Tag Archive | Christmas

Today I’m over at Bonbon Break- in the bedroom

Well, I’m not actually over there sitting like a miniature person in the computer screen waving at you. That would be very Willy Wonka ish, wouldn’t it?

But click on over to their holiday issue and read about a coming of age story. Yes, Emma has reached a milestone about old St. Nick.

These are those parenting moments that keep you on your toes.

Enjoy the magic while it lasts. And by magic, I mean, the lying facade of trying to be a magical fat man who spies on sleeping children.

Read here- Bonbon Break


Reason To Live Friday #24

This annoying dang holiday season. Are you wondering if I’m giving you whiplash? Do I spin a 180 turn each and every post? First complain, then gush? I know. I know. Try living with me.

Last year I wrote about how the holidays suck for some of you if you’ve lost a loved one. Holidays are like a trigger of emotions. They make you ponder on Christmases past and when life has changed permanently, it can be hard.

But then I thought of something. Maybe those little reminders are like the loved ones past speaking to us. Bear with me.

When my friend Reshma lost her daughter to Siona from Leukemia, she woke up one morning with a pressure point on her chest over her heart in the shape of a butterfly. You know when you sleep hard and the pillow case leaves an imprint on your face? Like that. I know, weird. But butterflies were a favorite of 6 year old Siona and this silhoutte of one was perfectly formed. It lasted several hours before it just faded. Reshma cherished her little butterfly form she had over her heart for the few hours it was there. Like Siona had given her a kiss.

Now don’t get all weird on me. I’m not saying that there’s messages from beyond. I’m not going into paranormal stuff here. You can think that or not. I’m cool with it.

I’m saying that the holidays hold so much hope and joy. That I’m going to hold on to the parts that are dear to me. I’m thinking about my dear, dear old friends who are living through their first holiday without their mom, sister and daughter after she took her own life in May. Their grief is palpable. Their grief is ripped open anew with each box of ornaments.

So here’s my list of what to do to get through:

Ready? Take a deep breath and go into downward dog yoga pose. Just kidding.

But breathe deeply anyway.

Hug the ones that are with you. Yep, just do it. Even if they piss you off. Stephen Stills was right with his song, “Love the one you’re with”.

When you see a reminder of a loved one gone- smile at it. Close your eyes and hold it to your heart. Say, “I miss you and I love you and I know you’re still here with me.”

Take last year’s coat or boots that don’t fit anymore or are hardly used and bring them to a charity. Someone needs those more than you.

Write down your feelings. If you blog or not, write that stuff down. You don’t ever have to read it again, but getting it on paper is helpful.

And one more time, love the ones you’re with. Dang it. Hug them, smush them and tell them you are happy they are with you.

Well, I’m not Dr. Phil. I’m not a trained professional. I’m just trying to lend a hug, and let you know I’m here for you. We can do this together.

It’s a Punch in the Throat book giveaway!!

Is it Christmas time already? Are you disgusted with those sappy commercials and Black Friday store hours before you’ve even put your blasted Butter Ball in the oven for Thanksgiving?

Well, have I got a treat for you and your commiserating self.

Nineteen of your favorite mom humor bloggers had a meeting and we all agreed. There’s a brand new book that we think you NEED to read this holiday season. The title says it all.

Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat is a heartwarming (yes, really!) collection of hilarious holiday-themed personal stories and observations written by none other than Jen of the well-known blog People I Want To Punch in the Throat

If the holidays have you stressing about gift giving, cookie decorating, or where in the world to put your Elf on the Shelf, then you need to take a mommy time out and read a chapter or two.

And now you can have a chance to peruse the pages for free. Consider it our holiday gift to you. We are teaming up to give away 19 copies of the book. All you have to do is enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form over to the right for your chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy!

We promise that it is both endearing and hilarious, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Here is where I read the part about what it would be like to write the perfect Christmas letter if you happen to be an Over Achieving Mom. Notice my fancy Christmas shirt and turtleneck I wore special for the occasion.

See? Told you. Now you want your own copy right? Well, Jen generously donated an autographed copy to every blogger participating in this giveaway so that we could increase your chances to win. You can enter using Rafflecopter. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

“But wait, that’s not all!” we say in our best Price is Right announcer voice. We couldn’t get a bunch of tech-savvy moms together for a book giveaway and not bring you an eReader, right? So we are also giving away a Kindle Fire!

Click the photo of the Kindle to take you to the Rafflecopter entry.

NINETEEN winners will receive a copy of Spending The Holidays With People I Want To Punch In The Throat and ONE lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle Fire! What are you waiting for? Get clicking!  Contest ends at midnight on November 20th. Enter today and every day until then! Don’t just take my word for here. Click here and read the reviews!


Things I learned this holiday

Christmas 2011 is in the books. It came and went without a migraine, sinus infection or tantrum. And the kids did well too. (Ba da bump) I was even CHEERFUL  on Christmas Eve. I think my criticism was at a minimum and I even sang in the shower. Christmas carols of course, Angela Lansbury style. What’s Angela Landsbury style you ask? Watch Beauty and the Beast and picture Mrs. Potts singing Christmas songs. THAT’s what I sounded like. It sounded really good to me. In the shower.

1. Mulled wine tastes better when you add lots of sugar.

2. 2 old fashions and a gin and tonic consumed in one afternoon at the in-laws really cuts through any worry or stress brought on by holiday visits.

3. I look 10 pounds heavier in pictures.

4. I look 15 pounds heavier in pictures that are taken of me sitting down.

5. 4 year olds and paint that’s not water soluble don’t mix.

6. When your children are 8 and 11, you don’t have those fucking zip ties on all their crap they get. That’s because they don’t get toys and shit, just expensive electronics.

7. Everything tastes better with half-n-half.

8. Having a dozen candles lit with the fireplace going in our living room sets off every smoke detector in our house.

9. The smoke detectors in our house stop beeping after about 30 seconds once you open some windows.

10. Everything tastes better with mascarpone in it.

11. The movie, The Grinch with Jim Carrey is way too long and annoying to watch with your kids at night when you’ve been up since 5 am. Just stick with the original animated 30 minute version.

12. I have the sweetest, most grateful children. We’ll see what the next 364 days bring.

13. Despite my griping and bitching this whole month, I really do love the holidays. (Shh, don’t tell anyone) AND, I get kind of mopey during January when there’s no holiday pressure to entertain me. I know. I’m just weird.

14. Blogging doesn’t burn as many calories as running on the treadmill. I tried it and my experiment failed. See #s 3 and 4.

15. The dog will eat the cookies you leave out for Santa.

Silently, the wondrous gift is given

Often with the stress of Christmas, the pressures of getting it all done, I forget what’s important. I know, I’ve probably griped about Christmas more than raved about it. And no, I’m not a Grinch. I just like complaining. (Ask James and see Pet Peeves) But really, remembering what’s important, is truly the reason for the season.  This sounds so cliche, I know. Blah, blah, blah the meaning of Christmas is more than presents. I get it. When disappointment sets in I remember this- I have my presents already.

They are, my two incredible children and my extremely tolerant, devoted husband.

The other day I dropped the kids off at the library entrance while I went to park the car. I watched them walk hand in hand inside the building, chatting kindly to each other. I practically burst into tears at the sight of this. For multiple reasons- first, they weren’t punching each other; second, they are the most incredible beings that have walked this planet. Yes, I’m biased.

Now for my husband:

When I was in college, before I met James, I used to pray every day for God to send me a husband. Does that sound a little too Doris Day for you? I know. But it’s true. So single ladies out there, light your candles and say your prayers and you too will get hitched to a swell guy like I did. Okay, just kidding. This isn’t a 1950’s article on how to land a husband.

This is my tome of gratitude. My testimony to all that is good in my life. And how I must not forget how much I waited and wanted it, and now I have it. MY family. I knew that one day, my prayers would be answered. That I would have the person in my life to share my tomorrows, my todays, my children, my everything.  It was my faith that told me that.

I get all weepy when I listen to my Sarah Maclachlan’s Christmas CD. I’ll be in the car by myself, singing along and always tear up with Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

If you’re a Christian, this is the part of Christmas you accept. If you’re not a Christian, then this is the part of Christmas you scratch your head at, or maybe just dismiss altogether. And I know my previous post on Christmas and the Winter Solstice makes this post seem like a paradox, or just plain hypocrisy since I explained the Romans were all about their toga party and the Puritans banned the whole thing. And I wrote that folks should celebrate how they want. I still believe that is true. But I am a Christian, and my reason for celebrating Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

I know that there’s a lot of cynics when it comes to Christmas. Back in the 60s even Charlie Brown was jaded by the whole true meaning of Christmas. This was 50 years ago! We haven’t improved at all since then.

So, I still cling to the belief that Christmas is silver bells, Jimmy Stewart, the Virgin Mary AND that little baby, lowly in a manger. It may be naive of me, childish, or just completely based on that thing called, FAITH.

So every Christmas Eve that I have the privilege of sitting under my tree, candles lit, children tucked in, presents under the tree, James sitting in the other room on his laptop (come on, what did you expect?) and the feeling that I get to do this all over again, my heart is truly full.  Thank you baby Jesus.

Toga, Toga, Toga

Well, that was weird. I’m watching the History channel; clearly I must have been confused and had it on by accident instead of the E! channel. It was strange since Kim Kardashian didn’t show up anywhere.

Anyway, this show on the origins of Christmas informed me that nobody knows what day Jesus was born on, the Romans only started celebrating His birthday in the 4th century, and they just lumped it in with their big end of year, winter solstice party that everyone wore their nicest toga to. WHAAT?? Oh that’s just marvelous. Instead of ugly Christmas sweaters, we should be wearing togas.  Why has this not been made clear all these years?

Then later on, the  medieval Christmas was all about rowdy groups going door to door singing Christmas hymns and getting a dip out of the household jug of ale. This would go bad if you didn’t give them a swig of whatever libation and they would threaten to throw rocks at your house or shank you the next day in the village square or something. So they just got drunker and drunker as they went through town. But at least they were singing church songs.

And THEN, the pilgrims got all pissed that Christmas was a Catholic invented holiday because they were Protestant, so they banned it all together. They didn’t want any of that drinking and singing stuff and I think the Roman’s Winter Solstice party to them seemed like a party at the Playboy Mansion so they put the kibosh on the whole holiday. Good grief.

Now I’m all confused.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and say, that those that want to celebrate in whatever way they will, seems to go along perfectly with history.

The importance of celebrating the Winter Solstice in those days is because folks didn’t have frequent flyer miles or points to redeem for a trip to Hawaii in January. Drinking, feasting, lighting candles were pretty much all that got them through the dark days of December. Hmm, sounds kind of familiar.

We can put whatever importance on this day we want to. If it’s Jesus’ birthday you celebrate, Hallelujah.  If it’s secular and pagan traditions, go for it. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Nothing wrong with some revelry, feasting and prayerful reflection, yes? All my non-Christian, Agnostic, Atheist friends are like, “Yeah, Rebecca come to the dark side with us!” and my Christian, conservative, religious friends are like, “Rebecca, Christmas is about Jesus and that is all.” And for me Christmas is still about Jesus. But, it’s interesting to hear where all this stuff got jumbled together. Let’s all be merry together.

So now I’m just thinking of how to bring the toga back for my next Christmas party, and if tights go with it because it does get chilly here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice and thank goodness those uptight pilgrims didn’t ruin the party for the rest of us.

I know why the holidays suck for some of you (Revisited).

I’m revisiting this post because it’s the final stretch to Christmas day. There’s a lot of us that are happy and joyful, crazed and freaking out. It’s so overwhelming. Maybe holidays suck for you, not because of losing a loved one (the reason for the first post on this topic), but because you don’t have warm fuzzy feelings of the holiday in the first place. Or maybe you are feeling poor, unloved, unworthy, and stressed and having to spend the extra time and money is like drawing blood from a stone. There just isn’t anything there to give.

Here’s the thing- I totally get it.

What could be more depressing than a bunch of happy people all dressed up and fancy, doting on their families, showering them with gifts? What could be more strange than a story about a virgin in an ancient land that had to give birth in a barn on some night that what was probably Halley’s comet streaking across the sky?

So let’s make a cheat sheet of how to get through it:

Vodka, Wine, Tequila.

Yeah, as if.

Most importantly, if you have children this is the best gift of all. It’s a clean slate. Whatever crappy Christmas memories you might have from your childhood, their minds are malleable, fresh and impressionable. If you can be available to them, and I mean ‘available’, like listening, playing, snuggling, whatever gives them your attention, this is what they will remember most. For reals.

You’re broke- okay, who isn’t these days? We are reminded that 99% of us in this country are poor. I’m just kidding. But really, if anyone in your life makes you feel unworthy because you didn’t get them a present, they aren’t worth having in your life in the first place.

One of my favorite blogs- Rants from Mommy Land, did an experiment called Christmas hookers. They got names and addresses of moms whose budgets were tight this Christmas, and I mean REALLY tight, and matched them up with one of their readers that could send them a gift card from a large retail store. I got my woman’s name, a mom in Louisiana, and I sent her a Target gift card. I hope she gets it soon and can go shopping for her kids. I would do that for 10 more people, but James gets really Scrooge like that, and says we’ll be in the soup lines if I don’t stop paying for everything and everyone out there.

Maybe I’ll do that next year on my blog. If you need help, just message me. If you’d like to help, let me know, and I can match you up.
Doesn’t everyone need a Santa?

I don’t think I’ve covered it all, but if I’ve even touched on some areas, I hope you know you have a sister here in Seattle, blogging with the messiest hardwood floors, a fridge that hasn’t been cleaned out since 2008 and an ass the shape of her couch- so hey, nobody is perfect, especially me.

Like Judy Garland sings- Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. And hey, look on the bright side- it’s almost over.


We are supposed to be happy. Yeah like in Disneyland, it’s supposed to be so frickin’ fantastic. I’m tired, my kids are driving me crazy, and I can’t buy anymore of this crap. No. We’re not in Disneyland. It’s Christmas.

But there’s more to this holiday being depressing than just the nonstop Macys commercials, drippy “Christmas in the Northwest” song on the radio, getting all the crap done that everyone expects of you and if you don’t do it all, you feel less of a woman- depression.

No, I’m talking about the pain in your heart and the hole in your gut from knowing this holiday is the first since losing a loved one. Or maybe it’s the second or third since they’ve passed. How do you fake happy? How are you supposed to be cheerful and live through the four weeks (make that eight weeks thanks to the annoying mass marketing our commercial society has created…) of holiday hoo-ha?

But maybe, just maybe going through the ornaments, pulling out the photos, getting out the stocking that was theirs is like pulling off a band-aid. Painful at first, but better afterwards. Why is it the ones we love hang on through the holidays and then seem to pass in January? It seems those I know that have died and usually from cancer, have hung on to Christmas and then had to let go come January or soon after. Hanging on to spend their last holiday with family.  But no matter what time of year you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays seem to lurk and you might resent them instead of embrace them.

My friend Julie who passed away almost 10 years ago, would bake the most amazing Christmas cookies. Every Christmas I would wait for her goody bag of delicousness. That was her gift to her friends. Even when she was having chemo or recovering from a surgery, she made those cookies. Her last Christmas before she died in January, she made those cookies. I didn’t get to see her on Christmas day at my parents like we had done in years past. She was too weak.  I swung by her apartment the day after Christmas and her boyfriend gave them to me. She was sleeping he said and needed her rest. I wasn’t aware how close she was to death. I took that bag of cookies home. Inside was also a tea tin of Murchies tea from Canada. Our favorite. I had one of her biscotti and made a cup of tea. I had a cookie a day or so. Savoring each one. The powdered sugar on the wedding balls, the jam inside the cutouts, the chocolate ganache between the butter cookies…I couldn’t believe that she made them despite being so sick.

When I got the call she died on January 13, I still had cookies in the bag in my pantry. I stopped eating them. I just left them there on the shelf. I would see the bag and her handwritten note that was attached with a raffia ribbon every time I opened the pantry door. I didn’t dare move it or eat any more of those cookies. As if it was a sacred shrine to her. That the cookies were my last bit of her I had.  A whole year went by and I had those cookies in my pantry. And then one day, I thought, Julie would be so pissed if she knew I wasted those cookies!! Not only was she a stickler for neatness, she wouldn’t let anything go to waste. She had a very sophisticated palette and she kind of scared me, because everything she did was perfect. Every time she cooked it was like a Bon Appetit magazine spread. She insisted on quality and taste, never cutting corners or falling into the traps of ‘boxed’ or ‘name brands’. Heaven forbid I open a box of Kraft!!

So I took the bag and emptied the hard and crumbly cookie remains in the garbage. I apologized to the spirit of Julie, wherever she was. I kept the gift bag and the note with her handwriting among my keepsakes of cards and notes from loved ones and I drank the tea from the tin and saved it to keep more loose tea in it still today. I knew that she would’ve thought it silly not to actually EAT the cookies she baked, but she would be glad that I’m at least using the tea tin.

The pain of a friend passing is not that of a son, daughter, parent or spouse even. I won’t even pretend I know your pain.  Sometimes your sadness puts you in that dark hole of wishing everyone else wasn’t so damn happy. But then I think there’s a purpose to the world that keeps turning. With each year, the happiness can start to outshadow the sadness. Like a moon waxing from new to full. There’s a little sliver of brightness coming around with each season. It starts with darkness and ends with a ball of light.

I hope that any of you facing a painful Christmas, that first or several after, can see the light that comes around. That knows even though you are aching inside, it’s okay to be happy sometimes. It’s okay to laugh at Elf, to sing along to Perry Como or enjoy the lights on the neighbors house, to get a little tipsy at the cocktail party with friends. Because those that we miss, would want us to enjoy what probably gave them the most happiness. And for the rest of us, hopefully we can stop and appreciate the joys of the season and not just dwell on the craziness and stress.

Apparently Stephen King has a whole collection of Christmas decorations.

Maybe Mr. King doesn’t actually know this or receive royalties from them. But I think they’ve been inspired by him. He’s so creepy looking. Do you think that’s why he’s a horror writer? Or does he look creepy because he’s a horror writer? That sounds like the same question, but it’s totally the opposite.


Damien the Christmas Monkey is working. Owen will say, “I’m so glad Damien isn’t in this room.” Me, (rubs hands together) “yes, my son, be good now.”

HOWEVER, Damien is looking almost pleasant compared to these other characters I found.

I had no idea that there are more to this collection. AND, people pay lots of money for them. No offense Jill.  Or your mom. Or anyone else out there, probably on the East coast paying good money for these demented looking Christmas creatures.

So cue Lion King music and welcome to the family:

Stephen, the Institutionalized Elf; and Jason, the Valentine Monkey (with a comb-over).

Once again, my plan worked. What plan is that? To scare the crap out of my kids. I put Stephen on the piano downstairs. He was positioned just in view when you go in the living room. I hear Emma get up this morning and look at the Christmas tree and shriek, “What is that??!!”

Then she says, “Why does THIS monkey have HAIR? Mom, make it stop, you’ve gone too far!”

If you noticed, I named Stephen after Stephen King. I think he resembles him very much.

Emma named the Valentine monkey Jason. I think that’s because that’s the only name of a horror movie character she knows. I would’ve named it Donald because of the hair, but Jason is good.

These dolls are a little like clowns and ventriloquist dummies, oh, and Marie Osmond dolls. Some people think they’re cute, but most of us just know they are demented little things made to give us bad dreams.

Stephen the Institutionalized Elf. They only let him out the month of December.

Jason, the jilted Valentine monkey with a comb-over.

The real Stephen King. He really has a face for writing.

Have you been naughty or nice?

Let’s ask Damien the Christmas Monkey.

Yes, he’s part bendable, lovable primate. Part crazed mitten footed chimpanzee with a tail.

We don’t have Elf on a Shelf at our house. Lots of our friends do. I haven’t even read the story. I’m guessing the Elf sits on shelves around your house and ‘watches’ over your children to report to the North Pole if they have been good. Am I close?

Well, Damien the Christmas Monkey sits in places in our house, and just freaks the crap out of people. When the children say, “mom, would you move that monkey please, he’s scaring me.” I say, “good, because if you’re good, he’ll go away.”

I even use it on my husband. Damien likes to sit on the arm of the couch while he watches TV, or works on his Fantasy Football roster. It’s effective. Oh, and why the name Damien you ask? Because he looks a little evil. Like that boy in the movie, The Omen.

Amazon hasn’t contacted me yet. Or Barnes & Noble. But I’ll let you know when they do. It will be major.

Oh yeah, Take that Shelf Elf. This monkey brought a banana.

Lying to Your Kids- also known as Parent Survival 101

We lie all the time. As humans, some of us are better than others. As parents, I think we wrote the book. We raise our children not to lie, but we lie to them ALL THE TIME. LIE, LIE, LIE. Yes, because this is how we survive. If honey badgers could lie to their kids, they would probably eat them less. I don’t really know if honey badgers eat their young. But since they don’t give a shit, and they can eat cobras while they are being stung with cobra venom, I’m pretty sure that some mama honey badgers have eaten tender little honey badger babies.

Okay, this post is not about honey badgers.

This blog post is really about how I regret the fact that my kids still believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. They are 8 and 11. When can I crush their fantasy world? I’ve used lying as a tactic to get out of things that make parenting more difficult. Like when they hear the ice cream truck, I tell them if there’s music playing that means they are all sold out.  Harsh, huh?

But now I’m afraid, there’s no going back.

We lie that if they cross their eyes when the clock strikes on the hour their face will stick like that permanently. Oh wait, that’s what my parents lied to me about. If you swallow an apple seed that it will grow in your belly to an apple tree and you will have to go to the hospital. Oh no, that’s what Freddy Casey told me in the first grade. But I’m CERTAIN his parents told him that. We lie all the time!

So this Santa thing is getting stressful. Stressful for me. The kids want to believe so much it’s all real. But that makes more lying.

Emma knows, but acts like she doesn’t know, but wants to not know and still be a kid. You know?

Owen fully believes in the fantasy of it all.

Owen, “Mom- can you tell me if Santa isn’t real, like, maybe when I’m in college. Just in case. Cuz, I want to know what to do for my kids if I’m the parent. But he’s totally real, and I believe in him, but just in case he’s not. He’s real because everyone talks about him. Just because we can’t see him, doesn’t mean he’s not real. Like Jesus.”

Okay buddy, the Jesus part I’m all for. But Santa, he’s real, but only in your heart. Mommy and Daddy do have to fork over all that cash to actually pay for your Nintendo.

Help. Me.

I want to keep them in the bubble of fantasy land. But I also want to shake them (gently, of course) and say, ‘Sweeties, we are living paycheck to paycheck, and I want to make all your dreams come true, but there’s only so much I can do.” Sigh. Trust me, I’m not going in to debt to make Christmas happen for my kids, I can be smart. (This is the Frugalista blog after all!) I suppose, it’s like having ‘The Talk’. But I’ve already had THAT talk and it actually was easier. They just walked away and said, ‘that’s gross’.

I’ve been THIS CLOSE to telling Emma the truth about Santa. When I hedged around the topic, she looked at me, tears brimming on her lower lids, “mom, whatever you’re going to say, just don’t. Okay? I can’t. handle. it.”


When the time is right, the time will be right. More sighing.  When I think of them being old enough to not believe in Santa anymore, it makes ME want to cry. When they bug me with what Santa is bringing them- that makes me want to cry as well.