Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “Christmas”

Hah Bumbug!

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The Beadstork family is a bit eccentric. I will seamlessly offer proof in the form of a list of our Christmas Day activities:

1. My husband did actual billable computer work. On Christmas. He works EVERY DAY. And he fixed my Mom’s computer.

2. My father consumed an entire pound of homemade fudge between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM.

3. My daughter’s favorite gift was a bow and arrow – a toy, but much better made and high tech. She spent the entire day shooting the suction cup arrow down the hall into the front door. By bedtime she had a blister.

4. We ran the dishwasher 3 times.

5. I gave my husband a sterling silver chain maille choker that I made, worth hundreds of dollars. He gave me a library book that he made my daughter wrap.

6. We spent a good part of midday creating multicolored polymer high bounce balls with a chemical reaction that occurred in our kitchen.

7. My father read me poetry out of his poetry book that he published.

8. We had an exhaustive conversation about social status and personal responsibility. Somehow it turned into a discussion about how longbows and crossbows had rendered body armor obsolete.

9. My mom Facebook messaged me from her computer upstairs to my phone downstairs : “So where are you spending Christmas this year? Ohio? North Dakota?” From downstairs I messaged back: “Um… at your house?”

10. An enormous Wile E Coyote wearing a Santa hat sat in one of the living room chairs the whole weekend.

11. My mom gave me this AWESOME “Happy Light” designed to treat seasonal depression that I can also use to make my jewelry. Bonus: she says she got it free with the purchase of a lightbulb that cost a fraction of the free lamp!

12. We drank 3 pitchers of Crystal Light lemonade.

13. My father spent the day reading my “gift” book from the library. He’s a quarter of the way through already.

14. My seventy-something mom showed us videos on her smartphone.

15. My husband spent the evening reading a book on beginning meditation. New obsession!

16. Mom turned the sound off for every TV commercial during The Grinch.

17. My daughter and my mom made the annual “granddaughter-grandmother” cheese ball from scratch – a tradition now spanning 4 generations.

18. There were exotic chickens roaming through our yard. The peacocks were off duty today.

19. We temporarily lost the cat.

20. We found a picture of my friend’s dad on Facebook that had a mysterious glow between his legs, and three generations giggled about “Christmas balls”

21. I tantalized my daughter with tales of a tongue twister that results in horrible obscenities if said incorrectly.

22. We schemed to take up money to buy the neighbor a new muffler, since the poor man clearly can’t afford one.

23. My dad would have eaten all the mint brownies, so mom had to hide them.

24. We discussed the pros and cons of collecting copays up front in a doctor’s office.

25. I taught my daughter about super-nummerary nipples. She asked me if I have an extra boob, and when I said no, she said “Aww… I wanted a special mom!”. I told her that I am way too special already without one.

26. We discussed the importance of protecting book spines and dust covers.

27. I ranted about super-conservatives who equate using the word X-mas with satanism because ” you’re taking the Christ out of Christmas “. I worship Satan because I don’t write the word out longhand on every box I put back in the attic? Honestly, I told my husband, it’s not like we’re replacing the word Christ with a SKULL or anything, at which point my husband said, ” Bwa ha ha! Merry Skullmas!”, which became an instant family classic.

28. I got an email notifying me that I made Delta Diamond Medallion. It’s good to be the queen!

29. We argued over whether or not Will Wheaton was in Stand By Me (he was – ha!)

30. Mom read aloud an entire article about 18 little known facts about the movie A Christmas Story.

31. My daughter’s second favorite gift was a huge hardback set of the Lemony Snicket books. She lugged the box up and down the stairs all day.

32. My husband picked all the nuts out of his fudge.

33. I ate my husband’s ice cream, which made him avow eternal wrath.

34. My mom’s tuner croaked Christmas Eve, necessitating that we stream free Amazon Prime Christmas playlists off my phone via a little bullet speaker. We listened to Straight No Chaser nine hundred times.

35. I spent, like, a whole lot of time searching for sterling silver letters I bought to make a gift bracelet. I SWEAR I brought them. I KNOW I brought them.

36. I gave my dad a beaded bald eagle I made to add to his beaded bird collection – he has four now. I stayed up late Christmas Eve because I HAD to finish it.

37. My husband took four or five fists full of vitamins every few hours because he is attempting to purge mercury from his body.

38. Mom and I went through ALL of my daughter’s school pictures, only to discover that she has three sets that I don’t. What?

39. I caught my sweater on some blinds and knocked over a window-worth of Christmas decorations.

40. We discussed how the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors changed the Mayan social caste system.

41. Also, my husband texted me AS ME on my own phone demanding hot Christmas sex.

42. I ate something other than yogurt today.

43. My daughter made a Lego set containing police alligators with red and blue lights, moving tails and (SCORE) mouths that really open.

44. My husband gifted me an awesome fossil ammonite pendant from his trip to Slovenia.

45. I don’t think anyone ever got dressed.

Last flight home to the North Pole!  A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

The Night Before Duck Fest

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‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And all ‘cross the pond,
Not a tree leaf was stirring,
Not even a frond

The leaf bags were were hung on the rushes near by
In hopes that St. Duckolas soon would fly by

The ducklings were nestled all snug in their nests
In need of a nice warm Christmas Eve rest.
Mama Duck with her brown tail
And I with my green breast
Had just settled our feathers
For tomorrow’s Duck Fest.

When up in the sky arose such a quacking
The owls were scattered; they all were sent packing.
To the edge of the nest I hopped in a flash
At the edge of the water I heard a loud splash.

The moon on the breasts of the local pond fowl
Gleamed off of their feathers and flashed off my jowl
And here to my wondering eyes was the sight
Of a flock of beautiful creatures in flight.

With a fearless feathered leader
The swans V’d behind
More rapid than eagles
With beady eyes kind.

St. Duckolas honked and quacked out their names:
On Flapper, on Flyer,
Now Soarer and Hopper,
On Honker and Flocker!
To the top of the rushes
To the top of the reeds
Now splash down, now splash down, now splash down with seeds!

As the wild birds that fly before winter winds
When they met with an obstacle, they banked their webbed limbs.
So up to the rushes
The white swans they flew
With packs full of snacks and St. Duckolas too

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the water
The splashing of webbed feet, the tossing of fodder.
As I poked out my head and was turning around
Down on the mud St. Duck stood on the ground.

He was fluffed all in feathers, from his beak to his feet
And his white feathers were clean, and tidy and neat.
A bag of wild oats he had strapped to his back
And a bag full of corn and stale Cracker Jack.

His eyes – how they twinkled! His beak all a-smile
His feathers all glistened
You could see them for miles.
An ear of gold corn he held tight in his beak
And a jaunty green feather he had on each cheek.
He had a wise face and a breast full of down
And great strong black feet
As he stood on the ground.

He was chubby and plump,
A well-fed old duck
And I quacked when I saw him;
He’d bring us good luck.
A wink of his eye and a cock of his head
Soon gave to me know that we’d all be well fed.

He quacked not at all but scattered his oats
And millet and corn and wheat that was roast
And leaving delicious fresh grains in his wake
He flew off again, that generous Drake.

He opened his wings
To the swans gave a quack
And they all flew away with more food on their backs
But I heard him honk, as they flew out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to Fowl
And to all a good flight!”

Merry Christmas to all from Guck and family!

Christmas At Beadstork’s

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Christmas at our house was a success.  My parents arrived Christmas Eve in time for lunch – we had sandwiches.  After lunch, Amanda and her Grandmama made the traditional yearly cheese ball – I used to make them with my Grandma when I was a kid.  Amanda got to get up to her elbows in squishy cheese ball goodness to squish all the ingredients together.  We coated with pecans and voila!  Then she and Grandmama made the gingerbread dough to be chilled for the next day.

Christmas Eve dinner was our traditional oyster stew – passed down from Christmas Eves at my dad’s house as a kid.  Then we packed up the van and headed to the big city of Huntsville to see the Galaxy of Lights at the Botanical Gardens.  They were charging $20 a carful as a fundraiser for the Gardens.  It took us an hour and a half to make our way through the long drive through the Gardens and to see all the lights that lined the way.  The day was a success!

Christmas day started early (for some).  My daughter woke up at 2 AM and went into Grandmama and Tuppa’s room to inquire whether she might now open her presents.  She was told to go back to bed.  She woke up again at 3:30 and went into their room to inquire as to whether it was late enough for gift unwrapping.  She woke up again at 4:30 and decided to read a book.  Her dad woke up at 5:30 and read to her to help her kill time until the rest of us got up at 7:00. 

She really raked in the goodies this year!  Santa brought her a real camera and a new laptop.  She got a huge Lego house and an American Girl Doll from Grandmama.  As an extra special treat, at New Year’s, Grandmama and Tuppa are taking her to Atlanta where the American Girl store is for two nights in a hotel within walking distance of the store and bistro, with a special doll bed waiting at the hotel room, a high chair for the doll at dinner, pink lemonade and cookies at night and a movie night with her doll.  What a moneymaker those American Girl people have!  Grandmama said her wallet will be empty at the end of the trip.  They have a hair salon where the doll’s hair can be curled and styled, and you can get your doll’s ears pierced (no doubt for an exorbitant price).

I got what I asked for this Christmas:  a new Nikon Macro lens for my camera.  My husband bought it for me as long as I promised to study up on my camera, read the manual, and learn about the manual settings.  I started on that on Christmas day.  I also madly photographed any tiny thing that would hold still long enough for me to snap a picture.  I posted some of my photos on this blog yesterday.

My husband must have been good, because he raked in some stuff too.  He got some clothes, a cover and a docking station for his phone, some books and a sort of a joke gift (but not really):  a shirt folder like the one Sheldon had on Big Bang Theory.  When he saw it on the show, his face lit up and he said, “I want one of those!”  He didn’t know I’d remembered. 

Christmas dinner turned out pretty good.  We had a Honeybaked ham, which turned out a little cool for my taste.  They recommended that it be served at room temperature, but I wanted it a little warmer than that.  It wasn’t.  I tried to make Atkin’s-y things because my hubby and I are on that diet, so we had green beans with almonds, creamed spinach with horseradish and cauliflower/broccoli salad, because my daughter actually like cauliflower.  Grandmama had brought Christmas cookies and chocolate mint brownies from home, which of course hubby and I did not get to eat.  Sigh. 

After dinner, we baked the gingerbread men and my daughter and Grandmama and I decorated them.  We wound up making homemade icing because the cake icing from the store came out too thick in enormous globs.  We added currants and redhots and little holly leaves to the icing.  Little Bit got crazy and put all kinds of stuff over her cookies. 

After the cookies were done we retired for a while to our respective books and new gifts.  I took some macro photos (one of which is at the top of this post) and read my camera manual, as I had promised my husband.   After we settled down for a while, Mom wanted to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol, so we watched that.  By that time, the bad weather that was predicted for Christmas day set in.  There was a big low pressure front coming through and tornados were predicted across the South.  They were supposed to hit a bit south of us, where my parents live, so they were a bit concerned.  Fortunately, the storms weren’t as bad as predicted and there was no tornado damage.  There was a good deal of thunder and wind, however.

The day after Christmas, today, I had to return to work and be on call for New Year’s Eve weekend.  This holiday has been all too short and I have the promise of hard labor over the next seven days.  But Christmas was fabulous, our family was happy, and I was blessed to be there.

Martha Stewart For Christmas

Courtesy, Flickr Creative Commons: Joits

For today’s Christmas Eve blog post, I am borrowing an email that’s been going around the internet:

Dear Family,

I know that you were eager to accept our family’s invitation to Christmas dinner when you found out that the famous Martha Stewart would be joining us.  However, due to scheduling conflicts beyond her control, Ms. Stewart finds that she is unable to grace our table this year.  With that in mind, there will be a few minor changes regarding the meal and decor, as outlined below.  Please be aware of them, and adjust your appetite and dress appropriately.  Thank you.

Our driveway will not be lined with homemade paper bag luminarias.  After several trial runs and two visits from the fire department, it was decided that, no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

Once inside, please note that the foyer will not be decorated with swags of garlands and home grown holly.  Instead, we included our dog in decorating by having him track in colorful autumn leaves from the back yard.  The mud was his idea.

The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china or crystal goblets.  If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork.  Since this is Christmas, we will refrain from using the paper SpongeBob dinner plates, the leftover Halloween napkins, and our plastic cup collection.

Our centerpiece will not be a tower of fresh fruit and flowers.  Instead we will be proudly displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper and pine cones.  The artist assures me it is a reindeer, albeit one without legs, tail or horns.  The red nose is a fine cotton pompom.

We will be dining somewhat later than planned.  However, our daughter will entertain you while you wait.  I’m sure she will be happy to share every choice comment her mother made regarding Christmas, reindeer, stuffing choices, the turkey hotline, and, especially, her husband.  Please remember that most of these comments were made at 7:00 AM upon discovering that said husband had only remembered to pull the turkey from the freezer at 6:00 AM, and that the thing was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As an accompaniment to our daughter’s recital of these events, I will play a recording of Native American tribal drumming.  Curiously, the tribal drumming sounds a great deal like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, but that only enhances the holiday appropriateness.  If our daughter should mention that we don’t own a recording of Native American tribal drumming, ignore her.  She’s only seven; what does she know?

A dainty silver bell will not be rung to announce the start of our feast.  We have chosen to keep our traditional method of assembling when the smoke alarm goes off.

There will be no formal seating arrangement.  When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like.  In the spirit of harmony, we will ask all the children to sit at a separate table… in a separate room… next door.  And I would like to take this opportunity to remind our younger diners that “passing the rolls” is neither a football play nor an excuse to bean your cousin in the head with bread.

The turkey will not be carved at the table.  I know you have seen the Norman Rockwell image of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers.  Such a scene may occur somewhere in America, but it won’t be happening at our dinner table.  For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in the kitchen in a private ceremony.  I stress “private”, meaning DO NOT, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me.  Do not send small, unsuspecting chilren, or older, helpful grandparents into the kitchen to check on my progress.  I have a very large, very sharp knife.  The turkey is unarmed.  It stands to reason that I will eventually win the battle.  When I do, we will eat.

For the duration of the meal, we will refer to the Kraft Cheese Sauce by its lesser known name:  gravy.  If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or makeup of the gravy, smile kindly and say that you know the answer, but it’s a secret that can’t be revealed to them until they are 18.

Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and dog tongue marks.  You still have a choice: take it or leave it.

That concludes our list of alterations.  Again, I apologize that Martha will not be joining us this year.  Come to think of it, she probably won’t come next year, either.  Merry Christmas!

Nightmare Christmas

Normally, I will do anything to avoid WalMart.  As in, I don’t think I’ve been in there for a year.  But today, in the name of Christmas, I had to suck it up and go in there, because they have a Honey Baked Ham kiosk, and we have a gift card for Honey Baked Ham and a need for something to eat for Christmas dinner.  So I bravely took my daughter with me, and despite some serious trepidation, off we went.

First we had to park.  We drove up and down the vast parking lot, searching for anywhere to park.  I wasn’t being choosy.  Even a spot in the back would be fine.  We were nearly smacked into by aggressive senior citizens seeking spots close to the building.  There were bazillions of people milling through the crosswalks, so it was nearly impossible to progress to the next lane.  We finally found a spot far, far to the back, and of course it started to rain.  We walked a mile to the store and I was cursing my choice of footwear – boots with heels that looked very nice with my outfit but which felt not so good on such a hike.

We made it in the crowded doors and I began looking for the Honeybaked Ham kiosk.  I couldn’t see it anywhere.  I decided to go back and look for a Wii dance game I’d asked my husband for for Christmas – he told me to go get it myself and wrap it up.  As soon as we got back to Electronics, my daughter began begging for Nintendo DS games, and Pokemon games and a new Nintendo DS3 and basically anything she could see within eyesight.  It was annoying.  She begged and tugged at my arm until I couldn’t even think.  I told her to hush up and I got a kid’s version of the Wii dance game that came free with my version.

Off again we went to hunt Honeybaked Ham.  We finally found the kiosk over by the produce – they had three people manning one little booth.  They of course did not accept the gift card – those are only accepted by the real store.  At least they took the coupons.  I bought a boneless ham for Christmas dinner and a roast turkey for lunch the previous day.

Then we had to go stand in the checkout lane.  And we stood, and we stood, and we stood.  There were two girls in front of us who were so psyched about Christmas in the air that they were jumping up and down and bumping their chests into each other.  At least I think that’s what they were excited about.  I was holding two Honeybaked things and they were getting very heavy.  My daughter did not want to help and hold the bag from Electronics.

Next we set off to Publix – parking lot, same scene.  Awful.  We finally found a spot and went in with our immense list.  Little Bit threw a fit because she wanted a cart with a car on it – she is wayyyyy too big for those and I told her so.  So she pouted and climbed into the cart and sat where I needed to put my groceries.  The only thing that saved me was that she saw my Kindle and wanted to read a story on that.  So I gave that to her and was allowed to get my groceries unmolested.  Except for all the people trying to run me over.  They were out of several things I needed.  I had to call Mom and ask her to bring currants, because they didn’t have any.

The whole thing, needless to say, put me in a vile mood.  I am in a vile mood right now.  I feel a crash as hard as if the holidays were already over.  Letdown like they are already gone.  My husband managed to rip into the new lunch meat and sliced cheese that I had gotten for Christmas Eve lunch with the folks, and gave them to the babysitter instead, so now I will have used cheese and meat to offer when they come.  He didn’t even think to ask.  And he has burned up my new Christmas candle before Christmas is even here.  I spent the day cleaning the house and it doesn’t even look like any of it was cleaned at all.  And I’m on this stupid diet and I’ve missed eating all the good Christmas things and still have barely lost five pounds.  I have about forty to go.  And my daughter messed up the guest room bed by climbing on it even though I told her to leave it alone because I had fixed it up for my parents.

I’m about to go… batshit.  And the day after Christmas I have to return to work, to a clinic that is so full that it will run until one o’clock and restart at one fifteen.  And I am on call five days in a row for New Years.  I am only getting one gift for Christmas.  And I wrapped that myself, so it is hardly a surprise.  So I am having one big old feeling sorry for myself fest right now.  And I can’t get this album to play the songs in order on this stupid computer.  I can only hope things will get better tomorrow when the folks get here, but I think I will just feel put upon and irritable to have to do all the cooking and dishwashing that goes in when you have people over for the holidays.  So Merry f’ing Christmas.  And a Happy damn New Year.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up

from Kitten, Flickr Creative Commons

Why do I hate wrapping gifts so much?  Is it because I suck at it?  Is it the Pinterest/Martha Stewart inspired mandate to create ever more creative and handmade wrappings?  Is it because, as a child and a young adult, I not only had my own packages to wrap but my dad’s, since he hates wrapping worse?  And now my husband’s?

I suck at gift wrap.  Oh, I do all the things you’re supposed to do.  I have kits of expensive coordinating paper, ribbon and bow sets.  I have boxes of fancy gift tags.  I have gift bags and tissue paper.  I have rubber stamps, and handmade papers, and a Sissix punch and, well, you get the idea.  My gift wrapped packages still look as though they were done by a six year old who has spent the afternoon spinning in circles.

I can’t even unwrap gift paper.  Those tubes are hermetically sealed, taped and permanently curved.  After struggling to remove the cling wrap, I am faced with those little tapes that keep the roll from unrolling.  I manage to rip the paper every time I remove one.  Then I have to unroll the stupid thing.  I unroll it, it rolls up.  I unroll it, it rolls up.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  When I finally manage to smash and corral it to the floor, it is wrinkled and folded and compressed by whatever package I have slammed onto it.  Then I remember the present should be wrapped with its up side down, lift the package, and the thing rolls up again.

After smashing the paper flat and positioning the gift on it correctly, it’s time to cut.  Ha.  My inate non-cutting abilities kick in at this point.  It doesn’t help that my daughter has appropriated every functional pair of scissors I own and made them disappear.  I am left with lame paper clippers designed for small, fine work, not for cutting enormous swaths of cheap paper.  So I chop and whack at the paper, attempting to do the dextrous slide that you see the professional gift wrappers do.  No dextrous slide.  Instead great big triangular chunks and unseemly rips appear along the entire length of the cut.  Damn.  Now I have to hide the ugliness by folding it over.  This sometimes makes the paper too small to wrap the package and I have to start all over again.

Then comes the actual folding of the paper around the gift.  After folding and creasing the edges to hide my cutting inabilities, I began to fold and attempt to cover the present.  If the package is a simple box, I might just manage.  My inability to make hospital corners on a bed kicks in, and the corners on the package that are supposed to be so tight and crisp become messy and a little bulgy on the ends of the package.  I attempt to rectify this with lots of tape.  This is the point at which I will began my rant.  WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS WONDERFUL DO TOY MANUFACTURERS PLACE TOYS IN SUCH WONKY, IRREGULARLY SHAPED, SPINY, CURVED BOXES?  That is my rant.  Why?  Why can’t they just put the damn things in a square box?  These toys cannot be wrapped in standard wrapping paper.  At least, not by me.  This leaves only one recourse:  the dreaded gift bag.  And these are, of course, totally inappropriate for children, because children are pokers and prodders and peekers, and if you put out a gift bag, they will know what is in it immediately.  Also, the weird shaped packages have so many protuberances and fins that they typically require an enormous bag.  So any gift wrapped this way cannot be put out until the night before Christmas, because the kid will be in it in a flash.

Next this leads to tags.  And ribbons.  And bows.  All slippery, inadequately sticky, temporary pathetic things.  And you can’t put tags on a kid’s gift.  They will shake the damn thing so hard to find out what it is, that if it wasn’t legos or a puzzle before, it will be now.  So you have to use the old “one type of wrapping paper for each recipient trick”.  That way you can leave the label off, and the kid won’t know which ones are for them.   This results in them shaking and squeezing ALL the packages.  Ribbons of course are as curly and pesky as the wrapping paper.  And that little trick where you curl the little skinny ribbons with the edge of your scissors?  Doesn’t work.  They become sad and kinky looking instead.  And bows.  The factory installed adhesive DOESN’T STICK.  Don’t try to tell me it does.  The bows are off the packages by the time you carry them downstairs. 

And the whole Martha Stewart package thing, where you wrap in handmade paper from Pakistan with coordinating raffia and hand rubberstamped gift tags bearing hokey little messages?  Forget the whole thing.  First of all, why would you bother to waste this on a kid?  And really, why would you waste it on anyone?  You can spend hours contemplating the layout and message of said package, and it will be ripped off in an instant.  And anything that is hand lettered, for me, looks like it was done by a toddler in crayon.  So I wouldn’t waste my time unless the gift was actually FOR Martha Stewart.  And then it would stress me out beyond belief.

And unfairly, and horribly, I get stuck wrapping all the gifts.  First I had to wrap my dad’s.  Now I have to wrap my husband’s.  He even has me wrapping the gifts he’s bought for me.  I wish I were joking.  Plus I have to wrap my own.  Plus anything for any Christmas party or Dirty Santa.  And you would think, you would really really think, that with this much wrapping over the years, I might not suck at it so bad.  But I do.  And each package appears as if someone had stomped it really vigorously into the ground, followed by setting it on fire.  And then everyone makes fun of the wrapping I did for them.  And I want to stuff my ugly little packages into their various smirking lazy mouths.  So gift wrapping is the icing on the veritable Christmas cake for me.  And I still don’t know why I suck at it so bad.  I hope it isn’t genetic.

Christmas Brunch

From Prozac2012

Today was the day for the annual Christmas brunch at our country club up the street.  Ordinarily, I would not be caught dead belonging to a country club, but for some reason, my husband had decided to sign us up.  We don’t do much with our membership.  We are doing good if we make our mandatory food and beverage cost.  It infuriates my husband that some months we have to pay for food we didn’t eat.  We do use the pool in the summertime, at least our daughter does, because multiple of her babysitters lifeguard there.  I, of course, won’t be caught dead in a bathing suit at any price.  I felt this way even when I was fairly trim, but mysteriously, I am now forty pounds overweight and hate to be caught dead in clothes.

Amanda wanted to dress all up for the occasion, which means wearing her heels.  Yes, the seven year old child has heels.  They are cute little sparkly sandals with rhinestones and little kitten heels.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I selected a tent-like outfit designed to conceal my various bulges, and brought my camera to ensure that no one else would be allowed to take pictures of me.

On our way in, we saw Mrs. Claus ascending the steps into the country club.  I immediately dubbed her Grandma Claus, because she was extremely rickety and her climbing stairs necessitated much assistance and made me quite nervous.  She was wearing a red fur-trimmed dress and what looked like a Dickens-era sleeping cap.  There was no sign of the Claus himself.

We were seated, as my husband said, in the lower forty, at least eight miles from the buffet itself.  Apparently we do not rate.  We spotted a family who was ensconced between two partitions, and we decided they must be terribly important to merit such concealment.  We walked the acre to the buffet and inspected it.  Kevin and I are both on Atkins diet (he doesn’t need it and it is working perfectly for him, I need it desperately and I am not losing a damn thing), so we were scoping out the breakfast eggs and meat.

Kevin loaded a plate for Amanda, with a pancake and some green beans (what a combo) and then we turned to filling our own two plates.  Atkins equals heart attack on a plate.  I had scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and ham.  Kevin had the same plus a fried chicken leg, which he was picking the breading off of.  Kevin has taught our daughter the awful habit of putting ketchup on her eggs, which to me is terribly blue collar and says, “I grew up in a trailer.”  Of course, he did grow up in a trailer so I guess I shouldn’t act surprised.  He has come a long way from his roots, but the table manners still persist.  As a parting shot, he shoveled ice cubes out of his glass and onto his plate because his tea was “too cold.”  He then made a gangplank out of his spoon and grinned triumphantly at me.  The bad table manner trifecta.  I shouldn’t go on about it so much but I was raised by June Cleaver with fangs, and such things were simply not allowed at our table at home.

After we ate it was time for crafts and pictures with Santa.  Of course, Amanda had already messed her hair up somehow, and half of it was lying on the wrong side of her part.  It would be interesting to have one of those pristine children whose hair bows and ringlets are always tidy and untouched, but it’s not going to happen.  Amanda is too busy to be bothered with such things, and rightly so.  Kevin wanted to fix her hair for the Santa pictures, but I told him we might as well get her the way she really looks.

Every year, they have a craft table left out for the kids.  This year you could glue sequins and buttons onto a foam Christmas tree, scratch black off an angel to uncover rainbow colors underneath, or fill a red and white heart with a drawing of one’s interpretation of the season.  Kevin insisted on regluing all of Amanda’s buttons onto her tree, on the grounds that she hadn’t put on enough glue and they were all going to fall off.  The lady behind the table suggested that perhaps he might like to take home a tree for himself, since he obviously had such an urge to craft.  I happen to know that his urge to craft is nil.  His urge for ideal solutions and perfection is, however, insurmountable.

A few people recognized me as a local ob/gyn and questioned me about some changes that are being implented in town with regards to our venues for baby delivery.  Or should I say, venue, as we are unfortunately consolidating all deliveries into one location.  The town is not pleased.  I was informed that I had delivered Amy So-and-So’s baby, whom of course I did not remember (the baby or the Amy in question).  I made polite small talk and tried not to notice how skinny the ladies all around me were.

It was raining and Kevin went and got the van to pick us up.  Amanda had gotten a candy cane from Santa and was swinging it around her fingers to ensure that it fall to the floor and be broken in as many places as possible.  She succeeded in her mission.  She then wanted to eat the candy cane “since it was broken anyway.”  Nice try.  We loaded up into the van with the sticky glued tree, a paper plate with an angel on it, and a fractured candy cane.  We were all full of eggs and Meat.  Christmas brunch was over for another year.

Elf On The Shelf

Elf on a Ceiling Fan

What a beautiful day.  Even though I’m on call this weekend, the weather is absolutely stunning – sunny and 66 degrees!  Good old Alabama.  Since it was so warm and lovely today, and I’m not too busy on call, I ran a bunch of errands.  The hubby and daughter have gone to Washington DC this weekend for a conference – it’s a good bit chillier up there.  I stopped by Verizon to see if they could figure out why my phone is spazzing out, the grocery store to get tons of new stuff for the Atkin’s diet the hubby and I are on, and to Books a Million to get an Elf on a Shelf for my daughter.  She has already deputized my Anne Geddes Santa baby to be her elf, but when she saw the sameness of the ones the other kids brought to school, she longed for a “real” one herself.  I had never intended to get her one of those elf-things; it requires way too much time to come up with stunts for the elf to do when I can barely get myself ready for work most days.  However, I bought the dang elf and hung it off the ceiling fan with three coat hangers.

When did this Elf on a Shelf thing start?  They definitely had no such thing when I was a kid.  In a way, they are a useful tradition – if your child is misbehaving you can just point menacingly at the elf and remind them that the elf will be reporting back to Santa.  Each night, you’re supposed to move the elf to somewhere creative while your child is sleeping.  I have had friends who scattered flour on the kitchen floor to make “elf-angels”, friends who have put the elves in the freezer because they miss the North Pole, and folks who have made the elf ride the family pet.  The story is, the elf goes back to the North Pole and reports on the child’s “goodness” to Santa.  Then it returns and gets up to some mischief in the house.  I saw a hilarious picture on Facebook – someone had pulled an “adult elf” move and placed the elf on the back seat of the toilet, dumping half a pack of birth control pills into the water.  I guess I will have to see what I can come up with for this elf thing – my daughter specifically asked Santa for a real one.  So we have one.  There you have it.

How many of you have elves for your children?  Can you share some elf mischief with me so I can borrow ideas?  I’m not sure I can come up with something new every day.  If I were a stay-at-home mom, like I wish I were, I would have more time to come up with ideas.  But I’ll do the best I can with the lazy little elf I have.  Maybe we can swap elf stories.

Christmas Cheer

Upstairs Christmas Tree

Upstairs Christmas Tree

Doesn’t it seem like we just put those Christmas decorations away?  Some of us (who may or may not have put them away in September) surely do feel that that Christmas stuff just got all dragged up to the attic, and now its time to drag it down again.  This feeling of deja vu becomes more and more pronounced as we get older, and this year, I swear I’m just going to leave all that stuff up instead of packing it up and getting it down a few days later.

Oh, the joys of Christmas.  The attic contains spiders, and dust, and a few mice.  There are regiments of sealed boxes of Christmas decorations, each labelled, or red and green in color, or both, to help us decide which piles of crap to carry downstairs.  We are winded, carrying some boxes down one flight of stairs, and some boxes down two.  Kevin insists that we wipe the top of each box with a wet rag to keep the dust down.  The Christmas trees are in pieces in the garage.  We struck a Faustian deal, Kevin and I.  I insisted that real trees were the only way to go.  He insisted that fake trees are the only way to go.  I wanted two trees, one for the front sitting room and one for the upstairs sitting room (now taken over by Amanda’s millions of fake plastic toys).  We made an agreement:  I could have two trees if we got fake ones.  So I agreed to the fakes, and he agreed to two trees, and now, by God, every year we have two trees to put up.

Amanda loves the idea of decorating.  Most years, she putzes around, puts a couple ornaments on the tree, drops a couple of glass things, throws some icicles on the floor, and calls it a day.  She was a little more helpful this year although she had some weird requests.  She wanted to keep a single bird ornament away from the others and off the tree and name it “Red Ball”.  I don’t know.  She decided my Anne Geddes Santa baby had morphed into her Elf on a Shelf, and I think her dad is egging her on, because damn if the thing didn’t move from the bottom of her bed to her pillow.  She was amazed.  She had just run off in a huff because I told her that all the icicles on the bottom of the tree was NOT a good look and we were going to have to do something about it.  She came running back down, in a fantastic mood, because the “elf” (read Anne Geddes Santa baby) had moved across her room.  Well, at least I didn’t have to suck up to her about hurting her feelings.  I really didn’t mean to.  I just thought having all the icicles on the bottom of the tree was a really bad idea, and I was put out with her for pulling them all off the top. 

The rest of the house has to be decorated as well.  We have a sleigh with reindeer and a sleigh fairy for the dining room table, which first had to be divested of all the crap that resides on that table:  Amanda’s homework and art projects and my art projects and spare paper and pens and Sharpies.  There is very little room for food.  We got the sleighs up, though, and the heavy apple and pinecone garlands put up above the fireplace mantels.  Then it was time to weave the fir garland around and around and around the stair rails up two flights of stairs.  When we get some Christmas cards to put up, we will stick them with poster stickum on the part of the curving stairwell that we can reach. 

Daddy’s job is to assemble the trees and put up the outside lights.  Other than that, he is not very festive, plugging away on his computer while Amanda and I decorate.  He did play us some Christmas music while we worked today.  He has not put up the outside lights yet, and I will have to nag ask him later to bring the ladder outside and put them up.  That is not the fun part. 

We have festive holiday towels in the kitchen, and pot holders, and candles, and little ringy things for the doors, and bells, and tons of hideous Christmas ornaments that Amanda has made over the years.  She has her own small Christmas tree in her room; this year I decked it out with fifty lights and she hung her ornaments on it.  I do miss having the dogs around at Christmas, as one was killed by a coyote in our yard and the other had to be sent away with doggie PTSD.  Before we had a child, I had Santa outfits for the dogs (sickening, yes, I know) and enjoyed them sniffing around the tree and gifts.

So the joy of the Christmas season is upon us, and we are beset with ornaments and decorations and trees from the years of yore.  We got most everything up over the weekend, and it will stay there until New Year’s.  I was just kidding about the September part.  It just feels that way.

The “C” Word

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  You’re letting your minds run amok in the gutter, and you figure I’m an obstetrician, so you think you know what the “c” word is.  But, you’re wrong!  The “c” word is actually something much more devious:  Christmas.  I keep track every year of the first time someone lets the “c” word slip – it usually happens around August and causes me spasms of revulsion.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the idea behind Christmas.  I love the meaning of Christmas.  But I hate what Christmas has BECOME.  The fact that it must be mentioned in August when it happens in December says it all.  Every year the stores put up the Christmas stuff earlier.  Hobby Lobby and The Cracker Barrell had their stuff up already in August.  You can’t even buy Halloween stuff (a month in advance) because all that CHRISTMAS stuff is taking up all the space.  I hate that Christmas has STUFF.  There is more stuff, and more knicknacks and more junk to collect for Christmas than is rationally possible.

I loved Christmas as a child.  All children do.  I loved the rituals:  the decorating of the tree, the making of Christmas cookies, the Advent calendar, and the annual cheeseball.  (Yes, cheeseball.  I made one every year as a kid with my grandmother until she was gone and now my daughter makes them with my mom).  I loved the AVARICE and the GREED and the anticipation of MORE STUFF.  I was always so excited on Christmas Eve that I hardly slept at all.  Then I would wake up at four AM and want to open gifts.  I would be allowed to investigate my stocking in the interest of peace and a little more sleep for my parents, and I would have crammed my face with chocolate before the sun even came up.  So of course I loved Christmas. 

I loved it not so much when I reached adulthood.  Bear in mind, I did not get married until I was thirty five and did not have my child until I was thirty seven so nearly twenty years were spent waiting for Christmas with a family that just didn’t exist.  I still had Christmas with my folks every year, either with or without whatever guy I was dating at the time, but it just wasn’t the same.  There was no Santa Claus.  And the responsibility fell on me to decorate and make whatever apartment I was living in feel festive.  And I had to go out and buy presents for everyone.  And I learned that the only time I really do NOT love shopping is at Christmas.  All those crowds.  All those pushy people.  All those ringing bells.  All that desperation to find the perfect gift for each person on your list.  That for me was misery.  And there was little joy.  The greed of the season and the anxiety of the merchants to SELL, SELL overshadowed any deeper meaning that Christmas might hold.  I didn’t want or need anything, or I would have already bought it.  My family didn’t want or need anything or THEY would have bought it.  The whole buying and selling and marketing and decorating thing just shut me down.

I thought I would enjoy Christmas again when I had a child of my own.  That was true for about four years.  The first Christmas was enjoyable from a cuteness standpoint; many elfen pictures and cunning pictures of wrapping paper being eaten were taken.  Year one was still pretty clueless.  Things got a little more magical at age two, three and four.  At that age, Santa was a given and our daughter wasn’t old enough to understand the greed factor yet.  However, things began to slide downhill quickly after that.  In kindergarten, my daughter had a first grader help her make a list of Christmas wants.  It was endless and included “a Nintendo DS – pink”, and “a thousand dollars.”  I think these were more the wishes of the assisting first grader, but it was obviously the beginning of ridiculous greed.  The next year, my daughter visited her cousin and her Christmas list consisted of every toy her cousin owned.  Ridiculous.  And of course she didn’t play with a single one of them for more than a day or two.  This last year, the list was incredibly specific and all goods were material and fashionable.  She doesn’t even believe in Santa Claus any more.  She’s only seven.  So the joy of Christmas has again been reduced to greed.  My parents and I have an agreement just not to buy each other presents – we don’t need anything.  My husband and I play at exchanging gifts, but again there’s that “If I wanted it I would have already bought it” thing.  So now I just acquire more decorations for the house,  because the common knowledge is that where Christmas is concerned, more stuff is always better. 

Next year, I swear we’re just going to attend a Christmas mass, and buy gifts from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  And maybe I’ll get enjoyment out of Christmas again when I have grandchildren.  If nothing else, we’ll make a cheeseball.

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