Tag Archives: holidays

For the Sake of Sanity, Can We Spread Some of This Cheer Around?

christmas cat

In the last 24 hours, I have:

  • bought cupcakes for Carlos’ class party
  • talked to my therapist about how to deal with grief at the holidays
  • made two wreaths to donate to a charity auction
  • texted with my mother to arrange Christmas lunch at Grandmama Irene’s house
  • wrapped gifts that my department is donating to a family in need
  • texted with my siblings to talk about how we’re going to get through Christmas Eve
  • explained why the elf didn’t move
  • drawn a red nose on my son for his school sing along then sat with him as he refused to both sing and go along (but we had a good time anyway)
  • made “reindeer food” with his classmates and decorated ice cream cone trees with green frosting and candies
  • performed my day job, which includes helping with the holiday party for 3000+ employees, advertising the carolers who visit the hospital, finding a photo of a surgeon in an ugly sweater, evacuating the building because someone’s kid pulled a fire alarm in midwifery, encouraging Toys for Tots donations, etc etc
  • picked up a plate of sweet treats from my friend Jo’s baking extravaganza
  • sung along to “A Very Soulful Christmas” with songs like “Back Door Santa” and Otis Redding’s “White Christmas”
  • wrapped 21 Little Golden Books for C’s classmates
  • agreed to make two more wreaths for the auction because we don’t have as many as we did last year and WHY NOT??

This last week of school before the Christmas break is NUTS. I know people are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, solstice, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas (…and the list goes on) for religious or cultural reasons right now, but why have we attached so many other activities to this time? Many of the things that have become associated with the holiday season don’t have to be tied specifically to Christmas.

I say we spread some of the holiday cheer around to other months–for the sake of our sanity and to inject some fun into the more neglected days on the calendar.

January – My friend got “elfed” the other night. It’s a game her neighborhood is playing where you leave a stocking of treats on the doorstep and challenge the recipient to “elf” two houses the next night. It’s a cute idea and all but who has time in December? I suggest we move this to New Year’s Eve. You sneak 100 firecrackers onto your neighbor’s front porch with a long fuse and a note that says, “You’ve Been Banged! Go bang your neighbors!”

February – Instead of Christmas cards, let’s send Valentines to each other. Include a gorgeous picture of your family, wearing all those new clothes they got for Christmas. And we all will have had six weeks to lose a few pounds after Thanksgiving and Christmas!

March – March is the perfect month for neighborhood potlucks and office parties. People need to let off some steam after the long winter. Let’s make office parties like grown up prom!

April – April Fools Day and Earth Day are both woefully under-celebrated. Let’s schedule big family dinners on April Fools Day so we can play pranks and get liquored up and tell funny stories. On Earth Day, how about we go outside and decorate a tree. If you don’t have a tree, plant one!

May – May is for MOTHER’S DAY and nothing else. In fact, let’s look into expanding this one.

June – Canned food drives always happen in November, around Thanksgiving. But food banks need support throughout the year. I say we move food drives to June and while we’re at it, we work in a community garden too!

July – Caroling moves to July. The weather is nice, the days are long so it’s safe to walk from house to house. There are tons of patriotic songs out there. Why not get all the neighborhood kids who do marching band to put on an impromptu show? Sparklers and singing!

August – This is the month to focus on teacher gifts. Instead of drowning our teachers in bath oils, infinity scarves and coffee gift cards in December, let’s treat them at the start of the school year. It will help ease the pain of saying goodbye to summer. If your kids are handfuls like mine, starting the year by greasing the wheel is a pretty wise investment.

September – Now it’s time for baking! Let’s make all those candies, cakes and cookies in September to celebrate the end of swimsuit season!

October – Forget about Elf on the Shelf. Get your family a Ghoul on a Stool. This terrifying stuffed toy (with optional shrieking) sneaks around your house at night to make sure kids stay in their beds. The Ghoul doesn’t tattle to Santa–it handles shit right then and there. Eats your kid’s face right off if they get out of line. By the time Halloween rolls around, your kids will be fighting over who gets to take out the trash. They won’t be sleeping, but they’ll behave.

November – It’s the perfect month for school programs, orchestra concerts, dance recitals, middle school poetry slams. All the events that require parents to sit on narrow chairs in an overheated gymnasium will be moved to November.

December – Now it’s time for Christmas and we’ve actually got time for Christmas because we moved all that other stuff around the year. Breathe in, breathe out. Every one is a gift.


The Teacher Gift Taboo–What’s So Wrong With Cash?


It’s the most wonderful time of the year–the time when we parents find ourselves just a teensy bit busy with all the holiday to-dos.

I mean seriously–it’s the holidays, the end of school term and the time to use up that money in the flexible spending account. This week my schedule contains 2 potlucks, a wreath decorating contest, a school sing along, one trapeze show, a teacher conference, a dentist appointment, a parade, the elf on the shelf, a tree to water, cats to knock out of the tree, a broken oven, one head cold, a neighborhood happy hour… Plus my full-time job and the three kids, one of whom won’t talk, one of whom talks too much, and the other one just wants to text.

So here’s one place I make things simple for myself: teacher gifts.

I write a sincere note. One year, for Vivi’s teachers, it went something like: “I appreciate all you do to make Vivi’s days fun and interesting. I know she can be a handful so I’m guessing you could use a drink. Have one on us!” Then I slide in some folding money. Gift = done.

When the Cool Kids were discussing teacher gifts and I confessed this, a couple of eyebrows went up. (Libby had to put down her glue gun and glitter holster to clutch her pearls.) Cash? That’s so…not Pinteresty.

I admire people who have the time, skill and creativity to knit a scarf, fold it to look like a cupcake, wrap it in cellophane, print a thematically colored and personalized tag in a festive font, find a hole punch shaped like a snowflake and punch that bad boy right in the center then tie it all up with locally sourced organic raffia…but that’s not my forte.

Card, pen, $20. DONE.

Why not gift cards instead of cash? Well, gift cards are limited. What if they don’t LIKE Panera or Chipotle or Fatz? What if I give a Target card to a Wal-Mart shopper? What if Kroger is too far away?


There’s always origami if you insist on being fancy!

Cash is flexible–you can spend it on a book, a pedicure, a bottle of champagne. Or something more practical. A few years back, I got a note from one of Vivi’s teachers, who told me that the money we gave her paid for a tank of gas that meant she could afford to go home one extra weekend. I will never forget that.

So what do you think about cash gifts? Too tacky? Not enough thought behind it? Or is it the way to say “Treat Yourself to What YOU Want?”

I’ll be over here smacking the cat out of the tree and warming up for the sing along with my freakishly white teeth. Discuss!

“I” Statements

This morning, I was razzle-frack-a-lackin around (remember the sound Fred Flintstone made when he grumble cussed?) while I got dressed.  There’s this… situation…in my life where I have to bite my tongue, shut up, suck it up and let it go.  Y’know, what we grownups call “a Tuesday.”  The situation is causing me some uncomfortable moments because I’ve spent 12 years in therapy trying to learn to speak up and now I’m practicing the shut up.  It all seems so counterproductive.  

WARNING:  Here comes some language.  Good old fashioned Olde English.  If you don’t like cussing… I suggest you squint until you scroll down to the picture.  

I first started talking to a therapist when Fartbuster and I were splitting up.  After 10 years of keeping the world OK for him, I had surrendered my voice.  Not only did I not speak up for myself, it never dawned on me that I should speak up for myself.  Or that I might have been allowed to expect something out of our relationship.  I bit my tongue.  I shut up.  I sucked it up.  I tried really really hard to let it go.  And that never really took 100% so…therapy YAY!  The first thing my therapist asked was, “So what do you want to learn how to do?”  

Without even thinking, I blurted:  “I want to learn how to say “Fuck you!” if that’s what I’m thinking.”  

She laughed and said, “Oh, we’re going to get along just fine.  I kind of have a reputation for teaching women how to do that!”  It was a solid match.  We’ve made great strides.  If you don’t believe me, well FUCK YOU.  

During that first year of sessions, we worked on me finding my voice as I separated from Fartbuster.  One session right before the holidays, I told my therapist that I was anxious about the people I would be seeing.  This whole speaking up for myself thing was fresh and it was starting to feel a little shaky.  She thought it would be beneficial to practice some of the things I could say to protect myself in uncomfortable situations.  

She asked, “So what is it you REALLY want to say to this person?”  

I snorted.  “What I really want to say is ‘Shut the fuck up.'”  

“True, but they won’t be able to hear something that aggressive.  How about a more polite way to convey that same message?”

 I considered an alternative.  “How about ‘Soooooomebody needs… to shut the fuck up!'”  I wiggled my eyebrows and smirked.  

It was her turn to snort.  “OK, OK.  How about you try expressing this as an ‘I’ statement?”

“Oh!  I think somebody needs to shut the fuck up!”  

Nailed it.  

Maybe that’s why it’s been 12 years?  

My Capstone Project From 12 Years on the Couch.

My Capstone Project From 12 Years on the Couch.

So the razzle-frackin continues, even though Tuesday is in the books.  The only I-statement I can come up with today is “I feel like punching you in the throat when you breathe.  I would like you to shut the fuck up.”  

What’s your I-statement for today?  Share it in the comments!  


Who’s ready for school to open back up?  


Grandmama’s Little Helpers

About 10 years ago, I was renting a house that had a bad flea infestation.  My three dachsies were going crazy with the scratching.  My dad gave me some of the veterinary clinic grade flea bombs to clear out my house but the damn nuisances kept coming back.  He told me I was going to have to spray my backyard to get them gone for good.  I called him a couple of days later and said, “That was great advice!  I sprayed the yard with diazepam and haven’t seen a flea since.”  He chuckled and said, “I guess the fleas just don’t care enough to jump on the dogs?”  I get those two fancy words mixed up:  diazanon is the insecticide; diazepam is the Valium.  I sprayed the yard with diazanon, not diazepam.  I better add that to the “My Lowe’s” website list of preferred products.  

valium funny

I first tried Valium when I had my four wisdom teeth cut out at the tender age of 32.  It’s the only drug I’ve ever taken that made me think, “Hey, I’d like to get to know you BETTER!”  Wisely, the oral surgeon only gave me two.  I liked it because I didn’t feel loopy–I just didn’t give a shit.  That surgery was right around the time that Fartbuster told me about his pregnant girlfriend.  He was still trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, so he volunteered to drive me back and forth to the doctor and take care of me while I was recovering.  So you can see why it was attractive to have a little pill that made me not give a rat’s ass about anything.

My doctor gave me 15 Valium a couple of weeks before Richard died because I couldn’t sleep.  So I’ve had a total of 17 of the little wonders in my 44 years.  Which is probably why I found this next story so darn funny when it happened.

One Christmas at the grandparents’ house, my sister–The Doctor–volunteered to check over all the medications that Grandmama and Pop had in the bathroom cabinet.  She spread them out on the kitchen table and began her inventory.  When she came across a prescription bottle filled with Valium, she held it up with a giggle and asked, “Grandmama?  What are you doing with these?”

Grandmama said, “Oh, I just take a couple when you kids are coming over!” and went right on wiping down the countertops.

The Doctor replied, “You really shouldn’t be taking them.  They can be habit forming.”

Grandmama waved her hand in dismissal.  “Pshhh.  My doctor told me that when he first wrote the prescription, but I’ve been taking them for 30 years and never had a problem!”

Come to think of it, that might have been the year she told me what to do if I ever walked out of my panties.  This explains a lot.