where wildly different is perfectly normal
The “joys” of holidays
The “joys” of holidays

The “joys” of holidays

I do holidays wrong. Holidays, birthdays…unless it’s a celebration at which paper plates and sitting on the floor in your socks is acceptable, I am Martha Stewart’s worst nightmare. I am the warning that should be slapped up on Pinterest. Super Bowl parties I can do…unless you expect theming, then screw it. I can totally rock a family New Year’s Eve party, piece of cake. Everyone brings an appetizer/drink. Parents hang out upstairs in the kitchen, the kids destroy the basement, until the ball drops at 10 pm. We have sparkling cider and champagne and everyone heads home. My last one was 2010. Since then I haven’t even been able to throw together a backyard BBQ.

My poor boys. It’ll be a week before their birthdays and I’ll suddenly realize, “Oh shit. Birthday coming up. No party planned. No gift figured out. No nothing at all.” I have been known to call moms two days before a “party” to see if their kid could come over for a playdate…with cake and ice cream. I’m thirty-one flavors of awesomesauce, I know that.

Last year the only reason we had anything resembling Christmas was because Tom and the boys pulled out the tree and decorated the house. The move obliterated my soul and I couldn’t handle it. This year I’m going out hunting for a wee tiny tree, as that’s all we have room for right now. Holiday preparations? I will now remind you of the Gingerbread House From Hell.

Thanksgiving is THE holiday for me. Big honkin’ meal, parade, paper plates, socks…though I do insist on a table. But I don’t have to worry about gifts or decorating or costumes or invitations. Just food, most of which I’ve made before. The hardest part is narrowing down what to cook. And whether to have mimosas or Irish Cream in the coffee…or both.

Halloween, however, is my least favorite holiday. Costume? Decorations? Super-sensitive child with perfectionistic tendencies? Perfect storm of hell. My house is not decorated. There was no purchase of pumpkins nor carving of the orange orbs this year. Apparently there is a giant cosmic arrow pointing to any house I own, flashing the words DO NOT TRICK OR TREAT HERE, leaving me with a megacrapton of candy I don’t like (otherwise I’d eat my weight in peanut butter cups). J’s costume was hastily assembled Tuesday night by Tom, as I hacked and wheezed and generally felt like the bottom of a shoe (a long and involved story that involves me, the exceedingly poor timing of a virus, and having to cancel a job interview that appears won’t be rescheduled anytime soon, if ever).

Last night the aforementioned super-sensitive child with perfectionistic tendencies decided his costume did not pass muster and, pouting, decided to stay home. At 11, this was likely his last year to go begging for candy from neighbors. He wouldn’t wear just a coat sans costume and so would not go. I told him to go as a Chicago Nudist…it was too cold so you put clothes on. No go. You know the Five Stages of Grief? Last night I saw the Five Stages of Halloween Regret. Frustration (costume not up to standards). Pouting/Sulking (not going!). Tentative Acceptance (reading a book in bed). Regret (dude, I just gave candy to a bunch of costume-less middle school boys wearing coats). And finally, Self-Directed Sadness (up in bed, super sad, not too dissimilar from Sally realizing she spent Halloween in a field instead of out begging for candy).

I should have just gone for broke, walked into his room, and confessed I was Santa. Get it all done at once. FML infinity.

But Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and I will be in my element. This past summer my parents bought a second home in Wisconsin, about an hour and change from here. We’re spending Thanksgiving there, at Wits End (seriously, that’s the name we gave it, huge hat-tip to Stephanie Tolan and her book Surviving the Applewhites for the idea). It will be several days of food, and laughter, and relaxation, and parades, and family, and generally having a good time.

My kind of holiday. Socks, paper plates, no costumes required.


  1. You are a goddess in my book! No, really, I’m add a picture of you right next to my Buddha and Virgin Mary and probably a couple of plastic camels that show up in every Nativity scene in our house. I feel the same way about birthdays and holidays. And I will admit something I’ve never admitted before: my kids have never had a real, true birthday party, unless you count a park play date with friends, cake and presents. We have a homemade cake (ala Dad) and a couple of presents after dinner. That’s it. My husband has a large family and a mom who needs a party for every gathering, so I sit back and let them handle it.
    Until today, I thought it was only me that just can’t pull it together for all this stuff. Hurray! I’m not alone!!
    (Maybe we can get a group discount rate on the therapy our kids will need. 🙂 )

  2. AnonymousStudentT

    He totally should have taken your suggestion – the neighbors would have gotten a kick out that! Well, maybe it won’t be his last year. Next year, he can go as an escort/babysitter and take his brother Trick-or-Treating. A coat and jeans would be the perfect costume for that. 😉

Whaddya think?

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