I am proud (or embarrassed) to present the final installment of the Holiday Season Series. So sit back, drop your pants, tighten that belt around your neck one more notch and try not to lose conciousness before you “finish”.
Ah Christmas, the culmination of a long journey that is the holiday season. Complete with enough glitz and glam to impress even little bearded baby Jesus, who just happens to share a fake birthday with our favorite day to celebrate capitalism. It’s funny really when you take a step back and look at how we have bastardized what was once a holy day to many. Frankincense and Myrrh have been replaced with PS3 & iPad. Saint Nicholas is now a fat ass cookie-gobbling home invader, and the traditional nativity scene now comes with Yoda as the baby Jesus. But hey, at least we are winning the war on terror… Suck on that Bin Ladin! However, I admit that I, too am to blame for the capitalization of Christmas, but screw it, I like blinky lights and boxes wrapped with shiny paper just as much as the next guy, which brings us to Christmas and my family.
I have purposely waited 2 months to publish this entry because it has taken this long to recover. I still shutter at the mere thought of a Christmas tree. Once upon a time Christmas could quite possibly have been my most favorite time of year. My folks were blessed with the good fortune to be able to afford to buy my sister and me pretty much anything we asked for, and believe me, we asked for a lot. I think at one time I had enough G.I. Joe paraphernalia to invade a small country and my sister had a enough Barbie dolls to recreate Hugh Hefner’s wildest Playboy Mansion shindig…that is until we turned all of those plastic bitches into Pope-shredding Sinead O’Connor doppelgangers! It’s safe to say that my sis and I loved us some Christmas.
Fast forward from prepubescent, kung fu grip-enthusiast to 37 years old, married with kids. Now I am getting a glimpse behind the shimmering, happy happy-joy joy facade that is Christmas and I don’t like what I see. I used to look under the ole Christmas tree and I was instantly transformed into a present-hoarding Gollum, or Smeagolif you prefer…my precious…Now when I look under that same tree I see boxes wrapped in my money and an ever-worsening toy infestation problem in our home.
I don’t know how my folks did it. It seems like my sis and I had a ton of toys and somehow my folks managed to keep the toys from taking over their home. I can’t walk through my house now without stepping on a Zooble (WTF is a Zooble??), or having to clear the furniture of stuffed animals and books just to sit down. In fact, we once had a guest room in our house that is now overrun with Elmo and his gang of Asian-made marauders. And this Christmas is no exception.
Since Francine, our Elf on The Shelf, came to live with us a couple of years ago, we have ceased to travel for Christmas. The original thought of setting up the Santa crime scene was endearing…until we realized that “some assembly required” means that you will spend endless hours putting together toys that your kids will play with for about an hour on Christmas morning. Those same toys are never to be seen again once they are shuttled off to the confines of Elmo’s World…er the playroom. Still, with the dexterity of South American sweat shop workers we assemble toy after toy. We are about half-way through a handle of Crown when I notice that the decals are going on a bit crooked, but screw it, we are on a mission and we will not be delayed by drunken decal-ing! It is about midnight and I am putting the finishing touches on Lil B’s new basketball goal when in walks a groggy M. We just freeze like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar (who the hell has an actual cookie jar?). The wife suddenly breaks herself from the Crown-induced haze and shields M’s eyes from the harsh reality as she whisks her back to her bed.
Amazingly, M has no recollection of waking up that night and is fully surprised on Christmas morning…thank you Rohypnol!- (When simply being an irresponsible parent just isn’t enough)
Christmas morning goes as expected, or at least my hangover-hazed memory tells me that it did. M walks into the room calm and collected. She makes her way through the maze of toys that “Santa” painstakingly set up and she is silently taking inventory. The first thing from her mouth is not, “YAY!” or screams of delight. No, M remembers exactly everything that she asked for and she is mentally scratching each item from the list as she makes her way around the tree. Upon completion of her rounds, she simply looks at us with a sad little face and says, ” I didn’t get the Zhu Zhu Palace”…(WTF is a Zhu Zhu??)
To add to our toy prison overcrowding problems, our kids just happen to have some of the best grandparents in the world. With the undying love of grandparents comes…you guessed it, boxes and boxes of toys arriving almost daily throughout the month of December. My neighbors must think that our house is acting as an overflow distribution center for FedEx. It got so “bad” this year that if there was no box on our porch when we went to check the mail, that my greedy kids thought something was wrong. The toy situation is so bad that we have to cull through the post unwrapping carnage and sneak as many of the toys away as we can to be hidden away and used for bribes during the coming year. (I highly suggest this if you have the room to hide more toys)
Despite the fact that we are prime candidates to make an appearance on Hoarders, this Christmas goes off with little incident. We are thankful and lucky to have such great grandparents and an Elf on the Shelf that knows how to regulate. I am starting to feel the stress of the holidays melt away as we edge ever closer to spring. In fact, I am already making a list of toys to get the kids next Christmas. Actually, my list is not toys, but rather a list of those to be executed. Three guesses as to what bearded, fat-bellied bastard is at the top of that list.
Ahh the holiday season. The weather is crisp (usually). Football is in high gear. The aroma of fattening treats fills the air. Francine, our Elf On The Shelf, makes his annual pilgrimage from the North Pole to play a month-long game of cat and mouse with our children. Described in this manner, the holidays sound like a fun, stress-free time with Santa, Frosty, and the gang. However most of you already know how cruel the holidays can be at times. Here are a few super happy fun holiday tales from my family. Hopefully, I have not pulled the trigger to the shotgun in my mouth by the time you have finished reading…
Holiday Decorating: Other than the actual putting up and taking down of holiday decorations, I do not mind a little festive decor. I rather enjoy seeing the lights that adorn the neighborhood homes and businesses. This being said, try decorating a Christmas tree with a 4-year old and a 16-month old. I drag the decorations in from the garage one excruciating box at a time. Meanwhile the wife and kiddos destroy the den unpacking the boxes. Despite the mess, the initial setup of our tree looks normal. Within 3 hours of hanging the ornaments the bottom two feet of the tree are as bare as the tree had been in the woods…before it was sacrificed in the name of baby santa jesus. We must have collected the wayward ornaments from around the house and replaced them only two or three times, when we succumbed to having a bottomless tree this year.
Francine: Let me start by singing high praise to Carol Aebersold and Chandra Bell, the creators of the Elf on the Shelf. Without our little Francine, the holiday season headaches would be ten fold. The relief that comes along with threatening your child with no Christmas if they misbehave is truly a gift in itself. I cannot tell you the joy that I feel when M acts up and I get to use the F word (Francine) to put her back in check. Ahh the delightful sounds of M fanatically crying, “NO! NO! NO!” as I pretend to call Francine on my cell (yes, he is sitting right on the shelf in front of me, but the phone adds a dramatic flare). However, I am not sure what the long-term side effects of using the EOTS might be. We have noticed M having a conversation with Francine on multiple occasions. I am talking full-blown two-way conversation. I just hope that she is not actually hearing Francine talk back to her or we will have a schizophrenic on our shelf.
Toy Assembly: Is there any activity in the world that is more painful than assembling toys on Christmas Eve? I almost wish that fat ass Santa was real so that he and his fairy posse could fight through toy assembly while I watch internet porn, er I mean bake Christmas cookies for homeless kids. This year we are tabbed with the assembly of the Barbie Dream House. This “toy” is almost large enough to house Lil B and as you might have guessed, it comes in 4000 pieces. Approximately 2 hours and 2/3 of a bottle of Crown Royal are down when we place the finishing touches on Barbie’s new crib. All the work (and hangover) was worth it to see M’s face Christmas morning, and more importantly to see Lil B doing his best Godzilla as he destroys Barbieville. He is eerily reminiscent of the giant marshmallow man on Ghostbusters…
Christmas Light Viewing: One of my favorite childhood memories of the holidays is when we all piled into the family truckster and headed out to Bishop Hills or Southwest Park to look at the Christmas lights. We mention seeing lights with M in an area of Plano that is known for its Christmas light display and naturally, she seems excited so we plan the event. We shuffle dinner around so that we are eating along with the Senior Citizens, we bathe the kids in the speedy dual bath, slap some PJ’s on them and then just as darkness falls, we are off to see some lights. A quick stop at Starbucks for mom and dad suddenly turns ugly when they inform us that they are out of Pumpkin Spice. Mom had to be subdued by a chop to the throat while I order us a peppermint mocha in place of our normal latte. This is not good and should be taken as a sign of things to come. As you can imagine, the traffic flowing through a neighborhood that is well-known for its light display is similar to rush hour traffic. Once you enter the subdivision, you don’t leave until the subdivision is says you can leave. We take our place in the car line and crawl down the first street filled with lights. I am unimpressed, but holding faith that the good stuff is further back in the maze of overpriced houses. Apparently M is unimpressed as well. Approximately 3 houses in she wants to go home and does not stop whining until we pull out of that subdivision some 30 minutes later. Lil B enjoys the lights so much that he instantly falls asleep. I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the “famous” display and Bishop Hills sounds pretty good right about now.
This & That: Lil B has officially entered the biting stage. He shows no pattern for how he selects his victims and certainly shows no remorse. Mark my words, if that little punk bites me again he is going to be looking like Sloth from the Goonies when I finish with him.
M & Lil B are starting to play together and this is such a wonderful time. We are trying to soak it in before the fighting begins and the years of tattling and brawling ensue. Speaking of playing, Lil B is quite the Barbie fan. He particularly enjoys Ken in his sleeveless tuxedo…pink tuxedo…I am thinking that if Ken were real, he would look more like Perez Hilton…
For any of you guys out there that are looking to escape the fam for just a bit from time to time, I have a solution for you. Install an outdoor TV. I have done this and it is quite possibly my greatest accomplishment (other than the creation of the two kids…which led to the outdoor escape TV…hmm). Seriously, if your patio accommodates, get the escape TV or forever risk your sanity.