I know it’s coming. I’m trying really hard to pretend that it’s not and am hoping, “maybe this year they’ll forget.” In my heart of hearts, I know they won’t. So now I’m just waiting to hear, “Mom? When can we start decorating the house and baking Christmas cookies?”
Don’t get me wrong. I do like making our home beautiful for the season, filling the house with smells of cinnamon and yuletide deliciousness. But not with my kids. Yeah. I know. I’m supposed to love every minute of it because it’s supposed to go like this:
Scene: Beautifully lit tree set up, awaiting to be adorned with memory-filled ornaments. All of the regular every-day crap…err…decor…is neatly packed away so festive santas, stockings and miles of garland can be whimsically and tastefully displayed. A spotless kitchen awaits trays and trays of perfect cookies to be created. Festive Christmas music is playing in the background, while 5 cups of steaming hot cocoa are at the ready. The house is brimming with love, joy and good cheer.
Enter family: Dad happily carries up totes of neatly packed Christmas ornaments and decorations from the basement; children anxiously yet patiently await to begin the festivities; Mom finishes putting together a delightful tray of healthy pre-Christmas goodies to munch on whilst merry-making. Ornaments are lovingly unpacked and hung with care, while memories of when they were made or received are gleefully shared. Other decorations are carefully unpacked and beautifully displayed. Hanging the garland is the finishing touch on this scene of holiday perfection.
Commence Baking: Mom gets out the ingredients and bowls to create a wide variety of sweet treats and family favorites. Children diligently wash their hands and dutifully await instruction. Turns are taken, spills cleaned, laughter fills the kitchen. Soon the house smells like the essence of all things Christmas. After all the cookies are cooled and decorated, the kitchen cleaned, the family sits down with a tray of their delights and glasses of milk. The love of the forthcoming Christ child fills everyone’s hearts.
[Christmas music comes to screeching halt.]
Ummm. No. Never in a million years would this EVER happen in our house. Here’s the reality of how it will probably go:
Scene: Tree mostly set-up with a third of the lights working. Dad is on a crazed mission to get every. last. bulb. lit. supported by lots of muttering of profanity under his breath, with an occasional, “Santa can kiss my ass!” thrown in for good measure. Boys are taking it upon themselves to aggressively haul every single decoration up from the basement, loud crashes and dragging sounds emerge from below. Mom is yelling downstairs, “will you two just WAIT, please?!?!?!” More crashing sounds, but this time coming from daughter, who is trying to climb now half lit tree.
Boys have finally drug everything upstairs and begin to rummage through all the boxes, bubble wrap and organization be damned, and start “decorating” with blind enthusiasm until family room looks like it was attacked by drunken elves. Dad finally has tree lit, plops down in his chair, remote and electronic devices in hand, and tunes in first football game he can find. His job here is done, thank you very much. Kids have now found ornaments: boys are fighting over who made which one, oldest one relegating all younger’s “ugly” ones to the back of the tree so his can have center stage. Meanwhile dear daughter has found the extra fragile ones and is trying to see if they bounce. They do not. Mom starts yelling, Dad starts making up weird words to Christmas songs (none of which are complementary) and singing off key just to piss Mom off. It works.
Mom gives up and heads out to kitchen to throw her frustration into baking. Kids catch wind of this and follow hot on her heels, demanding they get to help. Loud, defeated sigh along with muttering of, “goddamnit!” escapes her lips. Fine. Arguing starts over which kind we’re making first, who gets to measure/crack eggs/stir/mix first. (The real goal here is to see who gets to make Mom completely lose her shit first.) “Where are the Hershey Kisses for the peanut butter cookies?” — pan over to daughter sitting in the corner, piles of colorful foil surround her, brown circle around mouth. Check that one off the list.
Then it happens. A chorus of, “Let’s make cut-out cookies!” is chanted by all three. Mom’s blood runs cold and defeated sigh escapes once again. “How could it get worse?” she thinks. Oh just you wait, Mommy dearest. Rolling pin duels, rolling butt massages and “log rolling” around the kitchen starts. Dear daughter has dumped entire bin of cookie cutters out in middle of floor and is practicing her cut-outs on the hardwood. Middle child declares, “you need to flour your work surface before you roll the dough.” Mom is amazingly swift and swoops in and grabs the flour canister before complete bedlam starts. Finally deformed snowmen, freakish santas and three-legged reindeer emerge, as if they’d been exposed to large amounts of radiation. Now begins the cookie decorating. Frosting dripping. Sprinkles flying, getting ground into every crevice of the floor.
Mom staggers out of the kitchen to give Dad evil death glare, only to find him still watching game, this time with large plate of Snowball Cookies (his favorite) sitting next to him. “What?” he says, powder sugar escaping his mouth in a puff of white. Every swear word plus a few new ones are said by Mom as she stomps back into the kitchen, only to discover every cookie has a bite out of it or are ground into the garland, which has been strung all over as if it were toilet paper.
At this point, I don’t know what happens next, because I will probably have completely exploded into a million pieces, only to be ground into the floor along with the sprinkles.
So forgive me if I’m not super excited to involve my children in decorating and baking and merry-making. And if I see pictures on Facebook of children in aprons, beatifically smiling with trays of perfect Christmas cookies, captioned, “we had so much fun making cookies for the homeless today!” — whomever posted it is getting punched in the throat. You’ve been warned.