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'Twas the Night Before Christmas (the slacker parents edition)

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Four days till Christmas and Nick and I are still wildly unprepared. So unprepared that as soon as I post this blog, he and I are taking the day off to panic shop and over spend. Sadly, this has become our tradition. And in honor of our yuletide procrastination, I wrote a special slacker version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Because this is how I anticipate things going down on Saturday night:


‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring…except the mouse that we found burrowing a hole in the wall of the garage who has probably started a nest in one of the kids’ presents we’ve been storing out there.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, even Nora’s, which totally doesn’t match because I ordered it from Pottery Barn separately and guessed the wrong color but couldn’t return it because I’d had it monogrammed—grrr.

The children were nestled, finally passed out in their beds, while visions of iPhones and flashlights (their only Christmas request) danced in their heads.

I in my apron (making egg casserole for Christmas brunch, which—ack!—I’m hosting) and Nick in his khakis with tools in his lap, surrounded by presents we still had to wrap. And assemble. And possibly still run out and buy from CVS or whatever place might be open at 11 p.m. the night before Christmas.

When out of Nick’s mouth, there arose such a clatter, I ran from the kitchen to see what was the matter. Away to the living room I flew like a flash, just in time to catch Nick tearing open the boxes, throwing the directions and—crash!

It was late, we were tired, the fire barely aglow, and the wine we’d drank at Christmas Eve dinner gave a luster of haze to the objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a wooden dollhouse in 80 miniature pieces lying haphazardly on the floor. A refrigerator, a bed, a wall, a door, a tiny loaf of bread and a million things more.

I knew in a moment it must be that Nick didn’t put this thing together yesterday like I’d asked.

More rapid than eagles his curses they came, and he grunted and groaned and call me a name. “Now Erin!  C’mon! Are you kidding me here? I thought we were getting her a baby doll this year? I’m gonna lose it! I can’t! I’m pitching a fit. Seriously, babe, where did you buy this s---?!”

And then, in my fantasy world, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I imagined it in my head, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

Except he didn’t. It was just Nick and me and all this crap we still had to wrap. Defeated, exhausted, we almost gave up. But it’s Christmas! We love this day! We love this season! And so we bucked up and pushed through without any reason…except for the fact that our kids would be wildly disappointed if they woke up to half-assembled unwrapped gifts and pissed off parents.  

Nick told a joke, I passed him the tape and slowly the dollhouse began to take shape. I realized he was funny and cute, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his Phillips head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

We spoke not a word, but went straight to our work, and filled all the stockings, without saying “you $@# jerk.” We took bites from the cookies, adjusted the bows, piled packages under the tree, then up to our bedroom we rose. And then we exclaimed, before we turned out the light, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


I would put money on the fact that this is exactly how the Ruddy Christmas Eve is going to go. A little fun, a little stress, and, ultimately, falling in to bed exhausted, excited and proud of our work. Think your Christmas Eve will be like this or are you more of the prepared type? Either way, enjoy the rest of the week and Merry Christmas! And Happy Hanukkah to those of you celebrating today. Hope you have your presents wrapped at this point!