Christmas Eve . . . the countdown begins . . .

So it’s one day before C-Day and, for the most part, I’m ready. Still have a bunch of wrapping to do, but not an overwhelming amount. Everything will get done and, hopefully, the kiddos will have a good Christmas.

My kids are a constant source of . . . not sure what to call it. Entertainment? Amusement? Inspiration? Take, for example, what happened a few mornings ago. My daughter and I were getting ready for the day. Suddenly, she cries out that I needed to come up to her bedroom. She was scared of something that was in her closet. Upon further inspection, we found the culprit – a tie-dyed former pillow case that had been made into an Indian costume for the Thanksgiving program at her school. Apparently, part of the tie-dye pattern looked like a skeleton’s head.

I didn’t want to mock her for her fears. I remember very well what it was like to be irrationally afraid of simple things. When I was small, there was a book about a house that had been abandoned and boarded up. The house had a face on it – the windows were eyes, the door was a mouth, etc. – and the illustrations made it look both sad and slightly angry at the same time. I kept thinking that this house was going to come after me. I couldn’t keep that book in my room and for several days, I needed to sleep with my bedroom door open so that I could see my dad down the hall, sitting in his recliner watching television. Nothing bad could happen as long as I could see my dad, right?

I remember that my mom never got irritated with me, even though it must have been frustrating. After all, how could this cartoonish, boarded-up house be scary? How could it possibly come after me? There was no explanation for it – I was just terrified. My mom was completely understanding and did whatever I needed to get over my fear.

My daughter’s costume is now packed away and, hopefully, my daughter won’t have to worry about skeletons in her closet until she’s much older.


Holiday To-Do List

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of lists, especially to-do lists. Keeping track of what needs to be done, checking off things, watching the list get smaller – it’s just one little thing that helps keep me sane. Well, sane-ish. So here’s what I’ve done so far:

1. Finish Christmas shopping . . . . . DONE!

I finished on Sunday, with the exception being the one item that was going to go in my husband’s Christmas stocking that may or may not arrive before Christmas. Oh well. It’s out of my hands at this point. Moving on.

2. Build and decorate gingerbread house with the kids . . . . . DONE!

Technically, I cheated on this one since I didn’t actually build the gingerbread house. We found one that was pre-built and we brought it home to decorate. The kids have been asking to do a gingerbread house this year and, after last year’s sad, sad attempt, I wasn’t all that inclined to say yes. The main problem last year was that, despite the instructions assuring me that the icing was sticky enough to hold the thing together, the thing would not hold together. As soon as I moved on to the next piece, the first piece was falling off or the roof was sliding down. It was not fun. Having a pre-built house alleviated that stress and, really, the most fun is in the decorating anyway. The kids did a really good job, too! Now it can sit proudly atop our microwave for several months, like the last one did, until either my husband or I feel like it’s been long enough that the kids won’t notice that we’ve thrown it away.

Isn’t it pretty!

3. Get ready for my office’s Secret Santa week . . . . . DONE!

Yes, this should fall under getting my Christmas shopping done, except that I’ve been really worried about this. Our office does a Secret Santa drawing every year and, this year, I got the new girl. I don’t really know much about her, except that she has a new puppy and that she’s really nice. So I just have to try and guess. Still, I hope she likes the things I found for her. I tried to find some nice things that had generic appeal without looking like I didn’t put any thought into it.

4. Finish the “Plot” chapter in Truby’s The Anatomy of Story . . . . . erm, not quite.

I have started it, though. I think I have resigned myself to the fact that very little writing is going to get done between now and Christmas. The kids are so hyped up, it is almost impossible to think around here. I will have some down time the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so I plan on getting a lot done then. It’s so hard to find the time when you have kids and a husband and a house, not to mention a stressful full-time job. I also recognize that this is a very convenient excuse that I let myself take advantage of. It’s something I’m going to work on in 2012.


Five Favorite Things – Holiday Edition

It occurred to me today that it is only 17 days until Christmas. A little over two weeks. WHERE DID THE TIME GO!?!?!?

Probably the same place socks disappear, but I digress.

It’s getting to be crunch time and I have bought a grand total of one gift. For my husband. And it’s pretty much a gag gift, because I’m almost positive he won’t use it, but at least it will make him laugh. So far, the kids aren’t even going to have coal in their stockings, because I don’t even have coal! In lieu of panicking, however, I will instead share with you five of my favorite Christmas things.

1). Icicle Lights

You’ve seen them on houses everywhere this time of year. I remember when they first came out several years ago. I thought they were the prettiest lights I have ever seen and swore that when I had a house of my own, I would put them up. Well, this year I made good on that promise. With the (reluctant) help of my hubby, our house is now looking quite festive. We also decided to add some colored lights on the porch and some lights in the bushes as well.


2). A Christmas Carol

Who can help but love Charles Dickens’ classic story about finding the true meaning of Christmas? I have to admit, I am a sucker for this one. I love all the different versions out there, although I have to admit The Muppet Christmas Carol is probably my favorite. What can I say – Christmastime makes me feel like a kid again! How can you not look at Kermit the Frog and not smile? I challenge you to do it!


3). Straight No Chaser

My mother introduced me to these guys last Christmas and I have to say, they are a hoot! An group out of Indiana University, they have two Christmas albums out (and a new one coming out this year, I think), plus a video. They are all over YouTube, but here’s their version of the 12 Days of Christmas.


4). Cinnamon

Whether its candles or baked goods, you can’t escape the smell of cinnamon this time of year. One of my favorite scents.


5). Mannheim Steamroller’s “Stille Nacht”

Another bit of music here, but one of my all-time favorites. “Silent Night” is a beautiful song, but Mannheim has such a different take on it. It’s so haunting and almost always gives me goosebumps. The entire album is amazing, but this song has always been special to me.


So those are five of my favorite things around the holidays. What are some of yours?


It’s beginning to look a lot like . . .

Christmas has arrived in the Calvin household! Or, at least, there is a Christmas tree in the living room. Maybe at some point we’ll get around to decorating it. It does already have lights on it, so it doesn’t look too sad.

Lately, my stepson’s mother and I have been discussing what we like to call “the Santa Question.” My stepson is eight years old, my daughter seven. I can’t remember how old I was when I found out the truth about ol’ Kris Kringle, but I think it might’ve been around third grade. What we can’t decide is whether or not we should go ahead, bite the bullet, and reveal the scam, or let it go until the kids naturally figure it out for themselves.

There are pros and cons, of course, to both sides, but one thing is definite – we would have to tell them both at the same time. There is no way that one of them would keep the secret from the other. The main reason my stepson’s mom wants the truth out there is because “the boy” has been requesting all kinds of outlandish, expensive, and sometimes downright dangerous items for Christmas. Whenever objections are raised, he responds by saying that it doesn’t matter if his mom buys them or not – he will rely on Santa to bring him what he wants. Santa doesn’t have such silly limitations, like a budget. He represents unlimited possibilities, which naturally, none of us can ever hope to compete with.

Because of this, my stepson might figure out all these things for himself this Christmas, especially when he doesn’t get an iPad under the tree like he so desperately wants. If this is the case, what’s the harm in going ahead and telling him the truth? There’s a part of me that wants to hold on to their innocence, their belief in this magical time of year, for as long as I can. It’s not practical. I know it’s going to come out eventually. And if it happens this year, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a little sad nonetheless. Another rite of passage that proves that our children are growing up faster than we want to admit.

At the dinner table, when my husband and I were telling the kids that presents would be a bit lighter this year (mostly because they really don’t need anything), my daughter put her hands on her hips and said, “Can we at least have a Christmas dance party?”

Sure, honey. Dance away.