!!!!!, there is nothing so great as a lit menorah, the ultimate candle holder.  A Kinara would be the second best thing, being as it holds 7 candles. But the Advent Wreath, sadly, which only holds four candles, is a major loser in the Holiday Candle Holder Competition as far as my son is concerned.  

And so, on the first night of Hanukkah, Snags begged to light the menorah and then worried if Santa would still bring him presents.  At first I said no, Santa wouldn’t.  Because I thought Snags was asking if Santa was going to bring him Hanukkah gifts.  As Snags rushed to blow out the Menorah, I realized what he was really asking, and I assured him that yes, Virginia, Santa would still bring him presents for Christmas, regardless of his fascination with that ultimate candle holder.

And so with that I’d like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous Kwanza. 

And I believe this song, by Straight No Chaser, does it best: The Twelve Days of Christmas

(If you can’t hear it from the link above, you can go here.)

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Editing Marks

Just so you know, Snags signed some of our Christmas cards this year.  If you receive a card where the signatures are printed in pencil, as if we could erase the sentiment, don’t be offended.  Accept the card for what it is, a Christmas wish from all of us to you, signed by Snags for me, because I’ve been otherwise occupied with shopping and wrapping and baking and tending to the paper cut I got on my tongue from licking the envelopes on the Christmas cards.  The cards, by the way, were made in China, and I fear for my life because who knows what they made the envelope glue out of, and I ingested quite a bit of it before I slashed my tongue open and sent the foul tasting and scary glue directly to my bloodstream. Don’t fear the mail though, I threw THAT card away.
 
Snags’ handwriting is pretty neat these days, even if he did throw a few extra commas into the card signing this year: Love, Snags, Belle, and, Snags’ Dad, …  He didn’t catch the extra commas, and I chose not to point them out.

Snags’ first grade class has been learning about editing and editing marks, and how to edit their own writing.  This I don’t understand.  I don’t think I learned about editing until college.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that when I was in first grade I was still learning my ABC’s.  But with editing marks and their recent drug education curriculum, it appears that first grade is the new freshman year of college.

I have to admit, I have a problem with this.  It’s first grade.  The children write in PENCIL.  They should be able to erase their mistakes and start over.  No?  They should not draw lines through their words and move on.  If they forget a letter in a word, they should just go back and squeeze it in there.  It’s not like they have perfect character spacing in their handwriting anyway.  Who would even know?

But Snags’ first grade teacher has a different philosophy about all of this and she has instilled her ways into the children.  Or at least into Snags.

Make a mistake and instead of correcting it, you edit it.  Use a caret to show where you meant to insert a missing letter.  Cross out letters that don’t belong, or are lowercase when they should be uppercase, or vice versa.

I disagree.  Use your erasers, is what I’m saying.  Because at the beginning of the school year, each child had to bring in two boxes of pencils (presumably they all came with erasers) and four large pink pearl erasers.  School has been in session for only a few months.  There are 22 kids in the class.  With four erasers each, that makes 88 erasers, not counting the ones on the ends of the pencils. Surely they haven’t run out of erasers already?

Because this editing business got Snags into trouble the other day as he was writing a thank you note for a gift he received.  He made some mistakes while writing, and he decided to simply cross them out and carry on.  The result looked as though he was thanking the gift giver, but changed his mind. He wrote THANK YOU, then crossed it out completely, because he meant to write Thank You; he didn’t mean to write in all capital letters.  When I saw the finished Thank You note, with the words THANK YOU crossed out, and no other form of thanks written in its place, I questioned him about all the crossed out words and told him that he’d have to erase them and start over.  He got mad and insisted on using the editing marks because he LEARNED THIS IN SCHOOL. 

But I pervailed.  In this house, we fix our mistakes and make things look nice.  We don’t cross out our mistakes on thank you notes.  It looks like you aren’t thanking them at all, I said.  Snags held his ground and yelled at me because I AM NOT THE TEACHER, and so I sent him to his room where he had to stay until he calmed down and decided to do it my way.

Eventually he came out of his room and rewrote the card (grudgingly) without crossing out any of the sentiment of it.  He then insisted on showing me all of the editing marks he’s learned in school: the cross out, the caret, and the circle around a missing period, so the end result looks like a Target ad.

When parent teacher conferences rolled around I had to ask the teacher to tell Snags that editing marks were only for school, not for writing at home.  She laughed as I told her about the thank you card ordeal, but that’s only because she wasn’t here to see the tears. 

At any rate, I think she had a word with Snags, because we haven’t had problems with editing marks since then.  The problems have moved on to his reading comprehension homework where he insists on using his own “kid version” of spelling when in fact, the correct spelling of a particular word is in the paragraph he just finished reading.  This drives me nuts.  But, I’m told by other parents with older children in the same school, that spelling doesn’t become important until 3rd grade.  That’s like what, college junior year?

May the Lord help us and bless us all with patience and good health and holiday cheerCHEER.  No, I think I mean Cheer!

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Filed under Christmas, editing marks, first grade

Christmas Rehash

Two days after Christmas:  Belle looks around at all of the empty boxes and bags and vows to take them out to the trash, later, after she rests a bit, after she contemplates taking down all the decorations to get them out of the way before the New Year sneaks up on her.

The day after Christmas:  Snags looks around at all of his new toys and announces, “Santa brought me way too many presents!” and then in the next breath he says, “I’m bored.  There’s nothing to do.  What should I do?”  Belle bangs her head against the wall.

Christmas night: Belle hosts Christmas dinner for 16 people.  The menu includes turkey, ham, glazed carrots, spinach casserole, stuffing, wild rice, foccacia, and lumpia (egg rolls).  No white rice.  Never forget to cook a pot of white rice when half of your relatives are of Filipino descent.  (I won’t say anything else about that except to note, for the record, that my husband — of Filipino descent– was in charge of the menu and he deemed that his wild rice was enough, the white rice wouldn’t be necessary.)  Dessert includes Christmas cookies and apple pie.  Coffee, beer, and wine flow freely. Snags still doesn’t feel well enough to actually eat, so he skips the regular Christmas dinner and munches on a slice of dry toast. He could have eaten some white rice instead, but somebody chose not to make any this night.

Christmas morning:  Snags wakes at 6:00 a.m. after a sick and feverish night filled with vomiting and crying.  He announces that he feels well enough to go check and see if Santa came.  Belle convinces him to wait just a bit but by 7:00 a.m. there is no stopping him. Snags runs down the stairs, looks at the tree and yells, “Santa came!  Santa brought me all THIS? He brought me WAY too many presents!”  Other utterances include “Yes! Yes! Yes! My LEGO Star Destroyer!” and “He brought me Quadrilla Twist and Rail!!!”  and “Whoa! Santa brought me the Star Wars LEGO Republic Cruiser even though he also got me the Star Destroyer?!”

Christmas Eve:  It’s time to head to church and to a relative’s home for Christmas Eve dinner. Snags looks miserable, and says his tummy hurts.  He can’t muster the energy to get dressed in his holiday finest so Belle stays home with him where he proceeds to throw up in the middle of a warm bath.  Belle scrubs the bathtub no fewer than three times and debates giving Snags any more Tylenol or Motrin to fight the newly developed fever and the horrendous sore throat he has but which the doctor claimed was viral. Belle’s Christmas Eve dinner consists of leftovers found in the back of the fridge. Snags is too unwell to eat anything at all.

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Filed under Christmas, life

Hasta la vista, Elf!

Well Elf, this is it. Your last night here. You are done.  Finis!  If all goes as planned, sometime around midnight Santa will arrive in his magical sleigh, with his eight tiny reindeer, and after he eats a few cookies and leaves some presents under the tree, he’ll grab you by your little elf hat and haul you back to the North Pole.  I assume you’ll spend the next year toiling in his workshop, making toys.  Have fun.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I’ll miss you.  Your idea of fun and mischief, well, it was quite a bit of work for me.  Like the night you dumped baskets of clean laundry all over the sofa.  Who do you think had to clean that up?  Me! I tell you, it was ME.  Snags and I had an agreement: if you stayed, he would clean up any messes you made.  Only, he’s six and not so good at folding laundry.  His idea of “folding” is shoving everything into a pile at one end of the sofa and calling it a day.  So thanks a lot. Not.

And then there were the Christmas bows you dumped all over the floor.  There must have been 100 of them.  It was very colorful and all, but still.  Who do you think had to clean them up?  That’s right.  Me. Again.

And then there were the LEGOs, and the dog’s toys, and the candles…  Tell me, what’s the deal with DUMPING things?

You want to play some good mischief on me?  Clean my bathrooms, do the dishes, dust the furniture, mop my floors.  That would get me something good!  I’d totally be surprised by that!

Snags really enjoyed the gifts you left him.  He liked the Star Wars ornaments and the Star Wars mugs.  Surprisingly, he even liked the wooden snake.  And generally, he doesn’t like snakes at all.  I was certain, when I saw the snake, that Snags was going to lock you in the dog’s kennel again.  Like he did the morning he woke to find you had turned his carton of soy milk green.  That totally pissed him off.  He was ready to kick your tiny little elf ass back to the North Pole right then and there, but I talked him into giving you one more chance. And how did you thank me?  By dumping more stuff on the floor for me to clean up!

So anyway, you’re off.  This is your last night here.  I am not setting out any crackers and water for you tonight.  As if I need Santa running around my house trying to catch you before he can take off again.  So the cookies and the milk on the table are for Santa.  The apple and the carrots are for Rudolf and his friends.  You elf, will have to wait until you get back to the North Pole for something to eat.  But don’t worry, that won’t take long.  Santa gets all around the world in just one night.  By this time tomorrow you’ll be home, making toys instead of mischief.  Have a safe flight home.  See you next year.  Maybe…  

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Filed under Christmas, elf, elf mischief

The Elf

It appears that we have a new addition to our household.  It’s an elf. No, it’s not a short child. I can be cruel but I’m not that kind of cruel.  Even if we had added a dwarf child to our family I would not go around introducing him as our elf, not even at Christmas time.  This is a real live stuffed elf.  And apparently, we’ve adopted him, although I have to be honest and admit it was not my intention to adopt anything. And certainly not an elf.

It’s the Kindergarten teacher’s fault.  She told the children about some mischievous elves that came to her house in the night. Elves that did silly things.  Elves that hung Halloween decorations on her Christmas tree.  And then, she told the children how they could get their own elves. I wish I could say that you lure them with diamonds and pearls, but that’s not the way it works.

In fact, I’d never even heard about enticing elves to visit until Snags came home from school and started talking about it, telling me how we could attract elves to our house by luring them with crackers and water.  “If you want Santa to come,” he said, “you leave out cookies and milk.  But if you want the elves to come, you leave out crackers and water!”  And then he set about arranging sixteen Ritz crackers and a plastic tumbler of ice water on top of a paper towel at our kitchen table. To lure the elves.

I forgot about the food sitting out on the table until a few hours later when I was heading up to bed.  When I saw the crackers arranged so nicely I remembered Snags’ story, and his plan to attract an elf.  If he caught one, he said, he’d keep it in a cage.  Similar, I suppose, to a zookeeper or to those good parents – the ones I heard about on the news a while back, the ones who kept all of their children in cages…
 
Now I couldn’t disappoint him, so I shoveled the crackers in my mouth and dumped the water down the sink and sat down to think.  I had two brand new Star Wars ornaments hidden away, ornaments I had planned to hang on the tree on Christmas Eve or give to Snags as a gift on Christmas morning.  I decided to hang them on the tree and write a note to Snags from the elves. A note saying they’d put something on the tree for him to find, and they were off to do some mischief at other homes, and they’d be back to visit NEXT year.

Only, that wasn’t how the elves were supposed to work.  It turned out that Snags hadn’t told me the entire story.  He hadn’t told me the part of the story where the elves stayed at your house and looked like a stuffed elf by day, but at night, they came alive, consumed the crackers and water you left them, and performed acts of mischief, every night from December 1st until Santa takes them back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

And so, Snags woke up in the morning and ran down the stairs to look for elves.  His sharp intake of breath at the sight of the missing crackers and overturned plastic tumbler that once held water for the elves, was so loud that I heard it upstairs, even with my head pressed into the pillow.

Snags ran up the stairs with the note: “Read this! Out loud!” he demanded. After I finished, he ran from my room and down the stairs to search the tree.  He found the ornaments but he wasn’t appeased.  He kept searching for more, for more evidence that the elves had been around.  “Mom,” he asked, “Wasn’t this bag of dog treats on the other counter over here last night?  I think the elves moved it.”  “Mom,” he went on, “Who left this spoon in the sink?  I think the elves did it.  I’m going,” he said like Encyclopedia Brown, “to look for more clues.” 

And so he went, room to room, hunting for clues, hunting for the elves.  When it was time to leave for school, he was unhappy.  He hadn’t found the elves.  He could not keep them in a cage.  If the elves weren’t staying at our house then he wanted them to take the ornaments back.  Star Wars be damned.

An hour after school started I received an email from Snags’ teacher.  Subject line: elves.  “I thought you might want to check this out,” she had written.  And then she had included a link to a site that explained the whole story of the mischief making elves, a site where you can order one of your very own.  She went on to say she had bought an elf from a craft show, but that she’d seen similar ones for sale at a local store.  I’m no dummy, I could read what was left unwritten: Snags told me about the elves that left the Star Wars ornaments on your tree. You did it WRONG! HERE is how you can make it right…

And that is how we ended up adopting our very own elf.  My husband picked one up from the local store and brought it home and hid it in Snags’ room.  He pulled Kleenex from a box and tossed them on Snag’s floor.  He pulled CDs off his dresser and spread them around.  I undecorated the tree in his room, spreading the ornaments on the floor, the bed, the furniture.  The room looked, in the end, exactly like the kind of mess a mischievous elf might make while your six-year old self is toiling away at Kindergarten.

When I picked Snags up after school he was very excited. “Mom! You HAVE to call Santa Claus. You have to tell him that we want to ADOPT an elf!  That’s why the elves didn’t stay.  That’s why they said they’d be back next year.  Santa has to know you want to ADOPT an elf and then he’ll let them stay!  We have to put crackers and water out all over again tonight, okay?  Will you call Santa?  Will you?  Will you mom? Will you?”  I said I’d think about it.  I told him I’d have to look up Santa’s phone number, even though the truth is, I already had it on my speed dial.

When we got home, Snags begged me once again.  “Please mom, do it now.  Call Santa and tell him we want to adopt an elf…”  But before I could press a button on the phone, my husband’s voice boomed from upstairs:  “Snags!  Get up here right now!”  Snags threw a worried look in my direction and headed up the stairs.  I followed. 

My husband pointed to the mess in Snags’ room.  “You have to clean this up,” he said.  And Snags began to protest. “I didn’t make that mess!” 

“Snags!”  I said, “Did you do this before we left for school?  Why would you do something like this? I don’t understand why you would do this!” 

“But I didn’t do it,” he insisted.  “Maybe the elves did it.”

“There aren’t any elves, Snags,” I said.  “You saw the note.  They left you a few ornaments and said they’d be back next year.  They didn’t stay here.”

And just as tears started to roll down his face at the injustice of it all, at being accused of making a mess he hadn’t made, and of having to clean it up on top of it all, Snags saw the note on his pillow, saw the end of the pointed elf hat peeking out of a box he had left on his nightstand, and his tears turned into joy.  “Ha!” he shouted. “It WAS the elf!  I told you I didn’t make this mess! This…” he screamed in joy, “This is just like the elf at school!  He threw paper on the floor today while we were at lunch.  When we got back to class the paper was all over!  Yay!  I have an elf!  I have an elf! I am so happy I have an elf!”  And then Snags danced a little dance.

Snags was ready for bed a full hour before his usual bedtime.  He took his bath, brushed his teeth, put his pajamas on.  He made a table for the elf out of an overturned Kleenex box.  He placed two Ritz crackers and a Dixie Cup full of water on top.  He filled an empty shirt box with hand towels to make a bed for the elf.  He emptied trash cans and turned them upside down, creating a stair case leading from his night stand to the floor, so the elf could go do his mischief without having to jump down, without risking injury from a potential fall.  Then he sat on his bed, staring at the elf, as if willing it to come alive before his very eyes. 

In the morning, the crackers and water were gone, the family room floor, previously clear and free of toys, was littered with LEGOS and pillows off the sofa.  The elf was found hiding in Snags’ Christmas stocking, too tired after all that mischief to make it back up the stairs to Snags’ room and his shirt box bed.  And Snags, happy to have his very own elf, cleaned up the LEGOs with hardly any protest after my threat that I would call Santa and tell him to come get the mischievous elf right now if he didn’t clean up the mess. The deal, I said, is that YOU clean up any mischievous messes the elf makes.  And if you don’t, the elf, he’s out of here!”  

And so this, I think, is going to be fun.  Snags is going to clean up messes he didn’t even make!  Because I AM that kind of cruel.  In fact, tomorrow morning, I think he’ll be folding a load of laundry that the elf brings up from the dryer and dumps all over the sofa.  Yes, I think that’s what he’s going do…  I just have this feeling about it.  Or maybe that feeling is simply hunger, for a cracker…

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Filed under Christmas, elves, humor, Kindergarten, life, Snags

Jesus Versus Darth Plagueis

It’s 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and we are driving home after a morning filled with indoor soccer practice and an afternoon spent in a crowded mall buying Christmas presents for various friends and relatives.  The conversation in the car is about to take a sudden left and then a sharp right into the religion of the Star Wars obsessed, but right now I am still thinking about the mall…

Santa Claus was at the mall, but he’s taken a break, probably for lunch, and so we wait in line for his return.  Snags has scoped out Santa’s sled and determined that this is the REAL Santa, because “Look!  He’s got three XBOX 360s in his sleigh!  And why would he have those if he wasn’t the REAL Santa?”  Snags is torn between waiting not so patiently in line for Santa to return from where ever he’s ventured off to, and leaving the line to hunt him down somewhere in the mall, perhaps in the food court.

“I don’t think Santa wants to be bothered when he’s trying to eat his lunch,” I tell Snags.
 
He ponders this for a moment before he spots Santa’s coat and hat hanging from a hook near his sleigh.  He decides that I am probably right, that it might be hard to find Santa since he’s left his uniform behind.  “He might look like a regular guy out there.  Except,” Snags proclaims, “Santa has a long beard, right?  He couldn’t take that off!”  

I convince Snags that we should just wait where we are, Santa’s due back in 25 minutes anyway, and the line forming behind us has at least 30 people in it.

So we wait, and I listen and silently sigh while Snags goes on to ponder where Santa parked his reindeer.  He wants to look for them, but I know the parking lot is full of nothing but cars.

Eventually Santa returns, carrying a metal lunch box and a large thermos, proof that he was indeed on his lunch break.  But now he’s full and ready to have hordes of children sit on his lap, tell him what they want for Christmas, and get their picture taken with him.

When it’s his turn, Snags lies and tells Santa that yes, he’s been a good boy all year.  I know he’s lying because even though I cannot hear him speaking, I see his nervous glance in my direction as he answers.  His worry is palpable, I can tell he’s afraid I might jump forward and refute his claim to goodness.  I don’t.  I let him convince Santa that he is worthy of the three things he’s asking for this year: a Star Wars LEGO Star Destroyer, a Quadrilla Twist and Rail (made in China, full of lead?), and some kind of door alarm for his bedroom door.  I don’t understand this last request. I am not surprised by it, but this is the child who is afraid of fire alarms sounding and home security systems beeping.  An alarm on his bedroom door suggests he’s entered into therapy, the kind where the doctor purposely exposes you to your fears so that eventually they don’t scare you anymore.  And I know that is not the case.

I fork over $19.99 for two 5×7 shots of Snags forcing a nervous smile on Santa’s lap – nervous I’m sure because he still doesn’t know if he’s got Santa fooled or not, and he doesn’t know if a lying alarm might sound when he climbs down from Santa’s lap. 

Lately, before bed, Snags has been looking at an old book I have on Rome.  I bought it back in ancient times, when I was a Junior in High School, and went to Rome on a trip.  The book is full of glossy color photos of fountains and Roman architecture and statues.  Michelangelo’s Pietà has caught his eye, so I’ve been trying to explain it to him.  It’s Christmas time, and we should be celebrating Jesus’ birth, but Snags is currently worrying over Jesus’ death.  He won’t leave it until Easter and it must be playing somewhere in the back of his mind because now in the car, on our way home from the mall and Santa, we pass a church with a cemetery beside it.  Snags asks from the back seat, “Mom, why do all the gravestones have crosses on them?  It’s not like there are a whole bunch of Jesuses buried all over the place!”

My husband is driving and so we explain, as best we can, what the crosses mean.  Snags seems to understand and we continue on our way until the sudden left and sharp right come at us, like questions from a child’s mind so often do, out of nowhere…

“Mom,” Snags asks, “Do you know the difference between Jesus and Darth Plagueis?” 

My head starts to spin with the craziness of the question.  I feel like Dorothy in the tornado in The Wizard of Oz.  “Um…” I stall.  “Uh… let me think,” I say.

And here my husband starts to shake with silent laughter.  I can see him trying not to pump a fist into the air in triumph, trying not to say “Ha! He asked YOU!  You take that one…”

“Uh…”  I say.  “Jesus was a good guy, and anybody with Darth in their name is a bad guy?”  I venture.

“How about Jesus was a real person and Darth Plagueis is just a made up character in a movie?” my husband offers, trying to help me out, although I can see he’s still shaking with laughter.

“Yes, that, but also,” Snags says.  “Also, Jesus could save himself and Darth Plagueis couldn’t!” 

And I sigh and say that “Yeah, I see what you mean.” Although I don’t.  I have no idea who Darth Plagueis is, expect to know that he’s from Star Wars, and a bad guy to boot.  I say a silent prayer promising to take Snags to church on Sunday if lightening doesn’t strike us all down right then and there. 

It turns out that Darth Plagueis was a Sith Lord who found a way to prevent death and create life. The legend of Darth Plagueis is recounted in a brief scene in the movie Revenge of the Sith where Chancellor Palpatine tells the story to Anakin Skywalker.  “Ironic,” Palpatine says.  “He could save others from death, but not himself.”

And somehow, some way, Snags has remembered this scene, these supposed facts, and put them together into a Jesus versus Darth Plagueis scene in his mind.

Dinner and bedtime pass without incident as I think about what mass we should go to in the morning.  It will depend on what time I get back from my morning run.  My clothes are set out and ready to go.

But at 3:00 a.m Sunday morning I am awaken from sleep by Snags calling, “Mom! I need you!” I go into his room to find he’s gotten sick in the middle of the night and vomited all over the place.  It looks like I won’t be running in the morning after all.  And church won’t be seeing the likes of us this weekend either.  I guess Jesus and Darth Plagueis will have to work things out without us.  I hope the good guy wins.  His birthday is coming up, after all.

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Filed under Christmas, Darth Plagueis, humor, Jesus, LEGOs, life, Santa, Snags, Star Wars

A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

If the attached letter seems familiar to you it’s because I sent it to you last year.  I wrote it myself right after breakfast on December 25, 2006. Today I got to thinking, and it hit me how December is the time of year that you get inundated with letters.  And also, I started wondering about your filing system.  I mean, Christmas is the type of holiday where once you cross things of a person’s list, I imagine you can throw the lists away.  That of course got me a bit concerned.  Perhaps in all the seasonal activity my letter from last year was ditched to make room for all of the new letters that are probably just now arriving in your mail box.  Therefore, I thought it best that I send this to you again, as a simple reminder for when you deliver the gifts this year.  I would really appreciate it if you would read the attached letter and commit it to memory.

Sincerely,
Belle

(Attachment)

Dear Santa,
What were you thinking, leaving three gifts under the small Christmas tree in Snags’ bedroom like that?  I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but really, it was stupid, stupid, stupid. 

Snags woke up at 5:30 this morning.  On any OTHER morning, he might have looked around and gone back to sleep.  But not this morning.  Oh no.  He woke up, looked around, saw the three presents under the tree, and screamed “Santa came! Mom, Dad, Santa came!  He left me presents under my tree!” and then he came careening into our room.  He threw open our bedroom door in the same manner that guy in the kerchief from “Twas the Night Before Christmas” threw open the sash.  He used such force it’s a wonder the door’s still on its hinges.

So of course, since there were gifts under his tree, he had to open them RIGHT THEN.  And of course, since he woke the whole house, dog included, the dog had to go outside to do her business, RIGHT THEN. 

My quick thinking husband, upon returning from letting the dog outside, came upstairs to say “I don’t see any presents under the big tree, so Santa must not be finished yet.  We better go back to sleep so he can bring those presents.”

Of course, Snags was too excited to go back to his bed, so he stayed with me, and my husband went into Snags’ room to sleep.  I then had to go retrieve Snags’ tag blanket, his Mickey Mouse doll, and his “good” Scooby Doo pillow.  But since I can’t tell the two Scooby Doos apart, I had to bring both of them to him. 

I thought that would be it, that me and Snags, along with Mickey Mouse, his tag blanket, the two Scoobys and our dog, Pee Pee, would all settle down and go back to sleep.  But I was wrong.

Snags had to go to the bathroom and although he didn’t want to get up and risk delaying Santa even further, he couldn’t stop wiggling from the urge to pee.

I finally convinced him to just get up and go to the bathroom already, but, I insisted, he had to come right back to bed and go to sleep. 

And he tried, he really did.  But he kept hearing noises.  The sound of your boots.  The jingle of bells.  And the sound of your boots again.

Eventually, as he listened to your clomping and jingling, he wiggled and squirmed his way back into an hour’s worth of additional sleep.  Which I suppose I should be thankful for, it’s better than nothing, after all.

But at 7 am he was up and down the stairs faster than you could say “Merry Chr…”

So anyway, thanks for all the gifts and all.  But next year, can you just leave them all on the main floor under the big tree?  He’ll find them, really, he will.

Sincerely,
Belle (a very tired Belle)

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Goodbye, November! I Gotta Get a Move On…

In an email I sent to my Uncle listing possible things he could get my son for Christmas (hey, he ASKED, I don’t just make up lists and send them out to people), I told him: “Anything NOT Star Wars or LEGOs would be good.  We are drowning in LEGOs and Santa’s bringing more and if I have to hear Snags go on and on about Star Wars and Obi Wan Kenobi anymore I swear I will poke my ears out with the first thing I can get my hands on – probably a LEGO.”

But that’s a lie.  A total bold faced lie.  Because actually, at the time I wrote that email, I had already dug my ear drums out with the tines of a fork.  The whole ordeal was a bit messier than I had anticipated and so I tried to staunch the flow of blood with the first thing I could get my hands on – and that WAS a bunch of LEGOs.  Only LEGOs aren’t cotton, so they aren’t very absorbent in that impervious hard plastic surface sort of way, and so I was forced to sit there and build tiny LEGO dams while the blood poured from my empty ear sockets all over my keyboard.  I shoved the little plastic LEGO dams into the holes that once held ear drums, and here I type with sticky fingers telling all the world the truth.  That I am a liar and I am sick to death of hearing about Star Wars.  Honestly, I only lied in the first place because I didn’t want to alarm my Uncle over all the blood.

But like I said, Santa IS bringing more Star Wars LEGOs to our house this Christmas, so I fear I can’t escape the coming waves of Star Ships engaged in the battles of my obsessed child’s devising.  I have seriously considered calling Santa and telling him “NO! Return those LEGOs to your toy storage locker that is Toys R Us, don’t bring them here!”, but then they were the first thing Snags asked for in his letter to Santa, and they were the first things he marked as “Top Choice” on his list, like a butcher grading cuts of meat.  So I can’t bring myself to do it.  Plus Santa I can’t find the receipt.

So Christmas is coming and thankfully I’ve already completed some of my shopping.  I got my parents… oh wait, they might read this so I can’t say. But I got my husband… nope, better not tell you that either. Okay, so instead I’ll tell you about my brother’s Christmas wish-list.  He didn’t prioritize it so I don’t know if this was his “Top Choice” or not, but one of the items on his list was the Magic Wallet.  Have you heard of it?  It’s been around for years.  I think my brother even had one once upon a time. It must have worn out. He wants a new one. But he wants the Original Magic Wallet, not the new Magic Wallet Plus.  Basically the concept is you open it up, drop in a dollar bill or a receipt or something, close it up, and it “magically” moves the paper to it’s proper place.  Well, more or less.  It’s not really magic at all, having elastic bands that hook it all together not unlike a Jacob’s Ladder toy.  Something which, by the way, I always wanted when I was a kid. Something I still haven’t figured out to this day.  But anyway, the Magic Wallet…  I can just picture my brother now, using the wallet as a prop for his pick-up line at a bar, saying something like “Hello beautiful!  See if you can find what I have hidden in my Magic Wallet!”  Word to my brother: If I DO get you the Magic Wallet for Christmas, DON’T use that line.  It’s awful. It’s sure to get a drink thrown in your face and very possibly a kick to your nuts.  So you know, you’ve been warned.

But Christmas!  It’s almost here.  Only 26 or so days left and there is still so much to do!  I’ve got gifts to wrap, bows to tie, cards to sign and mail, and decorations to dig out of the basement.  The tree has been up for a week now but I’ve got to rearrange the ornaments.  Snags hung them all at a six year old level, so the bottom third of the tree looks like it’s wearing a skirt of baubles, the rest looks quite naked.  Rearranging is definitely in order. 

I have menus to plan and more presents to shop for.  I have to buy more Scotch Tape so I can wrap the things I’ve bought.  Snags has used all that I had in a fit of creativity.  He’s building some sort of display, something that combines Star Wars figurines and space crafts, LEGOs, scraps of wood from the garage, and I think, some of the figures from our Nativity Scene, all Scotch Taped together on my coffee table.  Warning to those coming for Christmas: there may not be any place to set your drinks down. 

Which reminds me, I have to go to the liquor store.  Drinks!  I am going to need them.  I hear they help numb the pain.  And my ears, shoved full of LEGOs as they are, they are starting to throb.

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“Good Morning… No!”

I spent the morning telling Snags “No!”

No, you can’t wear your red Spiderman robe to school over your clothes so you can “look like Santa Claus”.  No, because a robe goes with pajamas so it’s considered pajamas and you can only wear pajamas to school on approved pajama days.  That’s in the school rules – it’s part of the dress code.  And today is not a pajama day.

 No, you can’t take the red pillow case to school with you even though you think it looks like Santa’s bag of toys.  Because…  It’s uh,… considered bedding!  Like pajamas. You wear them to bed. And the pillowcase belongs on your pillow which belongs ON YOUR BED. See? Sorry.

No, you can’t wear your new snow boots to school today.  It’s part of the school rules, too.  You can’t wear snow boots if it isn’t snowing out. Sorry.  I know you think they look like Santa’s boots. You still can’t wear them. Put your tennis shoes on.

In the end, he settled on wearing a red short sleeve polo shirt.  On top of that he wore an “orange red” fleece sweatshirt.  He had on brown cords but changed into gray sweatpants because they “looked more like Santa.”  He took a Santa Hat with him. You know the kind. Red, kind of fuzzy material, has white trim.

He thought he was going to fool his kindergarten teacher with this outfit.  Fool her into what, I don’t know.  Into thinking HE was Santa Claus?  Because if he walks into class saying “Yo, ho, ho!” like he’s been doing around the house for the past 48 hours… saying “Yo, ho, ho!” instead of “Ho, Ho, Ho!” Then instead of “Santa Claus?!” his teacher will probably be thinking “Christmas Pirate?”

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Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat

And by Goose I mean me.  Boy do I hate the weeks between Halloween and Christmas.  I’ve read all the advice, how not to gain that average 5 pounds or so, but you’re reading the writing of a woman who gained the Freshman 15 back in college and kept it ON so really, advising me to be mindful of my holiday eating or to eat BEFORE I go to a holiday party… well, that only ends up with me eating two meals.  The one before the party and the one AT the party.  So that isn’t going to work at all.  Last year’s 5 pounds on my left hip are proof of that.

But Christmas is coming and Snags is EXCITED! EXCITED! EXCITED!  More so this year than any year past.

He’s already made his Christmas list for Santa and revised it twice.

It started off as a simple one page letter asking for three things.  It has since morphed into a small catalog of photos cut from toy magazines and glued onto a stack of paper from the printer in the basement, stapled together, then attached to a cover sheet, lest Santa get confused as to whom the list came from.

Recently he decided to prioritize the list.  Only he wrote “Top Choice” by each and every item on his list.

I finally had to sit down with him and explain that EVERYTHING can’t be his “Top Choice.”  And as we flipped through the pages of his ever expanding list, I had to point out that Santa was not likely to bring him a rock tumbler because it was for children ages 10 and up. Ditto the chemistry set. “Darn it!” Snags yelled.  And then he drew a big X over the items.

“Also,” I said, trying not to dampen his Christmas spirit but also wanting to keep my house fee of bugs, “No ant farm.  Even when you turn eight and are old enough for an ant farm, see here where it says 8 and older?  Even then, I am not having ants in my house.  Not even if they live on a farm.”

“Why not?” Snags demanded to know. 

“Because,” I said, “that’s why I pay the exterminator in the first place.  Too keep ants out of here.  Sorry kiddo.”

“Darn it!” He yelled again as he crossed the ant farm off his list.

My husband and I have been having a bit of a discussion lately too.  He wants to limit what Snags gets for Christmas, set a budget.  And I do too.  We just can’t agree on what that budget should be.  Because when your kid is six and wants a couple of $90 LEGO sets, well, there won’t be much under the tree if you say $200 is the limit, you know?  And then also, my husband is of the opinion that the best presents should come from mom and dad and Santa should only bring maybe one or two gifts.  I’m all against that.  Because when I was a kid, SANTA BROUGHT EVERYTHING.  Or nearly everything.  My husband grew up differently than I and seems to think this puts the appreciation of Christmas on Santa, and not mom and dad.  Jesus, some of you may notice, is left out of this part of the discussion.  Yes, the holiday is about him, and he is lying in the manger we set up, but then, as Snags notes, Jesus was a baby at Christmas, and babies don’t bring you presents.  But Santa, he does! 

“Look at it this way,” I tried to explain to my husband.  “We’ve probably only got another year or two of Santa left around here.  Some older kid at school will spill the beans soon enough.  I’d rather Snags be all excited about Santa while he can.  He has the rest of his life to appreciate the fact that Santa was US.  He can appreciate you and me and what we gave him from Santa when he’s grown.  Right now, let’s let the mystery and excitement go on as long as possible.  That’s what being a kid is all about, isn’t it?”

Well, that and being able to eat all the holiday junk you want without gaining an ounce.
 

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