Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas the Night After Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas albums (now converted to a CD because who has a turntable anymore?) is by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and it was one of the annual albums put out by Firestone. I think my parents got these free each year when they put snow tires on. Speaking of which, remember the days when people still put snow tires on in the winter? (We still do that out here and they're actually on more months of the year than our summer tires. But I digress)

So, back to Fred Waring from Firestone.

Side 1 is the "fun" side and has great versions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The last song is 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (in fact, it's the name of the album), but it has a little add-on that always made me a little melancholy when I would hear it because it kind of sums up the end of Christmas. When you're a kid, you aren't about the anticipation of Christmas (not like now, when I'm old. Er.). You just want Christmas to GET HERE NOW.

So the add-on to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas on the Fred Waring album goes like this:

'Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The presents are scattered and broken I fear, and St. Nicholas won't come again for a year.

The children are nestled all snug in their wee little beds, while memories of sugar plums dance in their wee little heads.

Mama in her kerchief, papa in his cap, are settled at last, for a long winter's nap.

We actually had a great day after Christmas. We had discussed going skiing, but when this morning rolled around, I felt very unmotivated. It wouldn't have been hard at all to convince me to stay home.

Fortunately, Eamonn was more motivated and we had a great day out in the fresh air--which we badly needed!

Finn had his first day with poles (you don't typically ski with poles until you reach a certain level) so he was pretty excited. Or so it seemed when I was following him down the mountain with his WOOOO HOOOOs flying over his shoulder.

I could be mistaken.

Now I'm bingeing on leftovers and watching White Christmas.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

So the screensaver on my computer is anything in my "My Pictures" folder on my computer. Sometimes I'll see something hideous flash up, like pictures I've taken of myself to document starting an exercise routine, but mostly they're sweet and make me want to sit down and watch the slide show all day.

I rarely have time to do that.

But tonight, I bring you some of my favorite pictures of Christmases over the years.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.









Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are You Holipausal?

So yesterday, Tara and I coined (at least I think we're the first to come up with it--I should Google it) a new phrase for how women feel at the holidays: holipausal.

I felt holipausal last year: rushed, stessed, not able to slow down and enjoy the season. This year, I'm holding steady, which I attribute to getting the shopping and wrapping finished last week, leaving this week open to lying around and complaining about the rain (more about that later).

The term holipausal came about when Tara was telling me about a meltdown she had over the Christmas tree, which they did not have, could not find, and her husband was talking about waiting until the day before Christmas Eve to get. I'll spare you the gory details, but, as anyone would assume when a woman has a meltdown, I asked Tara if she had PMS. She said, "No, unfortunately, because that would be the best way to explain away everything!"

So if you're not premenstrual, menstrual or postmenstrual, and you're still having a holiday meltdown, you must be holipausal.

Or we're just psycho. Take your pick.

Like I said, everything here is ready for Santa, but two things are causing me angst:

1. The weather. It is raining. RAINING, people. For days. This is why I left Ohio--38 degrees and RAINING. Ironically, Ohio is having a white Christmas, while here, for the first time in decades, it is Christmas week and there is not a lick of snow on the ground at our elevation and none is forecast to be. The resorts have plenty, which is important, but here? Nothing. All of our traditional outdoor Christmas activities have gone awry. No snowshoeing. No sledding. It hasn't even been cold enough to freeze the ice for the town park rink. We could go skiing, of course, but we'd wait in the rain in the parking lot for the shuttle. I do not feel compelled to make "waiting in the rain to ski" one of our new Christmas traditions. For the first few weeks of December, Declan complained and complained that we didn't have snow. "Just wait," I assured him. "Our snow will come." Apparently, I am a huge liar.

2. My Dad called to say that he had shipped the boys' presents and they would likely arrive at the post office late this week. We have no mail delivery in our town, which means everyone has to pick up their mail and packages at the post office. Hence, even at the best of times, the post office is a nightmare. The very thought of having to go to the post office is making me feel faint.

Or maybe I'm just going through holipause.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baking is Exhausting

My Mom is here! Last night, Tara and Garvin came over and spent the night. After the kids went to bed, we stayed up late eating popcorn and watched an English murder mystery. It did take place at Christmas so I think it qualifies as a holiday movie.

Anyway, we baked Christmas cookies all day today and at this point, I can barely keep my eyes open. Apparently I forget from year that baking requires effort. Put half of your attention on the Little House on the Prairie Christmas episode, It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas and fuggedaboutit. It'll sap all of your strength.

The boys decorated their gingerbread houses:

Then we watched an Andy Williams Christmas Show retrospective and now I'm a little depressed because it is clear to me that I will probably not meet Andy Williams before I die. Or he dies. Whichever comes first. Either way, he is clearly not out there pining away because he hasn't met his biggest fan.

I'm trying to come to grips with this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Facebook Friends Die

I know that sounds like I'm being all dramatic and writing a post like, "When Animals Attack," or "When Good Pets Go Bad," and all that, but Facebook brings a whole new element to the grieving process.

Last Sunday, a high school classmate and Facebook friend was killed in a car accident on a bridge/road that I have driven many a time back in Ohio. I could picture exactly where the accident happened.

Sue was someone I knew in high school, but not super well. She was really, really nice. Sweet even. Our younger sisters were in the same grade and were very good friends. She was one of the very first people to friend me on Facebook. I enjoyed reading her status updates about her family--her husband and two kids. One of her last posts was last week and was about how she and her husband were taking the day off to go Christmas shopping and spend the day together. I gathered he worked a late shift type of job and they didn't always get to spend the time together that they wanted to.

So when I received an e-mail from another classmate and mutual Facebook friend that Sue had died, I had one of those jaw dropping moments.

And here's the weird thing. Other than class reunions and until Facebook, I've had no contact with Sue since 1986. But Facebook puts a whole new element to relationships, doesn't it? I'm not sorry. I'm glad I had these last two years to "get to know" Sue all over again through Facebook, to read about and be a part of her life, even if it was from afar.

I do think about the fact that if not for Facebook, when I heard this news, probably long after her passing, I would have been saddened, but not so affected as I have been. No way! I was just reading about her plans the other day, was my immediate reaction. I probably re-read that message 10 times before it started to sink in. No. Way.

And I'm also Facebook friends with Sue's sister. Her post about Sue's death, about wondering how she would learn to live without Sue, nearly broke my heart. Let alone thinking about Sue's kids, who were in the car with her and knew she had died upon impact. Can you imagine? It's impossible not to think about it...

So, I'm sad. I don't like it that I'm sad. But for as much fun as people make of Facebook, I'm so grateful that it brought me into a very special person's world again, even if it was just for a little while.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've Got Christmas Spirit--Yes, I Do!

Remember last year, after the holidays, when I said I was going to start celebrating Christmas right after Halloween this year so I wasn't so frazzled and would have more time to enjoy it?

At least I think I said that. If I didn't say it, I thought it.

Anyway, I'm totally on track. For a change.

I wanted to see if I could have a non-frazzled holiday season, and so far, so good. We got out the Christmas decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving, which I have long made fun of Marci for doing. I am now one of THOSE people who decorates for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

Yet another reminder to never say never.

In the end, the early decorating worked out fine, even though it stretched over about five days because we were in the middle of a hockey tournament that weekend.

Eamonn surprised us by hanging outside lights while we were in Utah. And we got our tree last weekend and decorated it on my birthday (which I totally remember doing when I was younger).

I haven't done any baking and I realized I'm a little behind on my gift buying, but I find myself unflapped by it all this year. I. Will. Not. Panic. and ruin my Christmas Spirit.

Yesterday, I was in the post office (that did almost flap me--we have the worst post office in the world here) and I heard two women talking about how frazzled they were already this holiday season. And it really reaffirmed my resolve to Keep It Simple. To focus on what's important to me, which is being at home, slowing down, enjoying this time.

Besides, I just wrote an article for a client about trying to help kids focus on traditions and giving, so that helped.

This morning, Declan was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open. He was crabby. In my normal mode I would tell him to snap out of it. Remind him that he chooses to do hockey and that means a few late nights a week and we would be going to bed at 7:00pm tonight if he didn't shape up. Instead, I put on my Nice Mom Hat (I had to dig around for it. Clearly, I hadn't worn it in awhile.) and said I was planning something special for after school. As a result, he went out the door with a smile and an air of anticipation.

I am Super Christmas Mom.

For 3.2 seconds anyway.

So the something special was an afternoon just for us. No friends over, no sports practices, no electronics (me included!). Instead, we had some hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, Christmas music playing, and Hannah's Reindeer cookies:

How cute are these?

And then I made them watch two hours of Little House on the Prairie Christmas episodes.

Just kidding.


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to finish listening to my English murder mystery on my iPod. And if that thought doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, I don't know what will.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Looking for Bear Grylls

We didn't find him, in case you were wondering, which is too bad because he's kind of cute and rugged and all that and I fully expected him to be wondering around in the wild.

But, we did find a pretty darn good Christmas tree out in the wild.

We're pretty sure this is one of the trees we eyeballed last year and determined it wasn't big enough. This year, it passed muster. I'm sure it was thrilled.

Come on, boys! Put your back into it! This is why we had kids. Child labor.

Giving new meaning to the word TIMBER!

There was a lot of snow out there. A Lot. Which was kind of surprising because there was barely any snow at our house. In fact, we tried to drive to where we got our tree last year, to no avail. Too much snow.

We hiked through snow that ranged from barely ground cover to thigh deep. It was a pretty good workout. Especially the part where I watched Eamonn drag the tree about a mile and a half back to the car. It was exhausting to watch.

For some reason, the snow never looks as deep in photos. I swear, it was really deep. Like, I couldn't walk very well deep.

This is where we parked last year. We couldn't even get close to driving in this far this year.

Eamonn, forever our Sherpa, was hauling the tree back to the car, and more than once I saw him suddenly drop several feet into some sort of deep snow situation. That was kind of exciting. He's kind of cute and rugged when he's hauling a tree.

Again, it doesn't translate well to pictures. Half his body vanished, people, I'm telling you.

Enjoying some hot chocolate back at the car.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Do I Ruin My Children's Lives? Let Me Count the Ways.

As a mother, I am out to make my children's lives as miserable as possible.

Of course I am. Who isn't? And why wouldn't I? It's such fun.

I'm kidding.

Sort of.

I do try to say yes to my kids when it's feasible. Or even when it isn't sometimes. It's fun to see them be happy about the unexpected opportunity to eat pie for breakfast or watch a movie on a school night.

However, they never seem to remember these unexpected bonuses when I'm ruining their lives in other ways.

Case in point: Last weekend when we were in Utah, the boys and all of Erin's kids set up a restaurant in the playroom. Very cute and creative. Except that they wanted to cook actual food and serve it to us and eat it down there themselves.

There were a few problems with this scenario. First, none of them really know how to cook and they seemed disinclined to have us be present in the kitchen while food was prepared. Second, Erin and her family are only living in this house temporarily--it's actually for sale and has recently been renovated. Renovated as in new carpet, paint, tile, etc. Renovated as in is it really wise for seven kids to be carrying/consuming food on various levels in this house with new paint and carpet?

No, not wise at all.

You would have thought we'd just told the kids we were enslaving them at a work camp in Siberia.

Drama. I felt bad because of all of their hard work making menus and setting up the restaurant, but it just didn't make sense. And it didn't help that the last time we visited and they still lived at the "old" house, the kids did this exact same thing and we did let them make food and bring it downstairs to the "restaurant."

Other ways I have failed my children in the not to distant past: forgetting to wash an item of clothing I said I would wash; saying we would do something and then having to go back on my word; forgetting to give allowances; not sitting down to play cards while I was trying to work; not allowing candy for breakfast.

It goes on.

Ad nauseum.