Somewhere between Thanksgiving, and the next day, something magical happens each year in our home. Our “Magic Elves” appear. Santa sends them along on a magical slipstream of wind and snowflakes, to join our family for another season of merriment and mischief.
This is the fifth year.
That means we’ve had to come up with more than 100 clever and unique “things” for the elves to do each night. This is challenging, made moreso by the fact that, unlike the “Elf on the Shelf” our elves are completely soft, so they don’t stay in a pose. You can’t bend their arms and have them stay there. They can’t stand on their own. They literally are, like a sock.
But despite these challenges, we persevere. I’ll try and post some of this year’s exploits here for your enjoyment.
Here’s last night’s. As you can see, the elves created cutouts of minions and stuck their faces and appendages in them. Overall, it was cute, but I’m not sure the kids quite got what was going on here. All they saw was the minion toys and everyone drinking syrup. But hey, cross another one off the list. Only 23 more ideas to come up with.
If there is one good thing to come out of this economic downturn, it’s that I can use it to my advantage to cut back on Christmas gifts this year. While both CareerMom and I are blessed with our jobs, and thus aren’t being affected as much as a lot of people this year, the recent financial strain has caused everyone to re-evaluate their gift-giving priorities.
For instance, I have roughly three mothers:
- My bio-mom (Hi Bio-Mom!)
- My adopted mom
- The mom who mostly raised me after “adopted mom” split up with Dad shortly after the adoption. Hey, nothing says, “We made the right choice honey!” like walking out on your family two years after taking on a couple of kids.
Very recently, I came to the conclusion that perhaps I was old enough now that I could/should both A) Stop receiving gifts from my parents and B) Stop giving gifts to ALL of my parents, and siblings, and anyone else who has laid claim to my life thanks to my tree’s many and various branches.
I don’t come to this conclusion lightly because I do love to see those gifts under the tree with my name on them and I do really enjoy giving gifts to my loved ones. In that respect–and many others if I’m being honest–I’m still a kid. And while I’m not sure any of us ever really outgrow getting presents, there comes a time when your own little family takes center stage. We don’t really buy our kids many toys over the course of the year, so Christmas is kind of our chance to not only get something fun for them, but also to get something that we won’t mind sitting on the floor playing for the next twelve months. Also, CareerMom’s brother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago. He’s 41 this year and has eight kids (yes, eight!). They need all the help they can get.
So this year, I have asked that my parents not get me/us anything and just get the boys something if they so desire. Or, if they feel led, take the money they would spend on us and spend it on a needy family. And when I say “needy” here, I mean “really trying and coming up short,” not “lazy” (the Obama pre-election infomercial comes to mind…)
In truth, most of what I want costs waaay more than anyone can afford (myself included) and I suspect the same can be said for the majority of people I’m buying for this year. So why do it?
I’m not a scrooge folks; really I’m not. I did my lights outside this weekend and CareerMom has the house looking very festive. We even took the boys to the tree farm and cut down a real, live, honest-to-goodness Christmas tree on Saturday. So see, I’ve not lost my Christmas spirit–I’ve only shifted it a little–perhaps more inline with the way it should be for someone my age. (this growing up stuff sux!)
But all is not lost; don’t think the Wii the boys are getting for Christmas isn’t for me as much as it is for them. I just have to find the quiet time where I can play my games rather than anything with the name “Mario” in it!
Oh also, my 10-year anniversary is coming up next November, and as of right now, I have nothing saved up for an Anniversary Gift/Trip/memorable anything.
It’s over. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; or for that matter, a good thing either. It’s just simply…over.
There is so much that I could say about Thanksgiving this year, but I thought maybe I’d try and mix it up a bit.
Therefore, I hereby present, my Thanksgiving Limericks:
At my house here we held our Thanksgiving
Celebrated with joy by the living
Though some of us slept
While the rest of us swept
When the gym opened back up, I was driven!
My mom has forgotten that small boys
Will fight over food, space and small toys
When I yell, “Hey you guys STOP!”
She says, “What up there pop?
Your yelling just adds on to their noise!”
There isn’t enough hard alcohol
Stored there in the wet bar in the hall
To keep me from wishin
That my mom would stop bitchin
About the supposed economic downfall
When the toddler is down for his long nap
Why can’t you all shut up your trap?
And stop stomping around
Like you own this here ground
Oh Lord help me put up with this crap!
Though I make fun, we really had a very good Thanksgiving. I don’t publicly thank God for my blessings too often, but I do give him all the glory and praise for what I’ve been blessed with. I hope he understands that, at times like these, I’m mostly just having a good time. I’m not really this uptight. I think God has a sense of humor too.
Despite whatever doubts I may have as to the validity of all of the things I’ve been taught regarding Jesus of Nazareth, and his time here on earth, the fact remains that I do believe. Down in whatever dark place I’ve pushed so many other things in my life, the belief that there is a benevolent God out there watching over my family (how else do you explain all the good things I have?) remains a small beacon of hope that if I’m not too bad here on earth, and if I don’t commit the same sins over and over one too many times, that maybe, just maybe when I die, I’ll end up somewhere happy and warm with my family and all of my dead pets.
I don’t believe in much; I have to be honest with you. I feel that the glass is perpetually half-empty and that given half a chance at getting away with it, most people will screw you over for $100. It’s a crappy way to live life, but hey, I’ve lived a life of facts and reality and my reality has shown this to be true for the most part.
I suppose then, this is why I take Christmas to heart like I do. I love Christmas. Oh, I’ll admit that I love the decorating and the cold weather and the fires and the gifts and the food (oh, the food!) more than I really enjoy sitting in church for two hours listening to the pastor try to come up with some unique spin on the Christmas story that no one has ever covered before, but it all goes hand in hand. So much about religion is really about how you feel about it anyway, so why should Christmas be any different?
Given all of this, I’m really offended, not just pretend-offended like so many people—I’m actually offended when non-believers relegate this time of the year to just “The Holidays.” And why do Jewish people get so offended over Christmas? I don’t know which faith first proclaimed this time of year their own, but can’t we all just get along? Can’t we all agree that, “Hey, something deeply moving and spiritual happened at some point in the year, and since we can’t really pinpoint the actual date, we’re all just going to be happy around December.”
To all the non-believers I say fine, you want to celebrate the Holidays, then do it on MLK and Valentines Day. On Christopher Columbus and President’s Day, go all out and decorate. Just let us Christians, for whom you have to thank for this time of year anyway (OK, and maybe Coca Cola is partially responsible too), enjoy this time of year without your having to pee in the punch bowl.
There are things that I love about the holidays; the cool weather, the food, the jolly mood everyone is in, and then there are things that I really don’t like; sweating over what to get the nine (yes, nine) people/couples in my life (not including the Secret Santa gift and the sibling gift on my wife’s side). With kids now, there are even more things to love and/or hate about the holidays.
For instance, our kids’ daycare is closed for all major holidays. In the case of Thanksgiving, they were closed understandably on Thursday and Friday, but of course we still have to pay for a full week. Regardless, this means that instead of the kids playing for nine hours with their friends at daycare, they are either strapped in a car on a long trip or stuck in a boring house with people they don’t know and only a handful of toys carefully selected for both portability and creativity, and unable to generally get out and burn off all that energy that keeps them the sane lovable children we all hope they are come the weekend.
As my friend pointed out over at Pantsfreesia, by Sunday afternoon I’ve got that twitchy eye thing going and if the weather is nice, my wife is urging me to get out-of-doors and go do something that doesn’t involve kids. So, long holiday weekends, such as what we just had for Thanksgiving, are especially trying for me even though I love my children with all my heart.
I love em; I just don’t wanna play with them for 96 hours. And it’s not just the playing either. When my oldest son doesn’t go to daycare and burn off steam, he’s a different person. He talks back, he whines over piddly stuff and he just generally isn’t as well behaved as he is when he gets tons of exercise. And for whatever reason, riding bicycles and hitting the ball are poor substitutes for chasing each other around the playground pretending you’re Spider Man trying to knock down the Red Power Ranger. I know this because I played it for ten minutes and I was done, both because it’s physically demanding, and because it’s a tad humiliating for people to see you imitating a three year old making noises that you haven’t made since you were, well, three years old.
And no, I never bought into that whole, “Dance as if no one were watching” idea. I mean, someone is always watching and even if they’re your parents, in the back of their head, behind the part of their brain that’s saying, “What a good father,” they are also thinking, “My goodness he looks like a total goober.”
Welcome to parenting.
So my son and I are here on the outskirts of the country’s most popular destination spot—Pigeon Forge, TN. The house is a huge, three level affair perched precariously (I’m seriously here) on the side of a mountain. The grade is so steep in fact, that halfway below the bottom floor of each house, and the ground, which falls off dramatically, is a catwalk for maintenance people to use to get to the electrical closet located in what might generously be called a basement.
At any rate, the original plan was for my family to spend the night at my moms house a mere 20 miles away, but since it’s only my oldest son and I, my mom made such a fuss about our staying for the night that we did. However, this meant that we got last dibs on sleeping arrangements. In this case, last dibs included the top floor, loft area consisting of two twin beds in a “we’ve been married for 15 years and no longer want to be sleeping in the same room” kind of set up. Also sharing this loft is my aunt, and my niece, and then over a half wall is a bedroom where my cousin and her husband are sleeping. So basically, there are six of us sleeping in a loft together.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that the house is made of all wood. I mean, there isn’t a stick of sheetrock anywhere. The walls are wood, the floor is wood and the ceilings are wood. What this amounts to is one giant cavernous noise funnel up to the top floor where we are all sleeping. Last night, when one of us turned over in our noisy bed, the rest of us heard it and were similarly disturbed.
Tonight, despite any arguments to the contrary, my son and I are making the twisty, turny trip over the mountain to my mom’s house where I will sleep in a queen bed, as will my son. We will walk around the house in near-nudity since we won’t have to worry about offending aunts and/or cousins, and we will not worry about snoring or tooting in our sleep, lest we offend those who might be offended.
And then tomorrow morning, we may or may not come back—perhaps opting to rather say goodbye via telephone and loiter around Townsend, TN checking out the Apple Barn and the little train museum. And then, hopefully having worn out my son, I’ll strap him in the car and we’ll hit the road on the way home.
Or, I might freeze my butt off in Gatlinburg tonight looking at the lights cuz I was too stupid to bring a coat. We’ll see.