Monday, 3 December 2012

mind your own christmas beeswax

Ahhh, Christmas.  It really is a wonderful concept – peace on earth, goodwill to men – but sadly ruined in the execution.  Spreading joy to the world is all fine and dandy, but it is the season when traffic is at its most horrendous, shoppers are at their rudest, and you feign all these cheers and wishes to people you’d rather push off a cliff.  I am a Grinch this year.  

Mrs. McCluskey, who lives across from me, puts up her bright red and green lights with this massive peek-a-booing Santa on her front lawn while I still have giant spiders and skeletons hanging from my balcony.  It’s not that I have procrastinated putting down my Halloween decor.  The woman is way too eager to start her Yuletide season! It’s a bizarre sight to witness when you drive down my street. 

I look at Mrs. McCluskey’s decked out house as a warning of what’s to come. Christmas, I find, has become a holiday of obligation.  It is run by guilt and duty.  Expectations are high, tempers run hot, and budgets get thin.  You have to give to people and children you have not been in contact with for years just because eons ago you were baselessly anointed godmother to their offspring. 

And while everyone insists it’s the thought that counts, the sad fact is nobody wants to receive another bloody re-gifted box of chocolates from the drug store. 

It has become ridiculous, really, this business of gift giving.  Last year, a family member gave us back a $150 coat we gave her for Christmas.  She asked for us to write her a cheque instead for the exact amount to purchase a $350 coat that she would rather have.  I do not care how close her blood ties are to my own family. That’s just fucking rude.

See? My issues are not groundless.

I do not discount those with the truest of intentions, though.  They are usually the ones who give handwritten cards with personalized wishes, or small inexpensive gifts that make you feel like you were a great friend the whole year.  (Not to be pompous, but I am the best when it comes to friendship, and I demand no gifts from anybody.)

So, if you will excuse me, I need to put up my fake tree and hang my fake garlands all over my porch and front door while I simulate cheer and joy for the sake of my 2 children. They just started to count down the days until they receive their gifts from the biggest hoax this season has to offer (however benevolent it may be) that is Santa Claus.

Ho ho friggin’ ho.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Death by Gingerbread House

Today I decide to be the quintessential patient, crafty and involved apron-clad mother.  The kids and I are doing crafts on this beautiful snowy Sunday afternoon. 

A tv commercial for a cleaning product depicts a woman whose grungy children and wet dog running amuck all over her immaculate white carpet, covering it in slimy black grime and mud. The commotion startles her, but instead of going ballistic, she sighs, shakes her head and smiles.

It’s a load of crap, if you ask me. Unless they're selling LSD-laced anti-depressants, it's a big fat lie.  Think about it.  Who smiles at a sight like that? Stoned mothers, most likely.   

But today, I embrace it. I choose to be THAT mother. Not stoned, but I embrace a messy kitchen, that will be filled with happiness and joy.

Girl, 8 and Boy, 6 want to build a ginger bread house. I take pleasure in saying NO to them most of the time, but I am the fun mommy this afternoon, so ginger bread house it is.  They are ecstatic.  They are filled with excitement and happily discuss their plans for this edible house. 

Ahh.. the Ginger bread house: a wholesome fun activity for the whole family! This allows them to develop their creativity and encourage them to work together on a project.  Art, education and entertainment, all for a low price of $9.99! Everyone wins.

I get my camera ready.  I give myself a pat on the back and feel proud for creating this sweet memory for my children. Photos will be taken and shared with family members and close friends.  Even better, I decide I will capture a beautiful moment between the 2 kids and make that our Christmas card cover this year. Perfect.

I bring out the ginger bread house kit.  An argument ensues about who gets the coveted role of opening the box. I give them my ‘look’.  Warning #1 is declared.  I open the box.

Type A personality Girl neatly lays all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. Devil-may-care Boy picks up a bag of candy from the neat pile, feasts on it.  Fight no. 2.  I threaten to confiscate the entire kit if any argument strikes again. 

They start building.  The icing fails to completely glue the four panels of the house, and as soon as the roofs are placed, the whole structure collapses.  Girl gets frustrated. She tries again, this time crying for help.  I put more icing, and instruct her to wait a few minutes for it to dry.  She follows my instructions.  She pipes a beautiful pattern of icing on the roof, squeezing more than she should have.  The weight causes the house to flop again.  She gets on the ground in a dramatic fashion claiming she has caused the destruction of this edifice. 

The Boy, with mouth full of sugar balls, mimics and mocks her and this triggers an all out war.  One is high on emotions, the other jumping up and down, high on sugar. Candies and plastic knives are thrown in defiance. 

Boy drops 2 bags of colored icing on the floor.  He gets off the kitchen stool and accidentally steps on both bags squirting red and green icing all over.  He walks on the goo, slips and lands on the Girl who is still in the middle of her emotional outburst on the floor. They scream at each other, both turn to me and simultaneously argue their case, expecting that I reprimand whoever started this whole debacle. 

I blankly stare at them in surrender. 

The phone rings.  It’s my friend Abigail who is now a welcome distraction to the ongoing chaos.  I tell her to not mind the noise, as it is the sound of my reality that I want to block for a few minutes.  Abigail, who is not a stranger to crazy fighting children, offers an unsolicited advice: 

“You know, what you should do, get them to make a gingerbread house.”