Category Archives: Holiday

Elf On The Shelf. Or The Lamp Shade. Or Wherever Else You Put Your Stupid Elf.

(This is a repeat performance post. But it still applies. Because I still hate that stupid elf.)

I have a friend. A dear friend who has an Elf On The Shelf. And an addiction to Facebook. During this time of year, I find that combination to be deadly.

To my ego.

Every other day she has a post of the clever places they find their Elf every morning. Along with clever little tag lines.

Example #1 – Hiding in a lamp, with just his little hat peeking out. “Should we tell him his hat is giving him away? Or just leave him in the dark?”

Example #2 – In a large empty jar with lid tightly closed. “Oops. Looks like Elf has found himself in a pickle.”

Example #3 – Hiding deep inside the Christmas tree. “Can’t see the Elf for the tree.”

I could go on. But I won’t. It depresses me too much.

Quite honestly, I had never heard of Elf On The Shelf until we moved to this subdivision. My rudimentary research discovers that his concept is old. But his commercial phenomenon is recent. Apparently, the Elf is a spy for Santa Claus. He sneaks away every night once the family is tucked in, files his report with Santa and then returns by daylight, always in a new spot and typically up to some mischief of his own.

Oh. Yeah. Like I need one more Christmas chore to add to my list.

So, like any sane mother, I reject this holiday hobgoblin. My days are chock full of cookie baking, present wrapping, mantel dressing and shopping, cooking and a little more shopping. Who has time for 25 days of elfin mischief to create?

A lot of moms, apparently.

So many, that now, my children have been exposed to the little guy. And they want to know how Santa knows if they’re naughty or nice.

Santa peeks in on you himself. You boys are two of his favorites.

Cue eye rolls and exasperated sighs.

“Mom. Really? Because Nick’s Elf left him candy canes. Santa doesn’t leave us candy canes after he checks up on us.”

He saves that for Christmas Day. He knows about your last dentist appointment.

“If the leprechauns can visit us how come we don’t have an elf visit?”

I repeat the “Santa’s favorite” response. To no avail.

“Well, Sydney’s Elf bakes her cupcakes and cleans up her room.”

Hey! I bake you cupcakes and clean up your room.

“It’s not the same, Mom!”

Nope.

It’s not.

Stupid Elf.

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Awwww, Google! You Remembered!

I clicked on Google to google something, of course. I’m an old Googler from way back. One of my favorite pastimes. My kids say my epitaph is going to read, “Let’s Google it!”

But I digress….

So, I click on Google and what do I see?

This….

Image

So cute! Cakes and cupcakes. Sparklers and candles. I just adore the Google pictures each day. It’s my second favorite pastime, besides actual Googling, of course. I hover over the picture and discover something new and an hour is lost learning about C. V. Raman or Maria Callas or the invention of soap. (Here I go. Digressing again. Must be my age. Wink, wink.)

Today, I see the cakes and the candle and wonder, “Who else shares my birthday today?”

I hover the mouse over the picture and low and behold it says:

Happy Birthday, Jane!

My heart skips a beat. Google remembered!

I’m so touched. And honored. And awestruck.

And then, I realize (fairly quickly, because I’m not that egocentric) that the image will only be seen by me.

But that’s okay.

Google remembered my birthday.

That’s enough for me.

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Filed under Holiday, Uncategorized

Open Hearts And Homes On This Thanksgiving Day

I was sitting at my computer, looking up tips and tricks to the perfect gravy, and I glanced outside. Cars were starting to pile up at our neighbor’s house. It’s Thanksgiving Day and most people are hosting or traveling to a Thanksgiving Day feast.

I’ve lived away from my family for about 30 years. I’ve been a teacher for most of those years and with Thanksgiving break so short, and travel so crazy and expensive this time of year, I’ve been alone for almost every single Thanksgiving.

In the early, single years, I’d work at a soup kitchen. But on Thanksgiving Day there is a glut of volunteers and I’d always feel in the way. Once married, it’d be just us two, and I’d cook a tiny feast that felt empty and lack luster. Add a daughter and I’d try to make it a bit more festive with a baking or craft project.

We now have a much fuller house with three kids. We have our traditions of Thanksgiving Day parade with breakfast, The National Dog Show with lunch, football with snacks and then a not-so-tiny feast. My kids love it because we’re not a big television family and on Thanksgiving Day the TV is on all day long. We also play board games and cook together, television humming in the background.

In past years, I’ve tried to reach out to those that may be alone for Thanksgiving. My attempts were met by skepticism. Not surprising, they were unsuccessful and we now stick to just us five.

So, as much as I love our small family on Thanksgiving Day, I was a bit wistful, watching the guests pour into our neighbor’s home.

And then, I clicked on msn.com and found this story.

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A Massachusetts man, Scott Macaulay, invites perfect strangers, who may be alone for the holidays, into his home for a Thanksgiving meal. He has done this for the past 28 years and the event has grown from a few strangers to almost 90.

It all started with an ad in the local paper. He was 24 years old and his parents recently divorced. He didn’t want to be alone on Thanksgiving Day. He reached out. He bravely put himself out there. And others bravely answered in kind.

I just wanted to bring a little extra attention to an amazing man.

Wishing you and yours love and good food and good company on this Thanksgiving Day!

 

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A Virtual Valentine To You All, You Amazing Readers, You!

I am certainly not the best blogger out there.

I’m not even the best blogger on my own blog. I barely find time to write. I’ve thought often about quitting. But then something sparks my interest and I find my fingers tapping away and I get such satisfaction clicking publish that I just can’t quit. You’re stuck with me.

But I can say this, without hesitation, that I have the best readers out there.

The best.

valentinereaders

I am so grateful for each and every one of you. I don’t visit you as often as I’d like. But I read your comments. Every single one. And I appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts. I do sneak over to your place, too. Typically on my phone. Which is why I don’t always comment but please know I’m out there, shaking my head in agreement and sending virtual hugs your way.

Pathetic, I know. But I own my failures and hope you can sympathize.

You are all the best. I love you. Appreciate you. Enjoy you.

I’m honored you take the time check in with me.

You could go anywhere else, yet you find the time to peek in on me.

And I’m truly touched.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

(I have been a little scarce lately. Okay. I admit it. Not just lately. There have been periods of time in the past few years that I have been erratic with my posting and with commenting on your blogs. I suffer from panic/anxiety disorder and right now, I’m having a particularly difficult time. Please know that the above post is heartfelt and true. I AM thinking of  you all. Always.)  

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Cheers To Simplicity This Holiday Season!

I am choosing simplicity this holiday season.

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No elaborate Christmas light display this year for us. – Which means we didn’t spend the $1000 (?!?) to have our home professionally lit by off-season landscapers. Who does that? (Sadly, quite a few in our neighborhood.) Except for our two tasteful mini-lit trees flanking our door and the traditional candles in each window, I’ve convinced my husband to skip his traditional fling-up-to-see-what-branches-the-Christmas-lights-hit approach to decorating our yard. Seriously. One thousand dollars? You could feed a small village for that amount.

No lugging every single Christmas decoration box up from the basement. After a day of decorating, I called it quits. The tree is up. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. I have my favorite advent calendar, a homemade advent wreath, a creche, a few favorite Santas and snowmen. But that’s about it. I looked around and thought, this looks festive enough. Key word = enough. Less clutter. More time for baking. Sounds good to me. And to my kids.

No guests to entertain for the first time………well, ever. The Jane household will be empty-ish. Just us. Me. Husband. Three adorable children. It will be quiet. It will be sane. It will be easy. Compared to years past, when we’ve entertained 3-4 weeks straight, of various out-of-town relatives and friends, this holiday season will be a breeze!

No laundry list of gifts to purchase. After working two food drives and our typical Salvation Army bell ringing stint the boys have decided they have too many toys! Well, that and the fact that they would love a pricey handheld gadget this year and knew they’d have a better chance of receiving it if it was the only thing on their list. I don’t care. Less shopping for me, less wrapping for my husband. Win-win-win.

No menus to create. I’m gonna stick with the standbys. Honeybaked ham, scalloped potatoes and bacon brussel spouts for Christmas Eve. Turkey, turkey fixin’s, green beans and lemon cranberry jello salad for Christmas Day. My famous-I-can-make-it-in-my-sleep-cranberry-relish will grace both meals. Come to think of it, all the above recipes I can make in my sleep. Holiday cooking this year will be a piece of pie! Probably apple. I haven’t decided yet.

No jam packed weekends for the month of December. My husband and I sat down and actually said no to a few invitations this year. It felt naughty but now our weekends look nice. Relaxing even. We’re actually looking forward to the few things we have penciled in. What a concept.

No blogging schedule to follow. For a few weeks, anyway. I’m taking a break to enjoy the season, enjoy my family and enjoy the peace and quiet we are actually going to be able to enjoy during this frightfully busy time of the year. I haven’t left. I promise not to disappear. But I’m taking a bit of a long winter’s nap to recharge.

Wishing you all a very Merry, Happy, Joyful, Restful, Relaxing, Healthy, Peaceful, Simple Holiday Season and New Year!

(And provided the doomsday prophets aren’t right and we find the Mayan’s new calendar, I’ll see you next year!)

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Filed under Holiday, How We Roll

The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Jane: The Holy Trinity of Trickery And Fraud

“Mom? Are you the tooth fairy?”

Stunned, I can’t look up from the puzzle I’m working on. “No, Sweetie. I’m your mom.”

My son walked away satisfied.

Oh. God. What did I just do? I lied to my son. But I was unprepared and I knew the inevitable question was next, “Are you Santa Claus, too?”

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My husband chastised me. “You can’t lie. If he asks the question it means he’s ready for the answer.”

Well. That might be so. But maybe I’m not ready for the answer.

I’m not. Ready, that is. I fully believe in Santa Claus. Not in the concrete way that children do. But in the esoteric, allegorical sense. Think Miracle on 34th Street or the amazing Colonel Harry Shoup. And the Pollyanna in me clings to this belief for dear life.

I’ve tried to prepare for the inevitable. I’ve practiced speeches in my head. But I stumble and fail. I found this amazing letter that another mother wrote for her child. I’ve bookmarked it, hoping to be inspired when the time comes. But that moment will sneak up on me, just as it did the other day, and catch me by surprise. And I will bumble and fumble for the right words. I pray they come to me.

Think back to the time when you believed in Santa. This extraordinary man, who encourages goodness and kindness and magic. The joy, racing down the stairs, to see what was left under the tree. Finding just what you wanted and he only wanted a cookie, some hot chocolate and a carrot for his reindeer in return.

As my children grow older, I’m trying to come to terms that this magical time is ending. The mysteries of Santa will be revealed. And to those of you who have never lied to your children about this mythical man, you may now smile smugly as I wrestle with my lie and the fear that my children will lose confidence in me. I am a fraud, just as Santa Claus is a fraud, and I may never again be trusted.

Sigh.

“Will you put the dollar under his pillow?” I ask my husband.

“Me? Why me? You ALWAYS do it!” My husband is panicked and I try to get him to take the dollar.

“Well, that way I haven’t lied. I’m not the tooth fairy. You are.” Loopholes. I’m always on the lookout for loopholes.

“Well, I can’t. I mean. Uh. I don’t know how.” He stutters and stammers.

I glare at him. “You don’t know how? What is that supposed to mean? You slip your hand under his pillow, remove the tooth and leave a dollar in its place.”

He sheepishly trudges upstairs and I follow for moral support.

He tries to sneak his hand under the pillow but our son shifts in his sleep. “See? I’m going to screw it up.” He hisses.

I glare again.

He tries again, barely slipping his hand under the pillow and gives up. “I can’t find it. It’s not there.”

Ticked, I snatch the dollar, slip my hand under the pillow, immediately find the tooth and replace it with the dollar bill. My glare has now turned icy and menacing.

“You made a liar out of me,” I snarl.

My husband just stands there, with a sheepish grin.

I guess he’s not ready for the inevitable either.

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Filed under children, Holiday, Motherhood

Wishing You And Yours

A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Black Friday. Worth Every Penny. And Then Some.

I’ve never liked to shop. Ever.

Still don’t. So when my 17 yr. old daughter asked if we could shop on Black Friday I laughed. Out loud. When she told me she was serious, I eyed her suspiciously.

“Only if we go at 5am,” I said, confident that she would back down immediately. You see, I’m a morning person. She’s a night person. A very late night person. She sleeps ’till noon every chance she gets. I knew I was safe.

“Ok!” she said enthusiastically.

Huh? What the…? How did that happen? I then tried to weasel out of it.

“Seriously? You’ll get up at 4:30? I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t think the stores you’ll want to shop even open up that early.”

Remember? I don’t like to shop. So in my forty-something years I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. I’ve avoided it like the plague. I thought only large discount stores and appliance stores were open at that un-godly hour the day after Thanksgiving.

“No, I already checked,” she said, “The mall opens at 5am.”

Rats. I was stymied. I had no idea where to go from there to get out of it.

“Ok…….” I said, voice trailing. I still had 5 more days to figure out how to get out of it. Surely, something would come to me.

But Thanksgiving Day arrived and I still didn’t have a way out. And she was so excited. Sharing this story with my sister on the phone she chastised my lack of enthusiasm.

“You set that alarm for 4:30am and enjoy yourselves. You’re creating memories,” she said, “Just don’t forget your helmet and elbow pads.”

Yikes. That got me. Especially since my stomach sinks every time my daughter receives a letter from a college trying to recruit her. I’m trying to cherish every moment she wants to spend with me. What was my problem?

So on Friday morning, we woke up before the crack of dawn and set out. We drove past our local Wal-Mart at 5:15am. Every, and I mean EVERY parking spot was taken. People were parking on the grass, off the curb. I’ve never seen it so busy. What was I getting myself into?

We arrived at the mall by 5:30am. It was busy but not unbearable. We shopped. We laughed. We waited in lines. I had to go check out the deals at the Disney Store (of course) and she reluctantly tagged along. 

The line was about 10 people deep and she rolled her eyes. “This is just like waiting in line for the rides, ” she groaned. But when we went to Hollister (her favorite store) the line for the cash register winded, weaved and wove through the store. “This must be SOME roller coaster!” I said excitedly. She pretended not to know me.

We chatted on the way to other stores. We chatted over coffee. We chatted in lines. We chatted in the car on the way to lunch. We observed people and talked about that. She shared with me things that were going on with school and with her friends. We reminisced. Mostly light things but some heavy things came up, too. And when the heavy things surfaced it slipped into our conversation easy, calm. I was able to share things I’ve always wanted to say – things every parent should say. She shared her feelings with a little awkwardness. (She is a teenager, after all.)

It was an amazing day.

I remember hearing Dr. Phil impart his wisdom on teenagers once. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you want your kids to talk to you about the big things then you’d better listen to the little things. In theory, I wholeheartedly agreed. But that day, I was able to see it in motion.

I’ve always felt I was a pretty involved parent. But days like this remind me I can always do more. Listening to those little things – how many sisters we could tell were shopping together, who her friends were dating, the latest fashion must-haves, how awful school lunches were – turned into conversations and snippets of some really big things. (And since I’d like to preserve some of her privacy I’m just going to let you guess what those were.) I heard her thoughts. She heard mine. It was amazing conversation with a little shopping thrown in. We enjoyed ourselves so much we’ve decided to make it a yearly tradition.

I saved a good bit of money on Black Friday. I lost a little sleep. Looking back, it was a simple gesture that became grand. And I can’t believe I tried to get out of it. What a shame that would have been.

(This is a repeat post from my first year of blogging. But it’s a lesson I have cherished. As I’m about to approach our 4th Black Friday Extravaganza, I thought I’d send a shout out to all of you to get out there and start making memories with your daughters. And sons. In ways that are meaningful for you. For us, it involves shopping. Yes. I have been reformed.)

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Filed under Holiday, Lessons Learned, Motherhood

Be Safe And Choose Wisely. Happy Halloween, Everyone!

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October 30, 2012 · 4:03 pm

Best Halloween Costume. Ever.

Okay, all you crafty dog owners out there. Get crackin’.

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Filed under funny, Holiday