Friday, December 23, 2005

Mom's Recipe for a Traditional Holiday Meltdown

We never doubted there was a Santa. We did, however, worry that he would be able to make it past our parents. As Christmas approached, the vein in my mom’s forehead would get bigger and bigger, and her grip on sanity would tighten into a stranglehold. The thought of a chubby fun guy dropping in uninvited and tramping soot through her living room must have really made her nuts. About a week or two before the big day, as the four of us kids re-enacted our traditional holiday squabbling, she would finally blow. "That’s it! Santa’s NOT coming to THIS house this year!!!"

At first we were terrified. Santa always brought the best toys. Without him, all we had were bunny-suit pajamas from Nana and educational crappola from Mom and Dad. We would do everything in our power to placate Mom, petrified that the big guy would pass us by.

Then I figured it out. One year my brother gave the cat a bb-gun enema. Santa still came. The next year my sister spent staring oddly at classmates just to creep them out, and toys arrived right on time. I called a secret sibling meeting and shared my results. We graphed our naughty vs. nice annuities, and compared it to our gift receivables. The truth was out – good or bad, you could set your watch by the fat man. Mom was simply jealous that he gave us cooler toys, and she was conniving enough to garner a couple weeks of household peace by pretending she could stop him from coming.

It was scary to defy her. The first year after we knew, we still at least pretended to be good. We no longer quivered in our beds, sweating the daily errors of our ways. But just to be on the safe side, we carried on the tradition of superficial cordiality. The next year, when Mom raised the roof, we struggled to look scared, but we had found an inner peace knowing Santa didn’t listen to Mom. Her bombast was now merely a harmless holiday tradition, much like fruitcake, only louder.

Santa made it every year without fail. Even Dad’s attempts to keep him out by lighting a freaking bonfire in the fireplace didn’t shake us anymore. We knew the big guy would never let us down, except just one time, when my little brother asked for new parents, but that was probably just because he forgot to say please.


Sarah O. said...

Excellent post!

Your post has inspired me to write a way overdue chapter in my blog. But I've got to stop procrastinating and start getting this Christmas business going. But it won't be easy.

My midlife crisis metrosexual hubby is at the gym, probably getting a massage and a tan in addition to his usual overtraining and my dog has no doubt risked a near-fatal shock galloping past the Invisible Fence in order to chase a rabbit or deer. Good lord, we now have a small coyote pack in the neighborhood so she's probably trying to make friends with them. Here's to hoping the animal hospital is open today.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Cheers!

rita said...

Annie, you're an excellent writer! You should send this column to your local paper and see if they want a local columnist. Our local paper has several, and you're better than all of them put together.

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