I have a confession to make. A really awful one. Something dark, so creepy it makes my skin crawl. I pray, dear reader, that the fog of post-New Year’s bacchanalia takes the edge off for you. Are you ready? Here it is: I agree with Bill O’Reilly on something.
As unbelievable as this may seem, it’s true. There is a war on Christmas. But it’s not being waged by the Left. It’s not even being waged by the forces of commercialism and so forth. No, the war on Christmas is being waged by a seemingly much more innocent source: my children.
Christmas as a childless adult was finally getting really good. A leisurely, slept-in morning at home. Tradititional Christmas-morning mimosas (orange juice is part of a nutritious breakfast, after all). The big potluck with friends (no relatives in Alaska, and I don’t believe in traveling during the holidays, for obvious reasons!). Ah, peace on earth.
That Norman Rockwell vision (or rather, my version of it) was torn asunder about three years ago. That’s when my kids, then aged 1 and 4, really manifested the kids’ version of the True Spirit of Christmas. The mad ripping open of presents, the harried attempts to make a list of who gave what (for those thank you notes!), the complete prevention of my enjoying opening my own presents. I still recall quite clearly the sadness I felt that day. I mean, I know it’s for the kids and all, and in the big picture I’m a mom who sacrifices a lot (but not everything) for her kids. But still, I want to enjoy Christmas too! I want to open MY presents with that same sense of joy!
And while my kids don’t get up at some ungodly hour to open presents, I’m still not a morning person. Having to deal with all that energy at 7 or even 8 am is just too much for me. So long, Christmas mimosas. Hello coffee and Baileys.
Since then the girls have learned to slow down a bit. They know to make sure each person has a present, then we all open them, THEN the next round can begin. And they can read the to/from labels, so they are entertained by the “job” of passing out the gifts. This has definitely taken some of that edge off.
But no, it does not mean the war is over. They’ve just changed tactics. Now there’s the aftermath. Gifts all over the room. As if the pre-holiday clean up wasn’t bad enough, now I have to deal with the mess after! Yes, yes, I can hear you all saying that I should get the kids to clean up — and that’s definitely on the agenda this weekend. But there’s some stuff they can’t do, like process all the packaging for recycling. All those toy boxes — they all have plastic AND cardboard. And yes, we pull all that plastic off for the trash and send the ‘board to the recycle bin. In other words, chores.
Oh, and while we’re discussing packaging, I must point out that there is an ally in the war on Christmas: the toy manufacturers. Any parent needs no further explanation. But allow me to explain to those of you who may be unfamiliar; let’s use a Barbie as an example. A single Barbie doll will have no fewer than four metal and plastic twisty ties securing her in position. These may also be knotted and also taped beyond release by human hands. Additionally, her hair will be secured by some sort of plastic and thread contraption, which must be oh-so-carefully excised, less one cut that flowing mane of hers. Any accessories in the package will likewise be secured, by either the said twisty ties or invisible elastic banding. Extracting a toy from its package is worthy of a surgical certification. And by the time you’ve succeeded, the child has moved on. Merry Christmas!
This year was, for at least some of us, a four day holiday weekend. Four glorious days to spend in the company of our loved ones. Here’s how mine went:
Throughout the present opening, my older daughter pouted every time the younger got something cool. Despite the fact that she got the best haul in years.
There was plenty of sibling fighting over toys — which was completely unnecessary as they each had the same amount of new stuff. But you see, there’s only two girls in Scooby Doo and no one ever wants to be Velma. (honestly, can you blame them?)
My oldest, who has spent her seven years on this earth desperately trying to get back into the womb, nagged me all day to play Barbies with her. When I finally consented, it went as usual: the two girls were playing completely different games. The older would get all bent when the younger wasn’t following her mystical and convoluted script. What’s that I hear? It’s time for the Christmas mimosas? Hooray!
The oldest also refused to speak to her grandma on the phone. All she had to do was say thank you and merry xmas. As if the refusal wasn’t bad enough, she lied to me and said she’d already talked to her! (the phone was being passed around the family, mind you, so I didn’t know who had spoken to whom).
This sort of thing continued throughout the weekend. I’ll spare you more details and just get to the highlight: On Sunday, the oldest (again) was throwing some sort of fit in regards to her sister. She started a sort of shrieking yelling thing, and I said, go to your room. As usual, she wouldn’t go, so I held her arm and escorted her. As soon as we hit the stairs, she went limp – forcing me to drag her by the arm up to her room. I’m proud of her civil disobedience skills, but all I could think at the time was, “God, please don’t make her arm dislocate! I don’t need Social Services on my *ss!” Merry Christmas!
Don’t get me wrong. Of course I love my kids and they have their most glorious moments. And I know a lot of this stuff is just normal when you have kids. But dammit, I want my Christmas back! I don’t really like Baileys (in fact, I just skipped it this year) — I want my mimosas! And not just in the afternoon, where they’ve been relegated to. And I want at least a FEW moments of peace and happiness. Is that too much to ask?
I know, I know — all you parents out there are shaking your heads in understanding. I know this is par for the course. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
And to Bill O’Reilly: if you think people saying “happy holidays” is such an affront to Christmas, then come over to my house sometime. I give you 10 minutes before you run screaming.