’tis the day before Christmas…

NBTB-Christmas Eve 2014 Post

‘twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…

Ender: Moooom! Can we go to Babi’s yet? Is it Christmas yet? Do I have to brush my hair? Can I just wear a hat? Can we go…

All the creatures were stirring, and making a fuss

Sean: Jaaaane? Did we buy a present for my mom? And my sister? And her new-in-laws? And do we have any wrapping paper or scotch tape or…

The stockings were precariously attached to the tack board with push pins…

Flora: Moooom! I just realized I never made a card for Moxie, and I’m out of good green markers, and green is her favourite colour, and we need to go to the store and get me new markers RIGHT! NOW!

In the vain hope that this year, Santa would remember to put something there…*

Cinder: Mooom! Cookies! We never made those special cookies I wanted to make. Remember? Florentines? You said we could. And you said it was easy. Do we have time? Do we have the ingredients?

The children were running around like chickens with their heads cut off…**

While visions of presents-food-cookies-Christmas-is-tomorrow-we-can’t-wait! danced in their heads

Ender: Can this day just end, so we can have Christmas? Can you put me to bed now? I’m tired. It’s dark.

Flora: That’s because it’s still morning, doofus!

Jane: Do not call your brother names!

I’m trying to settle my brain for the season, but there is so much clamour, without much good reason…

Sean: Jane? Tape?

Cinder: Mom? Cookies?

Flora: Please? Can you take me to the store?

Ender: I. Want. To. Go. To. Bed!

Cinder: She’s not here.

Flora: Where did she go?

Sean: Jaaaaaaane?

Ender: Mooooom!

Flora: Oh, no her laptop’s gone too. Do you think she’ll come back?

I’m in the bathroom, the bathtub, with lights off and curtain drawn

Typing so very quietly, pretending I’m not home…

But I always come back. I’ll leave this dark space. Put on pretty clothes, maybe make up my face (probably not)

Brush Wolf Child’s hair. Braid the girl’s too. Argue with Cinder that ‘tis an occasion for a shirt without skulls and blood on it (or maybe not)

Give Sean the tape. Say,

Jane: Um, no, I didn’t get anyone presents this year, you know how I feel about that, and this year, yeah, I just decided to really walk the talk…

…just to get his heart pounding…

Ha. That will be FUN. Ok, no, just terribly, terribly mean.

Jane: In the office! Under the “to-be-shredded” boxes!***

My mom sent me this meme for Christmas:

Unicorn for Christmas

I hope all of you get a unicorn for Christmas. I want mine to be green, with silver hoofs. And filled with dark chocolate (Chili or ginger).

It’s almost over. We almost made it!

Merry Whatmacallit. See you in 2015.



*That’s not, by the way, an expression of my grinchiness. The stockings are just not part of my cultural tradition. And I never think to get anything to put in there. Ugh. What a make work project.


***For Christmas, Sean needs a shredding service. OK, Santa? Thanks. J.

From one Christmas Grinch to another, or, how I ruined Christmas

Hi. How are you? Feeling down-and-out, like the worst mother ever? Come in. I’m going to show you what it looks like when I lose my temper. Oh yeah, also, I ruin Christmas. It’s my Christmas present to you. Thought you suck? I’ll raise you your suck, and see you one…

So it’s that time of year, and I’m ordering crap on line. Toys my kids don’t need, won’t play with, but think they want. And they keeping on coming into the kitchen while I’m doing this, interrupting, peeking, sneaking, fighting, shouting, screeching, fighting, spying, trying, until…

Jane: Get! The! Hell! Out! Of! The! Kitchen! NOOOOOOOOOOW!

What you need to know: when I yell? It’s like I’m channeling Cthulhu. Kronos. The Evil One himself. It’s not shouting or nagging. It’s a “I can kill with my voice and right now I really want to” kind of sound.

Reaction from the children, who know they’re loved and who know not even Cthulhu can harm them:

Collected children: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Effect on overwrought, broke-and-hates-Christmas-at-the-best-of-times mother:

Jane: Do you understand, goddammit, that I am doing all this FOR YOU? I. HATE. CHRISTMAS. If we were doing Christmas my way—there would be no goddam tree in the house. THERE WOULD BE NO PRESENTS! There would be no Christmas Eve dinner, and there would be no Christmas Day morning and not a single bit of wrapping paper, mistletoe or fake snow stuff in the house. THERE. WOULD. BE. NOTHING. We would be… god, in Fidel’s Cuba or Maoist China, where “For Sale” and “Buy Now” are outlawed, and you can get shot for humming Jingle Bells! I find the crass commercialism of this season morally repugnant and spiritually bankrupt, and participating in it, at all, MAKES ME SICK. So everything I do—this stupid tree? These decorations? Getting you presents, because that’s the way I’m supposed to show you I love you this season? I do all this for you, and I hate it, and the least you can do is not keep on interrupting me while I’m doing it! DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND??

Effect on the children, who know they’re loved, and know that not even the Mother of All Grinches can ruin Christmas:

Cinder: Did you not sleep well last night again?

Flora: Did your writing not go well this morning?

Ender: Thank God we have grandparents.


I don’t think my shoes are too tight. And I don’t think my heart is two sizes too small.

He puzzles and puzzled til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store! Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!


I try to find that every December. Fail. Because celebrating the return of the light—literal or metaphorical, depending on your (ir)religious predilection—disappears under the weight of millions of department store Santa Clauses.

Bah, humbug.

The Grinch


A Christmas Gift for you, exhausted writer style

I have the best Christmas present for you.


It was originally going to be presented to you in a pastiche of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but I’m pretty sure one million other writers will thrill you with such a present.

So my present to you this Christmas season is the gift of, unadulterated … cyber-silence.

An empty in-box.

A still Twitter feed.

A removal of at least one source of noise and clutter.

Shhhh. Do you hear that? That’s me disappearing until January.

You’re welcome.

Reader: Really? That’s it? After that build up? I feel utterly gypped.

Jane: Sometimes, you’ve got to ease into silence. Here. Last year, I wished you Merry Christmas from Mythbusters and Cinder and Viagra, and I also gave you the all-purpose-answer to “those” questions. Use those as methadone.

Merriest whatever you choose to celebrate this time of year. See you in January!



P.S. But before I go, I MUST share these things with you. Ha, more Christmas presents! I am so generous. First, A 10th-Month-Old’s Letter To Santa, from The Ugly Volvo–probably the best Christmas-themed meme going around right now. If you’ve got a babe, or had one recently, you’ll howl, identify, and not waste your time spending money on any dopey baby toys. More seriously, if you’re looking for beautiful Christmas-themed stories to share with your children this season, my friend Jen Kehl has a few stellar selections for you.

A real Christmas present: Brian Sorrell, who blogs brilliantly at Dadding Full Time, has put together his year’s worth of posts into an e-book that’s yours, free, this week. Here’s the link. While you’re taking a break from me, you can devour him–an amazing dad, an insightful writer. Enjoy.

And, just for the mothers in the crowd–the mothers finishing mat leave, the mothers returning to the workplace after a stint at home with littles–there’s a new recruiter in town. Well, in Toronto. But she’s working nation-wide. Her tagline is “I’ll understand if your kid is screaming in the background.” Brilliant? Needed? Oh, yes. Friends, meet Katia Bishops of Recruiter Mommy.

Finally, the best thing in my Facebook feed this week: Crappy Mohs Scale of Crunchiness from Crappy Pictures–How crunchy are you? How crunchy are your friends? And do you have a sense of humour under those fair-trade, hand-woven scarves? “We only eat local, organic food that’s been blessed by vegan unicorns.” Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m still laughing. And I have friends who “can sew an entire quilt in one night by the light of handmade beeswax candles while sipping tea made from homegrown chamomile in a mug that was hand formed from clay mined from her backyard. While nursing.” I forgive them.

P.P.S. Yeah, fine, my Christmas gift to you is totally a Christmas gift to me. That’s why it’s the best gift ever. It makes EVERYONE happy.

P.P.P.S. Sweetie, I promise I’ll be back in January, sharper than ever. Stroll through the archives if you get the shakes. Stalk my Instagram cause I’ll probably take pictures.  But generally–chill. The gift of silence is a wonderful thing.


Another Christmas present: the all-purpose answer to “those questions”

It’s Christmas time. The time to meet and greet Aunt Josephine and answer all those questions that give you ulcers when you start getting dressed to go to that family dinner. This is turning your stomach into knots. Here is my early Christmas present for you.

Take an index card. Write on it:

 “I respect your right to have an opinion on this issue that’s different from mine. However, for the sake of preserving our relationship, I ask that you stop sharing it with me. Thank you.”

Keep it in pocket and when one of them comments or questions comes up – swallow the bite of gingerbread, gulp down the wine, reach into pocket, hand it to conversation partner with a smile, take it back, and start talking about those other dwarf planets. What are they called again?

christmas 2007

Photo (christmas 2007) by paparutzi

Originally published December 10, 2009, Unschooling Canada

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