Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas, Hanukkah & New Year’s Came & Went…and No One Died, Got the Swine Flu or Went to the ER

Believe it or not, aside from a short period of time during the Wednesday evening before Christmas (that’s my personal hell day), I made it through the entire month of December without a significant incident. You might think this is no biggie. Lots of people make it through December without incident, illness or catastrophe. But to me, emerging from December relatively unscathed felt like a major accomplishment.

The month of December and bad stuff has precedent in the Picket Fence Post house. Last year, as I’ve mentioned before, I missed Christmas because I came down with the swine flu on Christmas Eve and on, the day after Christmas, The Spouse severely injured his ankle while playing basketball, during a snowstorm I might add, and had to be driven to the ER by a neighbor because I felt like death not even warmed over. (The only plus from the whole thing was that I lost some weight . . . which I eventually gained back.)

The year before that, The Spouse broke his wrist on New Year's Eve Day while ice skating with the Youngest Boy and we rang in the New Year while my husband was high on morphine and The Eldest Boy had a raging fever. That was delightful, I'm telling you. A couple years before that, both my father and I came down with either food poisoning or the same stomach bug on Christmas Eve night and essentially spent Christmas Day feeling and looking like something you accidentally stepped on and then scraped off of the bottom of your shoe. Several years before that, my grandfather died on Christmas Day.

Luckily none of those things happened during December 2011, so once it officially became 2012, I felt as though I could finally breathe, and let go of the Yuletide Zen upon which I had a death grip throughout the month, determined to enjoy the season no matter what happened. I’ve even decided to extend the Christmas spirit by allowing the holiday decorations to remain up in the house until this coming weekend and have still been playing Christmas music . . . quite unlike me who’s normally an up-on-December-1-down-on-New-Year’s-Day kinda person.

So, how was Christmas et al, you ask?

X-Box Wars: Well, Santa brought the boys (*godhelpme*) an X-Box which became not only the focal point of their Christmas vacation, but the source of many a lively, uh, discussion, yeah, discussion’s a good word for it. (Sounds a lot better than "heated screaming matches.”) The Spouse and I told them that there was no way in hell that we were going to allow them to buy any video games which were rated M (for Mature), like Call of Duty, even though they swore up and down that EVERYONE they knew had that game. We, they claimed, were being unreasonable, overprotective control freaks.

After we celebrated Festivus with two other couples with whom The Spouse and I used to hang during our UMass days, along with all their kids (nine juveniles, up way too late, trying to comprehend what the adults found so amusing about the Seinfeld Festivus episode and why The Spouse brought an aluminum pole to the gathering), The Eldest Boy started to grill us and ask if we thought our college buds were good parents. It was a set-up because my pals had gotten their children a rated M version of Call of Duty which the kids played it on Festivus night. It was an annoyingly torturous lobbying campaign that the two young bucks waged, culminating with The Spouse proclaiming that they could only buy games that were rated T for Teen or E for Everybody. The knuckleheads felt as though they’d pulled a fast one over on The Spouse when they found a Call of Duty game that was rated T the following day. Of course they did. They excitedly ran up to me as I was scrolling through my e-mail in our local Game Stop, clutching the coveted video madness in their sweaty hands and declared victory. They’ve been obsessed with the simulated shooting and mayhem ever since.

Cell Phones: We, as Liz Lemon might say, went to there, that place we’ve been trying to avoid for so long.

The Spouse and I gave The Eldest Boy and The Girl cell phones for Christmas. And yes, they can text. The Spouse dropping The Girl off at a gym where he thought she had basketball practice on his way to run The Eldest Boy's practice, then learning, after he'd left her, that she didn't have practice and was in fact stranded, alone at the gym at night (and he couldn't abandon the practice he was running so I had to go get her) was what motivated us to finally make this move.

And since December 25, it’s as though we’ve unleashed a technological monster as far as The Girl is concerned. She's already composed and received hundreds of texts. (Thank God for unlimited texting packages.) The Eldest Boy, by contrast, seems genuinely pleased to have a phone but isn’t crazy about texting, at least for right now. When his sister kept texting him when they were both in the house, he would yell, “Just talk to me!”

Forget Brand a New Bag. Mama’s Got a Brand New iPad: I now own my very first Apple product. Everyone else in the Picket Fence Post family, except Max the dog, has some form of an iPod or an iPod Touch. And, until this year, I’d never really been jonesing for a tablet or Apple product. Now that I have my own iPad, The Eldest Boy is in his glory explaining to me, the Apple virgin, how it works and frequently informs me that I’m “doing it wrong.” That’s because I’m an ancient, know-nothing, power-mad, anti-X-box kinda mom I suppose.

Gone in 10 Minutes: Max the dog consumed one of his presents in, literally 10 minutes. While the dog toy that we gave him for Christmas was edible and meant to eventually be eaten, it was intended to last for more than the time it takes to listen to two songs on an iPod. Watch the video for the Spinz Bone and you tell me that it’s normal for my 26-pound dog to eat that product in 10 minutes.

Oh, and as of New Year’s Eve, Max had also killed the stuffed, faceless toy we called “Dough Boy” (after the Pillsbury Dough Boy). Max gutted Dough Boy, removing his squeaker and much of his stuffing. I kept thinking that this was an apt metaphor for . . . something, but, as Dick Clark counted down to 2012, I couldn’t put my finger on what metaphor for which I was grasping and fell asleep.

The Braces are Coming. The Braces are Coming. The Eldest Boy and The Girl got “spacers” put in between their back teeth a few days after Christmas, rendering their mouths sore to the point that they didn’t want to eat very much for a few days. I whipped up milkshakes, soups and other soft foods and doled out ibuprofen to no avail, especially for The Girl who was in a lot of pain. The spacers are a precursor to actual braces that The Eldest Boy will get in the next week or so and the palate expander The Girl will get (to which I’m not looking forward because The Spouse has declared that I’m going to be the one who’s going to have to turn the key to expand it every night, but more on that later).

Their younger brother’s response to this development? To grab the container of gum that he got in his Christmas stocking – the 13-year-olds can no longer have it – and pop a bunch of pieces of gum into his mouth. Right in front of them. “What?” he asked mischievously when I called him on it. Let me tell you, there’s no question that The Youngest Boy’s will need braces and, as my mom noted, payback’s gonna be a bitch.

Happy New Year Picket Fence Post peeps.


  1. Awesome holiday review! I laughed about the x-box COD stuff, as I toed the same line and thought I was such a good parent...until I discovered they had pooled their resources and bought one from a friend about a month after they got the x-box.

    We played a lovely game up at Sugarloaf while not-skiing on the non-snow called "Fact or Crap" (that Jeff's girlfriend brought up) that noted the average teen sends and receives 75 texts a DAY. Gosh, how did we ever communicate as teenagers? Oh yea, we WROTE notes.

    Congrats on the iPad! It's so much fun, even though I use it wrong all the time too.

    Braces: The palate expander is awful and painful, for about 3 days, After that, the turning thing will elicit a "tickles my nose" comment maybe once or twice more for however long it's in. My daughter and niece are total wusses, and the palate expander felt the same to both.

    Who gets to turn--my brother and sister-in-law play the "Not it" game for these kind of jobs. It all turned sour when my brother WOKE MY SIL UP AT 3am on December 23 to call out "not it" for turning out the candles in their window for that evening. Now they've imposed a time limit. Still, a very effective way to get out of doing a parental duty if you can say it first. Your spouse doesn't read the comments, does he?

    We still need to go out for that glass (or two) of wine! Emphasis on "need".

  2. The Spinz toy video never shows how each dog spends extended time and the end toy results so perhaps Max is well within design parameters.