Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ten Annoyances of Christmas

I love Christmas, I really do.  But there always seems to be just enough holiday craziness to make me rethink the wisdom of venturing out from under my covers.  Especially, here, two days before Christmas where everything feels frantic and rushed instead of peaceful and holy. Maybe it's just me, and maybe everyone else lives in a state of kids in perfectly coordinated outfits, Christmas cards early, and presents wrapped, packages mailed, and houses perfectly decorated without breaking a sweat or uttering a single curse.  For the rest of us, I've compiled this (completely toungue in cheek) list of things that make me want to rip my hair out right about now: 

1- Guilt.  Ahhhh, there's a healthy helping of guilt to be found around every corner.  There's always this nagging little thought in my head about how our traditions aren't as cool as my neighbors, or that one child has more presents than the other and even though we spent equal amounts of money, they won't see it that way because as we all know, its about the sheer number of presents.  Or there's the guilt that we haven't made gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, or 59 plates of goodies to take to the neighbors.  Or that I didn't make the perfect handmade gift for the girls' teachers, violin teacher, gymnastics teacher, church teachers etc.  Ahhh, guilt. 

2- Christmas shopping, especially in stores that may or may not end in "Mart."   Against my better judgement, my husband and I took our three children to a store ending in "Mart" last Saturday.  Yes, it was the Saturday before Christmas.  Yes, there was elbow throwing involved.  And yes, I succumbed to the "-Mart" stereotype that had me yelling "You get over here right now before I decide to take all your Christmas presents back to the store" at my kids just to fit in with all the other moms.  But the crowning moment of the visit came when we left and a greeter wearing a surgical mask tried to shake our hands as we left.  "Thanks for shopping at '-Mart,' here's your influenza, now have a nice day." 

3- Children on Sugar Highs.  Our ward party was on Saturday night, and my two girls consumed roughly their weight in cupcakes, fudge, marshmellow brownies, and the mysterious ubiquitous orange Mormon punch that manages to show up at every gathering involving more than two families.  After the party, the girls were filled with enough manic energy to power several third world countries.  I made the mistake of taking them both to the grocery store afterwards, where I had to threaten them once again with the return of all Christmas presents remind them  politely that crawling around the floor of the produce department and barking like dogs was not appropriate behavior.  I proved myself to be equally intolerant when I told them they couldn't like the van windows clean from the inside.  I spent the rest of the night vowing that my children will eat nothing but carrot sticks and kefir for the remainder of December.

4- Christmas Packaging.  Seriously.  Have you ever tried to open your average Barbie?  (Yes, I let my girls play with Barbies.  Not only that, but they were Disney Princess Barbies, otherwise known as the root of all evil.  Yet one more reason why my membership in the crunchy club is in danger....)  You need a screwdriver, a machete, a blow torch, and a very large first aid kit just to free Barbie from her packaging.   What do the toy manufacturers think is going to happen if they don't strap Barbie down in 372 places?  Does she have a habit of escaping her box when no one is looking and having a hot, steamy love affair with GI Joe?

5- Christmas Cards  I've loved getting mail since I was a little kid.  And I love getting Christmas cards, even the cheesy "here's everything we've done every minute of the past year" kind of Christmas letters.  But somehow, I've never managed to get them sent out myself. Every year, I have the best of intentions. I have even gone so far as to buy packages of cards. But then I worry that store bought cards aren't personal enough, and we would need to include a photo, so then I have to browse through photography websites, worry about coordinating outfits for family pictures, and stress about finding the perfect location for pictures. Then I have to start making lists of people to send Christmas cards to, and start collecting addresses. And forget about the annual Christmas letter detailing how wonderful and charming and perfectly behaved their children is and how if it weren't for that one glass they broke on May 13th, they would be crowned officially perfect. Nope. If I were to write a Christmas letter, it would probably list all the reasons we spent 2009 in the hospital, and the 2000 ways my kids conspired to check into the proverbial padded room. Its always right about then that I start feeling tired and overwhelmed, and want nothing more than to crawl back in my bed with a healthy helping of fudge because once again I'm the bad mom/sister/friend/long lost roommate from college/cousin/person you met fifteen years ago that has nothing better to do than send out Christmas letters detailing how wonderful their family is to everyone that they have ever met. No, I don't send out Christmas cards. Yes, I feel guilty about it. Yes, I am saving up for my children's future therapy bills.

6- Class Parties With No Notice  Picture this: you've just done a weeks' worth of grocery shopping in a grocery store so crowded that merely walking down an aisle started to feel like a viscious game of bumper cars.  You way overspend your grocery budget, and as your unpacking you notice at least 3 random things in the bags that you never buy (adult incontinence products, blue cheese salad dressing, and a king-sized package of mentos) that the baby must have thrown in your cart while you were trying to convince the old lady whose toe you ran over with your shopping cart that it was an accident.  Just then, your 8 year old comes running up the stairs to announce frantically that her class is decorating sugar cookies at the class party tomorrow and she has to bring sprinkles for the cookies or else she'll die.   You briefly consider your options for a moment, before rummaging though your spice cabinet, trying to convince the eight year old that minced garlic and paprika do too look like red and white sprinkles.

7- The Christmas Cold  It happens every year.  Just when you're the busiest, running from place to place like a woman obsessed, one of your children will spike an insanely high fever, prompting a night with no sleep, a trip to the doctor's office and several rounds of various pink liquid antibiotics.  You get bonus points for double ear infections, anything that is rare, provokes cases of hives, causes your baby to go through five outfits in one day due to a vicious case of diarrhea, or any illness that involves the word "swine."

8- The Big Buckets of Christmas Popcorn  Does anyone really eat this stuff?  Yet rarely do I run across a house that hasn't been blessed with at least one container full of 3 year old, stale, caramel, cheese, and plain popcorn.  I think these popcorn bits rival Nerds candy in their ability to cover your house, car, and many small children in approximately 4.2 seconds.

9- The Present Wrapping: It happens every time.  You have a few minutes to yourself and think that you will sit down and innocently wrap a present or two.  Problem is, wrapping two presents = 4 tubes of mismatched wrapping paper, two empty rolls of tape, a pair of scissors so dull they wouldn't cut wrapping paper if you paid them $20, 593 feet of multi-colored curling ribbon that never surls the way you want it to, and various shapes, sizes and colors of bows, all spread around your living room.  No idea how wrapping stuff manages to take up the living room so quickly, but I would gladly pay the presents to wrap themselves.  And hey, while they're at it, maybe the presents can convince the laundry to fold itself too.

10- The Christmas Cleanout  Am I the only one that does this?  Approximately two days before Christmas, (yes that's today...) I get a little crazy thinking about how messy the house is, and how crowded my kids' drawers are, and how there's a millions stuffed animals that heven't been touched in years, and how in two days we're going to be opening toys and presents and where are we going to put everything!  So then, because I'm deranged and the kids are out of school, I decide it would be a good day to clean out the girls' dressers.  And closets.  And toyboxes.  And under the bed.   And two hours and several bags of trash later, I'm ready to give all their presents to those mysterious children that keep their rooms clean without asking because they will obviously appreciate those presents.

Sigh.  Alright, I'm off.  Must try to find some Christmas spirit somewhere.  Possibly in a can of Diet Coke and a pan of fudge.


  1. I was tired of crazy Christmases and we've done a few things over the past few years that helped our family out. Dunno if they'll work for yours or not.

    1. Our tree is half decorated and will likely stay that way. We've simplified decorating and accepted that we have a family. Perfection doesn't fit any longer.

    2. Household decorations consist of paper garlands, a ribbon holding clipped Christmas cards (my fav), outside lights that DH strung up for us, our family nativity creche, and a Jesse tree.

    3. We "wrap" our gifts in re-useable fabric drawstring bags that I whipped up.

    4. This year we decided that we will buy only 4 gifts for each of our immediate family. Extended family receives photos and well wishes. No shipping required - well not much.

    5. Shop online for nearly all of the aforementioned gifts and don't need to fight crowds. ;)

    Can't help with the guilt, but we have managed to simplify the rest of our celebration so that we can focus on Christmas. We'll be having a quiet celebration of Christ's birth with our immediate family instead of a crazy celebration of Santa.

    Hope you find that Christmas spirit!

  2. Oh, this is the funniest thing I have read in a long time! Thanks for a good laugh! I'm afraid I can totally relate!

  3. I was feeling this way today too! Every November I swear that THIS year will be different and I won't have the dreaded "guilt" but alas, it hit today!

  4. OK that last comment was Linnea not Vincent. See how tired I am? This one will say Vincent also but don't believe it! It's not true!

  5. Can my family get an extra 1000 points for dad getting mono at christmas?

  6. Stacy you and I are kindred spirits. Loooved every things on your list. And just so you know, as we speak, my boys are cleaning every inch of their room and I've already taken one present away from each of them. I've got bags of garbage from their room lining the hall. Ahhhh, glorious Christmas.

  7. Christmas popcorn is a pain, and to think (the horror!) I've been guilty of gifting that to friends in the past. It was long long ago, I swear!

    And, yes, the packaging alone is enough for us to promise each year to limit ourselves to 1-3 gifts per child. Times that by 4 and it's a headache with all the twist-ties & plastic packaging crap that even scissors struggle to cut through.

    Merry Christmas to you & your sweet family. We're here in Provo for Christmas, but will be back in mid-January, February and twice in April. I'd still love to plan a music night and/or LNO any of those times!!

  8. Seriously I feel a kinship to you because I am the exact same way. I don't have kids though-- so your Christmasy time is much more stressful than mine. I do work at Target though, and yeahhh, heads up: don't go there the week before Christmas. You'll get run over by a crazy mom who HAS TO HAVE the toy that sold out two weeks ago. Heh.

    Love, Jennie


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