Thursday, December 26, 2013

A poem........

It's the day after Christmas,
And all through the casa
It's an abominable mess
And I wonder, que pasa?

The presents unwrapped,
The stockings un-filled,
Much sugar was eaten
The kids are strong-willed.

The cats slumber lazily
After strewing the bows
One dropped a chicken bone
After being hit on the nose.

The house needs to be vacuumed,
There's crap everywhere,
But it's so hard to muster
The tiniest care.

The money is gone,
No more fun is in store
At least until payday
When we'll have a bit more.

By then, the vacation
And it's promise of fun
Will almost be over,
Carefree days will be done.

So, we sit in the house
With nothing to do,
Except nap and eat junk
Watch a movie or two.

This Christmas hangover
Is hurting my head
But I'm really quite tired
Of lying in bed.

The radio carols
Have all but now ceased
The big day is over,
Along with the feast.

Soon it will be time
To strip the house bare
Of the festive decor
There will be nothing there.

We wait all year long
For this season of light
And then it's just over
In the span of one night.

But wait! We still have New Year's,
and our great resolutions.
Anticipation of that,
Might be the solution.

To the sad melancholy
That follows Noel
Perhaps, we shall see,
Time, only, can tell.

But, yes! The next holiday
Is Valentine's day.
Another excuse to
decorate and play.

And while I'll miss Christmas,
Which, sadly, must part
Is it too early
To string up some hearts? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Made it.........

Well, it's Christmas eve (day) and if you haven't finished your shopping yet, well, you just might be among the bazillions of others who are dashing out for something. I'm pretty sure I'm done. I mean, I think I'm done. I mean, at this point, I'm sure I've forgotten something but it's too late to do anything about it, so "it is what it is!"

I felt like Christmas came so quickly this year - like it always does, sneaking up on us, and before you know it, it's here - the big day - and all those things you thought you would do become pointless because the day is upon us! Here's what I ran out of time for: baking cookies, driving around to look at Christmas lights, going downtown and enjoying the sights, going to see Santa, having a cookie exchange (or any other party for that matter)........BUT, here are some things I DID do..........

I made these cool candles with scrapbook paper and mod-podge....

I picked up this kick-ass Frosty the Snowman handmade decoration at Value Village for $2.99. You twist his nose and it plays his theme song. I KNOW, RIGHT? Coolest decor EVER. 

I took this selfie with my cat. Yeah.

I received all these Christmas cards! LOVE THEM! Because the rest of the year, the mail just sucks. 

I recycled my Halloween pumpkins into this SWEET snowman display. SO Pinterest-worthy, yes? 

I made this cool display of my collection of Starbucks ornaments, nestled in an antique Coca-Cola crate. P.S. I also bought those super cool "JOY" letters from my good friend, Fiona, who is awesomely crafty. AND I made the little mixed-media Christmas tree picture next to it.

I decorated the mantle and jacked this ornament idea from Pinterest for the window. LOVED it. 

I took this picture of the Seattle skyline out the car window going 60 mph and made it into a holiday-card-ish picture. 

I took this picture of my four favorite kids in the world, all dressed up. Plus, I took them to Oliver! for my birthday celebration. LOVE THEM!

I took this picture of our brilliantly decorated house (kudos to my son for doing the lights this year!). Once again, the best on the block. I mean, I'm biased, but you can come judge for yourself. 

I went to this party with my favorite guy and we got all dressed up. We actually look kind of goofy in this picture, but you get the idea. 
I took this super blurry picture of my living room, and then edited it to make it even more blurry so I could call it "art" - but, look at  ALL THOSE PRESENTS we get to open tomorrow. I bought those. And wrapped those. And put tiny binder clips on all of them so the cats wouldn't get into them. The things I do.......

I sent out 100 of these Christmas cards.

So, yeah, I did a lot this Christmas season. And I think I'm done. I'm pretty sure I'm done. I'll let you know once I get back from the store.........

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Only three more sleeps till Christmas! Who's excited? I AM!

But, also, not.

I truly do love the Christmas season, and I try really hard to have fun things to do and traditions that my kids will remember fondly. We do always have a good time. But Christmas is also really, really hard.

For one thing, there's all the prep work. I spend nearly every day after work shopping for at least a month prior to Christmas. Then, there's wrapping, shipping, baking, festive-making. It's a LOT of work. Mostly I enjoy it. But there's always that nagging anxiety over spending too much, making sure I put together an equitable and pleasing assortment of gifts for four kids (plus several relatives/friends/neighbors), and lamenting over the things I, inevitably, never get to.

Like baking homemade cookies. Didn't do it. Don't plan to. I did buy red and green m&m's to make holiday cookies for "something" but there was never a "something" to make them for, and when will I use them now? We already have a counter full of goodies from various friends and co-workers - we certainly don't need more. Last night, when putting out an assortment of candy sprinkles for the kids to decorate gingerbread cookies (purchased, pre-shaped and with frosting and candy decorations included for $4 at Michael's, thankyouverymuch), I realized I have far too many holiday-themed cupcake papers, picks and sprinkles.

I still have supplies for amazing craft ideas I had years ago, and never got around to doing. I always start out the season (early, even!) thinking I'll make some gifts but, in the end, I never have time. I barely got our Christmas card out this year, and I didn't include a letter, but I really don't care. I'm at least sane enough to give myself a break for the incredibly difficult year we've had, and let some things go. It's ok.

But what's hard for me is not having any family around. I love having a big family gathering, especially when there are little kids around, during the holidays. I miss my mom's cooking, and the generally noisy, chaotic, loud atmosphere of a family party. I love watching the little kids open their gifts - it's been years since mine were young enough to be filled with wonder and delight at what Santa brought them. A big, festive Christmas dinner just feels like work when there's no one to enjoy it but my own family. I know it shouldn't, but it does, and we've had a few Christmases where we didn't even have a fancy dinner.

Christmas morning is always fun - the unwrapping, the accumulating pile of gifts, the general delight in giving which has certainly become more of a "thing" for my kids now that they are older and able to choose and pay for their own gifts to each other. But then the day stretches long, and there are never any family parties to attend, or the squeezing in of several family celebrations - who's house are we going to this year? Just our own.

It doesn't help that our families all live a distance away and travel between our homes is difficult, if not impassable, in December. Or that my kids INSIST on being at our house on Christmas day - no exceptions. I'm definitely at a point in my life where I would welcome spending the holidays somewhere else, or even chucking tradition entirely and going to a warm and tropical locale to lay on the beach for a week in lieu of shopping for a month and unwrapping dozens of gifts. But the kids aren't. So, we don't. And that's ok with me. I want my kids to have their own happy memories of Christmas, even if they don't include the Christmas traditions of my childhood. This is their time, it's their Christmas.

Still, it's the hardest time of the year when it comes to family. It's what makes me think about living closer, or, as my niece said recently "that commune thing is starting to look really good!" Being together to celebrate life's milestones, or just another holiday season, is what it's really all about. Thinking about what we're missing is hard. My kids don't know the holidays with the family. And the truth is, neither do I. My childhood family rarely lived close to relatives, so we spent our holidays pretty much the same as my family does now - in a town far, far away from any other family, celebrating with our own traditions. So, why do I feel like we're missing out?

I think, for me, I always envisioned a big family celebration at the holidays. I remember thinking, when I only had two kids, that my family was not "big enough" to be fun at the holidays. How would it feel to have only four around the table? Then, I had a third child, and even then I felt our celebrations would be quite small. I didn't take into account, of course, the many future grandchildren I might have. But it's possible I won't have many. It's all a mystery. Then, I got a bonus child, and now I have four. Same as my childhood family - four kids, three girls and a boy - and I hope and pray that someday, that will grow into a crowd of noisy, boisterous, crazy, chaotic loud beings who are just happy to be together, sharing a meal and a day or two of festive fun.

But until then........I miss my family. What I wouldn't give to be able to just materialize at the front door, family in tow, to a big gathering, everyone in one place. What a merry, merry Christmas that would be! It's ok to be a little sad about the holidays. I still love Christmas, and I love the traditions my own family has made. So, I take the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, knowing that things can't always be the way I wish they could be.

So, if you are lucky enough to spend Christmas with your relatives, know that there are blessings hidden in there somewhere, even if you sometimes find them exasperating. Hold your family close, because they are your anchor. And if you live far away, create a family with close friends. We're still working on that one. It's hard. And mostly be thankful for the family and friends you do have who help make the season bright. It's not an easy time for so many. I feel blessed to have my incredible, funny, silly family to spend my holidays with. I just have room in my heart for so many more.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Middle-ages meets Macklemore....

Last night we took the whole family to see Macklemore perform at the Key Arena in Seattle. It was the last show of his tour, and back on his home turf, so it was a pretty special show. The guy is an amazing entertainer and the show was spectacular, sprinkled with comedy, bits of wisdom and a lot of colorful language.

I bought the kids tickets this summer. I knew they were huge fans and would love to see the show. Originally I intended to buy tickets for all of us, but when I got on the website, they were limiting tickets to four at a time. Little did I know that the show sold out in 15 minutes! Two more shows were added, but I was satisfied that at least I had the four tickets for my kids.

A little back story: Jeff and I saw Macklemore two years ago at the Showbox in Seattle. It was a private concert to celebrate the release of a cancer drug that his company, Seattle Genetics, had created. No one knew who would be performing - only that there would be more than one band and it was a big secret until we got to the show. Macklemore opened for Weezer. We had no idea who he was at the time, and I was texting my kids asking if they knew of him (answer: sort of). I said he appeared to be an Eminem wanna-be (haha - sorry, Macklemore - first impressions). But I did recognize at least one of the songs. And he put on a great show! Still, he remained a little-known local guy for a while until he hit the big time not long after that concert.

Fast-forward a year and we were all fans of his music. When I heard he was coming in concert this month, I figured I'd see what was available in the way of tickets - I casually logged on to my computer, purchased the four tickets, and only later did I realize how lucky I'd been to even get them! Earlier this week, a friend posted on Facebook that she had four tickets for sale. I asked Jeff if he wanted to buy two of the tickets and go with the kids to the concert and he said "sure!" Which was actually quite a surprise considering we're broke and it's Christmas. But I scrounged the cash to pay for the tickets and we went.

I'm so glad we did.

The concert was amazing, "life-changing" according to the kids. I'm sad I wasn't able to sit with them to watch them go crazy wild enjoying the show. But afterwards, they were sweaty, disheveled and had hoarse voices - all signs of a great concert! They danced, sang, and enjoyed being with each other. So, so worth it.

And then there were the old folks. Jeff and I sat five sections away from the kids (although we could see them easily). The seats in the nosebleed section are small and tight - you have to get cozy with your neighbor whether you like it or not. I had my "mom purse" with me and since I didn't really want to put it on the sticky, gross floor, I pretty much had it in my lap the whole time. I was wearing the clothes I wore to work - a nice runway look called "kindergarten teacher." But by the end of the show, we were standing and dancing and we put our hands up "like the ceiling can't hold us."

We were surrounded by young people, or parents with young kids. Speaking of which, this was NOT a family concert and I can't believe anyone brought young kids to see it. The opening acts were rappers with language so filthy it made even ME squirm and that's saying something. When the first two words you hear are "f**king pu**y" you can be pretty sure it's not for the under 13 crowd. At one point, we were encouraged to put up our middle fingers and shout "F*ck the haters! F*ck the ho's!" I kept wondering why the arena seemed so empty but it filled up FAST once the opening acts were over. Note to self: It's ok to be late and miss the opening acts sometimes.

But it was worth the wait for Maklemore. He was incredible. The music was so loud I could feel the bass in my teeth. I'm pretty sure it interrupted the rhythm of my heart. It was LOUD. It was bright. There was glitter. And confetti. And fire. At the end, he thanked everyone from the stage crew to individual musicians. The encores were over the top. And this middle-aged mom loved every minute of it.

Music knows no age boundaries. My kids were still riding the high of the concert all day today and I keep hearing about how it was the best night and best concert EVER.  This is why I love live performances. Concerts, theater, shows - you can't get that feeling from a movie. I wish I could take my kids to every concert and every play they want to see just to see their faces at the end. SO worth it.

A life lived for art is never a life wasted ~ Ten Thousand Hours by Macklemore

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Real tree vs. fake tree..............

There are two camps in the Christmas tree world. Real vs. fake. Let's explore:

Real trees smell amazing! Except when they get sprayed with something that smells like cat pee and when you bring it home, your whole house smells like that for the entire Christmas season. That happened to us once and it was most unpleasant. However, most of the time real trees smell fresh and clean and emit the signature scent of Christmas.

Real trees are unique. Every one is different and many hours are spent searching for just the right one - full enough, tall enough, evenly spaced enough. And everyone has their own opinion. Hence, my parents' annual "Christmas Tree Fight." Procuring the tree was not a family affair. Rather, it was something my parents did together and they always ended up in a big fight over it. We (mostly) had beautiful trees and my mom pretty much always won the fight. Which was good except for the years when winning the fight meant an 8-foot-tall flocked tree with only blue lights on it. She must have been going for the cold and dreary look that year.

And let's just talk about flocking for a minute, shall we? Who decided that spraying a lovely, live Christmas tree with fake polyurethane "snow" somehow evoked more emotion from the Christmas season? Trees that have snow on them belong outside - you can't bring that shit indoors! For the love of everything, don't try to replicate it. Flocking is an abomination.

Real trees are expensive. You get what you pay for. One year we went to a lot where every tree was $20. We picked a smallish one because we had a toddler that year and planned to put the tree up on the coffee table for display. We brought it home, set it up, and decorated it. The next morning, the tree was dead. D.E.A.D. Brown and dry and crumbling. We undecorated it, took it back to the tree lot, and they invited us to pick any tree on the lot as compensation. We brought one home that barely cleared the ceiling. We won the lottery on that tree, but other years, we paid nearly $100 for a measly, lopsided tree.

Real trees are a lot of work. If you choose to cut one yourself, you have travel to the tree lot or the woods, argue with family members over which tree is just right, listen to the kids complain how cold/tired/hungry they are, pay for the tree, six hot cocoas, six new ornaments from the gift shop, and sit on Santa's lap for a picture, then haul it home. If you buy from a commercial lot, you have to wander through rows and rows of trees and then cart it home on the roof in a mesh bag, which doesn't do much good when you accidentally drive into the garage with the tree still on top of the car! This happened once to a...ahem...FRIEND of mine. 

Real trees require daily watering. I know this because once, after Christmas, I decided I was done watering the tree but I wanted to leave it up until my parents visited in early January. However, trees without water turn brown and die. And when the ornaments start falling off because there are not enough needles left on the tree to hold them up, it's time to throw the tree out. When this happened to me, I did just that - and I had a plan! A friend and I decided to quickly whisk the tree out the front door so as to minimize the mess. We cleared a path, angled the tree just so, and in one fell swoop we swept the tree across the living room and out the door. It took only seconds, but when the tree was outside, it no longer contained any needles. In fact, it was sadder than Charlie Brown's Christmas tree - just a bunch of bare branches. My living room floor, however, was covered in a carpet of brown needles. I was mostly disappointed that my parents wouldn't get to see my lovely decorated tree.

Which brought me to my first ever FAKE (gasp!) tree. I happened to be hitting the 90% off sale at Rite Aid when I spotted what looked like a perfectly acceptable tree, all set up and perfectly conical, for the low, low price of only $12! I couldn't resist such a bargain, so I paid for the tree, hastily disassembled it, threw it into the crumpled box the store offered me to transport it in, and brought it home. I then decorated the entire tree a second time that season. Best of all? I could have left it up until June, and nary a needle dropped on the floor.

I kind of thought it would be a one-time thing, that fake little cheap tree. But when Christmas rolled around again, I rationalized that I could buy a lot of gifts with that extra $100 I would save by not buying a real tree. So, I "settled" instead for some Scentsicles - little sticks of evergreen scent that you hang on your tree to make it smell real. Sort of.

And then, just like that, the little, cheap, funky fake tree became our Christmas tree. One year the plastic base broke and we repaired it with duct tape. That held for another couple of years and then, one night, when I was home alone, sipping my Bailey's and admiring the tree, I noticed that it appeared to be leaning a bit. I climbed under the tree to investigate and the tree promptly fell on me! Heavily laden with ornaments, the tree crashed down and I reached one hand up to steady it before it hit the floor. There I was, holding up the entire Christmas tree with one hand, prone, staring at the tree skirt and wondering what the hell I was going to do? No one was around, no one could hear my cries for help. I pushed the tree back to an upright position and attempted to crawl out from under it. But the tree wasn't having it. Hell-bent on crushing a human, the tree came crashing down again, this time right on my back. I shimmied out from under it, surveyed the damage, and called my husband: "The tree just fell on me. We need a new one."

After the hysterical laughter (noy "Are you ok?", not "Have you been impaled with an ornate star ornament? Do you have colorful glass imbedded in your cheek? Did the magic pickle ornament cause a concussion?"), my husband agreed we needed a new tree. Then, a few days later, he arrived home from a trip to Costco with a very similar story to my "first fake tree" story. He had spotted the perfect tree (pre-lighted this time) and inquired about it. Turns out, it was the last one they had, and, just like our first fake tree, came with no box. My husband hauled it home in a crumpled shipping box and we set it up. When it's time to take it down each year, we just wrap it in a huge tablecloth, ratchet it down with utility straps and store it on the top of the refrigerator in the garage. It resembles a dead body.

So, now we have a fake tree. It doesn't lose it's needles (much) and we can put it up as early as we like. Plus, there is no hurry to take it down after Christmas. Although, I never, ever leave it up until late February the way my ex-husband once did when he was a bachelor living with his bachelor brothers. That tree was a fire hazard.

Real or fake? What kind of tree do YOU like?

More importantly, what kind of tree do cats NOT like? Because I came home the other day to find my Beau kitty sleeping in the branches of our tree. It was not yet decorated but today we put the ornaments on. Now, I wait for the sound of a crashing tree or the opportunity to blast the little suckers with water whenever they go near it. I think I'll just get cozy on the couch with my Bailey's and a super soaker.

Happy tree decorating!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A little sumpin' sumpin' on the shelf.............

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about the Elf on the Shelf toy that is all the rage at Christmas time. Today I thought of an alternative to the Elf for grown-ups.

But first, the sushi guy at our local grocery store looks and talks like an elf. He is so excited about his sushi, too. I want to bring him home, dress him in a red suit, and put him on a shelf. I will let him get off the shelf to make sushi but that's all.


I want Bailey's on a shelf. I love Bailey's during the holiday season and I'm not talking about that stuff you buy at the store. I guess I should properly call it "Irish cream" since Bailey's is a trademarked name, but you get the picture. All that creamy goodness poured over crushed ice and enjoyed in front of a sparkling Christmas tree. It just screams holiday season.

So, I would very much like to wake up each morning and see where my Bailey's ends up. You know, on the shelf, at the table, in my coffee, at lunch, at dinner, under the table (wait, that's me).

I would like an Advent calendar with mini bottles. Why doesn't someone make that? Open a little door each day to reveal a tiny bottle of spirits to help you make it through the holiday season? Sure would make Christmas shopping a lot more fun.

Tomorrow I'm going to a party and thanks to my good friend, Fiona, I'm bringing a cocktail called "Naughty Rudolph." It's one of those sweet concoctions that is so easy to drink you don't even realize you've had enough until your earrings fall in the dip because you go a little hard on your impression of Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. Or something.

Seriously, though, the cocktail on a shelf idea could really take off. Imagine, a Cosmo in the closet, a martini in the mudroom, Kahlua in the kitchen, a brandy in the bedroom (whooo!). Talk about mischief!

Besides, what do you think the Elf does while you sleep?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The best day ever..........

We throw around the terms "best day ever" and "worst day ever" so lightly now, that they've sort of lost their meaning. Think about it - can you name your absolute best or worst day ever? Maybe, for some people, there is one definitive day that was filled with so much joy or so much tragedy that the day remains forever engraved in their mind and heart.

For me, it's a tough call. There have been so many best and worst days. The difference is, although all days eventually end, the best days can contain only so much joy until they are just a memory and the worst days must be left behind in order to move on.

And while there have been some really good days, few have qualified as "bests." But the ones that do....well, those I'll never forget.

I remember getting married. The first time. I wanted so badly to be married, to be a wife, to have a husband, to do the whole big, white wedding. And it was beautiful and wonderful and I felt special. It was a best day. Even though I eventually got divorced, that day made me something I always wanted to be, and I won't forget it.

But then came a worst day - when we realized divorce was inevitable and I knew I would have to tell my kids. I dreaded that day for several weeks until the agreed-upon day. I sobbed the night before, not knowing how I could manage to tell three little souls that their lives were about to be irrevocably changed. And then, when the day arrived, it was not a fraction of the horror I thought it would be. Little pragmatic kids, they took it in stride. I won't forget that day.

Another best day was the birth of my first child. I wanted to be a mom more than anything and the fact that it was about to become a reality saw me through hours of labor. I just knew I was carrying a son, and was absolutely over the moon to find out my baby was a daughter! A girl - I always wanted a daughter and so I felt my life was complete. It was a good day.

And then I found out I was having her sister. Siblings - a real family! I just knew she was a girl and was not surprised at all when she was born. Sweet from the start, with "old eyes," I knew she was a special gift. We had a unique bond from the beginning. Now I had two little girls, sisters forever. I envisioned the matching dresses, the sharing of secrets, the inevitable fights. Definitely a best day.

A few years later, I had a son. A boy! I wanted a son so badly. I already had two little girls and I knew this was likely to be my last baby, so I wanted, NEEDED a son. The pregnancy was completely different so I just knew he was a boy - and the ultrasound confirmed it. It was weird, knowing the sex of the baby, giving him a name before he was born. But it only made the anticipation that much better so that when he arrived in all his celebratory glory, it was such a best day.

Then, my second husband. Another chance at love, someone who "had my back" and held me up during the worst times with unwavering support. How could I be so lucky to have this chance at the kind of marriage I missed out on? Our special wedding, the blending of two families, was a best, best day.

And then....another daughter. Not a baby this time, but a daughter with my husband's eyes and a sweet soul and a loving nature. What a gift that I got to be her stepmom! The day we all became an "official" family, and my dad welcomed her with a special toast at our wedding. A best day.

From there, so many best days have been my gift. Interspersed with worst days - horrible days of pain and tears and uncertainty and longing and loneliness and sadness and defeat, these best days are what keep me going. So many fun times, great experiences, awards, recognition, joy, accomplishments, once-in-a-lifetime happenings - these are the best days.

And while I cannot pinpoint one single day in my life that is the best or worst day ever, I realize that very fact, in itself, is a blessing and testament to how lucky I am. To have joy intersect with sadness. Pain crossed with pleasure. Happy balanced by sad. Best and worst.

I'll take it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Elf on the Shelf

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? Do you even know what I'm talking about? Chances are, if you have kids in elementary school, you do. My kids, it seems, got too old just around the time the ugly little Elf made his appearance on the shelves at Target, Barnes and Noble, and everywhere else you look.

Elf on the Shelf is a trollish looking doll that shows up at Christmas time in the homes of small children, and, while they are sleeping, he causes all sorts of mischief and mayhem and it's just HILARIOUS. Apparently.

Not everyone is a fan. For instance, this blogger.  And who can blame her, really? Who has time for this? Don't we have enough to worry about during the holiday season without adding this creepy elf creature? And, from what I hear, he isn't very cooperative. For example, he's top-heavy and floppy so it's hard to get him to, say, wrap around the bannister, or strike a particular pose. You'd think for all the money they're making, they could put a little sand in his butt and some wires in his arms and legs so he is at least versatile.

I'm just going to admit it: if my kids were younger, I'd probably totally be doing the Elf on the Shelf thing. I'd be doing it up right, too. That Elf would be the most mischievous creature around and the things I'd come up with! I'd stress myself into a frenzy every night creating a new, riveting scene. And this is why I'm glad we're past the Elf stage.

Because, seriously? I have a hard enough time with the Advent calendars. First of all, my kids still insist on having those cheap, cardboard Advent calendars with crappy chocolate in them. You get to open a cardboard door each day and consume a smallish piece of icky chocolate stamped with a festive holiday design. Then, as if that's not enough, I also have to fill the wooden Advent house we have. It's adorable and I love it - it's like a big gingerbread house with 24 little doors and windows that open to reveal......well, whatever the hell you can fit in that tiny space, times four since I have four kids. Every year I'd knock myself out finding smallish treats (that were also Christmas-oriented) to fill the Advent house. Plus candy. Always the candy. Some years I'd even include little notes, telling what our plans were for the evening, or announcing a special outing. This year there's candy. And that's enough. I'd put money on the fact that my kids probably don't even know what Advent is, but the mere mention of the word has them salivating for chocolate.

I love the Christmas season, but it can get over the top. All the traditions that we feel we MUST uphold in order for the holiday to seem "right" can make us crazy. We knock ourselves out decorating, shopping, baking, hosting, wrapping, special-eventing, and year after year we just keep adding things on, thanks to some maniacal marketers who seem to think decorating the tree and hanging up stockings just aren't tradition enough. We need an Elf on the Shelf.

I seriously contemplated buying one now that my kids are older, just so I could desecrate his little Elf name by making him do naughty stuff that would seem hilarious to teenagers. Pose him in a tiny doll bed with a naked Barbie. Splay him out on the porch with several empty beer bottles strewn around. Wrap his puny little hands around a game controller and draw dark circles under his eyes to show he'd been up gaming all night. They should make a recordable Elf so I could make him talk back in a sassy voice. I could prop him up in front of the computer after I'd created him his own tumblr page. Watch his cheesy grin from the front seat of a Barbie motor home, keys dangling. Put him in the kitchen sink with some GI Joes for some hot tub action. Have him take up residence on the couch wearing flannel pj pants and eating peanut butter off a spoon. Teenager Elf! He's so festive! Of course, he would post all of his shenanigans on Instagram. Hashtag, awesome!

But I'm secretly glad I missed this rite of passage with my kids. I don't think they missed out; if anything, they didn't lose any sleep from seeing his creepy little face in their dreams. Have you SEEN the Elf?

He doesn't have FEET? WTF? His legs are literally just fabric tubes stuffed with.....I don't know, the nightmares of children? WHY DOESN'T HE HAVE FEET? Plus, what's with that pose? Yikes.

Merry Christmas!