Monday, November 12, 2012

Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Having worked retail off and on for the past five years, you'd think I would stop being surprised at the earlier and earlier arrival of "Christmas" in stores. It makes sense at craft places and seeing literal "Christmas in July" in the aisles of Joann's or Michael's doesn't faze me. When I walked into Target and saw the fake snow and Christmas decorations set up against a spooky Halloween wall mural, though, I rolled my eyes. Too early, Target. Too early.

But it's almost mid-November and I have to start our holiday season if I don't want to be a crazy person by Dec. 12. And with three kids to buy for, it helps to spread out the damage some.

Take Lily. Lily is 14 months old. I could get Lily nothing, or a hundred things, or a package of baby wipes and let her pull out every single one (actually, that's not a bad idea...),  and she wouldn't know the difference. In fact, it will probably take a true Christmas miracle to divert her from undecorating the tree every five minutes during present opening. So I should be off the hook with a new sippy cup and maybe a doll, right?

"Mommy, what do you think we should ask Santa to bring Lily?"


We take a loose approach to Santa. I've made comments that Santa is "a fun story" and "part of Christmas tradition" while suggesting Santa isn't exactly real. But Anna especially thinks, say, Elmo is real. She sees it, it's talking, and she's three. Mary has a bit better idea of things but then she sees Santa in the mall, and it's not a guy "in a costume," a la a mascot, it's a real person, and anyway, Santa still brings presents. (Granted, since I'm not 100 percent committed to preserving the myth, Santa's gifts are in the same wrapping paper and the tags look a lot like my writing, but whatever.)

Either way, if Santa, "Santa," or The Flying Spaghetti Monster brings Anna and Mary toys, so too must Lil have something to open. And it has to be better than a "coupon" to splash in a newly disinfected toilet or something, which is all she really likes to do anyway if someone leaves the door open.

I settled for some Little People sets I know everyone will enjoy. Lily is done, the other girls have a few things each and I'll chip away at the rest between now and mid-December.

Then my OCD kicks in and poor Tim is forced along for the ride.

"Honey, let's do Elf on a Shelf!"

"What the heck is Elf on a Shelf?"

In case you are uninformed, Elf on a Shelf is a horribly overpriced plastic bendable elf that comes with a story book that informs you on the cover it's "a Christmas tradition!" Which pretty much means it's made up to make someone a lot of money. But I started seeing all these cute things you could set your elf up doing and thought it would be fun.

"...and you tell the kids that he's from Santa..."

"We don't even really 'do' Santa, do we?"

"Sure we do," I glossed. "And you tell the kids that he's Santa's helper and you can make him play pranks and do cute things and then he reports back to Santa!"

"What? You want to tell our children some creepy ass plastic toy is WATCHING THEM?"

"It's not creepy!"

"Jeez, Kim, why don't we just tell them there's something watching them from the closet?"

"It's not LIKE THAT!"

"Creepy. Creepy Plastic Elf, Creepy Plastic Spy Elf. We can only get it if we call it that. How much does it cost?"


"FOR A CREEPY PLASTIC ELF? Let's just get a candle and tell them the candle is watching them. You have lots of candles."

He may have a point there. I gave up and started angling for a Pottery Barn Kids Christmas tablecloth.

Or the tree.

Last year I started eying the WalMart $89 special pre-lit Christmas tree we bought the first year we were married.

"Our tree is horrible," Tim agreed.

"I want a white one and lime green and aqua ornaments!" I said.

"Um..." he mumbled. "What?"

"Retro! Actually, I want one of those '60s aluminum pom pom trees."

"The kids would kill themselves on that," Tim, ever the voice of reason, said.

Turns out those old trees are stupid expensive.  But this year - THIS YEAR - I am totally getting my white tree at the after Christmas sales. Because NEXT YEAR - I hope and pray - Lily will stop trying to eat the decor.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goes well with...

On Friday, I went in to pick Mary up from school as usual, but this time I had to make sure and talk to her teacher about something minor but important (the all-imperative Friday pizza order form). I walked in the door and was accosted by a little blonde tornado.


"Hi, sweetie. Let me talk to your teacher for just a second, ok?"

"Mommy look, I have homework!" She is waving a sandwich baggie so fast that I can just barely make out what appears to be a bean with a face drawn on it.

"Hi," her teacher greets me.

"Hey," I start. "Do you know where I can get another copy of-"

"AND WE CAN'T PLANT IT!" Mary is saying over and over. "It's my PET BEAN!"

"Okay, honey," I say. "You can tell me all about it in just-"


"...can print another one on the web site..."


"...needs to be in by Wednesday at the latest..."


It took a few minutes but in the end I had sorted out the fact that the teacher had no additional pizza order forms and the onus was on me to go online and print another AND that the preschool children had been given charge of a fava bean and a small white bean (the "pet" and its friend) and were to take it around with them for the entire long weekend. Then they were to "draw a picture or dictate a story" about said bean and its adventures (presumably with the "friend" bean).

Outwardly, I smiled. Inwardly, I had already tried to estimate the number of times one or both beans would become lost (approximately 18), whether Anna would insist she, too, get a pet bean (yes, and thank God I had a bag of dried beans in the cabinet that I had meant to cook up when I purchased it approximately 17 years ago) and whether there would be drama over Lily trying to grab the baggie containing the beans (yes, yes, a thousand times yes).

We arrived home. In between attempting to cook, sort out toys and games and chores, and generally keeping the house standing, I photographed the "pet bean" (known now as Ellie, the "friend" being Kacey) "meeting" Mary's miniature Lalaloopsy collection. I documented Mary attempting to feed Ellie a large carrot. I took the container that had held fresh cilantro, cut the top off and trimmed up some cloth from the rag bag to make the beans a bed (also photographed). I attempted some chores.

"Mommy, I can't find Kacey! Kacey is goooooooone!"

Head, meet wall.

"Did you throw it away?"

"NO! It's MY PET!"

"Did Lily eat it?"


"Then it's somewhere around here. Find it."

Miraculously, she did. Again and again for the rest of the night. She slept holding the little plastic bag.

The next day went well with one notable exception: When Tim dropped Mary off at ballet, the bean was at home. Evidently, she refused to dance without it and pouted. She's lucky her father dropped her off and picked her up, and that's all I'm going to say about it.

Oh, and when she got to her grandmother's house, she reminded my mother in law approximately 205 times not to cook her bean.

...that one may be my fault. I may be too sarcastic for preschool pet bean homework.

If the teacher doesn't collect them back on Wednesday, I anticipate at least a month of fava bean excitement.

I'd better pour myself a nice chianti now.