And so This is Christmas

And so this is Christmas, and what have I learned?  I have learned that what I thought was a passing fear of Santa Claus for my daughter, seems to be a true, deep-rooted fear of the man in the red suit.  I have learned that decorating my tree, hanging stockings and drinking coffee from my special “Holiday” mugs is as festive as I get.  I have learned that the Elf on the Shelf is just as creepy this year as he was when we first got him.  And I have learned that sitting down to watch my favorite Christmas movies while wrapping presents is one the best holiday traditions.


Let’s start with Santa.  As much as I love a good “kid crying on Santa’s lap” photo, I don’t like it when it’s my kid.  We tried once, when our daughter was one-year-old, and the only reason we even got a photo was because both my husband and I were also in the photo.  I practically had to sit on his lap myself, which I’m sure Santa enjoyed.

That was the beginning and the end.  We have not been able to get her to even approach Santa in four years.  So, my daughter decided a couple of years ago that walking past Santa’s Village and yelling her list at him was as brave as she was going to be.  A brilliant move on her part, since every year she still gets what she wants.

This year Santa’s Village was concealed by several bushes, trees and hedges.  Apparently the mall is trying to stop delinquent children from shouting their lists at Santa.  Being ever diligent and making sure Santa knew what she wanted Ella got on her tippy toes, peeked over the foliage and yelled her list to him.  New Santa’s Village décor be damned!

Next, let’s talk about home décor.  I’m lucky I get a tree up, and half the time I forget about my special holiday mugs until Christmas has already passed.  While I live in the ‘burbs where all the trees are perfectly decorated, my tree has been carefully cultivated over the last 13 years.  It is traditional, it’s not fancy, and I like to think of it as the tree version of a quilt.  I love my mismatched tree.  Be damned perfect Christmas trees!

This year we decided it was time we got into the outdoor lighting game.  Only to discover that our stucco exterior and lack of trim, created a logistical conundrum.  After talking to several neighbors, all of whom hang their lights with different methods, my husband figured out what would work best for him.  It took three weekends to hang two strands of icicle lights above our garage.  The only reason he bothered was Ella asking why “all the other houses have lights except ours?”  Icicle lights be damned!

We also went all out and hung garland from our bannister {a donation from former neighbors who were moving and decided it would look beautiful on our staircase.}  The garland has been in the box for two years, so we decided it was time we displayed it since someone’s generosity was clearly being disrespected.  We hung the garland only to discover a four-foot section of the lights are burnt out.  Right in the center of the staircase.  Garland be damned!

Ahh, the Elf on the Shelf, a gift from my mother-in-law four years ago.  I had never heard of it.  We didn’t have one when I was growing up.  This creepy elf is clearly a distant cousin of the clown in “Poltergeist.”   So, the first year when Ella was two, she named her elf Luke and we participated in his antics half-heartedly, forgetting to move him as many times as we remembered.


No, the clown elf did not clean up after himself...
No, the clown elf did not clean up after himself…

The next year we made some progress, and last year we made even more.  But, the elf never gets creative, he just moves from one shelf to another, and if he’s really adventurous, he hangs from a light fixture.  Until this year.  Her class at school now has it’s own elf, who does really cute things, thanks to a creative and wonderful teacher.

But it has sparked a conversation amongst the kindergarteners about what their personal elves did last night.  It has forced us to fully participate this year, although we have already forgotten to move him once.  And I don’t care how many times Ella says, “I hope Luke is in my room tonight,” it will never happen.  In a few years, I will tell her about the elf’s clown cousin, and she will thank me.

And finally, my favorite holiday movie.  Sure there’s “A Christmas Story” which I saw in the theatre when I was a kid and have loved it ever since.  “The Family Man” with Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni, a modern take on “A Christmas Carol” is one of my favorites. There’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” classics which I love.  And then there’s my favorite Christmas movie, “The Family Stone.”  This perfectly flawed, eccentric and fun family film with Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, hotty Dermot Mulroney, SJP, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Claire Danes is what Christmas is all about.

The reality is Christmas is hectic and stressful.  There’s a lot of pressure to get the perfect gift, or decorate the perfect tree, or light up your house so it can be seen from space “Gangnam Style.”  Then there’s the added pressure of having a “silly” elf at home, to sit on Santa’s lap, or to remember the holiday mugs which only get used one month out of the year.  But, at the end of it all, it’s really about friends and family.  Our Christmas is not perfect, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

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