The day after Thanksgiving is usually the day I become possessed by the “Neurotic Christmas Spirit” and go balls-to-the-wall crazy.
But I’ve done no shopping, only the required amount of baking, and my tree didn’t go up until Sunday. SUNDAY! I didn’t even rearrange the ornaments after everyone finished hanging them.
The only tradition I insisted upon was that we listen to Barry Manilow’s Christmas album while we put up the tree.
I know what you’re thinking. “Barry fucking Manilow?! Really?!” But you can all shove it. Everyone has their little thing and my mom and I have been listening to Barry’s Christmas CD every year for...a very long time. His version of “Baby its cold outside” is a duet with this woman (I don’t know who) and she’s all moaning and shit. Classic.
My mom’s boyfriend Ray was absolutely horrified when my sister and I did an impromptu tango to “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”. He called us a bunch of freaks and went outside to man the grill and be...manly. We compromised and didn’t play Kenny G’s Christmas album so he would come back inside with the food.
So now it’s December first and I’ve done nothing but sing along with Barry and buy an elf that’s supposed to teach my child to behave.
The elf in question comes with a book and a plan. Basically he’s magic and reports back to Santa every night while the kid is sleeping. Every morning when she wakes up, he’ll be sitting in a different place and she’s not allowed to touch him or he won’t be magic anymore. The elf returns to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and comes back to do his spiel all over again next December first.
The storybook that accompanies the elf explains it all in childlike terms. Bad or good news- he’s giving Santa a rundown every night. Every pouting session, every foot stamp, every eye roll, every sucker punch to the kidneys – he’s gonna know about it.
The kid had to name the elf. She chose, for whatever strange reason, to name the little fucker Shefford. It took us five minutes to understand that it was Shefford because she pronounces it “Seffwoolld”. That’s the best I can do. Her R’s sound like a combination of O’s and L’s.
The only concept the kid has grasped so far (and I realize it’s only been in effect for one night) is that the elf is magic and comes awake while she’s asleep. I seriously doubt that it will have any effect on her behavior, but we’ll see.
This morning when I woke her up she didn’t even ask for coffee first. She said, “Did Seffwoolld come alive Mom?!”
“I think so honey.”
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to go see.”
I helped her down from the bed and she took off running across the hardwood floor, hair still covering her face and eyes half glued together from sleep. She didn’t make it three feet before she slipped and careened face first into the door jam.
“OW!” She screamed and kept on running. I stayed behind a minute to laugh like the caring mother I am. Had she not been on an important mission, that collision would have been “the end of the world”.
Other parents know what “the end of the world” looks like: snot, tears, wailing, and insistence that something or everything is broken. I spend a lot of my time in that place since the kid isn’t the hardcore destroyer that I was at that age. She’s very sensitive and when I laugh (which I do often) it doesn’t help matters much. I’ll work on it in therapy.
Anyway, she found Shefford atop the kitchen cabinets, cheeky painted grin in place. She immediately demanded to hold him and I had to remind her that he can’t be touched or the magic goes away. This resulted in pouting.
I foresee this month long “behavior game” becoming a problem. If it doesn’t end in tears and bloodshed, it’ll likely end in me forgetting to move the fucker and “Ooops! The elf’s out of the bag honey! There’s no such thing as magic until you’re old enough to know what an orgasm is, and believe me, Santa doesn’t give those out for Christmas.”
So the tree is up, the elf is installed, and Barry has had his sing-a-long.
Next on the agenda is present name drawing. I’ve somehow earned the privilege of being in charge of this year’s list of names at Papa’s house. That means I have to call all of our relatives on that side of the family and find out if they are coming to Christmas Eve dinner and if so, do they want to be in the pot.
There are a few advantages to being list master:
1) I can give my name to a big spender.
2) I can keep my name from going to the dollar store queen.
3) I know who has who and I will accept bribes for switching names.
4) I can deny name switching for the person I like least and give their name to the DG queen mentioned in #2.
I’ve been informed that my sister and another teenager, being underage and therefore ineligible for the drawing, will be watching to make sure I don’t cheat. I’ve been practicing my slight of hand with slips of paper up my shirt sleeves. We’ll see how it goes.
But really...I need to get my ass in gear. There are cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, and people to suck up to. Contrary to The Grandmother’s often voiced opinion, Christmas isn’t about Jesus.
It’s about me.
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