On Friday, at Pottery Barn Outlet, I heard my first Christmas carol of the season. For the beginning few notes I was appalled. I mean, we’re still picking candy corn out of our teeth for crying out loud. We have pumpkins on our stoop! Thanksgiving is still over a week away! But the more I thought about The Little Drummer Boy, the more excited I got. And whether or not the “Christmas creep” is creepy, the holiday season is officially here—so we may as well embrace it, right? Santa is already camped out in our mall and this essay I wrote (about skipping out on my old childhood traditions and starting some of my own) just went live on babble.com’s Holiday Guide. Sure, the season feels a little rushed, especially since it’s been in the high 50s here in New York for the past week and we were just down in Florida for a sunny vacation (see photo). But just as I was jazzed for summerfor the first time in a long time and so ready for fall, I’m totally excited for the holidays this year. The reasons:
- We’re going to my Aunt Donna’s house for Thanksgiving this year, which means I will be a bona fide guest (last year, while 8 months pregnant, I hosted dinner for 12 and then had 30 people over for dessert). I am making a pie and I will, of course, try to help her with dishes and things but she runs the most efficient holiday dinner (she hosts Christmas too, usually for at least 30) that it’s really a dream to be there and just enjoy (and by enjoy I mean chase my two kids around…)
- Alex’s food allergies are so much better this year (nuts are really the only big one) so he can eat all the yummy holiday fare. And we can make—and sample!—Christmas cookies that are not vegan, soy-free and depressing. Nora will literally eat anything you put in front of her, which makes a holiday season on the go that much easier.
- We’re taking Alex to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this year. I have been pretty much every year for as long as I can remember but this is the first year Alex is invited/may potentially sit still. And I know he’s going love it. And so will I. My Grandma Del, who I shared a birthday with, was a Rockette in the 40s and early 50s (back when they used to live at the Music Hall!) so the show has always been extra special for my family. My grandma died two days before Alex was born and never got to meet my kids, which kills me, but I hope introducing Al to the show will be a way for him to learn about his super cool great grandma.
- Fires in our fireplace. We’ve had one every night for the past week despite the balmy temps. Nick had a cord of wood delivered the other day and he was literally like a kid on Christmas on morning.
- Alex completely “gets it” this year and his excitement for the holidays is infectious. (We can also tell him Santa is watching if/when he misbehaves…or is that a no no? Is the whole invoking the naughty/nice list no longer PC?)
- I can listen to Vince Guaraldi Trio (the Charlie Brown Christmas album)on repeat without being embarrassed. Every once in a while during, say, July, we’ll accidentally let the iPod run to VGT and Nick and I will walk very slowly to change it. What can I say? It makes us happy.
- Canned cranberry sauce. No matter how much I learn and love about delicious/high-brow/healthy/homemade/sustainable/organic food, I am still a sucker for the gelatinous side dish that comes out of a tin can, complete with indents from said can.
- Good old fashion together time. As far as families of four go, we Ruddys spend an awful lot of time hanging out. But it’s often in between doing other, scheduled things, or it’s completely goal-oriented (bedtime, mealtime, naptime, time out). Over the holidays there’s so much down time—especially this year since we have no family visiting—and I plan to spend a lot of it holed up my house with my crew. We’ll lounge, we’ll play, we’ll cook, we’ll craft. I’ve already made a rule that no one gets out of his/her pajamas on Thanksgiving Day until we’re ready to head to my aunt’s house.
- My house always looks prettier at Christmas time. We put candles in every window and wreathes on the doors and pretty Santa and reindeer and snowflake decorations throughout. You literally can’t be in a bad mood when the tree is lit and the living room looks like a Norman Rockwell painting.
- Watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And A Christmas Story. And Home for the Holidays (a Thanksgiving movie with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr.—awesome). And A Charlie Brown Christmas. And Scrooged, Elf, The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated one is way superior but I’ll also watch Jim Carey’s version), Home Alone, The Family Man, Love Actually, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, Miracle on 34th Street (I’ve only seen the Elizabeth Perkins/Dylan McDermott version so perhaps this year I’ll try the original), etc., etc., etc. In other words, I love me a good Christmas movie!
Not to be a bah-humbug, but as I write this list of things I’m excited about, a few holiday-time tidbits that I’m kind of dreading come to mind. In the interest of being fair, here they are:
Taxes (the end of the year is rapidly approaching and for two self employed people, it’s never pretty), the mall parking lot, the inevitable overspending on junk that occurs at the last second when I think I haven’t bought enough presents, keeping Nora from pulling down the Christmas ornaments, trying to get my kids to sit still for a Christmas photo, trying to find plans—and a babysitter—for New Year’s Eve, trying not to gain the notorious seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, trying to get Alex to sit on Santa’s lap (he’s deathly afraid), wrapping all those damn presents, when the bills come in a month later.
OK, what’s on your list? The good and the bad? Happy Holiday season!