Tag Archives: holiday

Why Xmas Cards Need Punchlines

My "New Year's" card from a few years ago. Too crazed to pull off a Xmas shoot, I bribed & threatened to get this shot. My crew STILL holds a grudge ... can't imagine why ....

My “New Year’s” card from a few years ago. Too crazed to pull off a Xmas shoot, I bribed & threatened to get this shot. My crew STILL holds a grudge … can’t imagine why .


I have chosen to NOT send out Christmas cards this year.  Again.  Last year I just couldn’t muster up the desire and the year before I thought it would simply be a nice respite.

Whaddaya know.  I think I may have stumbled onto a new favorite tradition.

I’ve spent many a snarky blog mocking Christmas letters (and – why don’t we simply put me on the express track to Hell – Christmas photos as well. Come on, you know you do, too.  I just say it out loud.  Shrug.)

But I really do love my idea of the Why-Can’t-We-All-Just-Be-A-Wee-Bit-Honest? anti-Christmas letter.  I wish they all sounded like mine:

I’d say with blatant bragging that my kids didn’t turn into trolls throughout the year and were still, in fact, good looking.  (Naturally if No-Shave November didn’t find my son looking like Wolverine I could’ve secured proof of this over Thanksgiving weekend when we were all together but no such luck.)

I’d reveal that I am secretly thrilled when my oldest son is at college … because his proclivity to starting his day at 3:30 to do errands when he’s home makes my hair fall out.

I’d express delight that my college-bound, environmentally impassioned daughter is poised to save the world one dolphin or blade of grass at a time … yet would rather hug a tree than any of her brothers … and that kinda sorta makes me mental.

I’d report that my middle-school sons are doing well in their school and sporting endeavors … but that their inability to decode and decipher common phrases like “Take you shoes off before coming in” and “Hang up that towel” worries me immeasurably.

I’d boast about my husband’s year of health and weight loss (again, not really a loss when it’s found by someone else, eh?) but to even the score I would definitely get in a few digs about my perpetually broken kitchen pendant light.  I’d then probably put it in print that I am holding firm on getting my downstairs painted this spring (and that this task will far take precedence over – pick one – a new snow blower, lawnmower and/or Patriots season tickets.  So there.)

I’d ramble on about our family vacation to Disney with a great group of friends and then embarrassingly admit I lost my youngest son within 5 minutes of entering the happiest place on Earth.  Yes.  Party of 14 people.  Lost child.  5 flippin minutes.

I’d divulge funny details about my job (that I love)  in an alternative middle/high school (Really?  I’m complaining about wet towels at home?  Really???) but then I’d share the far from humorous reality of having to keep the doors locked there now.


Scary times.

It’s best to just remember that our lives – and our livelihoods —  are merely temporary.


Why not laugh a little and focus on the daily, smaller smiles because really — one day real soon I may be missing those wet towels on the floor, right?


My family is healthy and my life is full of love and friends and laughter.  (And recycling.  Lots and lots of recycling because – haven’t you heard —  my daughter has turned into the Conservation Nazi.)


So, as I sit here watching “The Sound of Music”  (singing every word to “Climb Every Mountain” because, my gaaaaawd,  Mrs. Cazzaza made us sing it in elementary school,  I wish everyone the same:


Health, love, and (of course) recycling.

And laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.


Merry Christmas everyone!



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Somebody, PLEASE Shelf That Elf Idea


My sister is a kind and generous soul and I love her.  I really do.

I just want to kill her.


Well maybe not kill but definitely hurt her really, really bad.  Maybe pull her hair by the roots until she cries out in a screechy voice.  Or perhaps a lengthy pinch of the little fleshy stuff right under her armpit. You know, just a little something for emphasis.


She thought it would be supercool to give me a first class ticket on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon.  Apparently she thought the whole gimmick sounded delightfully joyous and heartwarming for my boys this holiday season.  (Quick version:  a book and elf arrive in festive packaging.  This magic elf then watches the kids’ behavior each day until Christmas.  He hides throughout the house and each day the kids wake up, search for him and whisper their holiday desires into his little ear.)


Very cute indeed.  However, now they simply wake up in Spartacus mode –  a competition of the fittest  to find it first – before they resume wrestling and beating the spit out of each other (like most mornings). Really, it’s just glorious.


Anyway, here’s my problem with our newest holiday tradition (she says forlornly, hoping they’ll misplace the box next year):  it’s making me a total wreck.  I can’t even say how many dark, cold mornings my eyes have flown open with the realization that I didn’’t move the creepy little elf doll to a new spot before turning in for bed.  It’s worse than forgetting the Tooth Fairy was supposed to come (there’s no throwing it in the crumpled sheets with feigned, “Oh THERE it is!” nonsense).  This is serious.  And has to happen EVERY night.  I have lost so much sleep because of it  I look awful (which hello, is not going to help me in the unspoken Who-Looks-Better? contest when my sister and I assemble for the holidays).


So yes, I am here to warn others:  this becomes a full-bodied commitment the moment that silly book is read aloud to your little Santa-seekers.

FortheloveofGod, pay no attention to the window displays at Borders and just keep walkin’.


Go back to stringing popcorn and find other holiday traditions that won’t put bags under your eyes.


I’m no Scrooge but sorry, I just can’t help it.


I’m tired (from lack of sleep).


And cranky (from waning hiding spaces).


And I haven’t thought of anything yet for paybacks for my sister…

but I will.


Oh, ho, ho, ho … I will.




Surviving the Santa Sucker Punch (year 10)


My yearly disclaimer:  because of the universal chord it strikes, I have declared this my very own “Yes, Virginia” tradition and continue to publish it each year, complete with updates.   Ho, ho, ho,  my friends!

Show me a parent who’s a little wigged out by the inevitable birds-and-bees talk with their child and I’ll show you a parent who hasn’t even thought about – let alone attempted – the Santa Claus talk.  Heads up:  nothing – nothing – prepares you for that ambush while innocently watching a sitcom.  Give me reproduction or Heather Has Two Daddies any day of the week, thank you very much.

“You guys buy the stuff, right?”  It came from my oldest, an 11-year-old who is blissfully naïve, heartwarmingly immature, and constantly questioning why he can’t use words like crap.  He IS in sixth grade, you know.  He held his newly formed Christmas list.

“Why do you ask?” my husband’s panicked eyes pleaded for me to jump right in at any time.  I was too busy weighing the odds.  I was sensing that the question held an honest desire for truth, yet I couldn’t be certain a bluff wasn’t involved.

Last year I was confident the belief was still there.  My friends and family couldn’t accept that my wide eyed middle schooler dutifully wrote his letter to Santa without question.  Sure, there was talk on the school bus and there were kids with older siblings and yes, there was a slight wane in his interest in gathering around to watch those goofy Christmas shows from the 70s (Burger Meister Meister Burger, anyone?).  Still, I knew the dreamlike image of a man in a red suit rousing him from sleep (at what – five years old?) was embedded in his memory.  I could tell there was something in his eyes that wasn’t quite sure he wanted to know.

My husband’s cough seemed forced.  “Well what have you heard?” (Wasn’t that always a good parental deflect?)

It was as we’d expected.  Damn those kids on the bus with older brothers.  Ugh, what to do next?   First, we had to consider the sibling factor.  We’ve got three more coming down the pike and quite frankly, I love a household full of innocence and wonder.  It’s magical primarily because it’s, well, fleeting.  Could it be over already?  Second, I wasn’t entirely sure he could pull off a covert mission of betrayal to the brothers he still chased around with swords and the sister he lived to torment.  This couldn’t be a good thing.

Sensing our concern, he pointed out that he stopped believing in the Easter Bunny a long time ago (because come on now, a bunny?) and he still keeps that from the little ones.  And that he’d gotten the “other” talk almost two years ago and never spills on that, either.  Good point.  So why was this so much harder?

It’s simply a door that closes on childhood that just blatantly makes us sad.  It’s a milestone that isn’t measured in pencil marks on a doorframe, can’t be captured on film, and doesn’t exactly make our lives easier like some other benchmarks.  Honestly, sometimes we can’t wait for them to get just a little bit older.  We anxiously await the first hot dog that is eaten with a bun.  We secretly rejoice when swing pumping is officially mastered, allowing us a few more luxurious minutes on a playground bench instead of in a sandpit wearing sandals. Some might even want to dance naked when their youngest FINALLY starts to toilet train (okay maybe that’s just me). These are milestones indeed and we look forward to them.  But some rites of passage sure do stink.

While we openly dread learner’s permits and after-prom parties, we tend to forget about the smaller life moments that affect our kids – and us — before acne:  Their first order off the adult menu that is actually eaten in its entirety; The way their new big teeth completely change the look of their faces, quietly erasing the baby-ness from their features; The first time you notice – really notice – that their legs are so much longer since the last time you seemed to look.  It’s these times that grip our hearts and keep us frozen just for a moment.  Just slight, inconspicuous reminders that calendar pages keep turning and candles on cakes keep taking up more space on the frosting.

“Yes, it’s us” my husband blurts out.  Subtlety obviously isn’t his strong suit.  I probably would’ve gone a softer route but I admired his zeal.  The last thing you want in life is your kid being made fun of by a bunch of kids on a school bus.

“And it was me in the Santa suit” he spat.  (Whoa, easy there, Tonto, give the kid a minute to digest….)

It was a nod and a matter-of-fact shrug that acknowledged the news.  He handed me his Christmas list and looked spy-like over both shoulders, “Mom, I really don’t need #8 on my list.  You can cross it off.”  Another check of the perimeter and then a wink and a whisper, “It’s kind of expensive.”

Well break my heart in half and bring on the acne.  I’ll be dammed if that kid doesn’t get #8 this year.  Maybe he’ll even get two.

*  *  *  *  *  *

2009 Update:  that blissfully naive 11-year-old is now an awesomely out-of-touch 16-year-old hoping Santa brings him (pick one) a car, I-Phone or mountain of cash.  He’s obviously still blissfully naive but he’s kept our secret like he promised he would.

2010 Update:  that blissfully naïve 11-year-old is now filling out college applications (sigh…. we just don’t speak of this topic without also employing the phrase “God willing”).   His sharp-as-a-tack 11-year-old brother (irony?) keenly keeps his Christmas desires to a financial possibility.  And watching from the wings is an equally suspicious 9-year-old, who really wants to believe…..but……since the Tooth Fairy bailed on three straight nights…..is having some…..doubts……

2011 Update:  that blissfully naive 11-year-old is presently enlisted in the United States Air Force Reserves as an Airman.  The only thing he’s asking for from Santa this year is his mom’s meatballs (she, in turn, is begging for an endless supply of L’Oreal grey coverage).  My teen diva — surprisingly — has nary a thing on her list.  She’s got a job, a boyfriend and a 1994 Nissan with roll-up windows so life is pretty close to perfect right now.  My sharp ‘lil tween, fresh into his first foray of romance, is desperately seeking some Old Spice Swagger under the tree to keep him smelling gooooood.   And my baby…..my ten-year-old baby…… is ready to shout from the highest rooftop that HE, too, knows THE TRUTH about all this nonsense and HAS known for a VERY LONG TIME.   And thinks he should get an I-Phone.  Because — he insists — 10 is the new 15.

2012 Update:  that blissfully naïve 11-year-old is now a college freshman, who really just wants to sleep in his own bed awhile before next semester begins.  I know.  How and when in the world did that happen?  The weird thing:  our countdown is finally up.  My youngest baby – who was in diapers when this story began – is now a point guard on his basketball team and wears a bigger shoe than his mom.  Never again will I have a blissfully naïve  — or any other for that matter– 11-year-old in my family.  Some days, when I least expect it — I won’t lie — it just makes me really, really sad.


2013 Update:    Nowadays the “children” in my home consist of 2 young adults and 2 ever-growing, ever-eating teens.    When we recently sat down to Thanksgiving dinner — when college classes and freshmen football and work schedules and every other life commitment of six people all miraculously meshed together for one day —  I had a moment when I believed Santa came early.  A happy and laughter-infused occasion, I wanted to freeze the moment in  time.  It was a little magical.

Now more than ever before I am acutely aware of time passing quickly.  Unbearably and unfairly quickly.

Because of this, I look for a little magic all the time.

Everyone should.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

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