MERRY CHRISTMAS! Are you stressed to the max? Is it Facebook? I blame Facebook. If I see one more post about loving families doing holiday whatever together, I’m going to plug myself into the tree lights. It’s not that I don’t WANT to be all festive and jolly, but between homework and shopping and feeling guilty because my house doesn’t look like a glittery tinsel factory, I really just want to lie down for a day or a week.
I think it must have been easier during olden times. I can’t imagine Caroline Ingalls getting all freaked because there weren’t enough poinsettia plants around the fireplace. And shopping was SOOO much easier. Each child received an orange and a candy cane in a sock. DONE. BOOM.
Well. I can’t complain about modern times, what with the advent of espresso and CrossFit and all. But I can complain about the material trappings of the modern progressive world, even as wordsmiths more zen than me wax poetic about the true meaning of the holidays and how to make Christmas special without going into debt – excellent advice, by the way, which most of us cheerfully ignore.
I’ve been trying to be happy, or at least pretending to be happy. Sort of a fake-it-’til-you-make-it strategy. There’s some acting involved, but I do find my depression waning when confronted by forced smiling. I even partially caved on one of the 21st century’s most heinous holiday traditions: the Elf on a Shelf. If you know me even a tiny bit, you know how I feel about the fucking elf-shelf. You want me to buy a book that comes with an elf, name the elf, let the elf spy on my kids, and at night make the elf do weird things around the house? No. The elf sounds like a leprechaun wearing jingle bells. There’s enough chaos in this abode without fake pointy-ear men wreaking havoc.
I’ve successfully kept my home elfin-free. But this year, my little Tyrant has begged for one. Pleaded. I began to feel guilty, because she’s the youngest child and probably will only buy into the Santa business for another year or two. Once you know all the lyrics to Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money, it’s hard to maintain that sense of guileless wonder.
But I couldn’t bring myself to buy into the Elf/Shelf craze. So I found an adorable black chimpanzee at CVS and decided it could be our Christmas Funky Monkey. That night, Santa wrote a note explaining that due to the lateness of the season, he was out of elves, but because this household is such a cool, hip, place, he felt comfortable sending his very special friend – Fred, the Funky Monkey, a mischievous funny guy who makes weird guttural noises if someone squeezes his belly.
Fred doesn’t have the usual elf rules. He doesn’t lose his magic if children touch him, which is so stupid anyway, and he can move during the day as well as at night. Get this: the Tyrant LOVES him. She read him a book last night, and we all watched a Christmas special together. She has been taking pictures of him to bring to school; I hope the other children aren’t too jealous. Most incredibly, I am actually enjoying it. I introduced Fred to bourbon, so he had to fly drunk last night to the North Pole, and M&Ms, which he loves.
I’m still not fully in the throes of holiday joy. I miss my Dad, my dog died, and we’re way behind on shopping for all the junk my kids don’t need. But Fred is making me laugh several times a day, and I guess that’s a really good start.