Thursday, December 19, 2013

Something Christmasy

Guys, I'm going to come clean here. I like Christmas.  I don't love Christmas, I don't hate it, really. I just enjoy it like a regular person. And, while it often leaves me feeling like this:
Christmas isn't the enemy. It's not the most wonderful time of the year, sure, (my birthday is. That's my favorite drinking holiday!), but it isn't the worst time of the year, either (my birthday is, because it's also Isaac's birthday, my niece's birthday, my mother's birthday, mother's day, the end of the school year and memorial day. It's a lot to pull off with a hangover). Here's what I like-- and often love about Christmas: the story. It has always struck me that any organized religion would let one of its biggest holidays belong to a mother and child. It makes me tear up every year to think about a young woman giving birth in such fraught circumstances. Seriously. I love that winter holidays center on light in the darkness. I love the candles, the soft twinkling lights. I love the reminder that it brings us that even in the darkest of days, there is light. Whether that light be hope, be a promise of the eventual return of spring, or if it is in celebration of what many believe to be the birth of their baby savior, the light thing also gets me every time. Family, giving, wishes for peace, a time when people genuinely consider the better natures of their beings to be in charge...those are all the amazing things that manage to get scrooges like me all giddy warm inside.

Know what I fuckin hate though? The Elf On The Shelf. This mother f-er has got to go. I feel like I wasn't consulted about this phenomenon, you know? Like, there defiantly should have been a conference, or at least an online poll about whether we, as parents, are down with participating in the Elf craze. Cause I would have voted no! Nononononono! Emphatic no. How do I hate the Elf On The Shelf? Let me count the ways.

Let's see, well, first off, I hate him cause he's not real. He wasn't a thing when I was a kid, and I wasn't a kid that long ago, really. Why should I get all involved in another damn "tradition" when the holidays are just oozing tradition already? So, bare minimum, the average family celebrating Christmas has a tree. A tree to pick out, drive home, set up properly, decorate and keep alive long enough to open presents. Not altogether easy. Then you have the gifts, the cookies, the dinner, the church services, the carols, the movies, the books, the stockings, the treats for Santa, and getting drunk with your family. That's enough! But on top of that there's advent calendars, 25 days of Christmas books to open and read with your children (which I do think is kind of cute, but cool it, Pinterest, we get it), and now, the god damned elf. Where is there time for me to incorporate this stupid non-tradition? I am set in my ways and I have no space for you, Elf. Which brings me to my second point:

I have no time for you, Elf. Right now, my kids are still young enough to be afraid of Santa and try to eat the pine needles that fall off the tree. I have a grace period before the Elf thing becomes a real issue. But does anyone else feel like this is just some sort of trick being played on parents? Like we don't have enough to do daily, now we have to remember to cook up some dumb ass shenanigans for the Elf to get into every night for nearly a month? Gimmie a break. My 10 year old niece is still a "believer", and she'll come over, bless her too-old-for-this heart, and ask me if my elf is sick (yes, we have one, a "gift" from my sister in law. Thanks, K!). I have no idea why she would think a toy is sick, except yeah, she thinks its real, and there's rules to the Elf. It has to move every day. Kids can't touch it. And if it gets sick (meaning Mom forgot to move it last night), it will only wake up by doing it's drug of choice, Cinnamon, or something like that. So now I have to move the Elf every day, on the off chance that Reilly is going to come over, or the whole thing will be blown. Our lies will be discovered. I don't have time for this nonsense! I barely get to brush my hair and find matching socks! Now you want me to make time to play fucking dolls every night before I go to bed? Noooo thanks.

So, if I don't do the Elf, I am the ruiner. If I chose not to participate, my kids don't participate. So, then what? How do I deal with the inevitable schoolyard questions? Why don't Isaac and Vivian have an elf? Because their mom A) is trying to instil an intrinsically based value-system in which her children will discover the true rewards of kind and generous behavior without the external pressure from an elvin spy? B) is seriously creeped out by the heavy-handed consumerist message that comes with Christmas generally, and the Elf On The Shelf, specifically? C) is not that nice? D) is just tired? Do I have to try and sell my kids a bill of goods about "magic" and "belief"? Can I tell them the truth, that the elf thing is a load of crap and I just don't want to do it, sorry? Will they spoil the fun for the other moms kids? I don't want my kids being the "you know, that's not real" kids! Ugh! Thanks Elf, for making me have to worry about this shit, too! Jerk.

Lastly, I hate the one-upmanship ("look how creative and silly I got with my elf last night! I covered my entire first floor with ice and blamed it on the Elf!"), the sexism and adult jokes disguised as kid-fun ("my elf is snorting cinnamon rails off Barbie's ass! I'm so irreverent!"), and the general cheeky mischief that the elf is supposed to get into ("Haha, our elf ate all the Christmas cookies!"). Why is he such a dick? What is the fun in inviting a little spy into our homes at all, let alone if he is the one acting like a complete asshole while he's there? What is the message for our kids? I just don't get it. It's fun for the parents, I guess, and there's not a whole lot that's still fun for us this time of year, truth be told.

I don't mean to hate on you parents doing your Elf thing. Do it up, man. Enjoy. Start your own traditions with your kids, ride that wave! For our part, my father is still making batches of lebkuchen and Springerle cookies every year, as tradition dictates. And, as tradition dictates, no one eats them. Cause they're both gross. (Sorry, Dad). But he makes them every year, because that's what's done. We have traditions that are old, to which we still cling. And while I'm not sure if I'll be the one to roll out those anise cookies once the torch has been passed, I am pretty sure that I'm not in the market for anything new, either. Call me old fashioned (please). I just don't want to participate. But I'm not the boss of me anymore, either, and I suppose if the time comes that the kids want the elf to do his thing...then Matt can do it, cause I am not doing that shit!

Happy Holidays!

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