Ambivalence

This week Maya had a homework assignment where she had to make a family tree. One of the parts of the project was to fill out a little questionnaire about herself; where she was born, who was in her family, and what her favorite things were. Maya likes an awful lot of things. But it is December and in December all roads lead to one place: presents. Which is what she wrote on that last line. Presents and art.

At least she wrote art.

I tend to be a bit Grinch-like around the holidays. Not that I don't like Christmas. Actually, I love the twinkling lights everywhere and I am a sucker for a bunch of kids singing Silent Night. And this year I even broke down and bought that damn elf on a shelf. Our elf is named Gloria and so far she has popped up in a bowl of M&M's, playing Dominos in our living room, at Maya's school holiday concert, and riding a toy boat in the bathtub. And I'll admit it, hiding her is kind of fun. Not that Maya believes any of it. We kind of messed up on the whole Christmas magic thing. The other day, my five year old actually said this to me when I mentioned the idea of Santa getting her presents instead if us: "Santa's not real mommy. You and daddy get me presents. With money."

Well what can you expect from a bunch of atheists? We didn't teach her about baby Jesus in the manger either.

But the presents, ugh, the presents. Every day it is "Mommy, I want. Mommy I can't wait to get. Mommy, did you buy." And so on. I get it, she's five. When you are five Christmas is about one thing only: NEW TOYS! And maybe a sparkly dress or two. But really....NEW TOYS!!!

I love to buy things for Maya. But this Christmas thing is exhausting. No wonder everyone is always so stressed out around the holidays. Its all the damn shopping, trying to find the right scarf for Grandma, the perfect tie for uncle Bob, to mentally sort through every commercial your child has excitedly pointed at over the past month to pick the right box of tiny plastic pieces to wrap up and put under the tree.

It is December 20th and Matthew and I still haven't decided if we are getting each other Christmas gifts. This is not a sign our failed marriage; we still love each other to pieces, we are just lazy. This morning, on the way to drop Maya off at school, I actually said to my husband, :"Well do you need anything? Maybe we should just go to Macy's together and each pick out a new shirt or something, wrap it up and put it under the tree." Romantic I know. Next we'll just be handing each other cash. From our joint bank account.  Merry Christmas sweetie pie!

After what happened in Connecticut last week, there is of course a part of me that wants to forget all about the presents and focus on what really matters at Christmastime. Families getting together. Cuddling under warm blankets. Ice skating until your nose is frozen and then burying your face in a cup of hot chocolate and  marshmallows. And cookies. I cannot stop baking cookies. I have made four different kinds this week, from gingerbread men for Maya's class to chewy chocolate ones filled with peanut butter for Matthew. I think it is a form of therapy, my way of dealing with the unthinkable. I'll just keep baking until I feel normal again. Thank goodness for jiu-jitsu!

So I am of two minds. Part of me wants to go listen to a church choir sing about Christ. Part of me wants to find the perfect gift for Matthew, one that somehow combines his love of jiu-jitsu with the bitter misery that comes with being a fan of the NY Jets. Part of me wants to run amok in Toys R Us throwing random boxes into my cart like I am a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. (Remember that show? If not, here you go: http://www.tv.com/shows/supermarket-sweep/) The other part just wants to roll over, pull the covers up a bit higher and wake up on December 26th. Provided the world hasn't ended by then.

Of course, its not all ho ho ho and holiday shopping. I also went to a PTA meeting last night where we talked about police presence around my child's school and whether someone should personally escort parents to and from their destination after they sign in at the desk. For "safety." As you would imagine, I have a bit to say about that, but it will wait for next time.

Also, I found a dead mouse in my kitchen last night. Poor little guy. No more cookie crumbs for Mickey.

Christmas time is here. The most wonderful time of the year. What's a mommy (a cynical, snow-hating, hardcore New York City mommy) to do, reject it or embrace it?


“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas 

Bah, humbug!

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