Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Going for the Silver and Gold

Well folks, it's almost here. The Holy Grail in the race to parental immortality - Christmas. Yes, you may know it as the biggest holiday of the year, but as a mom, I think of it as the Olympics of parenthood. Halloween is the qualifying meet, birthdays are the semi-finals and Christmas is the medal round. It is comprised of several events: Cross-Country Shopping, Freestyle Wrapping, High Jump Hiding, Fabrication and Fiction, Decorating - Short and Long Program, Long Distance Shipping and Super Combined Assembly.

Christmas is the holiday that delights children through feats of fantasy and superhuman effort. No matter how well-prepared we are, it's a Herculean challenge that even steroids can't help. Every year we tell ourselves and our families that we're going to scale back, but once the carols start blasting out of the car radio, who can resist the temptation to create an experience so magical that your child will talk about it for decades?

We shop like wild animals hunting our prey. Depending on how late we are, the brain begins to play tricks on us, making us truly believe that our pre-teen daughter will adore an electric potpourri burner instead of the iPod Nano that was sold out. We trample each other in an effort to score the elusive X-Box 360, mistakenly hoping it will buy us a year of complaint-free children.

When the buying frenzy finally ends, we find previously undiscovered crawl spaces throughout our houses in which to hide our bounty, praying that our middle-aged memories won't fail us when we try to find them again. We wrap faster than butchers in a deli with paper that's ugly and standards that lower as the task wears on and the tape runs out.

Our houses turn into elaborate menageries of Christmas trees and ribbons and popsicle sticks glued together in reindeer shapes less we forget that CHRISTMAS IS COMING. We scale ladders and drain pipes and pole vaults in a frightening attempt to make our houses become beacons of holiday spirit and ridiculous amounts of energy consumption.

We spend countless hours in Post Offices and Shipping Stores attempting to get 80 lbs. worth of gifts shipped across the country overnight for less than our monthly mortgage payment.

As the night looms closer we weave elaborate tales of Santa and his colleagues - their likes, their dislikes and their ability to consume massive quantities of sugar and milk without going into diabetic or lactose shock. We use our non-dominant hands (or our co-workers) to write disguised thank-you notes to toddlers and gift tags on packages simply in an effort to embellish the ancient ritual.

Once the children have passed out from pre-holiday excitement, we swear like sailors and sweat like pigs as we assemble toys and equipment that have more parts than the space shuttle. We raid our cabinets for flashlight and electric toothbrush batteries when the 24-Hour Convenience Store is found closed for the first and only time all year.

When the morning comes, two hours later, our children loudly whisper and poke and pull and bounce and beg for us to COME AND SEE WHAT SANTA BROUGHT!! And we do. We drag our beaten, battered, exhausted bodies out of bed to gaze with Academy Award-winning surprise at the beautiful sights under the tree.

And year after year, it never fails to make us swell with pride to go through this effort and create this spectacle. Because there is no greater gift to a parent than a child's unbridled wonder and joy on Christmas morning. And for that one pure moment, it was so worthwhile.

Merry Christmas and Peace to Everyone!


At 9:12 AM , Blogger Finn said...

This is perfect! And so, so true. Thanks.

Hi - Michele sent me! Have a Merry Christmas.

At 9:37 AM , Blogger Chicka said...

LOL! And I remember the let down, kind of like preparing for a wedding - all the stress and preparation. Then aftewards it was like "all that for a few hours? And who's gonna clean up this mess?" (Well, duh - mom, of course!)

No matter how much we say we're gonna scale back, we don't either. I think there's subliminal messaging in those Christmas carols. And that's why they start playing them on Thanksgiving. Heh heh.

At 9:37 AM , Blogger Chicka said...

Whoops - Michele sent me.

At 11:00 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

OMG, this is a perfectly crafted perspective on the season. In all seriousness, have you considered submitting this to a newspaper for publication. This would make a wonderful column...and I'm willing to bet there are editors out there who would kill to receive such a well written piece.


At 11:15 AM , Blogger Plain Jane said...

Brilliant bit of writing. :) Not a mom here, but I really do get it. :) I agree with Carmi - send it it in!

Have a happy holiday!

Here from Michele's.

At 11:18 AM , Anonymous The Cryer said...

OK, so my kids are just getting to the age when we have to jump through all the hoops you just mentioned... so I'm sure I'll be joining you soon!

What a brilliant post-- great writing! Cheers!

At 11:31 AM , Blogger used*to*be*me* said...

Bravo! Well said.

Michele sent me.

At 1:33 PM , Anonymous mar said...

Mery Xmas to you too, wonderful post. Here via Michele's this time.

At 2:27 PM , Blogger Bluegrass Mama said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

My dh has an office in Milwaukee, so I've gotten to visit it a few times in the past couple of years, and I love it (though the winters are COLD!).

Boy, did I see myself in this post! I keep threatening to cut back, but then feel that urge to make it special for the kids. However, our youngest outed Santa this past Easter (yeah, the Bunny went down, too), so I'm thinking maybe it's time to follow year.

At 2:43 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

Actually Karen it is only 9.42 Friday morning here. I am up for the day LOL
Merry Christmas ( Michele didn't send me I just came over anyway )

At 3:11 PM , Blogger CarpeDM said...

I loved what you wrote about the potpourri burner instead of the iPod Nano. That was hilarious. This was a great post, Carmi's right, you should submit it.

Makes me glad I don't have kids. The cat's hard enough to shop for. 5000 little cat toys and all he wants to play with is the drawstring from my roommate's sweat pants. Sigh.

At 3:28 PM , Blogger CarpeDM said...

Just reading some of your past stuff. Why aren't you published? This is some thought provoking stuff. Funny but truthful. I'd rather read you then about those mothers who can never do any wrong and find the time to out-do Martha Stewart. Laughing over Momfia, by the way. You might like Jennifer Weiner's newest book, Goodnight Nobody. She's very funny as well.

At 6:26 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

WHO is Michele? And why do people go places she tells them to?

At 7:32 PM , Blogger Erin said...

Beautifully put!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

At 9:14 PM , Blogger Tara said...

Hi, here from Michele's.
Great description of a Mom's Christmas. I remember the year that my oldest said "Isn't taht weird. Santa has the same wrapping paper and tags that we do." Now I'm extra careful to have some different paper hidden away so it looks more like it came from Santa.

At 10:41 PM , Blogger kenju said...

True, and for me it is Christmas Past. Now that my children are grown and have families of their own, I am spared all the hullabaloo that you describe. Thank God!

At 9:04 AM , Blogger Pieces of Me said...

Merry Christmas!! Michele sent me!

At 9:19 AM , Anonymous Joan said...

Hilarious, wonderful, and so true! You've eloquently captured the reality of Christmas as well as the heart of it - bravo! I visited today to thank you for stopping by my blog, but I will have to come back in the future. I enjoyed reading very much.

A Blessed, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

At 9:32 AM , Anonymous Chickadee said...

What an excellent post! Very descriptive and creative. You've summed up the parent experience perfectly. I think I'm going to forward this to my mom. LOL.

At 10:02 AM , Blogger Prego said...

We do put ourselves through the wringer, don't we? It's worth it, if you have kids.


michele sent me

At 10:16 AM , Anonymous pia said...

have a wonderful Christmas

At 10:45 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Wonderful post! Christmas through the eyes of children is The Best! You describe this so very beautifully!!
I'm here fromMichele this A.M.

At 11:43 AM , Blogger Michael K. Willis said...

Great post! Michele sent me and I'm glad she did.

Hope you and yours have a very Happy Christmas :-)

At 12:02 PM , Blogger ribbiticus said...

wonderful post, karen! perfectly encapsulates the universal wish of parents to make christmas a magical time for their children. have a happy christmas!!! :)

At 3:13 PM , Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Very witty bit of writing. You hit the nail on the head, there.

After my wife said that she didn't want to go overboard and that money is a little tight, she bought my 3 1/2-year-old daughter about 18 presents. Ho ho ho.

Michele sent me.

At 3:30 PM , Blogger Joe said...

Too true!

"The Olympics of parenthood." That sums it up nicely!

Here via Michele.

At 3:51 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Back again from Michele dear Karen..And I wish you the Happiest Of Holdays...MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR, TOO!

At 3:54 PM , Blogger craziequeen said...

Perfect - I wanna come to your house for Christmas!!!!!

Michele sent me


At 4:26 PM , Anonymous kimbofo said...

An original but oh-so spot-on take on Christmas! Mind you, I don't have children and live on the other side of the planet to the rest of my family, so the whole Christmas thing feels very flat to me. I'm just really grateful to have a few days off work, where I can put my feet up, enjoy some nice wine and eat lots of yummy food!

At 10:29 PM , Blogger kontan said...

BATTERIES! OMG, gotta send hubby for batteries. thanks for your post! LOL, what a great description!

here by michele's

Merry Christmas eve eve! Have a holly jolly!

At 7:43 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Award yourself the Gold Medal, Karen.

Have a very Happy Christmas.

Michele sent me here.

At 7:49 AM , Blogger Chrixean said...

So true, Christmas is great especially when you're a child. Which is why all the stress of shopping and gift wrapping makes it all worth the while :D

Thanks for stopping by my site!

At 8:05 AM , Blogger Courtney said...

Makes it all worthwhile.
Merry Christmas!
Here via Michele.

At 8:23 AM , Blogger margalit said...

Hi, from Michele.

At 3:53 PM , Blogger margalit said...

Still havn't updated this, huh? :-) What, are you BUSY or something? :-)

I hope you're having a fun holiday and the kids aren't going apeshit over Santa...yet.

Michele sent me.

At 4:24 PM , Anonymous Kat said...

Haha, that's such a funny way to look at the holiday-filled fall season as it relates to parenthood. I think the most important thing is to keep the spirit of the holidays alive as it's a feeling your kids may lose over the next few years as they mature.

At 5:44 AM , Blogger FuzzBuck Fuzz said...

Wonderful post. Had me chuckling until the end where you rounded it off with a few words that brought a tear to my eye. You have a very engaging writing style. Nice one. (I agree with Carmi, btw)

P.s. Michele sent me ;)

At 8:34 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

Wow, Karen. What a post. Michele sent me over to witness your stress!

I don't have kids so I don't go through all that duress. I don't know if I could stand it. Maybe all you parents out there should think of converting to Judiasm, even if only for a few weeks of the year. Think of the time and money you'd save? LOL

At 9:40 PM , Blogger kontan said...

hope your Christmas was wonderful

here from michele's

At 9:43 AM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Yay! I finally got a blog roll, i'm adding you...=) great post, and soooooooooooo true!

At 11:11 AM , Blogger craziequeen said...

Hi Karen - so...did you get Gold??

Michele sent me


At 11:12 AM , Blogger Pink Pen said...


michele sent me.

At 3:26 PM , Blogger margalit said...

Time for a new post, dahlink! :-)

Michele sent me.


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