Tag Archives: holidays

The Lifecycle of the Holidays

The Lifecycle of the Holidays

I like Thanksgiving. I don’t really like turkey, but I do like pie and forced gratitude. I decorate the table in brown and orange, presumably to match the turkey and the carrots. It’s fine. But really the best part of Thanksgiving is when it’s over, because I can get going on Christmas. If I can catch my husband in a great mood or not listening, I’ll trick him into getting our tree on Black Friday. If I have to wait another week, I spend it pacing and nagging.

The weeks before Christmas put me in the mind of a five-year-old. I carry the box of ornaments down from the attic and open it like it’s the Ark of the Covenant. I unveil each one, and share its story. Great Grandmother Alice knitted this clown out of yarn. Great Nana sewed the hair onto this tiny angel. We got this one the year you were born. My stories are met with mostly glassy eyes, but when my tree is done, I am overwhelmed by the beauty. I wake up early so I can sit next to it in the dark. I decorate the mantle and then over-decorate it. Everyone’s beds are remade with Christmas sheets. It’s hard to find a place to rest your eyes where something isn’t twinkling a loud message: Christmas is Coming!

The month passes, and on the morning after Christmas, I walk downstairs and the magic is gone. My house has transformed from one long White Christmas dance number to Jake Ryan’s house after the big party in Sixteen Candles. What is all this crap? Who put a dead tree covered in chotchkes in the middle of my family room? Its previously upbeat limbs point downward, like it’s just finished a really big shrug. Pine needles and fallen ornaments cover the floor. I grab the ornament box and start tossing things in. No longer am I treasuring the memory that each one brings; I’ve got get them out of my sight.

I do this Jekyll and Hyde thing every year. The transformation is both sudden and predictable. On December 26, my Christmas wonderland looks like Las Vegas during a garbage strike. Nothing’s changed but the calendar, but the anticipation is gone. Every sparkly, glittery inch of those first 25 days was a promise of what’s to come. When the day has come and gone, all that stuff is just clutter reminding us that the party’s over. Even the cheery tableau of Santas I’ve assembled on my mantle looks like a bunch of fat guys waiting for a bus.

This turns the week after Christmas into the longest of the year. I find that getting things back up to the attic is not as easy as it was bringing them down. This is both a consequence of gravity and the fact that no one’s excited to help. Because setting up Christmas, which is effectively making a huge mess, is a lot more fun than cleaning it all up. Regardless, those me-size toy soldiers that flank my front door have got to go. They’re giving me a look I don’t like. I rip their detachable heads off and carry them up myself, and their decapitated bodies stand there for days until someone stronger than me yields to my heavy sighs and hauls them up.

This morning I ran across a tiny forgotten Santa that I’d put by my son’s bed. He was peeking out from behind a lamp, and you’d have thought I saw a mouse. I grabbed it and raced up to the attic and stashed it away in that big bin of nonsense that I’m going to be thrilled to see in 11 months.

People You Might See At Thanksgiving

The Hostess. In my family we refer to her as “Stefanie”, and boy is she a chump. She’s hosted Thanksgiving for the past I-don’t-know-how-many years. For her birthday I gave her a gravy ladle, which is just like your husband giving you a broom. It’s a gift that says “you can feel free to keep… Continue Reading

Notes for Next Christmas

I have a friend who has a very thoughtful way of living her life, and I try to pick up her habits when I can. She recently told me that every year after Christmas she takes a few minutes to jot down what worked and what didn’t, so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes… Continue Reading

Cords For Christmas

When my oldest son was two-years-old, he saw a toy in a catalog that fascinated him. He carried that catalog around wherever he went for six months, hypnotized by the little plastic animals that seemed to graze around a plastic tree. Because I was a person who had $20, I bought him that toy for… Continue Reading

Warning: It’s Christmas, Mom Might Snap

As published in The Huffington Post on December 18, 2014 One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching stuff I’ve seen a hundred times and sobbing in front of my television. By the time Harry Bailey says, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town,” I’m pretty much a mess. Among these odes… Continue Reading

I Want to Pull Back the Curtain on the Food Network

As published in The Week on November 21, 2013 Because I lost control of the clicker about a decade ago, I spend November watching a lot of football and a lot of the Food Network. My husband flips back and forth between the NFL and home-style cornbread stuffing, mesmerized by the way these TV chefs… Continue Reading

M.O.M Local – Inaugural Union Meeting

As published in The Rye Record on June 20, 2013 Opening: The first meeting of the Mothers Organizing Madness (MOM) union was called to order at 1 p.m. by the self-appointed Interim President and Secretary of MOM. Said individual asked for volunteers to replace her in both capacities. Preamble to constitution and adoption of bylaws:… Continue Reading

Happy Holidays Mr. Bernanke!

As published in The Rye Record on December 16, 2012 Dear Mr. Bernanke, First of all, I’m sorry to butt in. I know you’re really busy trying to figure out how to massage the economy back to life. There is no amount of money that you could pay me to do your job. But I… Continue Reading

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Shopping

As published in The Rye Record on November 30, 2012 The daydream is always the same: It’s December 1st and I gently toss my holiday shopping list into the recycling bin. I’d planned ahead, you see, taking advantage of the November lull. I’d walked the quiet malls, collecting thoughtful gifts for everyone on my list.… Continue Reading

Valentine’s Day Smackdown

As published in The Rye Record on February 10, 2012 My kids watch this unbelievably ridiculous show, “The Deadliest Warrior”, where modern day super nerds re-enact fantasy battles between warriors from various times in history. Examples include Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great or Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror. I’m not making… Continue Reading

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