Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Mystique

I would like to tell you that we had a quiet and lovely Christmas day here, and I wouldn't be completely lying.  But there is no denying that there is a little frisson of tension in our house on Christmas.  While we might  choose to spend an occasional Sunday at home doing not much of anything, on Christmas we do it because we have no choice.  Nothing is open, almost all of our friends are busy, and the inescapable sense of confinement freaks us out.  It feels to us like the rest of the world suddenly isn't there, and we start to act like the normal rules don't apply.

The first rule that went today was the TV rule.  Normally I fight my kids' TV habits with the tenacity of a pit bull.  Today, Isabel and I sat down at 10 a.m. and made a conscious decision to watch as much Phineas and Ferb as we could take.  Five hours, 14 episodes, and 8 inches of sweater later, we took a break because Isabel the Obstinate finally conceded that she might have had enough.  Fifteen minutes later, Emma claimed the remote and Isabel retreated upstairs where, it was later reported, she spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV in my bedroom.

The next rule to go was the food rule.  I prefer for my children to eat three meals a day, starting with breakfast at a decent hour in the morning.  Most of us managed to eat breakfast, but Isabel had hers at 11 a.m., and Matthew, who is indifferent to all foods except pizza, hot dogs, and berries, decided that breakfast was a sissy meal and went straight to his power lunch: hot dogs at noon.  This may have been his way of protesting that I wouldn't let him decorate and eat yesterday's gingerbread cookies at 9 a.m., but I can't be sure because, much as I hate to admit it, this might not be the first time we've forgotten to feed him breakfast.

 In addition to the number of meals per person per day, I have certain steadfast beliefs as to the nature and quantity of food to be eaten.  Generally, this means that you should eat a whole lot more real food than snack food.  Except on Christmas, when we all act as if snacks are the staff of life and when I will willingly mix up three batches of icing for decorating cookies and make Emma a layer cake--with frosting--just because she feels like eating something chocolatey.  I had enough parental pride to require that she help me with the cake, but this was an all out bust. First, she poured the oil directly onto the counter instead of into  the measuring cup, then she collapsed on the floor in despair over her ineptitude, and finally,  just as I was getting the camera ready for a good blog picture, she fled the kitchen, claiming that I was cruel and unusual, which is true. Whatever nutritional principles El Husbando may possess are also suspended on Christmas (and on other holidays and, now that I think about it, any time we fail to monitor him closely enough) and especially when confronted with children in distress, so to promote Emma's recovery from her dramatic culinary breakdown, he took her out to the nearest gas station convenience store and let her choose the emergency provisions, which amounted to one bag of Doritos, one bag of pretzels, two boxes of Mike and Ikes, and a Win For Life lottery ticket.  The food, so called, is all gone, but the lottery ticket was worth $4, so that was kind of nice.

Apparently, the other rule that goes right out the window is the bedtime rule.  I like to believe that there should be a bedtime, for me if for no one else.  But when my die hard night owl (that would be Isabel the Obstinate, in case you were wondering) wanders in while I'm typing and demands--mid-yawn-- to know why everyone is still awake and whether we're going to go to up soon, I know that I've failed to maintain my standards on that count too.  Not that it matters much during vacation; most of them are camped on my floor at night and we all seem to go to sleep at the same time.

The one thing that we did not let slip today was the Chanukah candles.  Then again, we just lit them and it's 10:00, so maybe I can't claim success there either.

Oh well.  I'm going to go to bed and dream of a better tomorrow.  Wish me strength for Leap Day, which is another one of those mystical days in my calendar.

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