It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, Bitches.

I am literally shitting pumpkin spiced foods and beverages out my ears at this point, that is how much I am up in this fall business.

I have been for weeks.

Every year, I find myself here. Writing a blog post about how fucking fabulous fall is. Others have done the same, about decorative gourds season, and about the bliss that comes with the best fucking season of all seasons to ever exist.

Eventually I get sick of it. I tire of the maple candles and the apple picking and the farm stands and the pumpkin spiced flavors and the basic bitch UGG boots. Then I move on to Hallmark movies and cherry and cinnamon flavor palettes and holiday music and putting my tree up before Thanksgiving.

But for now, it’s fall. It’s fall and I am in my zone.

I’ve reached the point where I stop procrastinating on the Halloween costumes, and they begin to take their final form. My two oldest kids – 15 and 11 – still dress up to please their brother, and I am ready. I am ready to sew, tuck, pin, and hot glue that shit together like the most Pinteresty Mom you’ve ever known.

My fall display has been out on the front porch for several weeks now, but I’m ready for phase two: excessive fall display. I’m talking hay bails, I’m talking corn stalks, I’m talking fucking potted marigolds.

Two weeks before Halloween, it will morph to Halloween-themed.

November 1st, we move back to excessive fall display with a flair of Thanksgiving.

And about a week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas bonanza takes over and my fall display moves to the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

I have a system. I’m ready. It’s go time.

As I am typing this, I’m actually – legitimately – sitting here, yelling -nay, screaming – in my Steroid Starla voice: LET’S DO THIS! LET’S GO! Because fall is my jam, and I’ve got my canning gear out.

Literally. I’m ready to make some pickles. To pickle some watermelon rinds. To give salsa and pesto and spaghetti sauce another go around. To make up some fucking fruit butters and canned pie fillings. I hate cooking, and I especially loathe the heat and load of canning. And yet the thought of spending an entire day over a steaming pot of vinegar and boiling water has tingles shooting out of every hole of my Martha Stewart reading – water bath canning – yes, I can do this and no, none of us are going to get a deadly intestinal disease from improper processing – head.

And the icing on this fall’s apple cake is: we seem to have escaped our typical, autumnal heat wave. For quite a few years, it would be a muggy 105 degrees for several weeks through September and October. We would slog around in the heat, wondering how we could ever celebrate autumn when it feels like we live on the equator in the middle of summer.

But – fingers crossed – with the exception of a couple days of heat here, and a few days of humidity there – it is cooling down.

Cooling down for, you guessed it: layers.

The thing I’m loving this year is the new appreciation for basic ass girls like me being into this shit. Like finally people are standing up to the naysayers of all-things-pumpkin spice and proclaiming: NO! You will not make fun of me for enjoying the fusion of nutmeg and cloves! NO! You will accept and embrace the addition of cinnamon to create a trifecta of flavors that have literally been around for centuries. “You know pumpkin spice doesn’t even have pumpkin in it!” the naysayers proclaim, and finally we are there, ready to respond: no shit … it’s called pumpkin spice because it’s the spice used in pumpkin pie, you ignorant, nutmeg-hating twats.

So today is the first day of fall and I’m feeling fabulous about it. I’ve got crafts staged in the garage, and pumpkin spice pancake mix prepped in the fridge for breakfast. It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, bitches.

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Dinner For One

Valentine’s Day is this week. ARE YOU READY?

Someone said this to me today when I was picking up my kids from tennis. I smiled and nodded, and said “what about you?!”

In reality, I should have said “Dafuq? Ready for WHAT?”

Valentine’s Day, traditionally, is a huge disappointment for me. Most years, my husband is at work. Since he works nights, that means my idea of a sexy weeknight outfit is stained yoga pants and my MOM AF t-shirt with a gaping hole under the left armpit, and last week’s spilled rice still stuck to the chest.

There’s also the simple fact that I don’t particularly give a shit about commercial holidays, Valentine’s Day being one of them.

I guess my disappointment actually comes from the fact that I feel like I’m expected to care – a lot – about the vacuous, mundane celebration of love, when in actuality I just don’t. Sorry! I don’t.

I get weary of always feeling like I have to explain or answer to people just why I am the way I am, or of having to justify my feelings. I don’t owe anyone anything, including – and especially – an explanation of who I am. Yet still, I have an entire deck of excuse cards, always ready to pull out for why I don’t what others do.

And as with many commercialized holidays, there is also the obvious: why do I need a special day to remember or honor or celebrate something I should be doing *every day?*

[Cue the high horse.]

This isn’t to be confused with the celebration of Valentine’s Day with my kids. I am all over that shit. Any opportunity to use colloquialisms and special events to teach them how to show people that you love or care for them, I’m all for it.

What I do for Valentine’s Day with my kids is pretty basic, too. I buy a gift bag for each of them, and slowly – over the course of about a month – fill it with things I see while I’m out that make me think of them, know they’ll like, or that I think they need. When the bag is full, it gets topped off with tissue paper and, vóila.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, I make our meals V-Day themed. Because it’s fucking cute.

As the years go by, and my kids get older, though, they become less and less impressed with the commercialism of it as well. That, I believe, is in large part due to the fact that you can’t go anywhere without the holiday being shoved down your throat.

Honestly, CVS: I’m looking at you.

I’m trying to then gear it more towards teaching them to give gifts that have personal meaning. An old necklace I had to pass on, a card that’s just silly, or something I saw while out that was only $1 but made me think of them. Arguably the most commercial of all holidays, Valentine’s Day seems an opportune time to teach gift giving sans commercialism.

So when I first met my husband, it was just before Valentine’s Day, and I will never forget his rant about how much he loathed the material aspect of it all (ironic given my husband’s propensity to acquire stuff, but we’ll save that for another post)…

Being the late stage millennial hipster that I am, and not knowing how much of a hoarder of things he really was yet, I ate that shit up. Ate it with a spoon.

I, too, had a deep disdain for The Man, and all of the ceremonious, faux holidays that came with it! What a match we were – we had so much in common philosophically!

That year, on Valentine’s Day, we agreed that we would hang out anyway and not be – like – romantic. But we were planning to hang out anyway, and it just happened to be Valentine’s Day, and we had to eat so we should probably cook too. Definitely not a Valentine’s Day thing though because fuck The Man.

[Cue the second face.]

(A little side anecdote for you guys: having also had a conversation about how my unbeknownst husband-to-be had never had Macaroni and Cheese with BBQ sauce mixed into it before; I, trying to be coquettish, said “well I’ll just make it for you on Valentine’s Day then.” We did hang out that day and made mac and cheese. And if you guys really want to know how intolerable this whole thing became, when I showed up he said he thought it would be REALLY ARTISANAL if we added some red onion and FAKEN BACON, which he had pre chopped just assuming I would be fine with such a culinary abomination, quite obviously a portends to what was to come in our marriage no doubt. I know, you guys… I know…)

Anyway, so then we got married and suddenly it was like: okay yeah, but married people do Valentine’s Day, and they like it. So we thought: well, shit, if other people do it and like it, we probably should too.

The first year, we went on a fucking gondola ride in the swampy canals of Long Beach. Name me something more cliche to do on Valentine’s Day than that, I’ll wait…

[Cue the crickets.]

To this day, it remains to have been the most uncomfortable and awkward two hours of my life. I mean the boat was cool and all, but the guy doing the paddling sang while looking directly into our eyes, with a really weird I’m-borderline-sexual-about-this-song-and-paddling-gig, then turned and said he would “give us privacy.” All the while, dirt bags and homeless people were hanging out along the canal waterfront; one guy so drunk he repeatedly belched, seemingly in tune with our gondola guide’s song, which at that point had turned into something of a rhythmic, hip-thrusting chant. Towards the end, a lady and man in matching tight-fitting speedos and muscle shirts paddle-boarded past us, screaming at each other.

For years, we tried. Well, I tried. Or at least, tried to get on board. My husband always got home from work super late, pretending to be all stressed out because he got “stuck in traffic” (he had really just worked late like he always does). I would make a romantic meal, or I actually put on makeup for once, and then I would sit there – the doting wife – tapping my toe while I waited for him to get home.

It was so ridiculous.

One year we went out to a Japanese restaurant and I ordered this sautéed edamame dish that was so goddamned good I basically woofed it down like a pig with a feed bag on her face.

The next year, I saw a Groupon for a pearl necklace and was convinced that I needed those pearls. So my husband got them for me, but there was also a big Lakers game on that night so he threw them in my general direction as he made a beeline for the TV to turn on the game.

Then he started working overnights, and Valentine’s Day sort of just faded away.

I’m certain he has gotten me cards, either at CVS or one he printed off the Internet, typed message and all, since then. But every year it has been less and less of an effort. This year, I am firmly expecting not even an acknowledgment of the day.

To be honest, it has been a relief. That is, until I started feeling like people wanted an explanation as to why we didn’t celebrate as ostensively as possible.

The other day, we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s fifteenth birthday, and the topic of the swiftly approaching Valentine’s Day came up. Everyone was talking about their plans.

I was talking about my kids.

People were saying they had dinner reservations (for two), had special gifts coming in the mail, and my mother in law even said she and my father in law would be going on a boat cruise.

I said I would be making a cutesy dessert for my kids that night, and/or leaving them at home and making a dinner reservation for one since my husband will – obviously – be working. I was mostly joking; the truth was I would do the dessert and then binge watch You on Netflix (assuming I don’t finish the season beforehand).

In response, I got all these pity kind of faces. Like oh poor you, you’ll be so lonely, so sad, and so on.

Normally, I would start up my canned speech about how commercial and material Valentine’s Day is. I would blather on about the “why do I need a holiday to do what I already should be doing” sanctimonious speech I always give. And I would start up all the excuses I could fathom for why my husband and I ain’t doing shit at all.

This time, I didn’t go down that road, though. I just said: “I love myself enough to not need all of that.”

It cleared the room, and it’s true.

I don’t need my husband to buy me flowers (I buy them for myself), or candy (my tastes in candy change frequently, so it’s better that I pick out my own anyway). Cards are nice, but a couple of words in passing are just as good. I don’t need the fancy dinners and the boat rides and the romantic walks and the wine tasting limo rides to feel good about my place in my relationship and, more importantly, my life.

That may not be the case for everyone, but I think every relationship is different. For me and my husband’s, it works. And I’m done explaining it away because people just can’t accept that not everyone does what everyone else seems to do.

I’m perfectly happy and in love with my yoga pants and Mom AF t-shirt, stains and all. Don’t like it? Enjoy your gondola ride.


All I Want For Christmas Is For The Holiday Debating To Stop

It’s the 21st century, and I would wager a bet that there is one thing historians will one day point to as defining these earliest decades of the age: the Internet debates. 

You know them. 

They are the debates in which everyone has an opinion that is confused for fact, and it needs to be heard. Loudly.

They are often arguments about the right way to parent. Or, generally speaking, how people do things in different ways, all the while believing theirs to be the only right way.

Everyone involved is undoubtedly offended at some point.

This year’s Christmas season is not lacking in them, the Internet debates. At the strike of midnight on Halloween night, the holiday-related debates started seeping out the woodwork of every crack and crevice the Internet has to offer.

The people who decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving kicked it all off in the debate against those that wait until their turkey has digested.

Shortly after, people started spitting hatred at each other over Thanksgiving turkey or Thanksgiving ham.

It continued with the people that do the Elf on the Shelf versus the people that think it’s creepy and/or over the top and/or teaching your kids to adhere to an authoritarian government’s surveillance. 

(A bit much on the last point there, wouldn’t you say?)

Then it was the people that maintain Santa Claus is real (at all costs) fighting – sometimes virulently – against those that couldn’t lie to their children for any reason. Ever.

This was around the time it became insufferable, as it does every year.

And this year has, so far, been a real doozy. It’s been a lot of discussion about consent and ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which I have written about on this blog. It’s been the age old correctness of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” It’s even gone down the dark hole of whether or not Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer has secret and insidious messaging to it.

The most recent debate I saw float up out of nowhere in the comments section on Facebook was White versus Colored. As in the color of lights people put on their trees. I could not believe some of the things people were saying, either. Straight lined, cold blooded hatred and bitterness towards people of the side opposing.

Is it just me, or have things gotten a little weird? Culturally speaking, I mean.

Political correctness and everyone’s opinion suddenly being considered fact has effectively taken over not only the Internet, but daily life. I’m not talking about people giving you actual facts… I’m talking about opinions, and that escalating to being offended. At my local grocery store, the cashiers keep a list of holiday greetings they are and are not allowed to say to people for fear of offending someone while checking out their cheese curds and quinoa.

The folly in it all is it’s destroying everything people have, and for what? To prove a point? To be right? To be less offended? 

So you have chosen not to do Elf on the Shelf for your kids. Great! It isn’t necessary to go on a crusade to therefore stop others from doing it, even going as far as to tell your kids to tell their friends that their elves are creepy and perverted.

Or you are an atheist and offended by the mere idea of The Nativity. Cool. I have beliefs too. That doesn’t mean I insist that every thing inconsistent with my own beliefs be taken down around my hometown, as a group of atheists in my community recently suggested of local nativity displays. 

With all of these debates, there are two camps: those that do, those that don’t. There is no in between, and it all seems to be rooted in a whole lot of judgment. What the proponents of each side fails to realize, though, is that what they do actually bears no weight on anyone else.

All I want for Christmas is for the debates to stop. 

I don’t mean for people to all suddenly believe in the same things. And I don’t mean for people to start ignoring facts, let’s be clear there. I just mean – maybe – for the holiday season we could give each other the gift of keeping our divisive, judgmental opinions to ourselves.

Maybe we could have a little more understanding that other people live life differently. And that it’s okay. Your neighbor can eat whatever they want for the holidays, and in turn you have the freedom to have your Elf on the Shelf engage in all the shenanigans you want, unencumbered. You prominently display your nativity scene on your front yard, the guy down the street doesn’t celebrate any holidays at all and you keep your mouth shut about it.

After all, it’s just a holiday. Let people have it for whatever they want it to be (or not). 

Then again, maybe this – like everything else – is just a debate waiting to happen.

I Can’t Believe I Have To Explain This To You People; How “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “The Little Mermaid” Have Proven Our Cultural Ignorance

I remember the first time I heard the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I was riding in the car with my mother. It was Christmastime, I was visiting her in Seattle as I always did for the holidays. We were on our way to some dive bar, where she would hang out in the bar while I sat, alone, in the dining room section with a book. I was 15.

She was dressed to the nines, ready for a night out and she sang (more like belted) along with the song as her wild and big hair whipped and gyrated around the car to the melody. It was the Barry Manilow version, and I will never forget my mom oo’ing and ahh’ing with the song.

This was in 1997. Now, 21 years later, I am 36 years old and cannot hear that song without that horrifying memory. But it wasn’t the song that brings up the horror; no, let’s be clear here –  it was my mother.

The song was innocuous then, as it is now.

Similarly, I can remember the first time I saw ‘The Little Mermaid.’ I was somewhere around 8 years old. My parents were still married, ‘The Little Mermaid’ had just been released in theaters. My dad took me to see it, and while I didn’t want to go in the theater (I may have been younger, because I was scared), I ended up loving the film. Since then, I have seen it countless times, hundreds or even thousands in fact, and every time my favorite scene is the “Kiss the Girl” scene. They’re in the boat. It’s romantic. The fish are all singing and – I don’t know … it’s just really magical, okay. 

For almost 30 years, and as a woman with a strong sense of bodily autonomy who is raising two daughters and one son to understand the importance of consent, it is still my favorite scene/song.

You guys can imagine, then, my complete and utter shock at the news that radio stations, a cappella choirs, and all manner of places and people are now banning the two songs of my past.

I completely get that we live in a culture where everyone is offended by everything. All the time. That is our 2018 reality, and I suspect it will only continue to get worse as the years plug along.

I’m not sure how it got to that, although I have my suspicions.

Regardless of the reason, or reasons, for people in general being more offended by more things these days, there’s the real thorn in my side of the issue that has to be pointed out: the hypocrisy of it all.

I saw a meme today that says it perfectly:

Credit: Me.me

Right then.

Here’s a lyric from the last couple of years that I find offensive: 

“You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe” – Nicki Minaj

There are so many of them like that, too many to mention. They are about rape. They are about gang banging. They are about the objectification of women and their bodies. But I digress… The point is that if you find that stupid hoe nonsense to be perfectly acceptable, while finding “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or a children’s song to be just too far, I can’t believe I have to explain this to you people, but: you are hypocrites.

Honestly.

On the flip side of it, there is that sticky issue of consent, because don’t get me wrong, even though I think that both songs are completely harmless, I also think they do raise a serious point on the matter.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” on the surface, sounds like a man trying to pressure a woman into staying at his place and, presumably, getting warm in his bed. A few years ago was the first time I heard someone claim it had a “rapey vibe” to it. As if that wasn’t an intelligent enough analysis of the song and its narrative, this year’s holiday season was ushered in by the pearl-clutching ladies of the Internet sharing blog after blog in which headlines like “Baby It’s Cold Outside – EWWW” took down the decades-old ballad.

‘The Little Mermaid’ – the other of our most recently banned songs – is of the same ilk. She wants to be a human and to marry this guy (after literally seeing him once after a shipwreck, whatever you do you Ariel), but it isn’t socially acceptable in her mer-world to do so. What’s laughable about people calling into question the matter of consent in “Kiss the Girl,” though is that Ariel signed a contract. Literally, in plain English, it says that she can be a human and get her voice back if the guy kisses her, and she signed it. How much more consent do you need?

In reality, both really are about consent; but not the way the naysayers of the Internet would have you believe. They’re both about women who actually want to say yes, each in their respective ways; but who both live in a time or place in which it is not socially acceptable to do so. So if you want to be offended, be offended but for the right reason.D

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You Guys Need To Chill With The Elf On The Shelf Hate

I’m going to drop a real bomb on you guys, here. It’s a doozy. Brace yourselves.

I do the Elf on the Shelf for my kids.

Yeah, that’s right. I have the Elf on the Shelf. Not just the Elf on the Shelf, but one for each of my kids plus an Elf for my older dog and the reindeer for my puppy.

That’s five – count ’em, FIVE – stuffed dolls that I take out every holiday season, and move around nightly, creating hijinks and antics. I even buy the accessories now. All for the enjoyment of my children.

<Insert fainting in shock and horror GIF>

I started about five or six years ago and my kids loved it. I mean LOVED. I never tied it to behavior, like some parents do. A couple times if my kids were fighting I’d have the elves do their thing, but ALSO leave a note: “Santa says quit fighting!” Nothing beyond that, though. If I forget a night, whatever. It becomes a joke that Mom blew it, because they’ve also always known it was me moving those silly things around.  

I always used to say that I would never do stuff like that (I may have even said it here on my blog). You know that arrogant person that has zero kids who knew everything they would and would not do as a parent? That was me, and the Elf on the Shelf was that thing I definitely wasn’t going to do. Even for a period of time after I had my children.

At some point, though – somewhere in the process – I realized something so unimaginable and profound, it may come as even more of a shock to you guys than the simple fact of me doing the Elf on the Shelf:

My children’s’ childhoods are about their enjoyment, not my own personal judgments and opinions. Yours too. 

You guys can imagine, then, that I feel pretty fucking accosted on a daily basis now, when I log onto the Internet to see a stream of hate for the Elf on the Shelf in every feed I come across. Articles. Blogs. Opinion sites. People’s random Facebook status updates…loaded with hatred and loathing for this simple family tradition. 

See that’s the thing I’ve noticed about the people that don’t do the Elf on the Shelf… they’re just like vegans. The old joke about vegans goes like this: do you know how you can tell someone is a vegan? Don’t worry…they’ll tell you. All the haters of the Elf on the Shelf seem to be capable of doing during the holiday season is telling people that and why they hate the thing. 

The Elf on the Shelf is what you make of it. It can be a tool to control your kids’ behavior for the month or so before Christmas. It can be a fun little family tradition you do every night during the holiday season.

It can also be something you don’t bring into your home.

That’s your prerogative. 

Those of you that don’t, though, need to take a serious chill on all the hate. Honestly. Chill the fuck out.

I get that you guys – adults – think it’s creepy. I get that the thing has this sort of voyeuristic look to it’s face. I have a bitchy look to my face, you don’t see people straight up calling me a bitch every time they log onto the Internet. (At least that I’m aware of.)

Some people use it as a weird little guy sitting on a shelf, spying on you – or whatever. Those are the people that call the Elf on the Shelf (to be clear, a doll made of felt and stuffing) a “pervert.” That’s us – adults – applying our shitty experiences to otherwise innocent things. Dolls, for fuck’s sake. Why stop at the Elf on the Shelf? Why not consider every doll or toy or fake-slightly-weird-looking toy “creepy” and ban them from your house? 

I understand that it’s just another lie we tell our kids. Between Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy… adding another make-believe fantasy to lighten up the heaviness of the modern childhood – well that’s just too fucking far. Right, Monica – mother of one who most definitely will not play in to letting her child have an ounce of fucking levity, from Day One?

Chill the fuck out, Monica.

Some people use it as a behavioral tool, as in the elf doesn’t move if you’ve been bad. To those people, just waiting around every corner is some lady, clutching her pearls, ready to comment about how people shouldn’t need a doll to keep their kids in line. Alright, Pearl Clutcher, fair enough. But you know what is better than judging the struggles a parent has with their kids? Keeping your fucking judgments to yourself.

(In the words of our Holy Mother of Orange County, Vicki Gunvalson: “judge me when you are perfect.”)

And don’t even get the ineffable writers at the likes of Scary Mommy or Bustle started on the mere hassle of doing the whole Elf thing every night. I mean, for goodness sakes, you’ve fed and clothed your children, now you purchased a little doll to move around every night, voluntarily I’ll add, and you have to do this for – what, like a month? And the only payment for this unbelievably agonizing task is your children’s happiness?!

I get it.

I get that the thing has a creepy face, like every other doll your kids have.

I get that fantasy is another word for “imagination,” and there is no place for that shit in a child’s head these days.

And – more than anything – I understand that the plight of the modern parent is that you’ve had all these kids, and yet consider the majority of their kid-ness to be a giant inconvenience to your own life.

I get it. We all do.

But really, guys. Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

And, shut up.

I’m Over Christmas

I took down our Christmas decorations on Christmas Day.

I’m not even kidding, you guys. I did. Even before the grandparents were out the door, after watching the kids open an ungodly amount of gifts, I was taking shit down.

I’ve just had it with the clutter and the dust and, well, the holiday.

I know. I’m a scrooge.

We had gorgeous Christmas decorations. Gorgeous. Multiple trees. Beautiful lights. The works.

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But as the weeks wore on, things started to irritate me. The baby was constantly spreading the ornaments around the house, so every night I had to traipse around and find them all, put them back, then start all over the next day. Also, as we drove around looking at other people’s outdoor lights, I realized how uncoordinated and – I don’t know – sloppy ours were.

And then there was that whole fire thing that happened in the weeks that led up to Christmas.

One night, about three weeks ago, my daughter and I were on our way home from the gym and we noticed there was a glare from an apparent fire, still quite a way’s away. Two hours later our power was cut. Our entire county had been cut because the fire was rapidly spreading towards the ocean, and had hit some transformers along the way.

By 11 that night, my mother was on her way to our house, having been evacuated from her apartment. By midnight, several of our friends had been evacuated, many of whom tragically lost their homes in the subsequent days that followed.

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For two weeks, the fires consumed our lives. You may have heard of them – the Thomas Fire, the Skirball Fire… just two of the several that popped up around southern California and ravaged our communities like no fire has ever ravaged them before.

So while all of this was happening, there was no Christmas preparation going on, or holiday activities, because everything was closed. You could see the fires coming over the hills from our window, we were constantly wondering if we should pack things to be ready to evacuate ourselves. (Our town in particular was, fortunately, spared.)

Then there was the air quality that followed; which continues to be on and off now – even though the fires have pushed up to the north. People were stuck in their homes, the city hall and libraries were handing out free respirator masks for people to wear at all times. At times the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see very far at all; the majority of the schools essentially closed for Christmas break two weeks early.

Except no one could do anything but stay inside.

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What this all did to my house was leave a thick layer of dust and ash all over my beautiful Christmas decorations. By Christmas morning, I was just ready for it to be cleaned up.

So I took that shit down on Christmas Day.

While other people were sipping hot cocoa by the fire and helping their kids set up new toys, I was furiously packing up my Christmas music box collection, putting away the ornaments and trees, and dusting and vacuuming.

It felt freeing.

 

It didn’t just feel freeing from the ash and soot of those fires that seemed to cover everything in my house, including my beautiful decorations.

It felt freeing from the gimme gimme gimme of Christmas that it always ends up being about.

It felt freeing from the extensive list of social functions I had to put on a face and wear regular clothes to. The potlucks where everyone wore red, because everyone looks like shit in green; and the work parties where the entire Human Resource department lets loose after one too many cocktails, busting into a grind session on the dance floor in front of the CEO of the company (that. actually. happened. at. my. husband’s. work. party. you. guys. no shits.)

And it felt freeing from the worry that there was someone I forgot to gift to, or a vendor I forgot to tip.

Did you guys know you are supposed to tip your cleaning lady an entire week’s wages for Christmas? You’re also supposed to tip the newspaper guy, the gardener, the mailman, give gifts to all the people that do your hair and your nails; you’re supposed to leave out a bin of snacks and drinks for the UPS and the Fedex guys for the entire month of December too.

I gave my cleaning ladies each an extra $20 and a tin of cookies, and the gardeners got cookies as well (they smoke pot before they get here, so I’m pretty sure they enjoyed those more anyway). But the guy who ruins my newspaper every day, or the lady who delivers my mail opened up and damaged …they weren’t getting anything.

And a bin of snacks and drinks for the UPS and Fedex guys? Fuck that noise.

I think this is all really why I am over Christmas. And, in part, why I took down my decorations so quickly.

Taking them down was not only moving on from the tragedy and difficulty of the fires that had befallen my community in the weeks before the holiday; it was a big middle finger to the obligations and expectations I find myself presented with every year, and yet am finding harder and harder to continue engaging in.

After all, it’s about the meaning of Christmas. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anything about exact tip amounts or fucking bins of snacks for service employees that are already getting paid. Neither is it about getting shit faced at the work party or dirty dancing in ugly Christmas sweaters.

I’m over Christmas. Are you?

Repeat After Me: It’s OK If People Want To Do Christmas Early

Ugh.

I am so sick and tired of people and their popular shit to be upset about on the Internet.

Like really.

As many of you know, Halloween was just a couple of days ago. I, personally, had a great Halloween. As in, I didn’t do shit. My kids dressed up in their annual themed costumes the week prior for a Halloween party at the tennis club (see below), and didn’t even decide to go trick or treating until pretty much the day prior.

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But my older kids are old enough to just go out with friends on their own, and the baby was way too young…I mean he probably would have had fun looking at all the kids out and about (he loves kids), but the last thing I wanted to do was run the risk of hearing some local asshole tell me “he’s too young for candy, it’s obviously for you.”

So I stayed home with the baby. We had not one trick or treater.

Sure enough though, the very next day I logged on to the good ol’ Facebook and every asshole was bitching and complaining about people jumping straight over Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I present to you just a few examples of the oh-so-clever memes I saw that morning:

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First thing, I get it. I. Get. It. A lot of people feel overwhelmed with Christmas, what with all the merry and joy and shit going around. I also understand completely that here in America, we love our Thanksgiving.

But there are a few things to consider.

1. America is not the only goddamned country on this stupid planet; really now when will you people get that?

The Thanksgiving celebrated at the end of November is an American holiday.

American.

Which means that if people over in France or Great Britain or Uganda or China or Iceland or – I don’t know – any country or province other than fucking America wants to start getting all jazzed and shit about the holiday season, why must we begrudge them?

The thing about the Internet is that it’s not an American-only thing, which means the constant griping and bitching about people skipping American Thanksgiving and heading on to Christmas on the Internet is seen by everyone, universally. Why should they have to listen to that shit? Why, I ask?

2. Did it ever occur to you people that the holidays are stressful, in part, because of how quickly they go by?

Especially when you are a parent, it is so hard to cram everything in.

There are the holiday events, the school plays (we homeschool, so thankfully don’t have those), the holiday shopping…oh wait, more holiday shopping, the outdoor lights, the indoor decorations, the Christmas parties with friends, Christmas parties for work, Christmas parties with family, nightly Elf on the Shelf nonsense, the cookie baking, the candy making…not to mention every day life and the onset of cold and flu season.

Life is fucking busy enough as is. Then you add the pressure and stress of getting all that other crap done for the holidays, it seems only reasonable that it would – or potentially could – be more enjoyable and much less stressful if we were given more than a few fucking weeks to get it all done.

3. Your reasons aren’t everyone else’s reasons. Narcissists.

There are people celebrating Christmas in the middle of June because they’ve been given one week to live and wanted nothing more than one more Christmas with their family.

That’s an extreme one, but can any of you get out of your own piddly lives for -like- one minute and consider that other people have different lives, and therefore different reasons for doing things?

Including getting geared up for Christmas early.

For us, our house has been a little glum lately. My husband’s grandfather – the kids’ great grandfather – died about a month ago, his funeral was just last weekend. It’s gloomy in our house. Beyond that, the busy season is in full gear at Nick’s job, meaning he’s gone or asleep for almost 18-20 hour periods, every day and night of the week.

We need some fucking cheering up around here, which was why I decided to let the kids pull out the Christmas stuff the day after Halloween, and why I cranked up the Christmas jams playlist on Spotify today while we worked on crafts for the baby’s birthday party.

And plus, my kid fucking enjoy Christmas. It’s OK for me to extend that a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Like really, their extra merriment is not a detriment to society. I promise.

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I guess I’m just getting sick and goddamned tired of everyone in this world thinking they can tell other people how to live their lives.

Or, if someone does something another person or two doesn’t approve of, that everyone and their mother has a right to question the legitimacy of that person’s decisions. Then it goes viral on the Internet and suddenly it’s like a culturally taboo thing to do whatever it was a couple people from the get go didn’t like.

And above all, I’m tired of this idea that we can all just make fun of and shame people into doing exactly what we want them to do.

So someone decides to decorate their own home before Thanksgiving. How in the actual fuck does this affect you? Really. How?

Does it force you to decorate your own home?

Does it cancel all of your Thanksgiving plans?

I cannot see any single scenario in which another person’s choices on Christmas shopping or decoration or Christmas movie-watching or Christmas music-listening or Christmas anything for that matter affects your, or anyone else’s, life. I just don’t see it.

Worry about your own shit. For real guys.

Repeat after me: it’s OK if people want to do Christmas early.

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