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Holiday Rant


Every year when I begin the daunting task of putting up Christmas decorations, I wonder how last year Jill could be so inconsiderate to this year Jill. And every year, when it’s time to take the decorations down, I say f-it. Next year Jill can suffer. I stuff garland in boxes, ignore those plastic things you’re supposed to wrap lights around, and cross my fingers the ornaments don’t break as I shove them all in containers without padding.

The holiday season is like parenthood. It’s so concentrated and intense that there’s hardly time to actually enjoy it. There are dance recitals and band concerts. Tree lightings and church pageants. Advent calendars and gingerbread houses which I totally suck at building. The damn elf that jolts us awake at 3 a.m. because…shit! We forgot to hide him! The annual photo with Santa I force my kids to do even though it’s somewhat torturous for all of us.

2 kids were cropped out because...teenagers.

And then there’s the Christmas lists. Earlier this year, Cynthia and Eleanor learned how to create Google slide shows, so they decided to showcase their new ability with a very detailed slide show wish list. Kaleb followed suit while Abigail and Paige opted for Google Sheet formatted lists with items broken down by category. When I was a kid, I don’t even remember making a Christmas list, but if I did, it would have been handwritten on a sticky note and read something like: Parachute Pants, Walkman, Garbage Pail Kid Cards, and Cabbage Patch Doll. These days, lists are more along the lines of: Lululemon Half Zip Crop Hoodie in Fuchsia Size Small. With a link so there’s absolutely no confusion and no chance of deviating. And that’s like over $100. For a f-ing hoodie. Actually, it’s only half a hoodie because everything these days is cropped, despite the fact that it’s 30 degrees out.

When I was a kid (I’m fully aware that’s the second time I’ve used that phrase), there were articles in Seventeen Magazine and ads between segments of Growing Pains that alerted us to the must-have items of the year. Now, ads for half hoodies pop up on every app they open. There are so many more opportunities to promote materialism. So, between untangling lights that last-year Jill stuck me with and wrapping overpriced hoodies, I try very hard to shift the focus of the holiday season from receiving to giving. This, of course, means more traditions and more stuff to cram into the already jam-packed period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We bake bread to distribute to the neighbors and sponsor a family in need. We clear out the basement and donate to toy drives and leave snacks out for the people delivering all those boxes to our doorstep.

The message got through. A little too well. They really got into the spirit of giving. Every person in their lives suddenly needed a gift. Including the elf. The twins convinced me to take them shopping to pick out the perfect gift for their little friend. They finally settled on a pouch of (probably stale) marshmallows in a Santa hat (wtf?), but their hearts were in the right place, so I went with it.

Once all the generosity was accumulated, it was time to wrap. I read a meme recently that said, “Wrapping gifts is folding laundry’s asshole cousin.” Preach. Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a miracle I can do a load of laundry without losing a sock. Much like it’s a miracle if, in the excessive amount of gift bags we’ve accumulated over the years, I can find the appropriately sized bag for the gift I’m attempting to “wrap.” Also, have you ever watched a seven-year-old try to wrap a gift? Or an 11-year-old boy? Excruciating. It’s like watching them put two ornaments on one branch.

I feel bad that I’m a giant stress ball around the holidays. Shouldn’t I be clinking champagne glasses at an ugly sweater party and blasting Christmas carols on the radio? I should be jollier. Less rigid. More fun. There are moments, of course, when that warm fuzzy holiday spirit feeling overshadows the intensity of it all. But, too often, try as I might, the sheer volume of tasks on my to-do list has me playing the Grinch song on perpetual repeat in my head.


Every day, I wake up feeding myself positive affirmations. “Come on Jill. This is the day you’re going to get in the spirit of Christmas. This is the day you’ll make a dent in your to-do list and feel a sense of accomplishment.” Then I look at my in-box and it’s flooded with dozens of newsletters and promotions I signed up for to receive a 10% discount on things I never wound up buying. As I bulk-delete all the messages, my mood has already started to spiral. The Grinch song starts playing in my head, but I put on my candy cane earrings anyway and count down the days until I can sabotage next year Jill again.

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