December 2020 archive

42 Years and I’ve Never Missed a Picture with Santa

Santa Claus is real, but it’s not just a jolly, fat man in a red suit. He doesn’t live in the north pole and he isn’t just flying around with reindeer. The true embodiment of Santa Claus has been with me all of my life. In all of that time, my mother has taken the magic of Christmas and unselfishly, and without expectation of anything in return, brought that to her family year after year.

Growing up, our halls were always decked. Trees in every room, candles in every window and a display of nutcrackers lining the mantle that could rival any department store window. She even won a neighborhood lighting award for her exterior illumination complete with a family of white-lighted deer and a dancing Santa. Christmas cookies in more varieties than I can count delivered to family, friends and all of the teachers at school.

This was the 80s and 90s, so her holiday wardrobe was on point. They weren’t ugly sweaters, they were high fashion. Paired with stirrup pants and elf earrings, she would make Beverly Goldberg swoon. And don’t get me started on the homemade puff paint sweatshirt that depicted her four children staring out the front window on a snowy day. It still comes out during Christmastime and the tiny little bells still jingle.

But it wasn’t just cookies and sweaters and lights, it was about others. Being raised Catholic, we went to mass every weekend and lit the Advent Wreath every night at dinner. Our church had a giving tree and she was sure that each of us chose ornaments with gifts for children and took us shopping so that we understood the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Eve meant dressing up in our fanciest clothes and attending mass. We made it to midnight mass once, but a few kids fell asleep in the aisles. Christmas Eve was to celebrate the birth of Christ and allowed the morning to be all about the magic.

When Christmas morning came, she never disappointed. Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears, Guess Jeans, Adidas Jackets, and every incarnation of Nintendo, she never missed a thing. She made sure that we had what we wanted and even threw in a few things that we needed. Her face on Christmas morning as she watched our dreams come true is something I will never forget.

She has always done everything for us. Without question, she is the most giving person that I know. Giving of her means and her time, she is always there. She has never asked for anything in return, except one teeny tiny little thing. She doesn’t want jewelry of an expensive bag. She’s not interested in the latest greatest technology. For her, it’s a gift of love that means the most. This year marked the 42 year that my three brothers and I have had our picture taken with Santa. From the time I was nine months old, I have sat on Santa’s lap and smiled.

This wasn’t always fun. Imagine being in 8th grade and praying that no one saw you in line. It would have been mortifying. But, I never put up a fight, I never said no, it made her happy. So we did it. No questions asked. As we got older and lived apart, things had to be coordinated. Work schedules, kids and activities all take second place the night that we schedule our picture. Once a date has been chosen, it doesn’t change and we’re all on time. This is a tradition that will never end.

It is magical to look back at these pictures year after year. It is fun to see how styles have changed and how we’ve grown. I’ve been pregnant in four shots and my hair has had more changes than I can count. These photos show how close my brothers and I have remained all of these years. We truly love one another and the smiles you see are real.

As a mother of four myself, I often wonder how she did it. How did she balance being a mom and a wife and a dream maker? I struggle. I can’t do it all. And I don’t know even if I could, I would want to. Certainly not the way that she does. They extra special ingredients in her cookies. The carols on the radio. The fancy sweaters that all have wonderful memories. And Hallmark movies in the kitchen. It is always perfect. We are all so incredibly blessed to have her.

So when people say, do you believe? It is a resounding yes. I believe that Santa is real. I have seen Santa in action my entire life. The spirit of Christmas and of giving were integral in my growing up. It continues today. But now, this magic is shared with grandchildren. That is the best blessing. My children will grow up with the real Santa Claus in their lives too. I just hope that as a humble elf apprentice, I can live up to the magic myself someday.

I Think I Might be a Stereotype?!?!

I’m a stay-at-home mom. That in and of itself isn’t that remarkable. There are lots of us killing it out there on the daily. But there are some stereotypes that go along with the job. There’s the mini, and the Pinning, and the yoga pants. I’m checking it all off my list and I’m like WTF happened to me?

When I worked, I was in an extremely image-conscious industry. It was all about the clothes, the makeup, and the hair. I wore all black, red lipstick and a royal purple faux hawk that was on point. Today, I’m flexing high waisted yoga pants that have never seen a studio. I still slap on the red lips, but I’ve decided to let my hair go gray in sharp contrast to the hairstyles of the past. That didn’t last, but I’m still more about an easy, on-the-go look, than anything that’s turning heads.

I have Ugg boots. Lots of them. I’ve even got the slippers. The second it dips below sixty, those furry friends are replacing my Birks and will stay on until the first flower of spring. Where did my heels and knee-high boots go? They’re so far in the back of the closet, I’d need a search party to find them.

For the love of Christ, I bought a shirt that says, “Pumpkin Spice is My Favorite Season.” And it’s true! That’s basic AF! My house is decorated for all the seasons. I currently have a giant red sign on my porch that says, “Joy to the World.” It’s positioned next to my bright teal door with a giant monogram on the front. I even change the cases on my family room’s throw pillows to match my holiday theme.

I drive a mini van. I’m never going back. This I freaking love. It’s spacious. The kids can safely open the doors themselves. There’s plenty of room for car seats and all of our on-the-go gear. That’s what we all say to justify the fact that we’ve settled into our position as carpool queen.

I have an Instant Pot. It sits next to my air fryer and crockpot in the pantry. They come in handy when I’m whipping up the delicious meals that I’ve been busy pinning. I love to organize my boards so that they’re easily accessible with pasta, soup, and chicken options.

I’m in those mom groups. You know, the ones where people ask a bunch of strangers about the weird rash their two-year-old woke up with. I refrain from giving advice on when you should flip your kid’s car seat or whether I think Orajel is safe. I may just be creeping, but you know I’m reading that shit on the daily.

While I have changed a lot since I made the move from the working world to the stay-at-home lifestyle, I’m happy. I feel extremely lucky that I have had the opportunity to be with my kids as they are growing up. I don’t take that for granted. And if that means that you can spot me a mile away midday at Target with those tummy tucking yogas and a PSL in hand, I’m OK with that. But please for all that’s holy, take the “This is my Hallmark Movie Watching,” sweatshirt out of my cart!