The Truth About Santa (and other people)


There comes a time in every child’s life when the leaps of faith in fantastical beings (like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus) get trampled and overtaken by more mature thoughts of probability, pragmatism and logic. My friend’s daughter reached that stage this past weekend. There were some tears (from both sides). They had a talk. And, then that evening she left her daughter a note that she would find when she awoke. Here is what that note said:

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To back up a little, this girl has been a “believer” in all things big and small since she was a mere tot. And, her mom had a huge part in shaping those beliefs. They basked in every holiday, adding magical lore and fanciful figures to each and every celebration.

At Christmas, the traditional tales of Santa were told, as well as many untraditional stories her mom made up. These stories explained everything from why there were different Santa’s at every mall, how he made it to all of the world’s houses in one night, and of course the amazing “Santa election process!”

At Easter there was an Easter Bunny. But, unlike most that just leave Peeps and cheap trinkets, he would instead leave plastic eggs with scavenger hunt clues that lead to a bigger prize in the end. And then the Tooth Fairy – she left glittered notes and a magical two dollar bill in exchange for each tooth lost. A pretty sweet deal, if you ask me! Of course, the story behind why she needed children’s teeth became very intricate and had something to do with powering an entire city. Ever heard of “tooth juice?” Yea, me neither, but her mom did and that was a whole other topic of its own!

Yes, my friend had created a very elaborate world of lovely folklore that her daughter ate up with delight. The very best of them all, however, was the Elf. You know, those elves that everyone displays during the holidays. That brilliant Elf on the Shelf from which some ladies amassed and empire?! Yes, those! My friend had gone above and beyond each Christmas season, preparing intricate and exciting Elf displays. Each year had a theme. The first year started off small, with little inspirational quotes.

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The following year got more educational, with the elf embodying notable figures throughout history. (If you want to see all of them, go here. They are pretty darn cool! http://www.boredpanda.com/inspirational-elf-on-the-shelf/)

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And last year, the Elf went all out reenacting scenes from movies. (More here: http://www.boredpanda.com/the-quotable-elf/)

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It was pretty great!

But now it can be no more. Her daughter no longer believes! I know I was sad to learn of this new reality. And I wondered, in my time of pondering, was there anything wrong with instilling such a detailed belief system only to have it shatter and fall to the ground one day?!

The answer is simply: of course not! By telling these stories and keeping this mythology alive, she did a wonderful thing for her daughter. Though it’s not quite how we do things in our house, I understand the logic (or madness!) behind it. She gave her child something we are quite lacking today – the gift of imagination, belief in something grand as well as pure and simple joy. Even though none of it was real, even though some could contend it was nothing more than a web of lies, it was done with love and the good intentions of a parent who wanted nothing more than to give her daughter some special childhood memories. And, that’s pretty great, if you ask me – a cynical girl who always knew such things didn’t exist.

Maybe those tears they shed together were necessary. Maybe this conversation about the “truth” was hard. But, from what I hear, it also ended in hugs and a new sense of wonder. This time, though, the elation existed over what *other* things they could create, together, that could be just as fun as an Elf, a city run on tooth juice and a fat guy who delivers good memories for all! And, boy, I can’t wait to see what they come up with together!

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An Elf’s Guide For Momma’s Holiday Survival


It’s that time of year again!!

horribly irreverent mom

These days, it seems to be a holiday requirement for each home to possess their own Elf on the Shelf. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you will notice how every single household is trying to outdo the others in ways of creativity, cutesiness and cheer. Parents are going into full-blown planning mode, months and months in advance, all so that they can come up with new and interesting ways to hide these ubiquitous imps. And frankly, folks, it is turning into insanity!!

I have seen my fair share of moms break down and lose it over a bad Pinterest picture, a plagiarized hiding spot or a momentary creative block. Luckily for me, our family has a very different kind of elf. And he has a very different message! Here are the nuggets of wisdom our elf has imparted to us – tips that have helped me to survive this…

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Nothing Means Anything: Anarchy for the New Year


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The new year begins with resolutions, self-reflection and an endless cesspool of thoughts relating to the umpteen ways I did not measure up to last year’s goals. And with so many metaphorical bruises I have given to myself, it almost seems unfair to hope for change. After all, how can I even muster the strength to transform myself when I am obviously at an emotional disadvantage?! That’s why this year, a year like every other, when I have already started to nit-pick over a new set of failures, I decided to try this one anti-resolution instead: live life unchecked.

That’s right! Live life. Unchecked! In other words, fuck that little voice in my head that says “Don’t eat that piece of chocolate, you fat cow!” Fuck that shiny quarter who believes itself to be intended for the “swear jar” just because of a momentary fit of road rage. Fuck the PTA and HOA who constantly make me feel like I’m not being a good (enough) citizen. Fuck Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, “Hands Free Mama” and any other person who claims to have all of the answers (for a mere $24.99). Fuck pretentious friends and presumptuous people. Fuck the Joneses – fuck their manicured lawns, their shiny new cars, and their vacation pictures. Fuck Facebook and those who feel a constant need to post on it. Fuck Pinterest and all those crafty bitches who can’t stop making shit. Fuck scales and numbers, fads and fashion, comparison shopping and coupon clipping. Fuck everything. Why? Because I have come to realize that none of it means anything. That’s right. Nothing! As the Buddhists would concur, it’s all just an illusion.

Case in point, I have one friend who is Vegan. She chooses not to eat any animal products because of the ethical issues surrounding their treatment. And while that is all fine and good, she does love to peruse the world on her iPad – which, ironically, is one of the most cruel devices known to man. On the surface it wouldn’t seem so; but, taking a closer look, the poor laborers who assemble them make roughly 10 cents a week, live in a studio-apartment-sized dormitory with seven other people and have “suicide” nets surrounding their prison/office. Cruelty-free life?! Not quite. Oh, and another interesting note about this person: she likes to shoplift. A lot.

And then there is another person I know, one who presents her surface life as fictionally grand though in truth it is earnestly vacant. She is always busy doing endless crafts to adorn her home, making all of the other moms stand in shame because they didn’t think to make more of a celebration of Arbor Day or Independence Day, just like she did, by making children’s handprints into trees or cakes look like flags. Picture perfect to a tee. We all know this type. And yet her kids are total and complete assholes. Period. And while we shouldn’t judge a child any more than we should judge an unfinished painting….let’s just say, it’s clear that some forms of coddling and catering can’t be cured by time. They will be, without a doubt, people who have greatly inflated ideas of their own worth to the detriment of all others. CEO’s in the making!

Even further on the rungs of examples are the myriad of people I know in therapy. Paying people to “fix” their flaws, work through their “issues” and being charged hefty sums…for years…with no end in sight. And how much more sane or content are these folks? Probably less than the homeless guy on the corner! And he ate a day-old moldy burger out of the trash. Yeah.

So, then what are the answers?? Heck if I know. That’s not what this is about. But if I were to guess, I would say that no one knows. Not your sister, your pastor, your lawyer or your lover. We are all just groping in the dark. Without any answers. Without any guidance. People walk around in a state of belief that they are somehow different; but, no one is. We are all, unquestionably, failing in some way or another. And none of it means anything. It doesn’t make us any less important. Or special. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve happiness or respect. It’s just the truth that we all try to ignore. Especially during the beginning of a new year.

With that in mind, one may wonder what it would mean to live a life unchecked. Does it mean there’s no conscience? No responsibilities? A free-for-all? Anarchy?! Ha! I wish. Simply, it means this year, for once, I will no longer compare myself to others. I will end the need to aim for other people’s unattainable goals. I will stop focusing on illusions and cease using the phrase “If they could do it, so can I.” I will close my Facebook account. And my Pinterest account. And will never, ever go to an Old Navy changing room again.

I will eat when I’m hungry, rest when I’m tired, work out when I’m motivated and do all of the things I need to do to sustain life, forsaking the rest unless desiring them in truth. In other words, I will do what makes me and my family happy. I will put my heart and soul into the things I care about. And I will be okay with the fact that I will sometimes fail. And the fact that sometimes those failures will make me sad or mad. But I will not let lofty dreams of unattainable quests (for self, for family, for creative or personal goals) set me up for upset. I will not buy into fantasies. I will live, not for tomorrow, but for right now. Today. The only thing I truly have of value. And I will not center my life around those holograms (of perfect weight, of perfect families, of perfect lives) that are meant to only torture souls.

This year my resolution is simple: I will live. And, I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s the whole point.

An Elf’s Guide For Momma’s Holiday Survival


These days, it seems to be a holiday requirement for each home to possess their own Elf on the Shelf. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you will notice how every single household is trying to outdo the others in ways of creativity, cutesiness and cheer. Parents are going into full-blown planning mode, months and months in advance, all so that they can come up with new and interesting ways to hide these ubiquitous imps. And frankly, folks, it is turning into insanity!!

I have seen my fair share of moms break down and lose it over a bad Pinterest picture, a plagiarized hiding spot or a momentary creative block. Luckily for me, our family has a very different kind of elf. And he has a very different message! Here are the nuggets of wisdom our elf has imparted to us – tips that have helped me to survive this season:

Unavailable Be Unavailable

Anyone and everyone comes calling during this time of year. Whether it be the invitations to boring office parties, the loathsome sight of carolers, or well-meaning fruitcake-toting acquaintances, folks are all about getting up in your space. And, worse than that, they don’t seem to know that a locked door, closed blinds or an unplugged phone mean “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!” Somehow, that gets lost in translation and people, being so transfixed by the blaze of twinkling lights, believe it’s their duty to just try you again later. Yes, they mean well, but if you let them, they will rob you of your time…and possibly your soul.

So just, you know, take a chill pill and tune them all out. Be unavailable. If they don’t get the message at first, they will soon enough. And if you are ever confronted about it later on, just say you had the flu. If they’re truly jolly and Christian, they will have to believe you!

Green Be Green

Millions and Billions of trees are killed each year for our excessive desire to write things down. And for what?! Most of our paper-based holiday activities, such as Christmas cards, are pointless, time-consuming, are just plain wasteful. I mean, seriously, doesn’t it seem silly to send a card wishing someone a “Merry” this or “Happy” that when, let’s be honest, you never give a second thought the rest of the year?!

So, cut the crap. Simplify! Put your environmental (read cheap and/or lazy) foot down and stop cutting down more trees just to keep up with the status quo. Instead, make up one e-card that you can blast to your colleagues/friends/neighbors. Don’t worry about making it perfect. If they’re anything like you, they won’t even look at it. And, as for the elderly folks in your life, just tell them that you sent a card but the G.D. post office must have lost it. Their anger will distract them from questioning you further.

Resourceful Be Resourceful

The holidays often equate to an increase in kitchen time. And typically there are four reasons for this:

1) Kids love gingerbread. And, they look forward to the season where they can create an entire gingerbread metropolis that they can destroy.

2) Schools want what you’ve got. They’re always fund-raising and assume that they can leverage more guilt/shame to make you either spend your money or your time. Not that you don’t have time. Or money. Right?! But usually there is a standard that feels best met by concocting home-made goodies. So, in order to keep up with those other bitches in the PTA, why not build a Sacher-Torte for a new pee-wee T-ball stadium or a meringue pie for the A.V. club. Whatever. It’s for your child. Or some random kid, anyway. And the pat on the back you will receive, as a result, will last all of three seconds. Your time will be SO worth it!

3) Misery loves company. That’s right. It’s the only clichéd adage that is true. Statistics will show that most people gain a bit of weight during the holidays. As a result, everyone will try to offer a baked goodie from their kitchen to plump you up so they won’t feel so alone in this process. And the added bonus for them is the idea that you will have to comply by making something for them in return. They will get to have their cake, eat it, and then blame you later for their weight gain, too. It’s really a brilliant system. Too bad you already see through it.

4) Families expect to be fed. That’s the worst part of any occasion, isn’t it?! And I’m not just talking about the folks who live under your roof. The holiday season somehow has become synonymous with the concept of grand-scale feasts in which every half-witted half-cousin is invited. And the more family you have, the sooner in the year you can expect talk about that upcoming year-end session of gluttony…at YOUR house. If you make it good, they will salivate over it all year long, expecting that you have just created a new “tradition.”

To all of these four things, I have two words: STORE BOUGHT! Store bought cookie dough. Store bought baked goodies. Store bought meals. Store bought everything! Sure, it might be a little more expensive at first but how much is your time worth? A lot more than the $2.99 five-pound tub of Ore Ida potato flakes. Most people won’t even know the difference between a Pepperidge Farm cookie and your own. And, if someone calls you out, you will know which box of goodies to sneak a laxative into…next year!

Realistic Be Realistic

Kids want everything! And somehow they are born with the idea that every small desire equates to a grand and dire need. Sometime between the end of Summer and the early part of November, they start putting together a Christmas wish list. For those of you who have experienced this phenomenon, you can attest to the fact that these “lists” are sometimes long scrolls of paper, large enough to wallpaper an entire room. Yes, and let me mention that at least 90% of the items on these lists are useless, flimsy, mass-produced junk that will only get about a week’s worth of play. And that’s being optimistic.

So, when doing your Christmas shopping, try to scale back and use your children’s weaknesses against them. Rewrap presents you gave them last year or the year before. You know, the gifts they just had to have, that you searched all over creation to find, just so they could open them on Christmas morning, look mildly amused and then chuck them into a pile (a pit, really) of forgotten toys in the back of their closet. Yeah, those toys! If you’re feeling extra motherly, you can wrap them up with special, shiny wrapping paper and put colorful bows of your choice. Just the bright and shiny objects surrounding the toys should be enough to distract them from the déjà vous of the moment.

This works especially well for younger children; BUT, if they are older, more observant, and do happen to figure you out, just play it cool. Divert their attention. “Look,” you can say, “Santa noticed that you hadn’t played with the toys he got you last year so he was just giving you a reminder. Your real presents will come next year. After you have cleaned your room and done your chores. For now, kid, just be grateful for central heat and a stocked refrigerator.” Then sit back and pat yourself on the back. Not only have you gotten away with the biggest hoax of the century, you have also done your part in creating one less, self-entitled spoiled asshole. And isn’t that the best gift of all?!

Charity Be Charitable

Another thing that the holidays is good for is guilt. And everyone is eager to make you feel bad for something. When you walk into a department store, the Salvation Army Santa is ringing his bell in discontent that you are consuming and not sharing. Phone calls for Charity X and Charity Y ring you down like bill collectors, offering “plans for giving” as though it were your obligation. And, sure, when you live in a warm house with a healthy family and food in your belly, the guilt does start to creep in. But, sometimes, every once in a while, it’s nice to give that bit of guilt the finger.

Life is not always a cake walk. For anyone. Truth be told, in all of my years with central air-conditioning, a working dishwasher and all ten of my fingers, I have still endured some truly shitty moments. Yes, I acknowledge that it’s lucky for me to have all of my limbs. No my husband doesn’t beat me. And, the only land mines I walk through daily are the square blocks my son lines on the living room floor.

So, while I might seem to have a charmed life, I could list other statistics that would make you cry. My deaf left ear. My smooth and sickly cat. The fact that my car was stolen one day when I was having lunch with a friend. Or the fact that the same friend told me I looked fat in my favorite purple sweater. But, whatever. We all have problems. And we all have guilt. And don’t feel bad if this holiday season all you feel like giving the world is a piece of your mind, a grumble or a big thumbs down rather than a dollar.

Merry Be Merry

I used to have a friend named Mary. She was not the sharpest tool in the shed and she liked to drink. A lot! But, if there was one good thing you could say about Mary, it was the fact that she was always the life of the party. This was true primarily because she always did whatever she wanted without worrying about other people’s thoughts. In other words, she had no decorum, manners, shame, OR dignity. And, while all of those traits sound like a bad thing, you know, sometimes there is a virtue to being “that kind of person.”

This year, if stress is getting you down or the expectations of the season are getting to be too much, it might be time to be more like Mary…and be Merry. While it’s true that it might not feel good the next day, baby, living life in the moment always feels AWESOME! WOOOHHOOO! Just one tip to remember, though – make sure your festive behavior doesn’t get caught on film.

Irreverent Be Irreverent

For some people, this time of year is the ultimate holy season. A lollapalooza of all things Christian. And then there are other people who just like to build snowmen and drink hot chocolate. No matter which team your friends are playing for, there is only one thing that is certain: they all expect you to be just as reverent and respectful of their “season” as they are.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little irreverence. That’s the very thing that makes life interesting and comical. But, a word of advice from someone who knows – pole dancing around Christmas trees is harder than it looks. In other words, know your audience and know when to attempt such feats – otherwise, you may have a pine scented hoo-hoo and about twenty less friends for absolutely no reason at all!

Just Be Just Be

This one should be simple, but in this day and age unfortunately it is not. Most people in our culture have forgotten this one, very important tenet to true and utter happiness. Just be. That means every once in a while just turn it all off. That’s right. The TV. The phone. The iPad. The radio. All of that noise that constantly fills our space. Turn. It. All. OFF!

And then what, you might ask?! This is where it gets interesting. Just sit with your thoughts. Enjoy the silence. Be in the moment. Notice the small things. Live. Breathe. Repeat. It’s not imperative that you check your Facebook page every two minutes. The world won’t fall apart if your Twitter twits don’t know what you had for lunch. And the nonsensical, time-wasting emails can wait. Just sit back, take some time for yourself, your family, and your kiddos…and, you know, drive each other nuts the old-fashioned way!