Tag Archives: holidays

It’s going to be a long season

Last night, just before he headed upstairs to bed, The Artist came to me with a confession that he’d had, what he called, a “crying fit” earlier in the evening.  He told me he’d seen a Hallmark commercial for something – maybe a talking card or a picture frame – “…and these two little girls heard their grandma’s voice, and that’s totally something nana would have done and I REALLY MISS HER!” and then – much sobbing.

Dudes.  How the hell am I going to get through this season when it’s only the 10th of November, and every other commercial is already about baking cookies with grandma or throwing the door open to eager grandchildren and enveloping them in the warmth of your loving grandmotherly arms?  Fuck.

The poor kid.  So we had a little cry together and then he and his brother went upstairs and got ready for bed.  While they were gone, The Genealogist told me he’d come downstairs during the earlier “crying fit” and The Musician was trying to comfort him. 

I love that all three of my boys are so sensitive, that they get emotional and they comfort each other without embarrassment – at home and in public.  I love it so much, but I also know what it’s like to go through life as the kid/teen/adult who cries at everything from long distance commercials to those World Vision infomercials with the sad children of third world countries, to even really cute kitties doing really cute things or a song that just tugs at the heartstrings.  At times?  It sucks to not be able to keep it together, to lose your shit on a regular basis when your emotions get the better of you.  It can really suck, and the sad thing is it can suck even worse for boys and men who are supposed to be immune to emotions or something.  And that in itself is a whole other level of suckage, hooray patriarchy!  But it’s who I am, it’s who they are.  And I wouldn’t change a thing about us. 

Still, it’s going to be a long holiday season.

Sanity – delivered right to your door

I like to shop.  I realize this is not earth-shattering by any stretch, but there it is.  I like shopping.  When I was in high school, the downtown of my city was booming, and there were loads of shops to visit weekly.  By the time I got to university, not so much.  A lot of the stores had moved out of the downtown area and up and over to the bigger malls and plazas in the suburbs and other large, flat areas where giant parking lots could be created and people could park for free and get everything all in one place.  And I’m not going to lie, I shopped in those malls and I continue to shop in those malls, but unlike a lot of people in our city, I also continued to bring a good amount of business to our sadly depressed downtown core.

Case in point.  My mum and I used to do a Friday night shopping thing.  I think it started around the time I got married – because even though we chatted on the phone practically every day, it was nice to go pick her up, see my dad, have a chat at the house, and then head out to shop.  It was good together time.  Often we didn’t need anything specific, it was just nice to go look around and spend the evening out. 

Sometimes we would head to big suburban mall, but most of the time we went to the tiny downtown mall where Eaton’s was the flagship store.  Canadians know Eaton’s very, very well.  To my mind, this was the greatest department store in the history of department stores.  I have been to big department stores in the UK and in the US and in my opinion, Eaton’s outdid them all.  Granted, I have never been to NYC and the killer stores there, so perhaps I am blowing smoke but whatever; until I experience the likes of Bloomindale’s and all that, I stand by my view that Eaton’s was the best of the best.

Sadly, the Eaton family fucked up royally and the stores no longer exist.  And really, once the store left the downtown area of my city, except for a few big stores, it was game over for anyone trying to continue in the retail area.  Without a big anchor store, the mall kind of dried up.  And that’s sad, but it is by no means unusual in North America. 

Thankfully, things are starting to pick up in our downtown, as people begin to think more about urban renewal and try to move away from the big box stores whenever possible.  Obviously not everyone is going to do it, but my family and I are definitely among the ones who value the urban shopping centre, and will continue to help it keep on keeping on.

So this long-winded introduction was really to set the scene for the big reveal!  Because while I love to shop and I love the shopping districts of cities, I have learned to loathe the mall.  Now, the mall is often a necessity, I understand, and I do frequent the mall, but I really hate it.  I hate the crowds and I hate the noise and I especially hated – when I went on Sunday to buy underwear – the kids trick-or-treating.  I mean, wtf?  Is this a thing?  And I know that the next time I go back it will be like Christmas threw up and my ass will snap shut and it will be too hot and I will become stabbier than usual.

This is why I am vowing – hear me vow! – to do as much of my holiday shopping online from the comfort of my own home.  I order lots of stuff online already, and it’s time to take it to the next level.  My goal is to avoid the mall – any mall – for the entire holiday season.  And this doesn’t mean that I will cop out and send The Genealogist to the mall for me.  This means a full-on avoidance.  If it can’t be ordered online or purchased from a stand-alone shop or boutique, it’s not going to be purchased.  It might be tough but I think I can do it. 

So.  Did you hear that, Threadless, Etsy and Amazon?  It’s on.

And speaking of Threadless, look at what arrived at my door yesterday.  Just in time to start the party season, awwww yeah!

Melancholy turkey

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us.  I know, I go through this every year for my US-based blogfriends, apologizing for having Thanksgiving in October.  It’s what we do, as Canadians. 

The actual holiday is Monday – day off work, school, banks and beer stores closed, etc., but most people I know – my family included – have their big dinner on Sunday.  I guess it gives you that extra 24 hours to digest the 3 pumpkin pies and 20 kilos of mashed potatoes we all seem to ingest, as well as a bit of extra time to try to remain upright for an hour or so at a stretch.  Seriously, it’s all about gorging isn’t it?  That’s what we have to be thankful for!  

Ok, but seriously, it’s a great holiday and for me it kind of signifies the true beginning of the autumn season.  By now the leaves are close to their colourful best, the air is cool in the mornings, but warming up by afternoon, followed by a nice crisp evening.  The forecast from today onwards is sun and warm temperatures and a whole lotta awesomeness, so there’s that to be thankful for too!

This also marks another “first” in this year of “firsts” that began when my mum died in May.  First Thanksgiving weekend without her.  By now, if she were alive, I would have been over there helping her do the shopping, picking up the turkey, planning the menu, helping her decide what little favours she’d put at everyone’s place.  We’d be laughing about how much wine we needed to buy (a lot) and how much beer my one cousin would bring (4 cans, which he would drink, and take the empties with him) and the godawful wine that my other cousins would bring (Maria Christina) and how maybe we should open that first and make them drink it, and save the good stuff for ourselves.  She’d have the menu written out and posted on the range with a magnet so she could keep track of anything.  She’d probably have made cabbage rolls by now – pork and beef for the most part, but a nice sized casserole dish of tvp ones just for me.  She’d be agonizing over how to arrange the tables and who should sit where.  She would be cleaning and cooking sometimes simultaneously, and if she was exhausted by the time the guests started to arrive, she’d never show it.  Every year she’d say “Christ, never again” and yet by January, she’d be planning Easter dinner – for 18 or 20  – again.

This Sunday, The Genealogist, The Musician, The Artist and I will be driving to The Genealogist’s parents’ place for a quiet dinner, just the six of us.  I am bringing a salad which requires very little preparation.  And the only conversations with my mum will be the ones in my memory, and in my imagination.  It will be a very different occasion, that’s for sure.  But I am grateful we’ve been invited, and we’ll have a lovely time, I’m sure.

As much as the Thanksgiving dinners my mum hosted were crazy-making ones, I know I’m going to miss them.  I already do.  I think that’s the best part about the family holiday get-togethers.  My family is bananas.  Yours probably is too.  We had lots of dinners and lots of laughs.  My mum kept it going, even after my dad died.  She was the glue that kept us all together, and now that she’s gone, well, you can see the cracks. 

I always said that after she was gone there was no way in hell I’d ever host those enormous family dinners.  No way.  And certainly this year I’m not.  It’s too soon.  But next year, perhaps?  Who knows.  It is family, after all. 

And it’s what I’m thankful for.

It was just like a vacation…

So I was off for five days over Easter.  Five.  Friday and Monday were holidays for my workplace which is already sweet enough, and then I just up and decided to take Thursday off too, so as to have even more time to enjoy.  And enjoy I did.  The weather was spectacular, which, can I just say?  NEVER HAPPENS TO ME.  Whether it’s a day or a week or a month, you can guarantee that the weather will be craptastic, so it was particularly exciting to have all this time off and to actually be able to get outside and not freeze my ass off or get rained on, or attacked by locusts, or whatever.  Awesome.

In other daily news type stuff, my bus driver got lost this morning.  Not lost-lost, just forgot to take a turn where she was supposed to, causing much panic on her part, calling in to bus control, asking what to do now.  Turns out, just um go around the block and back to the place where you missed the turn duh.  So for those of us who need to catch a connecting bus, well too bad, that ship has sailed.  Or bus has left, whatever.  So I was 20 minutes late for work, so no big really, but you know what?  That’s about the 5th time that has happened to me this year.  Always different bus drivers, sometimes different routes, and often me going up to the front saying politely: “um, excuse me, but I’m not sure if there’s a route change that we don’t know about, but the bus normally turns down that street back there so what the hell, do I have to do everything?”  Or, you know, words to that effect.  I don’t know, man.  I rode the bus all through high school, university, to work during my college years and not once do I remember a bus driver zoning out and missing a turn, going off route (without some sort of reason – accident, watermain break, etc.)  So why now?  What is going on with the bus drivers in my city?  Especially now when there is a disembodied voice telling you what the next stop is, they sometimes still go the wrong way?  Are they even listening to that pleasant disembodied voice?  Or is it like when you’re driving home from work, say, and you decide before you get in the car that you’re going to stop at the market on the way home and pick up a few things, and then you just wind up driving straight home because you’re on auto-pilot?  Maybe it’s like that.  Which doesn’t completely instill confidence, that’s for sure.  I guess I’m old-fashioned, but I kind of like my bus drivers to be, you know, paying attention.  That sort of thing. 

But whatever, it’s still the best way to travel, in my opinion.  Because a monthly bus pass – $87.  Being able to blame your driver on your being late for work – priceless.

On bringing back a classic

Well, if that was Christmas, I guess we’ve had it.  Oh, people.  That was the fastest five days of my life, without a doubt.  Birthday, Christmas, Boxing Day and then The Genealogist’s family dinner at our house the next day, followed by yours truly spending an entire day in pyjamas and sitting on my ass.  It felt good, let me tell you.  As much as I love to host gatherings and as much as I love to cook and as much as I enjoy my friends and family, sometimes you just need a day to sit on your ass.  And that day, for me, was Monday. 

But I hope you all had a lovely holiday, whatever you celebrate.  We certainly did, and the boys were definitely excited by the Wii purchased for them, as well as the many, many other gifts they received over the course of several days.  But, as The Artist maintains: “it’s not just the presents, it’s about the family, and the food and….well, and the presents too, but it’s not just about that…”  He is wise. 

So as mentioned above, we did a metric tonne of entertaining this season, which required a metric tonne and a half of food, all of which was prepared by me, for the most part.  Which is cool, because I enjoy it, but holy sweet hell it’s a lot of work.  First we had The Musician’s birthday bash, which was really a snacky-type meal – shrimp ring, cheese plate, veggies, etc.  Then it was Christmas dinner, with turkey and all the rest – vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, the works.  Followed by Boxing Day (which, ok I didn’t actually host, but I did help out at my mum’s) followed by The Genealogist’s Family Kinfestation of Aught Nine which required the majority of the food, which I mostly prepared on the aforementioned Boxing Day, and which consisted of chili, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, and a wide variety of snacks and appetizers, requiring the use of every single dish, plate and piece of cutlery in our house.  We hosted 19 people on that day, can I get a witness? 

So everything on every occasion was enjoyed and well received, which is truly the benefit of hosting events like this.  If people are getting together over food that is tasty and nourishing and enjoyable, well then, I have done my job.  And I love to see family and friends coming together over food and drink, having a good time, catching up and reminiscing, and I often will take a good step back from the festivities to just watch and observe and notice how comfortable everyone feels.  It’s a happy thing for sure.  So while I was proud of the fact that we’d been able to create such an enjoyable time for so many people (particularly on the day of The Genealogist’s family visit, because we even had surprise guests from across the country and the US, so it was truly a reunion) I was most proud of my relish trays.

You heard me.  I, the Urban Info Girl, have hereby resolved to bring back one of the classics of the gastronomical experience – the relish tray.  Now, hear me out.  I have fond, fond memories of the relish trays of my youth.  My mother was a staunch supporter of the relish tray, and owned several of those excellent little divided crystal dishes.  And for dinner parties and special occasions, the relish tray was where it’s at.  Always.  Big fat black olives, radishes, pickled onions and sometimes beets, gherkins or sweet mixed pickles, sliced dills, celery sticks and sometimes roasted peppers or even chunks of cheese.  Not a salad to be seen, usually, just the elegance of the relish tray – often chilled for a couple of hours before being served – and gorgeously, deliciously colourful. 

I own several relish trays.  I have about 5 right now, and I used two on Sunday for our big get-together.  And you know what?  People noticed.  They made comments about how they hadn’t seen a relish tray done up for ages; my sister-in-law told me how envious she is of my dishes, how she tried to register for one when she got married but the registry didn’t know what she was talking about.  Sad, isn’t it?  That the ever-wonderful relish tray has been long neglected.  Crystal and Depression glass, Fiesta ware and bone china beauties all gathering dust in the backs of cabinets!  Or worse, being given away, treated as fossils, something you inherit from grandma, and can see no use for.

So, blogfriends.  Who’s with me?  Who will join me in the fight to re-establish the relish tray as the height of sophistication?  Who will dust off their crystal pickle dishes and create masterpieces of the pre-dining experience?  Who will shun the salad at the dinner party in favour of artfully arranged vegetables and pickled items?  Who among you is brave enough to throw caution to the wind and embrace the relish tray?

Well, okay.  Can you at least not laugh when I put one out at my next gathering?  Much appreciated. 

And, if anyone has any relish tray-related memories, I would love to hear them.  Happy New Year, blogfriends!

Merry, Merry, why ya buggin’?*

I can’t help it.  It’s what I hear when someone says “Merry Merry” as in Christmas.  Which is 2 days away, are y’all aware?  Help me Run DMC!

But!  Before that, The Musician turns 12!  On the 24th!  Christmas freaking Eve, people.  Yes, for unto us a child was born, lo these many years ago, and I swear on a stack of whatever you got, I get really of tired of people who have to get all up in my business about this.  It is pretty much impossible to have the conversation of “when is your son’s birthday” and say “December 24th” and have them not offer some sort of comment, and to that end I have determined that there are two types of people in this world – those who comment positively on a Christmas Eve bday, and those who do the exact opposite like the a-holes they are.

Type #1: “What, you had a baby on Christmas Eve?  How could you do that to him?  The poor kid, he must feel SO ripped off!  You wait ’til he’s older when he understands what’s going on, he’s going to HATE you!  That really sucks, poor guy, I bet you just wrap up stuff for him and say it’s for his birthday AND Christmas, right?  So not fair, I bet he hates it.”

That right there is a whole lotta rage directed at me – and indirectly at The Genealogist, of course, who was also involved.  But really?  I no longer have any time for these people.  When I was pregnant and due dangerously close to this date, people gave me grief.  And then once he was born, people continued with the grief and I have over the past several years told this type of birthday joy-killer to suck it.  Actually, my typical response is to say “we think it’s a really special day to be born” and leave it at that, because Type #1 people are generally too stupid to get it.  And, if I actually ever sent Christmas cards?  They would be off the list so fast.

Type #2 is much nicer.  They will still feel the need to comment, but totally go in for the “Wow, that’s awesome, what an exciting time it must have been for you when he was born, and how special it must be to have a birthday at Christmas, etc.”  So much love for these people.  Mainly because these are genuinely nice and smart and lovely people to begin with, but I have also noticed that these lovely people NEVER mention the line about the gifts.  Never.  They don’t assume the kid gets “ripped off” in the gift department.  Why?  Because for Type #2 it’s not all about the stuff.  Which I love so, so much. 

In truth, it is a bit challenging having a December 24th birthday, but for the past 12 years, we have managed, and The Musician, partly because he’s just so damned awesome, really loves his birthday.  From the time he gets up in the morning until it gets dark, it is his birthday.  Only when the sun goes down do we get in the Christmas Eve zone, and that has worked well for us.  And, in some ways, it helps with the “day before Christmas” crazy that can happen with kids.  With the birthday to focus on for the majority of the day, the whole “Santa’s coming tonight” thing tends to take a back seat ever so slightly, leading to calmer times for all.

When I was pregnant, I remember thinking “oh please don’t let me have this baby on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I don’t want to be in hospital over Christmas!”  And then, early in the morning of the 24th I went into labour and thought “Oh fuck”.  But then, about 10 hours later he was born, and he was so perfect and it didn’t matter what the date was, or that I missed out on Christmas dinner and Boxing Day festivities or anything else.  We had our very first baby, and that was way more important than any of those other events could ever be. 

So as you enjoy the Christmas holiday season, please raise a toast to all the babies born around Christmas time, and send happy thoughts their way, so that they can one day live in a world where jerks don’t ruin their birthdays for them by explaining to them how sucky it is to be born at this time of the year.

Peace, joy and love to all.  And a very happy 12th birthday to The Musician, the greatest 12-year old in the history of 12-year olds, who has done such great things already, and will continue to do great things.  Because you know that other guy whose birth we celebrate tomorrow?  He didn’t start doing much until he was at least twice that age.  I’m just saying.

*Totally aware it’s actually “Mary, Mary”.  Just trying to be funny and festive, yo.

‘Tis the season to be…shaming?

I was at The Artist’s school Holiday Concert this morning before hauling ass up to work.  Yes, I have become one of *those* parents.  The ones who leave as soon as their kid’s bit is done.  I admit it.  I used to scoff at those parents back, you know, when I had a part-time job allowing me to be flexible, or when I was unemployed and therefore able to be just about anywhere at any given time.  “Wow, how hard is it to wait another 20 minutes until the whole show is over?” I used to think in my mildly superior way.  Well, yeah, actually?  It can be very hard.  Especially when you need to catch a bus to catch another bus and there is no one to hold down the fort for you.  So that was me, ducking out as soon as the last notes were sung.  Which in my case, wasn’t too bad, since it never fails that my kids are always among the last classes to perform.  C’est la vie, I guess.  Anyway, The Artist, by virtue of his height, was in the back row, so it made it hard to get good photos of him.  He did a nice little sway to the music, which was awesome, and he saw me and his Nana sitting in the 5th row, so he knew we were there beaming up at him. 

But all of this was after what I think is probably the worst bastardization of a holiday song I’ve ever heard.  Now, I have no idea if this is a for reals song, or if this is something the teacher of this other class made up but, however it came to be, it was appalling.  It was all about Santa crashing through the roof of some kid’s bedroom – good so far, huh?  But it gets better!  Sung to the tune of  “Jingle Bells”, this was the chorus:

Santa Claus, Santa Claus, you are much too fat!

I was sleeping peacefully and now my bed is flat!

Santa Claus, Santa Claus, how much do you weight?

I’m glad I’m not a reindeer, who has to pull your sleigh!

WTF?  Since when has Santa started to be subjected to the Jenny Craiging of our culture?  There was more, too, about him shouting “I want a piece of cake!” and then when the sleigh took off again, it was flying really low, and wobbled, etc., cos you know, there’s a fat guy in it!  I just sat there with my jaw on the sticky floor and was astounded by the HIGH-sterical laughter around me.  Wha’?  Now, of course Santa has always been “chubby and round, a right jolly old elf”, and ok, we get that.  It’s descriptive, and kind of poetic.  But this?  Calling him out?  Calling him fat?  Asking how much he weighs?  This?  This is fat shaming.  And, not only is it fat shaming, but it is fat shaming  of the guy who is bringing you presents you ungrateful mothereffing brat.  I was appalled.  And I really hope I wasn’t the only one, but judging from the wild applause, I may have been.  Dude.  I mean really.  Why?  Why is this a thing?  It made me a little sad to hear all these sweet kids singing this finger-pointing song with big smiles on their faces.  How many of them might go and sing it to another kid, using the kid’s name in place of Santa Claus.  It’s a playground taunt just waiting to happen, I swear it is.  And not only that, this song makes it okay to call people fat.  “haha Santa is fat!  And you know who else is fat?  You!”  And the “oh it’s just a silly song” defense does not fly with me.  Words matter.  They mean things.  And this is reinforcing that fat = goofy + clumsy + too-much-cake-eating.  Fat is a joke, right?

This school prides itself on being inclusive.  Not only were there Christmas songs, but we had Chanukah represented and if I’d been able to stick around, I know someone would have worked up something about Kwanzaa and possibly festivals from other cultures/religions.  The school has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and violence, and each month a virtue is highlighted, so the focus might be on “patience” or “helpfulness” or other positive traits.  December’s virtue, in case you were wondering?  Is “respect”. 

Just not for the fat people.  Joy to the fucking world.

It happens every year

I watch the Remembrance Day service from Ottawa and I cry.  Every time.  It never gets any easier.  This year, the televisions in the clinics, which normally play soothing images and music, were tuned to CBC for the service.  So at about 5 minutes to 11, I made my way over, and stood all by myself in an empty clinic and watched.  And cried.

As a memeber of the Canadian Naval Reserves, I participated in many Remembrance Day parades and services.  As a musician, I often had a lot to focus on throughout.  Things like keeping my fingers warm and able to move, draining the water out of my clarinet so it didn’t freeze up, wiggling my toes so that when we finally marched off my feet would actually work, stuff like that.  I would scan the audience when I could for familiar faces, and to gauge the expressions of the people gathered there at the cenotaph.  Hamilton always has a good turnout for these types of things, and I was always impressed by the respect that the crowds showed.  At the same time, I did my best to not focus too closely on the veterans who were assembled.  Because then?  I would cry.  Every time.  So for the sake of not blubbering, I would busy myself with the other things mentioned. 

Now though, as a part of the audience, whether TV or live, I have more opportunity to see the old men and women in their legion best who brave the elements to pay homage to their comrades.  And on TV of course, it’s the close-up shots of the aged faces, standing (or wheelchair bound) in brave salute, bowing heads, shaking hands, teary faces.  These images, and the image of the Silver Cross Mother, laying a wreath on behalf of the mothers who have lost children in service, freshly break my heart every year.  They always have, but as I get older, I think a lot of it resonates more with me.  The Silver Cross Mother especially.  What goes through your mind when you hear the news of your child – yes, an adult man or woman but still your child – being killed in the line of duty?  How do you react?  How do you even recover?  If you watch the services from Ottawa, you can’t help but notice that these women seem to get younger every year.  Why?  Here’s a hint:  because we are at war.  Men and women are still dying, and that leads me to think about the oldest veterans at the service; what are they feeling as they spend the day remembering their own war, only to tune in at 6:00 that evening for news of the current war? 

But I guess this has happened before, hasn’t it?  The WWI vets watching WWII happen.  WWII vets watching the Korean War happen.  And now?  Everyone together, watching the war in Afghanistan unfold.

 So.  Never again?  We can only hope.

In which I become a curmudgeon

I’m going to come right out and say it.  I hate Halloween.  Hate.  It. 

I suppose I should clarify and say that I really just hate what it has become.  Back when I was a kid, Halloween was pretty awesome.  I loved getting the candy, natch.  I won’t say I loved getting dressed up, because that part I mostly just tolerated.  I would never be anything really scary or ugly, I just didn’t like transforming myself that way, and frankly I still don’t.  I wouldn’t wear a mask or a lot of face makeup, so my long-suffering mother who made all our costumes growing up would do her best to make me look basically like me, but with added flair I guess.  My mother, who is really creative and gets into the whole costume thing could never really understand me.  But then that’s nothing knew. 

Anyway.  Halloween was so much fun at school – a parade of costumes, a small party in the classroom.  And then, the big night once it got dark!  It was alway so exciting and decadent to be out after dark, the anticipation of wondering what sorts of treats we’d get, how far we’d get to go (the boundaries changed each year as we got older) where we would hook up with our friends, and the excitement of wandering the streets with them, and then the running home to empty the bags and sort through the loot.  Magic.

Maybe it’s just because I’m old, but I have started to really resent the commercialization of the occasion.  Now I realize that it’s always been kind of commercial, I mean it’s an occasion to celebrate Nestle and Cadbury and Tootsie Rolls, so really it’s not like there was any mystical and reverent attachment to it.  Okay no, I realize that there is, for a certain group of people, I’m just saying that for most of North America it’s a candy grab and an excuse for dressing up goofy and making an ass of yourself at a bar in a vampire costume while hitting on a sexy nurse.  Urgh.

Until The Musician and The Artist were of an age to get into the whole Halloween thing, we played it pretty cool in our house.  Costumes for the boys, sure.  A jack-o-lantern, naturally.  Maybe even a door decoration and a couple of Halloween-themed bowls, in order to have the trick-or-treat candy housed in something festive.  Ah, but then.  Then, they got older and had more definitive ideas of what we and our house “needed” to be properly set for the occasion.  Fake cobwebs!  “Caution” tape on everything!  Halloween lights – like Christmas lights, only pumpkin shaped.  And on, and on.  It chills me to my very soul, and not in a spooky Halloween way, no.  More of a “how the fuck did I get here, why do I own all of this crap?” sort of way.  Last year my mother thought it would be a good idea to order one of those electric blow-up lawn decorations for us – 3 ghosts riding on a pumpkin sled – OMG how adorable!  And how huge!  I came close to strangling her with the cord.  Clearly this is her way of getting back at me for my non-performance of Halloweens past.  But the boys?  They eat that shit up the way Hallmark and Party Packagers intend them to.  The Artist still laments that our house “isn’t quite spooky enough”, and waxes eloquently about turning our front yard into a graveyard complete with motorized hands and bodies rising out of fake graves.  The day it comes to that, I volunteer to be one of the bodies – but I want to really be dead, in a real grave. 

Is it a sign of old age that I am nostalgic for the simpler times of Halloween?  Possibly.  And granted, since I was never all that into Halloween in the first place, perhaps my impressions are a bit clouded.  But, you need only to visit one of the “Halloween Headquarters” type places that are hawking so much plastic and shit for the season to realize that it probably ranks right up there with Christmas now in merchandise and just, stuff.  And I really, really hate the stuff.  And while all this Halloween stuff is clogging the aisles, waiting in the wings is the Christmas stuff.  Sometimes they co-exist – Pagan and Christian holidays side by side in an ebony and ivory sort of way.  If it wasn’t all about plastic shit for sale, I might even get a little misty.

Maybe I should just suck it up and let the boys have their fun.  Sure fake caution tape and nylon cobwebs aren’t the height of taste and class, but whatever.  It’s just that we have spent the past few years trying, really trying to simplify and declutter and streamline our household that the idea of bringing more and more crap into the house for a non-holiday that I just barely tolerate is very unappealing.  Eventually they’ll outgrow it, I know, and I’ll probably end up feeling nostalgic for the plastic skeleton and ghost candle holders and the blow up lawn decoration and the….wait.  No.  No, I won’t. 

So officially a curmudgeon now?  Hell to the yeah.  And do not even get me started on Valentine’s Day.