Of Christmas Decs, My Witty Husband, and Impossible Christmas Lists


My husband likes white lights. I grew up turning up my nose at white lights and in love with the gingerbread house look, but for the first sixteen Christmases, he prevailed. This year, though, the kids asked for colors, and he gave in.


As close as you’re going to get to a gingerbread house with a roof pitch this steep and a 3-story drop in the back.

Christian rethought our entire schematic for Christmas decorations this year. After all, things are very different in our house this Christmas. Not just colored lights. For the first time in almost ten years, we are using our gas fireplace. For most of those years, the gas valve has been shut off and the vents stuffed with as many plastic shopping and trash bags as we could possibly stuff in, a (failed) attempt to block the draft. Why did we have to go through this? Because some genius builder thought it would be a good idea to put the on-off switch 2 1/2 feet off the floor —at eye level for little ones with an obsession with flipping switches. (Do builders not have kids? Sometimes, looking around this house, I just have to wonder.)

Michael Mayhem turns 5 this week, so we decided to pull the fireplace out of mothballs. But of course, this means there are hot spots in the living room now, so Christian re-envisioned our entire Christmas setup, and came up with a way to use a few of the baubles we’ve accumulated over the years.


Simple as it is, when he was finished, it stopped me in my tracks. I stared at it and went, “Wow, honey…that looks…really, really good.”

“I can do these things,” he said modestly.

“It would…not have looked that good if I’d done it,” I said.

Christian rolled his eyes. “I know,” he said. “That’s why our house looks the way it does.”

I threw up my hands. “But you know what?” I said. “I may not be artistic with a house, but darn it, I CAN COOK!”

We’re feeling anxious to finish up the Christmas shopping, so we had the kids write letters to Santa tonight. Christian’s reaction:


Then, of course, there was Julianna’s letter:


In case you didn’t catch that, she wants a trampoline, a snowman (a real one; I asked), to learn to do a star gazer spin (it took a while to pry this explanation out of her), and snow. As in, white stuff falling from the sky.

Envision Santa beating her head on the computer desk right now. Santa’s feeling grateful that all evidence to the contrary, Miss Julianna actually isn’t all that picky, and that she will love, love, loves boots with fringes. Because that whole snow thing? Santa’s magic ain’t that good, folks.

Later this week I’m going to share some really good games for Family Game Night that we’ve discovered in the past year. Stay tuned!

Vignettes from the car on a post-Christmas trip

The annual family Christmas shot, taken after Mass. Another one of those pictures that tells you everything you need to know about our family at this point in time: Miss Independent off on her own, Nicholas being cheesy, and Michael trying his utmost to get free. :)

The annual family Christmas shot, taken after Mass. Another one of those pictures that tells you everything you need to know about our family at this point in time: Miss Independent off on her own, Nicholas being cheesy, and Michael trying his utmost to get free. 🙂

Loading the car to go to the in-laws’ house takes forever. There’s been snow where we’re going, and a lot of it, so we have to load the snow pants and the boots. Michael’s unreasonably cranky, so I have to run back inside to grab the Basi Pharmacy Du Bebe. We’re going to miss trash day, and post-Christmas the recycling fills two rooms (or maybe that’s just because Michael keeps unloading the bags and throwing paper everywhere), so we have to load up the cardboard and paper recycling for a trip to the bins.

The kids are strapped in, cold, and getting restless. Christian’s taking forever to come out of the house, and when he appears, I realize why: he’s carrying THE BOX. The big honking box that held Julianna’s rocking horse, so big that we stuffed it full of other boxes. The box we had to stash under the stairs during the Great Santa Visit of Christmas Eve, because it announced in giant letters, “ONLY AT TOYS R US!!!” and that seemed like a bit of a stretch to a 7-year-old who’s almost connected the dots.

I see the box proceeding across the garage toward the back end of the van, and I think, Uh-oh.

It takes two seconds. “Daddy, what was in that box?” Alex demands.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“But what was in it?”

“Just don’t worry about it, it was in the basement.”

Alex subsides as the hatch closes behind him, and we take off to get gas and a carwash. But then he can’t hold it in anymore. “Did Santa bring Julianna’s horse or not?” he demands. “Because it says TOYS R US on it.”

“Alex, I don’t know, I found it downstairs,” Christian says, while my muscles tense. This whole season I keep thinking it’s just time to tell him already, but it’s important to my husband to stretch it out as long as possible. (He didn’t find out until 4th grade, which I think is a bit ridiculous. I think I knew in the first grade, and it didn’t throw me at all, whereas he was crushed.) So, as I have done half a dozen times this season already, I do what I have to do: I distract. “Hey, anybody want to listen to Christmas CDs?” I ask. “I brought some for the drive.”

“YEAH!” comes the chorus.

Crisis averted. Barely.

Ten minutes later, they’re talking about the weather. “This is just like summer,” says Alex, who is wearing a heavy coat, to Nicholas, whose hands are firmly encased in mittens. “Only with spots of snow. And it’s a little colder.”

“It’s just like red…only blue,” I whisper to Christian.


Today Alex is quite sick. I didn’t think you could get the croup at age 7 3/4, but there it is. I sing again in praise of vaporizers, because yesterday afternoon I thought we were going to have to go to the ER, and in the middle of the night his breathing, two feet from the mist-spewing funnel, was calm. But please pray for him (and all of us) anyway. I’m a little nervous about this virus running laps through the family.