Brian and Angela Anderson move forward after tragedy. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer As you turn down the long gravel path toward the Andersons’ home...
Yeah, we’re the people who still have Christmas lights out on their deck. I actually replaced a string just this July because they were burnt out. Christmas is one of the few times of the year my usually haphazardly decorated house actually has a theme to pull it all together. Glitter and multi-colors aren’t faux pas, they’re expected. I don’t understand why I have to take down all the glittering awesomeness so fast. The lights make me happy. I’m lobbying for a Christmas quarter. Why limit all the goodness for just one month? Put up décor November 1, and take it down February 1. Then you can just pack away the green things. After all, red, pink and purple are perfectly suited for Valentine’s Day.
I never really understood the phrase, “Mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again,” until now. By the end of the school holiday break I’m sneering at my husband, “Yeah, well you actually get to go to work.” Now, work is a privilege for adults in our household. I try to look forward to my time with the kids, plan out activities, create a workable office schedule, and then there’s reality. I have to leave work early clinging to the fantasy of working from home. Then I’m short with my kids because I can’t get work done. At a certain point I just give up, close the doors and baby gates, turn on the Disney channel for my 5 year old and let my 18 month old play with a box of Cheerios. And when my work is done, I just scoop all the cereal out of the couch onto the floor for the dogs to clean up.
Before I had kids, I made gifts for everyone. Giving those gifts was fun and making them was part of getting into the holiday spirit. Now, giving gifts feels like just another thing on my to-do list. Upon entering a store I become a fish who is captivated by shiny objects and before I know it, I’ve lost one child and the other is licking the shopping cart. I spend more time looking for the lost pacifier and blanket than shopping. Last year, I started shopping in June (yes, June), and I forgot half the darn gifts because they got lost under a pile in the storage closet. So I ended up buying everything on Amazon anyway and overnight shipping the gifts to the office. God bless Amazon. I have wisely moved cleaning out the storage closet to my 2016 to-do list, and the resulting garage sale will be epic.
Tis the season of gifts, parties, thank-you baskets and hangovers. Instead of focusing on the extra tasks at hand and spending quality time with my children, I end up texting one babysitter after another in between meetings, dinner, bath and bedtime. I end up buying a party dress that stretches since I can’t seem to keep away from the candy and cookie trays in the office. Maybe this year I’ll conserve calories by drinking my vodka straight. Then, thank god I have a functional husband who will watch the kids on Sunday while I nurse my hangover. So what if he zips them into the trampoline and feeds them only bacon and liquids for the first four hours of daylight? After that, it’s nap time and then we can get in some quality family time watching football and eating a wholesome pizza dinner.
No working mother of young children should be required to do a holiday circuit. The thought alone of maneuvering treats, presents, the Pack ‘n Play, suitcases and kitchen sink into the car is enough to make me need a drink. I literally spend every night the week before we leave packing for our two-day family Christmas trip. Then there’s the car ride, aka parental torture. The chorus begins: “She’s touching me!” “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “I have to poop.”
God forbid they take a nap. I try to go as long as I can without distributing technology by thinking it’ll be good for them to learn to entertain themselves. Eventually, I crack. God bless iPads. When the magic of technology starts to wear off, there’s always fruit snacks. Then the little stinkers fall asleep 15 minutes before we get to Nana’s house. They wake up as we carry them and fully commit to whining the rest of the day about how they have to wait until after dinner to open presents.
This year, my husband started listening to my holiday cheer in September. While enduring a holiday drama tornado discussion, he turned to me and said, “Why don’t we go to Mexico?” To which I replied, “I love you.” God bless non-stop flights. This year I figure I can spend every night of the week packing to spend a week on the beach instead. I’ll bring a backpack full of fruit snacks, iPads and Cheerios. My resort assures me they have the Disney channel, and I figure a note to Santa and a daiquiri is all I have left standing between me and a perfect holiday.