The Holiday Hollow

December 27, 2016
Laura

img_0083This year, the first night of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Eve. That’s pretty cool, and not just because the two holidays coincided and we could all hold hands and sing together. It’s cool because, if you celebrate Hanukkah, you get to leap over the holiday hollow this year: that abyss between Christmas/Hanukkah and New Year’s when you kind of don’t know what to do with yourself and you feel like you’re falling and falling but the fall is so long that it drags on, so you find yourself wishing for the splat of the pavement if only to make the falling end. Then you hit New Year’s and, bruised as you might be from the impact, you manage to find a few toe holds or even a staircase back into real life.

Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but you know the time I mean. You might still have family in town, or time off of work. You’re all done celebrating but you don’t necessarily want to tear down the decorations. You’re waiting. You might have a lot of New Year’s resolutions, but you don’t feel like you have to enact them yet since, technically, it’s not the new year. Or maybe you have no resolutions. Maybe you’re just bored.

But this year, I’ve decided not to let it get to me. I’m going to start phasing in a few of my New Year’s resolutions (eating more fruit and veg, using my Waterpik every night) while phasing out my holiday behaviors (binge eating peanut brittle, falling asleep with my makeup on). I’m going to take down the Christmas tree because, God help me, I cannot chase the girl away from it even one more time without going insane. Instead of shuffling around waiting for the new year, I’m going to get busy preparing for it, so that on January 1 I can relax and hang out, knowing that everything is all prepped for a wonderful 2017 (inasmuch as I can control such things, which I realize is very little–but, God grant me the serenity and all that).

How about you? How are you spending the last week of 2016? Any tips on getting back to real life? Or do you avoid real life as long as possible?

It’s Been a Festive Week.

December 24, 2016
Laura

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMy kids are early to bed, early to rise, so we hadn’t gone out looking at Christmas lights until Monday morning, on our way to the grocery store. It was still dark and I noticed that many of the houses in our neighborhood had their lights on. It wasn’t exactly Candy Cane Lane, but I put on some Christmas music and we had some impromptu holiday fun!

I attempted to make red and green bagels. I made vegan, gluten-free chocolate clusters. I made peanut brittle, fudge, white chocolate truffles, and made several attempts at updating a family classic that no one really liked: divinity.

The boy watched and read How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1,742 times, and once he realized that I know most of the words by heart, started demanding that I narrate along with the cartoon. (Because I memorize books pretty easily, especially the dactyllic rhythms of Dr. Seuss, I think Sam now thinks I have all his books catalogued in my head.)

I tried to get Sam to dictate a letter to Santa, and I wrote a lame little list of my own.

We did some Christmas sticker crafts (and by “we” I mean “me”).

We braved the mall and took a tag off a sharing tree, then had a tantrum in the Lego store where I bought the cutest dragon-themed kit for the girl we’d selected–and no, the tantrum was not because the boy wanted the toy for himself or wanted a toy at all. You see, normally, when we go to the Lego store, we walk in a circle around the room, admiring all the little displays, and then we play with the tub of bricks they have out to amuse the children. But to accommodate for the crowd, they’d cleared out the play area, so our routine was broken. Then I broke it further by selecting a toy (which we’ve never actually done there) and standing in line to buy it. I’d unintentionally created a ritual around the Lego Store and then I broke it, thus upsetting my son and his rigid thinking. But we pressed on, as you have to, and got to the register (many thanks to the lady in front of us who tried very sweetly to talk to him and then let us skip ahead of her) and got out, with Mommy explaining what we were doing each step of the way and why. When we finally got back to the sharing tree to drop off our donation, the boy was palpably relieved. That yellow bag in my hand was like a pebble in his shoe, even as we browsed the Build-a-Bear store and looked at various mannequins (he says all mannequins look like Daddy–even the ones at the maternity store). Once it was safely in the bin, he perked up. Strange little sprite, my son, but how I love him.

We went to WildLights and took part in an indoor snowball fight.

The next day, it really snowed!

I reread A Christmas Carol.

We watched ALL the Christmas movies.

Then we thought of our loved ones, and how much we miss them, and how we hope they have a very merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and a happy New Year.

Scrooge, Lemon, and the Great Gonzo

December 23, 2016
Laura

dickens-scrooge_2070905b

I like to reread Dickens’ A Christmas Carol every year, and every year I come to the conclusion that when it comes to the movies, the Muppets did it best. As a narrator, Gonzo can’t be beat: he plucks the best lines from the book while carrying on comic banter with a rat. His sense of adventure adds endless giggles to what is, on its own, a thoroughly eerie tale. Of course, by eliminating some of the eerier parts, he also eliminates some of the impact. I don’t know how the Muppets could have softened the moment in Stave Three when the two children are revealed beneath the Ghost of Christmas Present’s cloak “Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish,” who are revealed to be Ignorance and Want. “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware [Ignorance], for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,” says the Ghost. One of the more important moments of Dickens’ tale, I’d say, but a little deep and dark for the general Muppets demographic. But still, I’d argue that the Muppets make the story more accessible than any other adaptation I’ve seen (Scrooged excluded, because, well, that’s not exactly Dickens), and how do you make something accessible? You cut the preaching, for one. You cut the arcane language. If you’re dealing with Dickens, you cut a lot of words all around.

And there are a lot of extra words in this text. More than any other Dickens novel I’ve read (which is not all of them, to be sure, but the most popular handful), this book (novella?) makes it clear that he was paid by the word. But that’s partly why I like to reread it. It takes a while to pick apart the excess verbiage, if it is really excess after all. I think I find a new favorite passage each year, but this year’s has nothing to do with the Christmas spirit or Scrooge’s salvation. It’s a chunk of text that I don’t recall hearing in any TV rendition, but it struck a chord with me: Continue Reading

The Boy Discusses the Holidays

December 22, 2016
Laura

img_0531Mom: Are you excited about Christmas?

Boy: No Christmas!

Mom: What do you want for Christmas?

Boy: No want Christmas!

Mom: Did you ask Santa?

Boy: NO!!!

Mom: Do you like Christmas cookies?

Boy: No–uh, yes. Sam take a bit of them. Sam take a bite of cookie. Sam take a bite of cake.

Mom: What’s your favorite flavor?

Boy: Chocolate cake. Mama, Chocolate cake. Chocolate cake.

Mom: Do you like frosting?

Boy: Yes. Sam like frosting. Please, Mama, please.

Mom: Should we bake something today?

Boy: Bake chocolate cake. Do doggy’s house for dinner.

Mom: Doggy’s house?

Boy: Doggy’s house. Sam go Snoopy’s house. Sam take Snoopy’s house for dinner.

Mom: You want to make a cake that looks like Snoopy’s house?

Boy: Sam make bread. Snoopy wear chef’s hat. Cook.

Mom: Are you going to help me make Christmas dinner?

Boy: Sam make bananas. I make bananas.

Mom: What else?

Boy: Sam make chocolate cake flavor for Sam’s birthday. Sam trade with mama.

Mom: Trade?

Boy: …

Mom: Should we put on some Christmas music?

Boy: Yes.

Mom: What’s your favorite Christmas song.

Boy: Rudolph. Sam say, “Alexa, play some Christmas music.”

Mom: OK

Boy: Alexa, play jazz Christmas music.

(Commence dancing. End conversation.)

A Last-Minute Letter to Santa

December 22, 2016
Laura

santaDear Santa,

It’s been a while since I wrote a letter like this, and I understand that you primarily take requests from children, but I have a lot on my mind this year and I thought I might as well take a shot by sending you a good old-fashioned Christmas list. These aren’t the kinds of things that can fit into a stocking or a brightly wrapped box. No, like most grown-ups’ Christmas lists, mine is full of intangibles. And before you crumple this up and throw it out, I’ll tell you I’m not asking for peace on Earth. I know that’s impossible, or else it would manifest like it did in that one Simpsons episode where peace meant everyone on Earth had died. I’m not asking you to change the nature of humanity, nor do I expect you have the power to tinker with the clockwork of world or local politics, any individual human heart or the nature of groupthink. My requests are much more selfish than that. Because while I know you’re not a miracle worker on the grand scale, I’ve got to hope there are some sparks of magic in that sack of yours, and I could certainly use a little magic this year. Continue Reading

Blog at WordPress.com.