Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random Christmas Rumblings

I’m going to apply for a job at Walmart.


I spend enough time there, this week alone, five visits within three days. Not all of it was my own fault. Like most women, I was trying to MULTI-TASK. POW! POW! POW!
Multi-tasking is not always a good thing. I get up at 5:00 a.m. to arrive at Walmart by 5:30, shop, and then arrive at my son’s house by 6:00. He’s a single Dad and I often send Ellie (8 1/2) and Preston (10) off to school.

Guess what?

Walmart’s photo department doesn’t open until 7:00.

Walmart’s return department doesn’t open until 7:00.

And worst of all, Thursdays are pay days and employees cash their checks at the service department. Which runs out of money.

A lot.

So if you’re returning an item, you have to wait for a cash run.


I have a BIG confession to make.

Christmas spirit has been hard to come by this year.

I don’t have a tree. The tree to the right is what I wish I had.

My grandchildren are appalled.

My husband is relieved.

My house looks strange. Especially with the ticky-tacky, white-wire-and-gaudy-lights tree that my husband set on the front porch. I can’t complain. After all, I didn’t decorate a tree this year.

Earlier this week I stood in the Pokemon section of Target for over an hour. Who knew a funky little creature called Picachu could create such a blather of major decision-making?

Another half hour in the Star Wars action figure section, and a final half hour in the Tech Deck mini skateboard section.

Yikes! Whatever happened to a ball and jacks?

How many of you women have ever bought a gift for your mother-in-law? Or your sister-in-law -- you know, the SIL who’s related to your HUSBAND? Why is that? How did women come to be the designated gift buyers?

And the designated bakers. And the designated gift wrappers? I mean, are we genetically programmed better than men for these jobs? Is there something about the size of our boobs that creates a physical balance conducive to kneading bread and racing down shopping aisles, children clinging to the cart edges?

When I was a young girl in Germany, I remember my father giggling like a kid the entire Christmas season. Every Christmas Eve around nine in the evening, he’d declare that he was SURE he’d seen Santa Claus creeping out the backdoor, heard his sleigh bells, and smelled the reindeer.

We would all run to the back door, but no, suddenly the man with the bowl-full-of-jelly belly had escaped to the front yard. We’d clamber there. We never noticed my father’s disappearing act until suddenly Dad was right beside us, peering over our shoulders, saying with astonishment, “Darn, we must have just missed him. Maybe next year.”

We returned inside and lo, like the Star shining over Bethlehem, there they were – all the bright, beautiful presents Santa had left!

Dad had a lot of fun with that trick, and we fell for it every year. He couldn’t wait to see the looks on our faces, so he made sure Santa visited before our bedtime. Just like a little boy, he couldn’t wait for Christmas to come.

Mom just looked tired.

My point is, Dad had all the fun, and it wasn’t until years later that I thought to question what Mom was doing while he was whooping it up like a kid. Now I know. She was buying gifts, returning gifts, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, baking rolls, and making candies.

Not that she didn’t enjoy it. She did.

But that’s not the point. The point is what was Dad doing?

I’m convinced Christmas is for men and kids. It’s not that men don’t help; it’s just that they . . . well, they don’t do it as well as women do because they’re reliving their childhood Christmases.

Sure, they put the bikes together, they pull the decorations down from the rafters, and they pay the end-of-year bills.

Sometimes they don’t even complain.

But I don’t see them baking in the kitchen or shopping in the stores – at least not until December 24 when there’s a sudden flurry of testosterone shopping.

There’s a ditty going around the internet called, “Why Men Are Never Depressed.” Apparently, one reason men aren’t depressed is because they “can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes at a truck stop.”

I rest my case.

But the thing about the holidays is they’re supposed to be about giving, not receiving, sacrifice, not greed, right?

It’s not just the shopping and the baking that is the purview of women. They also try to make meaningful traditions for their families so they won’t grow up to be . . . well, selfish.

My daughter Kennan has a few traditions she’s created for her brood of three, four if you count her husband Mike.

They hang stockings, but instead of Santa popping in to fill them up, the family fill each other's stockings with gifts they’ve made, or in the case of four-year-old Gabe, discovered lying around – a drawing, a piece of candy (hence, the lying around), or a “lost” item suddenly found.
Long before Anne Curry made a national production of cutting her hair on NBC, Kennan's daughter Grace cut her waist-length hair and donated it to “Locks of Love," which makes wigs for cancer-striken children. Cutting off that beautiful hair was a sacrifice for her. Oh, probably for Anne, too.

What about you, readers?

Men, do you do your fair share during the holidays?

Women, do you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the season? How do you handle it?

What are your traditions? Share with us, readers. The best idea, determined by my husband – who is indeed a man – will win a yummy box of See’s candy for your holiday pleasure!


Anonymous said...

Ya'll, this was an accident, I swear. I'm on my way to bed right now!

Anonymous said...

JoMama, you cracked me up with this one! I think there's definitely something in the boobs that balances out the kids on the cart...SNORK!

I love to multitask, love buying presents, and love the season. I really do. I do 90% of the gift buying, but it's my choice. I love to shop, and this time of year I get to shop for all the right reasons. ;-)

As for Christmas traditions, I'm not sure we've got anything too unique. I'm excited this year for the Christmas pageant because my son is Joseph and has his first speaking part (eek!) and my daughter makes a darn cute angel.

For the past two years, my department as work has adopted families and kids from my husband's school (he's a principal at an elementary school). I've had so much fun organizing the donations and taking it over to the families. This year was pretty hilarious because we dropped off the gifts to one family on a Saturday, and when the kid saw my husband he PANICKED. thought he was in huge trouble to have the principal at his house on a Saturday. He didn't calm down till we brought up an armful of presents. ;-)

Jennifer Y. said...

Earlier this week I stood in the Pokemon section of Target for over an hour. Who knew a funky little creature called Picachu could create such a blather of major decision-making?

OMG!! I sooo understand what you mean. That is all my nephew talks about. It is like listening to a foreign language when he starts explaining it to me. Then half-way through his little speech, he must have noticed the glazed-over look in my eyes because he stopped and said, "You have no idea what I am saying do you?" Um...no.

Most of the women in my family do the shopping as well...except for the last minute gifts my brother runs out and buys without consulting his wife so they end up with two of something. And this year my b-i-l bought a race car track for his very girly daughter because he said it is something they could do together...I imagine it was more for him than her. I can just see it now...Barbie sitting on the racecars as he tries to get her to play with him...LOL.

Growing up my mom did most of the shopping but every year my dad would go and pick out something for each of us. We always knew which gift was from him. It would be wrapped in the sports section of the newspaper rather than wrapping paper (a tradition he continues today). We always knew what to expect from him too...when I was little it was Barbie clothes...a BIG shock from the sports nut who refers to me as Buddy rather than by my name (of course my whole family does that now). But every year he would bring out his gift he painstakingly wrapped in the sports section and duct tape (yeah, forgot to mention that part of the process earlier) and I would open up a thing of Barbie clothes. Now, it is usually something from my list that my mother has bought, but it is still wrapped in the sports with the ever-present duct tape. He even makes tags out of the paper...cuts them and folds them like a little card.

We don't really have any other traditions that we do each year. I don't have a family of my own yet so I usually just spend the holidays with my parents and with my siblings' families. I hope to start my own traditions once I start a family.

jo robertson said...

My, my you naughty girls! Up soooo late?? Congrats on capturing the clucky varmit, Kirsten.

I think you're right that many women DO love all the frenzied activities they do. They just want someone to thank them. Or even acknowledge it!

I swear, sometimes it's like others think this magic genie came in and did all the Christmas work! Are they outta their MINDS????

I love those little nativity scenes kids do. They can't flub their parts even if they do because they're so adorable.

I can sympathize with that kid. I would've been pretty freaked out if my principal had shown up on my doorstep!

jo robertson said...

Jennifer y, I'm so glad someone understood what I was talking about. I was explaining this to my husband and he drifted off into a fugue state. I swear he was almost catatonic! I feel like I'm learning computer code.

Ah, the old race car or train track trick. That's an old one. Many a Dad has trid that!

That's absolutely adorable what your father does with the wrapping. Makes me cry.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, it's such a clucking shame that I never get the GR any more. I think it's an international conspiracy. I mean, come on!!! It's 1:51am on the east coast. Who the cluck is awake at this hour? It's only 4:51 in the afternoon here. I should be a shoo in for that metalic monster!

Anyway, Kirsten, congratulations!

Jo, laughed my way through your post. I know it was all very frustrating but it was SOOO funny. I find I'm similarly challenged with the modern world. I get up early and the rest of the world gets up late so my biorhythms are never in sync with what I want to do.

flchen1 said...

Jo, wonderful post! I do sometimes feel overwhelmed by expectations (my own, I suppose, and what I'm assuming others are for us), and though I do enjoy some of the gifting and such, it can feel like too much! And for some reason, we do have a similar division of responsibilities in our house--most of the present-buying, wrapping, prepping, etc., falls to me. I guess it's partly because I have more time/inclination for it right now. And boy, you're right--you could spend days in the various sections of the toy department and still not understand many fine distinctions between the various characters, vehicles, weaponry, jewels, and who-knows-what-else...

Congrats on the GR, Kirsten! Anna,
what gives?? ;)

flchen1 said...

Oops, just to add, we're still figuring out our family traditions. The kids are still young, and are enjoying all of the fun--decorating the tree (now half-covered by assorted ornaments of their making), enjoying their stockings, helping to choose gifts for others... Our daughter just participated in her first Christmas service (she attends a Lutheran school, so memorizing the songs and recitations were part of the school day)--very adorable! :)

Amy Andrews said...

Oh Jo, you hit the nail on the head. This is something that gets to me increasingly as the years go by. Men love the season - well why wouldn't they. They get all the cheer with none of the hours of work that goes into it.
Last year I made a stand and said he could write the Xmas cards to his side of the family and his friends and work colleagues.

I was at my brothers house the other day and my dd was looking at the presents under thier tree. She noticed some for her cousins and asked my brother what he'd brought them. I had to smile when he squirmed in his seat desperately trying to make something up. I laughed and said, darling, you need to ask your aunt that question, she'll have bought them after all.
Poor girl has so much to learn.

Helen said...

Loved the post Jo and totally agree with the Man thing. My mother always did everything while my Father had all the fun but as you say she did enjoy herself as well.
My hubby and I do the Chrissy shopping together and have done for a very long time we have a list and go and get it I really do not like going shopping he does like it. I then go another day on my own for his and he goes on his own for mine ( which he did today) I have yet to get his it will have to wait till Saturday.
As for the cooking and wrapping that is my job but if I asked him to help wrap he would its just easier if I do it.
I do often get stressed if I have left things to the last miniute if I keep myself organised I feel better. I still have to wrap but I will start tomorrow when I get home from work then I will relax and enjoy the grandchildren.
As for traditions we never put any presents under the tree till the children are in bed asleep on Christmas Eve and even though my youngest is 21 we still do it that way we have friends come to our place Christmas Eve to watch the carols by candlelight on TV have a drink and nibbilies and cut the Christmas cake and don't usually go to bed till about midnight then the kids have always been up at about 5-00 am Christmas morning and the 2 that don't live at home anymore still arrive at about 6-00am.
I am glad they arrive early I love having them and their partners and of course the grandchildren all together it is so much fun.
Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Congrats on the GR, Kirsten! Jo, I don't shop at Wal-Mart at all, for various reasons, but I used to and totally feel your pain. I may have to go there to get a gift card for my grandmother and I dread it!

I think it's funny Pokemon is so big again. We had to deal with that when my 21-year-old son was a kid!

Yes, I am overwhelmed. I've only sent about 30 Christmas cards and have at least 30 to go. I adore Christmas and want to do all the things I do, but it's so stressful since I'm working full time, going to holiday concerts and performances, attending parties and dinners and trying to write! I love it all, but there are not enough hours in the day.

My husband helped us put up the tree and even put a decoration on it! He has bought no presents. Well, maybe one since he took my daughters shopping last night. Maybe. I usually insist he buy the kids at least one gift that is just from him, but I am too tired this year. *g*

We are always at my mother's for Christmas and it used to be a big pain to lug all the stuff. Now it's the favorite part for all of us. I adore my huge family! I know Jo and Christie (and probably other well-siblinged and -childrened Banditas understand this phenom!).

brownone said...

Jo, I was laughing and nodding my head in agreement through your post. It's so funny because my sister makes a big meal for Christmas Eve and everyone goes to her house. This year, she has a new baby (nine months old) and she asked that I wrap his gift. Now, what you have to understand about me is that I gift bag EVERYTHING. If it's too large, I've even found the big giftbags that are really garbage bags with a holiday motif printed on them. And if THAT's to small, it doesn't get wrapped at all, you just get the box of whatever under the tree. Yeah. So, I just turned to her and said, you do realize that he's just going to sit and drool on the wrapping paper, he's not going to tear it open like you think. She just looked at me and said, you HAD to burst my bubble?!

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - fun post! I tend to do most of the decorating in our house. If I didn't, nothing would get decorated, baked, bought or wrapped - or probably missed. Not true. It would be missed, but not to the point of doing it themselves. Now if football didn't air 24/7 during the holiday season, there'd be an uproar to shake the ornaments off trees for miles around. *g*

My husband used to be in charge of the outside light decorations, but my daughter wanted to do it this year and did. She's the one who did the tree this year as well, hmmm...could my decorating tiara be passing?

When the kids were little, my husband and I would plan a day off to shop for them together. We still do that even though they have all grown and the shopping cart is no longer filled with toys. About our only other unique Christmas tradition is the Christmas eve homemade pizza and a button in the turkey gravy at dinner for good luck. There's a long story connected with that. I'll save it for another blog *g*

jo robertson said...

Anna, at least it's daylight when you try to capture the GR. Some of us have to sleep-deprive ourselves to catch the slippery clucker!

Actually, in the interest of entertainment, I may have, uh, exaggerated some of the facts, so I wasn't nearly so frustrated as I sounded.

Ya'll know my husband is the designated everything-er. It's my sons-in-law I wanna whup butt on!

jo robertson said...

Flchen1, I agree that we women often have enormous expectations for ourselves. As liberated as the modern woman is, she sometimes feels she has to prove her worth by being all hearth-and-homey even as her logic dictates that there's no reason men can't do everything she does.

Well, maybe not the breast-feeding thing LOL.

We always tried to say, "Who has the greater stress right now?" Then we'd try to pick up each other's burden a little. Women sometimes have greater flexibilty.

jo robertson said...

ROTFLOL, Amy. That's gotta be a classic story. Yes, soooo much to learn!

jo robertson said...

Helen, I love your traditions, and how nice that your kids still come over early. I'm sure that's as special to them as it is to you.

jo robertson said...

OMG, Caren, I had no idea Pokemon was big years ago! I'm so out of the toy scene.

Now, about Walmart, I used to REFUSE to go there, absolutely hated the crowded aisles and junky look of it. But, lo and behold, they launched a new store in our rather upscale community and now all the posh in-crowd shop there. It's become the "all that" thing LOL. But, seriously, it's clean, pleasant and usually very efficient.

Isn't that the funniest thing? Walmart's now the Manolo Blahnik of department stores!

jo robertson said...

Brownone, too funny! I love your gift-bagging everything. So much simpler!

jo robertson said...

Oh, no, Donna, I wanna hear the button in the gravy story!

And I think you've got something going with your daughter. Milk it girl!

Oooooh, you SO pushed my football button. Okay, zipping my mouth shut about holiday sports usurping baby Jesus!

Joan said...

Well, since I don't have a DH to even worry about I guess I can't officially gripe. But several thoughts came to me as I read your post.

A) Go to WALGREENS and buy a "little" pre lit tree. Throw some tacky tinsel on it, set it on an upturned box and have a tree!

B)Yeah, we women do tend to take charge of so many things but I LIKE making sure things are perfect for those in my life...if I can (No, I have not been in the rum balls).

My mother always made this labor intensive fruit salad for Thanksgiving. My brother LOVES this salad so for the past seven years he gives me this pouty look and begs for it.It makes me happy to give him this memory (*&^%$$ fruit salad).

But...ahem...it works both ways. Even on a brother I can get a puzzled look on my face and say "I don't know how to fix that cabinet"
or "(sigh) that box is too heavy". Even brothers like to exhibit their "superior" skills VBG

Oh, and he worked in retail for 15 years and can "fluff out" an artificial Xmas tree like nobody's business "But I can't make it LOOK as good as you." VBEG

Course the little goof ball half ruined his surprise when he spotted the Pro Bass Gift Card I'd gotten him when he came to pick up cookies....Grrrrrrrr

jo robertson said...

Oh, Joan, that's gotta be a little brother, right? And how can you deny them anything? My bro is 17 months younger than me and we were best buds when younger, did everything together since I was such a tomboy.

Oh, yeah, play that sister card for all it's worth!

But you've got to share the labor-intensive fruit salad recipe. Come on, there may be a brief moment in the future when we'll actually have time to make it!

p226 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p226 said...

Yeah. I'm a humbug. Yeah, I make her do all the shopping. But I *do* buy her very nice, and reasonably thoughtful gifts in exchange for the agony she must endure at the retail places. But I don't help with anything else. Hell, my one and only decorating assistance was this:


It was the only ornament on the tree. You work out the pun. I'll wait.

jo robertson said...

Hmmmm, p226, I can't figure out if you're very clever . . . or very evil!

MsHellion said...

OMG, this is so dead on! (And if it makes you feel better: I don't have a tree up either and I don't think it's going to make it either--and this despite I have not one, but TWO Jack Sparrow ornaments I can hang from the tree. You'd think that'd motivate me, but no. I don't think I could motivate myself to dig out the stuff if Johnny himself came to put it up. I think I'd just offer him some Godiva hot chocolate with a splash of rum...or some rum with a splash of cocoa...and we just relax awhile instead of run around, thinking I have to do all these things to make Christmas come this year.)

I'm pretty sure Christmas will come whether I put up a tree or not.

Joan said...

P226. PLEASE tell me you do not have an armed and dangerous Xmas tree!

And I'm thinking with kids around you can't be all that humbug-ish!

Jo, glad to share the fruit salad receipe. I'll give it in the medium bowl size quantities, but you can double, triple etc. for more. And if you make it, FedEx some to my brother :-) (And yes, he's 18 months younger and I mother him mercilessly...which makes him insane..)

2 large apples, peeled and chopped
2 medium bananas, sliced and diced
2 oranges quartered and cut (I use scissors)
1 small bottle red maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 small bottle green maraschino cherries, same
Small bunch of seedless grapes chopped
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

I squeeze a very small amount of orange juice over chopped apples and bananas to keep them from going dark. Combine all fruit with just enough Miracle Whip to cover nicely. Chill.

Stir chopped fruit

Susan Seyfarth said...

Kirsten with the GR!! Again! Nice!

Jo, I loved this post. I didn't fully understand what went into creating a holiday until I tried to put on a Christmas for my own kids. Now, at some point during every major holiday, I'm moved to call up my mom & say, "Hello. I'm sorry & I love you. Now tell me that trick to the mashed potatoes again?"

As for traditions, all I can identify for us is that I spend a lavish amount of time baking lovely, decadent desserts & every year when I say, "So what do you want for dessert this year?" they all ask for blueberry buckle, which consists of mostly prepackaged cake mix, frozen blueberries, & cool whip.

I am underappreciated. That's all I have to say. But that's okay. One day, my daughters will call me up, say, "Hello. I love you, & I'm sorry. Now tell me how to make that blueberry thing?"

Keira Soleore said...

Listen up, Banditas. We women get saddled with most of the chores is because we either volunteer for them, we might possibly be good at them, or we're the catch-all bucket for all the jobs no one else in the family wants to do. My big discovery for 2007 was that, if we were to simply let go one chore...let the laundry pile up week after week, the men DO PICK UP the job. After all, when they run out of the 60-odd pairs of underwear they own, they're going to do the laundry. We women always rush in wanting to smooth over their world and that's why then they assume that if they don't do it or don't wanna, we will always do it.

Keira Soleore said...

Apologies, if the above mail was a downer in tone. Not meant to be that. I'm elated, simply elated by my discovery. Now, I have negotiating power. Go me! :)

p226 said...


I'll wait on a few others to have a whack at figuring it out.

You're all going to hate me.


Tawny said...

ROFL Jo- what a great post! I had no idea I was so unfairly unburdoned until I read this... now I'm going to tell my husband I deserve extra presents in payment (what can I say, I'm like a 4 yo when it comes to presents).

We have a few traditions, but way too many went by the wayside this year with deadlines and craziness. I usually make my Xmas cards back in the fall, but somehow lost track of that. I cancelled the holiday cookie baking fest last weekend because, well, things were crazy and there is no court cookie party this year because, again, things are crazy.

Hmmm... yeah, I'm seeing a theme here. I'll have to think on it more when I go find that Pokemon aisle since my youngest daughter just informed me of one more Pokemon thing she just can't live without (she's obsessed).

Happy Holdays! and go you, Jo, on the no tree thing ;-) gotta take the breaks where we can get them, right?

brownone said...

Oh, you think the gift wrapping is good, you should see what I did on Thanksgiving. My sister and I were pouring over her numerous Williams and Sonoma cookbooks and there was a recipe I was going to do for cornbread. Well, it required actually boiling corn and taking it off the cob. By mid-afternoon, I was so stressed out I pulled out a couple of handy boxes of Jiffy Cornbread mix, some creamed corn and made some muffins. My sister came and tasted it and said it came out SO good. I started cracking up and told her what I did.
Oh, and you DON'T want to see my "Christmas tree" if that's what you want to call it. It is a really fake one that is leaning forward and to the right. Every time the kids take a candy cane off of it, I am in fear of it toppling. Not to mention the "toilet paper roll" ornaments all over it. There's just something wrong about putting decorated toilet paper rolls on your tree!

Tawny said...

It was the only ornament on the tree. You work out the pun. I'll wait.

You stumped me, I can't wait to see what the pun is.

Cassondra said...

Oh, Jo.

You know, I figured out a long time ago that the men COULD do it, but they don't. And so by the time you need them to do it they CAN'T do it because all this time they haven't been paying attention.

And that's the bottom line of what they don't do. They don't PAY ATTENTION. My husband can build a machine gun (not a simple task for any of you who don't know) that runs like a well-oiled...well...machine gun. But he can't wrap a present that doesn't look like a four-year-old did it? Why is this? Cuz he hasn't bothered to learn how. Same with cooking. And you know what? I think they don't pay attention on purpose (grin). As long as they don't know how, we can't ask them to do anything, right? They're not as dumb as they pretend to be. ;0)

Oh, and Keira, I've tried the laundry trick. If he runs out of underwear? He goes commando. No, I am not kidding. He will do laundry only if he has nothing left to wear to work except MY clothes, and they have to obviously look like MY clothes, or he'll wear them anyhow.

Nope. I'm not kidding. The only things that will make my husband do stuff like this are the ones on the lowest level of Maslow's Hierarchy--Is he going to freeze to death? Is he going to starve? If the answer is yes, he'll actually do housework. But Christmas does not fall on the lowest level of Maslow.

For three years we haven't had a tree cuz I've been too tired and too busy. This year I'm hoping we get to put the tree up tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

Suzanne Welsh said...

Okay, Jo. I loved this post and I only have 1/3 the kids and in-laws and grandkids you do!

My father used to tell us when we were kids, "You should really appreciate all the Christmas stuff your mom does, coz if it were up to me, you wouldn't have any of it." Now for years, I thought that meant we didn't deserve it. But as I became a teenager I realized. He 1) wouldn't know what to do and 2) wouldn't think to do it.

One tradition we had, (that my husband and I were unaware of until I had to work one Christmas Eve) was the kids Tree ritual. (No don't think sacrifices or celtic chants).

Apparently, once the presents were under the tree and my husband and I were tucked safely in bed for the night, about 5 am the two youngest would crawl out of bed, (the oldest sleeps like the dead for 8 hours straight no matter what). They'd get under the tree, pull out all the presents into piles, shake them, hold them, guess what they were. Then scatter them back under the tree.

The reason we discovered this was before I left for work that night, I instructed my DH to take the three piles of kids presents and put them under the tree BEFORE he went to bed. He of course didn't.

So, long about 5 am the two youngest woke him up to tell him he forgot to put their presents under the tree. Half awake he carried out the three piles and placed them, in neat piles under the tree. To which they said, "No Daddy, you have to mix them all up." They sat on the floor and watched him scatter them all under the tree.

Now he was awake and thought he'd just make some coffee and wait up with the kids until I got home at 7 am.

Oh no! They wouldn't have any of it. They insisted he go back to bed. Well, from the bedroom, he watched them drag out the presents he'd scattered, making the nearly identical pile they were originally in, go through their ritual, THEN scatter them back under the tree!!

He and I laughed all day about it!

Cassondra said...

Oh, and can I just say, I am shocked. . SHOCKED. Pokemon is BACK????????

Obviously we have no very small children in our family.

And we're the scrooge aunt and uncle. We buy books. I decorate the boxes with plastic bugs or glowey ceiling stars and stuff, but the presents? Books.

We've been buying the kids books since the day they were born. Seriously. When they got big enough to actually open the presents and the piles were bigger than the tree and they developed a routine...open a present...toss it aside...open another...toss it aside...open....toss...open...toss. We were like, 'no way'. So they get books.

Aren't we mean? (hides face in shame.)

Beth said...

Great post, Jo! I love Christmas and I love shopping/wrapping/baking/decorating *g* We don't have outside lights this year because it's just too dang cold out now but somehow we'll survive :-)

Keira, I had a similiar discovery a few years ago. Mine was that I can give my kids chores to do and...gasp...they'll actually get done. Maybe they don't load the dishwasher exactly how I do or fold towels how I prefer but hey, the house is clean and their clothes are clean so I'm happy *g*

As for traditions we have a few. The gingerbread house we make every year, having my parents and mother-in-law over Christmas morning to watch the kids unwrap their gifts, brunch with my entire family at my mother's house later that morning. Oh, and I make my kids open their gifts one at a time (taking turns) instead of just tearing into them at the same time :-)

Beth said...

p226, looks like a cartridge in a pear tree to me. Except I'm not really sure what a pear tree looks like :-)

Cassondra said...

p226 wrote:


It was the only ornament on the tree. You work out the pun. I'll wait.

Oh, I get it. But I had to have Steve figure it out for me. I'm no good at stuff like that. That's pretty good though.

It's a cartridge in a bare tree.


p226 said...

Hahahah, you got it.

o/~ and a cartridge in a bare tree o/~

I know, it's bad. But I'm easily amused.

Tawny said...

p226, looks like a cartridge in a pear tree to me. Except I'm not really sure what a pear tree looks like :-)

Ooooooh WTG Beth!!

Nancy said...

Hi, Jo--

(first, congrats to Kirsten on snagging the GR)

I'll bet you put your finger on something a lot of women feel at the holidays. Like Kirsten, I love doing these things, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed. The dh and I sat down last night and agreed that if the snow globes and the big angel and the manger scene and the knick-knacks don't come out of their boxes this year, well, having a lot less stress is worth having a little less holiday decor. I do want to get the candle tower, our table centerpiece, out if I can find the little stubby candles it uses.

I've been there, done that with Pokemon and Star Wars and that whole crew. Yeah, Pikachu is an industry all by himself! You have my sympathy. Also my envy because getting up before dawn to shop is something I've never, ever managed to motivate myself to do. I'm sorry the Wal-Mart schedule didn't cooperate!

Anna, I'm often awake at 1:51 a.m., eastern time. I'm just never fast enough to snag the rooster. Don't tell me you're having rooster withdrawal. Go look at Joan's picture of him, quick! *g*

I enjoy shopping and wrapping and that whole sense of anticipation, but I didn't enjoy it so much when I was the designated shopper--not only for us but for my mom's and my in-laws' gifts to the boy and for all our nieces and nephews. I had a meltdown one year. I was running around making Christmas nice for everyone else, but I was getting lost in the chaos. The dh (who does print our cards, though we're running way behind this year) stepped up admirably and took over huge chunks of the shopping. Now we decide who's going to handle what and actually try to go together, which adds a note of enjoyment. Now if I just knew what to get him . . .

Our Christmas traditions are having our big meal Christmas Eve and sort of lazing through the next day. We used to go see my folks on Christmas Eve, but they're both gone now, so we just chill. The dh's family lives too far away to visit easily. His mom comes from Swedish Lutheran stock, so we have Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam filling on Christmas morning.

jo robertson said...

Mshellion, that's just an out and out sin! If I had two Jack Sparrow ornaments, I'd surely put up a tree. Maybe. I think so.

Or else just have my way with him and the h*** with the tree!

jo robertson said...

Oh, yummy recipe, Joanie, and the Miracle Whip . . . hmmm, I'd never have thought of that.

I knew you and I were soul sisters at heart. There's nothing like a younger brother to push around, uh, mother.

I used to get Ken in so much trouble it's a wonder he still speaks to me. He'd do anything if I did my famous Howdy Doody face for him. Don't ask.

jo robertson said...

Susan, you are so right. A woman has to walk in those shoes I think before she understands. My children are always wondering how I did it. As my youngest, Rand, said, "You just went into a perpetual zen state."

You'll have so much fun when your girls ask you for that blueberry recipe, which BTW, sounds delish -- and simple!

jo robertson said...

Right on, Keira! It's like a child. Whether you potty train him or not, he WILL use the toilet when he goes to school.

And stop sucking his thumb and carrying around his "comfy."

Is that why we rush in to help our men out? Are they babies at heart?

What is this compulsion we have?

Note to self: stop doing laundry for several weeks. Question to self: can I stand the smell?

jo robertson said...

Okay, cartridge in a pear tree! Yay, Cassondra and Beth (sort of) for figuring the pun out!

jo robertson said...

Yay, Tawny, who scrapbooks and makes her own Christmas cards.

I used to do that . . . a long time ago in a faraway galaxy.

Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to keep sane, even if it means nixing the tree!

jo robertson said...

Brownone, you're cracking me up. The cornbread story? So funny. I'm all about the shortcuts.

Cassondra, I think the men got our numbers long before we got theirs. Dumb as foxes! But I say you gotta appreciate a man willing to go commando!

LOL on the book gifts. My oldest son still talks about the year I got him a dictionary for Christmas. Not with affectionate memory, I might add. Hey, it's like eating your broccoli; it's good for you!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Beth, you are so wise for such a young woman VBG.

It took me years to realize that if I asked someone else to do the chore, I had to be willing to (a) let them do it in their own time (b) and their own way. Gritting teeth here because sometimes it's hard!

You know, my way's always the best way LOL.

Like your traditions. They're very civilized. Which is hard to come by at my house :-D.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Nancy, you too are Obi Wan Kanobe! I'm sure if more women would let loose the reins, the men would step up.

On a serious note, I had the sad experience of dropping an ex-student off at the county jail this morning to turn himself in for a probation violation.

On the way back my car radio played, "Let There Be Peace on Earth." I feel so blessed in my own life that I hope for peace at this season for all those who are homeless, incarcerated, without family or friends or otherwise downtrodden.

Joan said...


Younger brothers ARE fun to mess with in a purely sisterly fashion *g*

The family story goes that when they brought him home from the hospital I tried to push him in his baby buggy to the back of the house. Of course, years later he filled my baby doll carriage up with caterpillers and strolled them up and down the driveway!

And remember the original Disney Jungle Book movie? That Christmas they were selling little stuffed animals. HE got the Balou bear and I got one of the vultures! AND he got the spiffy red fire engine pedal car and I got the sedate brown sedan! No, I'm not bitter.

He revels in the inequity of that too this day!

doglady said...

Jo, this cracked me up! The visual on a woman's boobs balancing the kids hanging on the shopping cart/ Priceless! Congrats on the GR, Kirsten! As a former teacher I can well imagine that kid shaking in his shoes at the mere THOUGHT of the principal being in his house! Joan, little brothers ARE fun to mess with, aren't they? I have TWO! AND I have the fact that I became a widow 14 years ago and we lost our Dad 10 years ago to play anytime they give me grief. They live 80 miles away and all I had to do was mention the fact that my porch collapsed to my Mom and they were there the next weekend to build me a new one. Gotta love it! My Dad was big kid about Christmas, but Mom did most of the work. I used to take care of my brothers' Christmas shopping before they married and even now my SIL's call me to ask what to buy my Mom. Our traditions are centered around my Mom's house. My niece and nephews put up Mom's tree and put all of the decorations out in her yard on Thanksgiving Day after dinner. My Dad's train set has to go around the bottom of the tree and all of the adults have to be there when it is turned on. Christmas Eve means we all have to be there when Santa Claus comes around Mom's neighborhood on the fire truck. Mom and the kids have spent the day making fudge, divinity and potato chip cookies and putting them in the same Christmas tins every year to run out and hand to the firemen and the police escort that comes around with Santa. She has done it every year since 9/11 and every year more and more of the neighbors do the same.

jo robertson said...

Joan, if moms only knew what long-range effects the decision of a brown car over a fire engine would have years later!

My brother and I were just plain mean to our older sister, teased her like crazy, which is kind of sad, because she's a wonderful woman, two years older than me.

But she wasn't very adventurous and we resented how she never got in trouble while he and I were always in some sort of mischief.

jo robertson said...

Ah, doglady, you are so milking that big sister, no man around the house CARD! Go, girl!

I love the train set tradition and what a lovely sight to see Santa come around with the fire engine!

But I have to ask, "What are potato chip cookies?" I've never heard of that or did I misread?

doglady said...

I really cannot tell you what potato chip cookies are as they are Mom's recipe. I only know that they are delicious! And yes, they actually do have potato chips in them. I will call and get the recipe from her and post it if you like.

The train is a very big deal in our family. A few years ago we could not find it and it became a major catastrophe. Now we put the box with the train in it in a specific place every year after Christmas.

Actually the older of my two baby brothers and I used to torture our youngest brother unmercifully. We are genuinely surprised he did not grow up to be a serial killer because of the things we did to him! He WAS the adventurous type and he would constantly get us in trouble. Not because we didn't do anything, but because he was the one who got us caught! Worse, he could not LIE!!! All Mom had to do was ask him who did something or what happened and he would sing like a canary!

Cassondra said...

Y'all, it's BARE tree. It's a BARE tree--that cartridge is the only ornament on said tree....

Two puns for your money......

And yes, my husband would actually put up a tree if he could come up with a new gun-related pun as good as p226's.

But unless there's a pun involved, no help.....

Trish Milburn said...

I just think that if the women didn't do a lot of the shopping, baking, wrapping, etc., that it simply wouldn't get done. That's, of course, not the truth in every situation, but I'd say it's pretty common.

Cassondra said...

Trish wrote:

I just think that if the women didn't do a lot of the shopping, baking, wrapping, etc., that it simply wouldn't get done.

Yup. Wouldn't happen at my house. The husband would make up some excuse not to go to the family get-together cuz he waited too late to do the shopping until the last minute and the stores would be closed, so he'd sit at home and eat frozen lasagna and watch movies. With no underwear on. He'd probably be happier that way, actually....


Aunty Cindy said...

All righty, the Brass Sloth finally makes her appearance! (Aunty does a deep curtsey and snaps her crop.)

I just returned from my latest and greatest holiday tradition, A CRUISE! SHEESH! Wish I was still there since I came home to ugly pouring rain and wind. :-( This is the third year in a row that we took a cruise during the holidays and I plan to continue as long as I'm able!

Once the LC (Lovely Child) left the nest, Aunty embraced her masculine side and pretty much gave up holiday shopping and decorating. AHHH! What a WONDERFUL FEELING! Now I only do what I want, WHEN I feel like it. So I hope none of you are surprised when you do NOT receive a Xmas card from me!

who would MUCH RATHER be relaxing in Mexico

Anna Sugden said...

Great post Jo-Mama!

And for all the help I get, and I get a lot, it's still loads of work because I have to organise the help ... write the list, print out the address labels, get the paper and the tags etc etc. Then again, hubby does all the Christmas baking ... and his mincemeat cupcakes this year are just awesome!!! ... so he's forgiven *grin*

And Keira - I worked that out with hubby no. 1! Hubby no. 2 is way less fussy and always prepared to help out. *sigh* Gotta love him!

Jennifer - I love your story about your dad wrapping your gift in the sports page. How lovely.

P226 - you crack me up! But I must admit, before getting the cartridge pun, I just looked at the visual ... and started to laugh ... isn't it hanging the wrong way?! (or is that just my naughty, wine-induced mind?)

jo robertson said...

Oh, yes, doglady, send the potato chip recipe. I'm intrigued. And as I said, I'm the cookie maven!

jo robertson said...

Cassondra, yes, p226 gets the best pun award -- two for the price of one. I was hoping he'd defend the manly tradition of not contributing to the holiday, but he folded like cheap cardboard.

Trish, sad but true. Without women, across the continents there'd be Towns Without Christmases!

jo robertson said...

And Cassondra, with the whole commando thing going on, you might be happier too.

jo robertson said...

Welcome back to the rain and generally yucky northern California weather, Aunty C. For those of you who don't know, when there'd rain down here, there's SNOW in them thare mountains and all the skiiers and snowboarders are whoop-dee-doo happy!

Next year I'm going on a cruise with you AC, yes inviting myself. That way I can chuck the tree AND everything else. Hmmm, wonder if my kids would let me. Scheming, planning JoMama

Anna Sugden said...

Yes, please Doglady - on the potato chip cookie recipe!

jo robertson said...

Vrai Anna, I'm so with you. I saw the cartridge (stake) and the tree (bush) and my mind went straight to the gutter.

So sorry! That's what I get for not recognizing ammunition better.

Hmmm, the mincemeat cupcakes sound delish!

Lily said...

Working at a WalMart... that was funny!!

I just don't do much for the holidays, so I am not very cracking under stress!

megan said...

My husband thinks every toy at every store is needed by our children, six and three. What could they possibly need? More Pokemon Cards? I tell my husband to limit their gifts to two this year. He reluctantly agrees. But low and behold he is out shopping again, day after day, on his four days off from work. "Are you sure they don't need this?" he asks over the phone while in Best Buy. What do they really need at Best Buy? Question is what does he really need in Beast Buy? (That was a typo on the spelling but then I decided not to change it.) So I send him back to stores to return many o many of things! By the third time, he is no longer sad but angry and informs me that he will no longer help with Christmas this year! OOHHHH! I am so disappointed! Too bad I already MADE is mother her Christmas present. I should have made HIM take care of it. After all, she is HIS mother! I have my own mother to worry about. And she is a very hard person to shop for! :) But why should I let my MIL suffer for her son's lack of Christmas desire? It is all worth it when the gifts are opened and the smiles are EVERYWHERE!

Nathalie said...

Women are so like superWoman during the holidays... we are so good!!

Very funny post :)

jo robertson said...

Hi, Meggie, welcome to the Lair. So excited to see you here. You must've figured out how to post a comment VBG.

That long, tall drink of water you call a husband had better put the stops on buying for those little kids or they'll want a car when they're twelve LOL!

I agree -- Best Buy is the Beast Buy. Yikes, I'd die before I went in that store, but men seem to love it. It's the old little boys and their toys thing.

And, Megan, I know your mother and she's a beast to buy for!

I agree, Nathalie. Maybe we're a little TOO good for our own good!

jo robertson said...

Lily, I'm adopting your mantra. The less I do the less I'll stress. Sounds good to me!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I think your husband and mine are twins. My dh would let stuff pile up to the ceiling and never wash a dish or a piece of clothing unless there was threat of imminent disaster and/or death. Thank goodness the kids are old enough to fend for themselves, because he never remembers they need to eat or anything. It's amazing. I never thought I would meet anyone with absolutely no cleanliness requirements whatsoever. Well, I did. And I married him. But he kind of snowed me a little on the cleanliness thing. And his personal hygiene is great, so it's just stuff, not himself. Except he won't eat unless food is set before him, he is forced to go to a restaurant with us, or he is starving.

I really envy women who have husbands who enjoy a tidy house and see why such a thing is necessary. My dh picks up and does laundry, but always has this look like he is humoring the crazy woman when he does it. *g* And then he wants credit for it. Where's my stinking credit?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Megan, I hear you on the two-year-old response from the dh. Mine loves to pull the little kid card when I suggest he do something differently. "Fine, then I won't help at all!" Yes, really attractive in a 47-year-old man. *g* But he's getting better!

jo robertson said...

Caren, you don't need no stinkin' credit LOL.

Don't envy the woman married to a tidy man. My oldest daughter's hubby, whom I love, is a neat freak. Well, he likes a neat house, but doesn't do much to keep it that way. But he does iron his jeans. Okay, I gotta say there's something just wrong about ironing levis.

Gillian Layne said...

Guilty confession time....I could easily skip Christmas this year too in favor of a seriously loooong "winter's nap". We're just so tired (we as in hubby and I). He just graduated with his masters in physics after six long years of school while working full time to take care of us-yahoo! But we're pooped.

Nevertheless, we've finally gotten the tree and some lights up. It was easy to explain the "toned down" Christmas to the kiddos because we have three manic kittens running around the house who think the tree is up just for them to destroy.

My husband started one of the girls (we have 3) favorite Xmas traditions three years ago. He has a deer skull with antlers (big Kansas game hunter! :) ) and it's in the middle of our outdoor wreath, complete with a very bright red light bulb poking out of his nose. It's just sooooo elegant, really. I know the neighbors adore us.

I've been without internet for over a week because of the Kansas ice storm and wow--look at all the posts I've missed! I've got a lot of back reading to do....

jo robertson said...

Oh, Gillian, my heart goes out to you. I remember well those years of hubby doing the doctorate thing -- we had six kids then. Jeez, it's a wonder we're alive. But what an accomplishment!! Feels so good.

And then you start paying back to student loans LOL -- at least we did!

Ooohh, I love the reindeer wreath. The neighbors may hate it but the girls will remember it forever. I promise!

p226 said...

My husband started one of the girls (we have 3) favorite Xmas traditions three years ago. He has a deer skull with antlers (big Kansas game hunter! :) ) and it's in the middle of our outdoor wreath, complete with a very bright red light bulb poking out of his nose. It's just sooooo elegant, really. I know the neighbors adore us.

I just have to say....


Is freakin....


Anonymous said...

Gillian, that wreath sounds pretty amazing. Wow. I'm not sure I'd know what to say if I was your neighbor! ;-)

Hey, thanks to everyone for the congratulations on the GR. Though I'm starting to feel a little bad for stealing the little guy right out of Jennifer's hands...after she got so attached and all. I don't think he'd even recognize Anna at this point. Lost his accent, too.

doglady said...

Ah, my fellow Passion's Slave, Gillian, that wreath is a definite statement! Not sure what it says, but it IS a statement. Huge congrats to the hubby for his terrific accomplishment. No wonder you two are worn out! Now how did I KNOW p226 would love that wreath? His tree should get together with your wreath.

jo robertson said...

P226, I knew you'd so be all over that deer skull.

BTW, I used to hunt deer, rabbit, pheasant back in the day. We'd dress the deer ourselves, lay it out on the kitchen floor, cut steaks we'd freeze and "stew" the meat in my pressure cooker.

We were driven by poverty LOL and really needed to eat the meat. I got so sick of venison and rabbit, I could never eat them again.

That was before I watched Bambi a million times and I went all soft.

I'll bet you pine for the day when the men actually shot the turkey themselves!

catslady said...

hmmm if we complain about men not doing their fair share (which I totally agree) how is it that your husband is going to want to pick our post roflmao. My husband came up with a great idea - my youngest daughter is now 20 and has a 6'3" boyfriend - so he has given over his biggest job of having to get the "perfect" tree with me and getting it set up to the boyfriend. He did help with the lights though but that was with 3 other male family members while I had a tree trimming party which entailed cleaning the house, grocery shopping, preparing snacks and a fancy sit down meal and even ironing a stupid tablecloth and napkins. enough said lol.

Kennan said...

ok, these the feminist and gender historian won't take issue with your stereotyping :) i'll lay off you, mom, as your christmas present :)

but to be truthful, yes, i do absolutely everything for the holidays. i bought the live Norfolk Pine tree, decorated it with the kids along with all the Christmas lights and decorations around the house. i helped them make the gingerbread houses and pick out which of their toys they were going to donate on St. Nicholas Day. i filled their shoes on Dec. 6th with chocolates and balloons, i took them to the live Nativity play in town, i bought the tickets to the Nutcracker (although Mike did go with Grace, after my suggesting and arranging), i planned the Christmas Musical Night at our home and arranged the acts, i organized the Christmas folk song at our church dinner including 4 instruments, 5 children and 5 posters of the "friendly beasts" (although mike did play the guitar and harmonica, after some coaxing and a lot of stage moming on his part), i made the cakes for distribution and am currently doing all the planning and delivering for the 12 Days of Christmas. i also just sent out 50+ christmas cards and letters (and even included his family :)

and you know what? I LOVE IT! i wouldn't change a thing. i do it best (at least in our family...since i don't want to stereotype other families) and i enjoy it most and mike doesn't whatsoever!

jo robertson said...

Kennan, you're a saint!

jo robertson said...

Excellent point, catlady. Maybe such an important decision should NOT be left to a mere man!

Shall I random-generate pick instead?

megan said...

is it just me or does anyone else want to add, "and a partridge in a pear tree," to kennan's comment?

Mark said...

We need to get you ladies out on the golf course so you can take out your frustrations on Mr. Titleist. After smacking a small white dimpled ball around 6,500 yards of pristine acreage while drinking soda and driving a go-kart (what some call a golf cart) for 4-5 hours I appreciate my wife more than ever.

I concur with everything said here. You ladies are what keeps the world worth keeping. Bless you all for the blessings you are.

By the way Jo, after Boyd and I are finished golfing on Saturday I'll stop by so you can "whup butt on" me for awhile. I don't know if it will make you feel as good as a 300 yard drive, but it's worth a shot :)