The first week of October is almost over. Halloween is a mere three weeks away, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Halloween is the first day of Christmas.
I will admit, it took me a ridiculously long time to figure this out. For years I thought that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were three separate holidays.
People, it is not helpful to think of it that way. It’s like thinking of the SATs as two different tests, or a marathon as three nine-mile runs. It gives you the false idea that you are going to get a break.
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET A BREAK.
The holidays, from Halloween to New Year’s, are the end-of-year exams of parenthood. So hunker down. Here’s what you’ll be graded on:
- Selecting costumes that are not too itchy, not too cold, not too hot, not too time-consuming, and not too expensive. Extra credit will be given if you are required to change the costume on October 30th because one of your dear children no longer likes My Little Pony, or has already lost her fairy wings.
- Purchasing candy you won’t accidently eat before trick-or-treating begins. Unfortunately, this candy has to be something that neighborhood kids actually WANT to eat, so that makes your task a bit more difficult.
- Doling out the appropriate amount of candy to each of your children once the festivities are over – enough so that you win Mom of the Year, but not so much that they puke.
- Getting the Halloween decorations down before the handprint turkeys start coming home from school. Pilgrims don’t like plastic spiders.
- Pulling off a meal with fifteen courses, half of which no one even likes, but swear are necessary for a REAL Thanksgiving. Bonus points for hosting difficult family members and steering the conversation away from politics. Gratitude, people. It’s about gratitude. And dishes. Obviously.
- Getting the handprint turkeys down before the handprint Christmas trees start coming home from school.
- Decorating a Christmas tree. If you have small children, this is a multi-step assignment. First, you must let them decorate the tree because, memories. Then, when they are in bed, you must redecorate the tree, dispersing the 300 ornaments that are clustered on the bottom twelve inches of the tree over the rest of the thing. Be careful. Certain ornaments are SPECIAL (you will not be told which these are) and should not be moved.
- Attending holiday programs. There’s the choir concert and the Christmas piano recital; the Nutcracker and the church pageant; the holiday play (extra points if you have to dress your child like an elf) and caroling at nursing homes; company Christmas parties and neighborhood cookie swaps. Lock your inner introvert in the closet and get out there. You can do this!
- Making cookies and candy and treats that are reserved only for Christmas because they are so time-consuming and you are a masochist. Of course, your kids should help with these too. That’s okay. You can eat all the deformed ones while you stay up until 3am making new ones suitable to give as gifts.
- Buying gifts, because people are sick of cookies. Get the teachers gift cards. Take it from me, it’s what they really want. As far as everyone else is concerned – you’re on your own. Get them something awesome that they don’t already have that doesn’t have too many pieces or make obnoxious noises or cause fighting or allergic reactions. Here’s a tip: Make a budget. Then double it.
- Selecting Christmas clothing. If you weren’t smart enough to buy this year’s Christmas dresses in January, you’re going to have to do it now. You’re going for lovely and WEARABLE. Something that will make your kids look put together (not tortured) in the Christmas photo that you will no doubt not send out until February, because who has time for that shit?
- Surviving Christmas Eve. I’m not even going to go there. You know what’s coming. Smile. This is the stuff memories are made of.
- Pulling off another meal of fifteen courses, different ones please, except for the dishes no one eats. Those, for some reason, should be exactly the same.
- Getting the tree down before the house catches fire. My mother said the tree should come down before New Year’s Day. Then again, my mother had one child. I aim for any time before Easter.
REMEMBER: YOU WILL BE GRADED ON ATTITUDE.
I’ll confess that in the past I’ve sorta slacked my way through this season. I’ve sulked and sighed and thrown ornaments at the tree. But no more. This year I’m having a conversion experience. Some say this is not the kind of thing you can force – conversion. But I say bologna. (What a weird word.)
If I can wrestle three little girls into bubble skirts, I can do anything.
Stay tuned as I try to Mormon Mommy my way through to New Year’s Day.
This should be interesting.