A Gift Guide, Of Sorts

My dear children, all I ask for this year is that you freeze this moment in our lives together. I am weary from trying to hold onto something that is not mine to keep.

Wrap me the things you define as treasures and place them under our tree with care. A soda pop lid from your collection, one of those cards I'm always screaming at you to pick up, that sock exactly the way it smells at this moment, the ringing of your laughter when you don't think I am listening.

I am always listening, my little loves, even when I am not there. You resonate through the marrow in my bones. There is nothing else in the world that I can hear but you.

Today you are perfect, as you were every yesterday and will be every tomorrow. Please, package yourselves for me with ribbons and bows, each exactly the person you are at this moment, because tomorrow you will be different and I cannot bear the losing of one more you to a new day's promise. 

Promise me you'll continue to believe in magic you know for certain doesn't exist. Try your hardest to have faith where there ought be none. Know something in this life to be true simply because you decided one Tuesday morning that it should be. Myths are simply dreams we refuse to forget because they make us happy, nothing more. Remember how to believe, though belief is never sensible and rarely probable, but is almost always red and white and pepperminty. There is no reason why.

Algebra and faith are the most important things you will ever learn. 

That, and that your mother loves you. You are my sun, my moon, and my star, and I could never ask for anything else as long as we all shall live. 

Tick Tock

I started Christmas shopping on December 15th at 10 am and finished on December 17th at 3 pm. For six people. I never, ever want to see the interior of a retail establishment again.

My husband has been working 15-17 hour days every day for I can’t tell you how many weeks. He hasn’t had a day in about three weeks and won’t until Christmas day. That means that I am in charge of Christmas, solely, and that only sucks for everyone involved because I am still not 100% sure how the whole thing is done. I can cook the dinner and I can wrap the presents and I can help the kids make the reindeer food, but ask me to buy stocking stuffers, I dare you.

What? The? Fuck? Goes? In? A? Stocking?

Rhetorical question, people. I’ve had it explained to me a bazillion times but I’ve also had quantum physics and pornography explained to me about as many times, and I don’t get those either.

That’s not entirely true. I totally get Quantum Physics.

Shopping for the kids is easy, of course. I just track the changes in barometric pressure and humidity that occur in the room when different commercials air or catalogs are sifted through, measure that against the density of drool stains in the furniture/on the laundry/soaked into the carpet and voila! I know what they want! They want Heeley’s! So I buy them the damn Heeley’s that cost me $99.95 a pair when I first bought some 5 or 6 years ago after I had to wait in line for 15 hours outside the super-posh shoe shop like I was looking for a Cabbage Patch Doll in 1982 or something and today cost exactly $22.95 at the local gas station and that is just proof that there is a god and he is indeed punishing me for breeding a decade before it was appropriate for me to.

Shopping for my husband is less easy, because all he ever wants is some new fangled, cross weighted, Calla-titl-ike golf club and I can no sooner understand the Navi’s language than I can that which is spoken in the neighborhood Pro Shop. So I end up getting him flannel pajamas with cartoon moose all over them, with the promise that maybe, someday, I’ll take them off of him to aid in his re-masculination. He seems happy with this arrangement.

Shopping for myself is simply soul crushing, but in it’s defense, I have desperately needed a decent roasting pan since the 1900’s and now I don’t.

Shopping for my mother in law is making me cry.

I did all my shopping in two days and was feeling very smug and proud of myself for having p0wned Christmas with ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and then I wrapped everything and realized that I got my mother in law and myself two gifts. Which is FINE. Who needs more than two gifts? No one, except i got everyone ELSE in this house, like, 10. And I just don’t think I’m a big enough person to handle the “mom, why does Santa hate your mother in law” question with any level of dignity.

So I set out to get her more presents. Except, she’s a fairly progressive sort of woman. She like brilliantly executed tacky Jesus stuff, African decor and clothes from Chico’s. I live in the Land of Beer and Walmart, Texas...and she lives in a 400 square foot apartment. It’s not like I can get her anything much bigger than a zippo or she’ll have to store it in her fridge. And I can't get her anything she'll like because the closest thing to a boutique store I have near me is Claire's and I think my mother in law is allergic to glitter and nickel and unicorns.

So I'm walking through Walgreens this morning with a basket full of Depends undergarments, Metamucil and personal lubricant because when in doubt, always go funny, right? But then I started to think, what if she doesn't think it's funny? What if she thinks I am the Worst Human Alive? What if we are stuck here together for an entire week with her hating my face? Or, what if she doesn't think it's funny at all, but instead quite useful a gift and then the joke is on me because there was personal lubricant in that box and oh my god what have I done and that's when I bought her some angel magnets in the likeness of her grandchildren and called it a day.

Christmas Cards Make Everything Shit

I find myself as of late completely unable to do most of the things I've always done with effortless efficiency. Like, cook, or write, or take a picture.

It's like one day I woke up and couldn't walk. This has happened before. One day, 18 years ago, I woke up and I couldn't play the piano anymore, and I'd been playing the piano for about 10 years previous, daily. I loved playing the piano, I taught myself and was hideous to watch but delightful to hear, and I just realized that playing the piano is exactly like having sex and funny, because I woke up one day eight weeks ago unable to do that either and oh my god fuck my life.

But the weird thing was that one day I could do it, and the next day I just couldn't. I couldn't read the notes, my fingers couldn't find the keys, the peddles made no sense to me. It was selective amnesia and the part that was selected was the Theme to the Incredible Hulk sheet music. Maybe the world is better off for it, I don't know.

Lately, everything I've cooked has come out all kinds of wrong, and I've blamed the change in altitude and stocked up on Hamburger Helper just in case. And then my camera broke one day, but it didn't break in the traditional way, it broke in the I fucking hate you, motherfucker kind of way that means it actually works perfectly fine, I am just incapable of operating it anymore. Of course, I thought the settings were all jacked up and happily blamed it on that and swtiched my my phone's camera until my brother could come save the day with his amazing skillz of a hacker but oh no, he tells me it's me.  35 years, eight months and 27 days he's known me, and he still thinks it's smart to tell me things like, "It's you, Shannon; you fucked it" like I'd put clip art on it or something.

But it's me, Shannon. I have a brain full of clip art. It's shit and I can't take a damn picture to save my life right now. This is only inconvenient in that it's Christmas-time and if I don't send my inlaws a picture of my children, whom they haven't seen in, oh, years, they will team up to make my life more miserable. So I finally found one night when no one was getting grounded for the next five weeks and no one was biting all the other someones and no one was painting his toenails black and listening to Distingration on loop and I bribed them with treats to put some goop in their hair and stand almost touching each other for a few minutes.

Of course, it didn't work out so well for me, because, yeah. I can't take pictures anymore.
This one would have been really awesome if I'd only remembered how to focus on something. Anything. One thing.
And then this one was pretty awesome with the utter disdain on the face of 1/5th of my family. If only everyone mirrored it. And I'd had the right lighting.
I love this one. I love it so much I want to kiss it. She just decided we needed to pray half-way through, which is only funny because I don't exactly so much believe in god and she's seen me pray exactly never times. But, yeah, completely unsalvageable. Which, #@*%.
Or This
And this one would have been precisely what I was going for. All I had to do was make some really awful joke about myself, throw in one of the more colorful words my kids wish they could say without gnawing on a whole bar of Ivory after, and voila! Shiny happy children! Giggles and laughter! And no ones chonies were showing! It was made of WIN except it's complete shit and I can't use it.

But I have to use something. So you get to vote for one of these two:
Family Christmas Disaster #1
Family Christmas Disaster #2
I know they're not fantastic, but have you ever tried to get a five year old girl to do anything twice? These are what I'm stuck with. Which one sucks less?

Two Weeks, Four Days and Counting

My Christmas tree is not yet up. The only candies in the Advent calendars are the ones my kids found in them from last year. Which, how does that happen? I have yet to buy one Christmas present for any of the onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten people I have to shop for.

I have, however, managed to launch two strategic strikes in the Wish War. Priorities, I haz them.

I'm hosting the Houston Blogher holiday meetup on Saturday at my house (please, for the love of god, come) and my mother in law arrives here on Christmas Eve. And luckily for me, the day before my six week checkup when my hoo-haa doctor was supposed to clear me for normal activity which includes, but is not limited to, vacuuming, steaming the carpets, putting the large dishes away, lifting big ol' cars and big bails of hay* and test driving the new equipment, I got an infection in my throat the likes of which left me huddled in the fetal position at urgent care for 2 1/2 hours, which leads me to believe that they and I share different opinions on the meanings of both Urgent and Care, to eventually get one antibiotic shot and one injection of steroids in my fat, white ass, which was almost more painful to bare in front of the 5'2", 23 year old never had a baby or a birthday cake nurse than the shots were or the infection was. Almost.

And now I am back on a series of drugs that, though don't make me crack whore space cadet like the narcotics did, do interesting and colorful things to my intestines and their natural ability to regulate themselves. Which, I suppose, makes it a blessing that I just got some brand new intestines to go with the new cervix and vagina and perineum and labia, I guess. Everything has a silver lining.

Even better? My daughter has the same infection, but lacks the ability to willing take medication or wipe her own ass.

I guess my point is that I am simply not ready for Christmas. And that all I really want is a case of Purell and some Lysol.

*If you don't know where that comes from, well, I just weep for your childhood.

Christmas: In Like A Lion, Out Like A {Bleep}

I do my grocery shopping for Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and I have every year. Because I'm an idiot who cannot learn a lesson, but also because it's the closest I ever come to getting in a little whips-and-chains style sadomasochism. Next Christmas, I'm resolving to shop early and ask Santa to give me Kristen's book. Give it to me good, big boy....

Did I just say that out loud?

This year, her book isn't out and my mother in law is here, so I had to settle for searching for a roll of frozen bread dough at 7pm on Christmas Eve. Which? Mission Impossible. So impossible, in fact, that this post may self destruct after you read it.

I took my daughter with me because she was driving everyone fucking nuts super duper excited that Santa was coming. She was so excited, in fact, that she decided to get to sleep early.
Asleep behind the wheel.
Except that I still had an entire shopping list to go and a veritable throng of people to beat my way through. And you know those bastards bought all the salmon before I could get back to the seafood counter.

So off to another store we went. And she stayed asleep. We found salmon, but not bread dough, and she still slept, this time in the seat of the buggy using my boobs as pillows.

We got home three hours after she fell asleep. I handed her to her father and we waited for her to wake up. She didn't.
Full Of Christmas Spirit
She slept through football, through getting passed to Gramma, getting changed into her jammies, through us giving up and making Santa's cookies and the reindeer's food without her.
Taste Testing the Reindeer Food Is Not For the Feint of Heart.
She slept through all the last minute moving around and wrapping and digging out Christmas gifts and general asshole loudness Santa and his reindeer coming to our house. And at 3am, when the butter was made for the turkey and the wild rice stuffing was cooked and wrapped up, when I staggered off to bed bleary-eyed and drunk with exhaustion, I just knew that Little Miss I Fell Asleep At 6:30 on Christmas Eve would be waking up right about when I was laying down.

I was wrong. Her brothers woke up instead. At 3 in the morning, right when I'd pulled up my covers and closed my eyes, they came downstairs, turned all the lights on and did I don't fucking know what until 6am when they came in to wake me up.

I did what any good mother trying to preserve the last little remnants of Christmas spirit in her children would do. I told them, "Fuck you, no" and went back to sleep until 8, when those sneaky little bastards woke up Sleeping Beauty and made Christmas begin.

And it was totally worth it.