Category Archives: Holiday Hokum

Jingle All the Way

www.melindawentzel.comIt’s possible that I might be slightly smitten with jingle bells—more specifically, with the completely delicious and decidedly hypnotic sound they emit. A feast for the ears. A balm for the soul. A window into the past for people like me, who’ve harvested decades-old memories that involve horses, snow-covered cornfields and wintry afternoons spent on my grandfather’s farm. As a result, I am fairly incapable of resisting the allure of a store bin filled to capacity with sleigh bells. That said, I cannot walk by without reaching in to sample each and every melodic wonder. To pluck great hordes from the array, one after another, appraising each with regard to its heft, luster and, of course, the inherent splendor of its sound. Call it a weakness if you will. Perhaps even a debilitating fixation. I have no shame.

Needless to say, there is a profusion of jingle bells in this household—both brass and silver, embossed and etched—many of which adorn our tree, several that rest near our beloved crèche, all of which are patently adored. Additionally, at least two clusters of bells, ones that are tenuously affixed to braided strands of crimson and gold, dangle freely from doorknobs so that our comings and goings, as well as those of friends and family who visit, are joyfully announced. What’s more, there are bell necklaces and bell bracelets, bells on stockings and bells on sleighs. Even a pair of plump snowmen COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF BELLS are poised to welcome www.melindawentzel.comChristmas Day—as are the hand-painted variety that a favorite student teacher recently bestowed upon my brood.

As one might expect, I spend an inordinate amount of time each December perfectly enthralled by the chorus of ringing the aforementioned bells are capable of producing (i.e. I move from room to room, gently waggling each bell in succession, holding it to my ear so that I might savor the sound as it lingers deliciously). Some offer a mere tinkling and the suggestion of an echo, as if a tiny man were inside striking the walls with a hammer, while others resonate seemingly forever a sound so rich and so pure it can almost be tangibly held in one’s hands.

The latter is my favorite and the special sort that we resurrected from my mother-in-law’s estate several years ago, along with a host of ceramic centerpieces she crafted herself and a handful of wooden blocks that spell out MERRY CHRISTMAS when properly arranged. Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to the sleigh bell—a silver-plated, baseball-sized genuine collectible manufactured by Wallace more than 30 years ago. Naturally, it makes a distinctive sound. And whenever I want to revisit a time when my husband’s mother was here (which is often, since there are so many conversations Iwww.melindawentzel.com wish we could have), I pick up the bell—which, I suppose, is not unlike the days I find myself wandering around in search of the Carter’s slippers my children wore so many years ago. The ones with tiny jingle bells housed inside their wooly dog exteriors, triggering fond remembrances of a pair of pajama-clad, bedtime-story-toting toddlers at will. In an instant, I can see them shuffling about, their rounded bellies protruding ever so slightly, their smallish hands clutching a toy of some sort.

Come January, as I take down the tree and unceremoniously stow away the remnants of Christmas cheer, I simply cannot bring myself to box up the bells, banishing them to the attic for an entire year. Not yet anyway. I’m not ready to say goodbye. Long after the Moravian star is removed from its lofty perch, the garland is gathered and legions of ornaments are shrouded in newsprint for safekeeping, the sleigh bells remain. Perhaps in defiance of society’s urgings that the Yuletide is over. Perhaps in spite of my longing to restore order to my hopelessly disordered world. Perhaps because of the warmth they engender, during this holiest of seasons and always.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (anxiously awaiting the sound of sleigh bells). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "N" is for Nostalgia, Holiday Hokum

Ten Ways to Say “Thank you,” Mom

www.melindawentzel.comThanksgiving Day is almost upon us. Time for family, feasting and a well deserved respite from the impossible demands and harried pace of life. Time for bribing my kids to wear dress clothes, for hiding the abomination of clutter that exists within my home and for treating the reluctant gravy stains that will inevitably occur. Time for bickering about football, politics and the absurdity of reality TV. Time for snapping wishbones, smoothing tablecloths and clinking fancy silverware. Together.

It’s time for pies, pictures and parades, too, as we reconnect with loved ones, near and far. Mostly, though, it’s time to gather and to give thanks for harvest and health, just as it was at Plymouth in 1621. Indeed, it is time to give thanks for the many people and things deemed instrumental in our lives.

I for one recognize the wealth of goodness with which my life has been blessed. But on this particular Thanksgiving, my thoughts rest on my mother—perhaps because her world came crashing down just three short years ago, perhaps because of the battle she’s now fighting, perhaps because she’s always been there for me—even still. So thank you, Mom, for so many things…

…for being a good listener in spite of the vat of foolishness I’m sure to have delivered over the years…for reminding me that you can never have too many friends or woolen blazers…for emphasizing the importance of pausing when a child speaks, allowing the void to be filled with what’s really on their minds.

…for letting me do stupid (yet exceedingly edifying!) things—like putting all kinds of time and energy into a less-than-seaworthy raft, like chewing gum in bed, quitting band, forgoing French and studying till 3am for a physics test…like getting a disastrous perm, allowing gossip to consume me and dating boys with long hair and fast motorcycles.

…for tolerating my imprudence and forgiving my mistakes—like burning our water pump, which transformed our swimming pool into a pond overnight…like tormenting our sitters unmercifully, forgetting your birthday and breaking God-knows-how-many windows and flower vases…like betraying your trust by filling our house with teens and booze while you and Dad vacationed in Florida.

…for encouraging me and inspiring a sense of belief in myself, teaching me to accept what I have and to handle disappointment when it visits…for helping me recognize the inherent value in power naps, mental health days and a good, long cry.www.melindawentzel.com

…for letting me go…on the mother of all road trips with eleventy-seven of my closest friends…to the lake with the aforementioned motley crew…to an insanely large university where I would surely be swallowed up in lieu of finding my path in life…for biting your tongue when I quit my job in the city and when I married the wrong man.

…for introducing me to the almighty crock pot, to the concept of saving money and to the notion of waiting for the real prize instead of grasping desperately for the veneer of gratification.

…for underscoring the importance of writing thank you notes, of spending time with my grandparents, of talking to babies and of liking myself—even when I’m least likeable.

…for teaching me how to sort laundry, to deal with a loathsome roommate, to make a mean pot of chicken soup, to soothe a grexy baby, to contend with a rebellious teenager, to find a great pair of black flats…to appreciate the patina of a genuine antique and the untold merits of a good iron…to instinctively know when to opt for eggshell (as opposed to ecru)…to own my decisions, to list pros and cons and to always weigh my options carefully.

…for loving your grandchildren with as much ferocity as you loved me, for implanting within me the seeds of faith and for instilling me with the impetus to seek solace within the pages of a good book and nurturance within the arms of a good man.

…for letting me be there for you and Dad these past three years—likely fouling up your checkbook and misplacing things in your kitchen forevermore, but being there nevertheless.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (giving thanks). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Gratitude, Holiday Hokum, Leaving the Nest

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Please believe me, oh great giver-of-gifts, I know you love my children dearly and that you’d do almost anything to make them happy this Christmas. You’re a kind and generous soul. And make no mistake about it; I’ve recognized (with the help of countless reminders) how hard my heathens have tried to be good and grateful and well-mannered these past 357 days. But in the interest of preserving what remains of my sanity, would you please give some consideration to the following bit of information?

1)    For the record, I don’t need any lizards or llamas, bats or birds, real live chicks or even eggs that will hatch. Nor do I have any desire whatsoever for an ant farm and an accompanying anteater (“…in case it breaks open and ants are crawling EVERYWHERE, Mom!”). Furthermore, I have absolutely no use for a potbellied pig or a goat for that matter. Are we perfectly clear on that? NO POTBELLIED PIG. NO GOAT. Period. Also, please ignore all future requests—maddeningly incessant as they might be—for another cat. Seriously. Perish the thought.

2)    Additionally, please take note: it is totally unnecessary to spoil my charges by spending $54 (EACH!) on flimsy pajamas that happen to match those worn by the very dolls they begged for last year. That’s simply ludicrous. Get a grip, Santa. Give Mrs. Claus a new nightie or something instead.

3)    Moreover, bear in mind that I have yet to summon the strength necessary to parent those who thirst for danger. More specifically, those who would willfully and gleefully ride a skateboard, a motorcycle or roller skates down an impossibly sheer slope. Blindfolded. On fire. During an earthquake. I have enough trouble tolerating the wretched scooters they so adore. Perhaps by next year I will have purged from memory my own horrific skateboarding disaster (i.e. the face plant I made one summer afternoon on a gravelly patch of pavement at an inordinately high rate of speed). But who could forget eight stitches? They were purple. And stubbly. And infinitely intriguing to all my friends who wanted to touch the freakish goatee I had seemingly sprouted from my chin. That being said, please refrain from delivering any of the aforementioned instruments of evil.

4)    Bratz, begone! I trust this emphatic petition is self-explanatory, oh Jolly One. Barbies, by contrast, are perfectly acceptable in this household. Besides, I find it largely disturbing that many among our sprawling Barbie community have lost heads and limbs for whatever reason. Intactness would be a welcome change.

5)    Also, if you must darken my door with all-that-makes-noise (I mean music), I beg of you that each sinful device (read: trumpet-kazoo-recorder-drum-keyboard-microphone-guitar-tambourine-maraca-like piece of idiocy) be suitably equipped with soundproofing, some sort of on/off switch or at the very least a volume control thingy. Thank you, in advance.

6)    Also, kindly be advised that my humble abode lacks the space necessary to house the grand and glorious, five-story kitty hotel that my kids have been whining about since the middle of summer. Honestly, it is outlandishly opulent, highly impractical and offensively massive. If you so much as think about bestowing such a monstrosity upon us, I will have no choice but to forego the cookies next year. You can count on broccoli instead, you silly little elfin man.

7)    What’s more, I would be immeasurably displeased to discover a pile of pretend dog poop in anyone’s stocking, never mind those repugnant Walter the Farting Dog creatures. Egads!

8)    Furthermore, Santa, read my lips: NO MORE SILLY@$$ ELECTRONIC GADGETRY. I am appallingly inept when it comes to programming any and all gizmos of a technological nature. I hereby resign from said post effective today.

9)    And for the love of God, NO MORE WATER BALLOONS, GLITTER GLUE OR BATHTUB TOYS. They are the bane of my existence. Enough said.

10) And sweet Jesus, please, please, please don’t bless us with another puppy this Christmas—at least not one that routinely gnaws on furniture, pees indiscriminately, consumes chew toys, destroys leashes (four and counting), eats holes in the carpet, nibbles on Frisbees, plastic Army men and Barbie stilettos, considers deer droppings a delicacy and is entirely bent on causing bodily harm during jaunts in the great outdoors—via our garrote-like tether coupled with a frenzied demeanor and the pirouette dance I have grown to know and loathe. I simply cannot handle another floppy-eared bundle of joy. Not now. Not ever.

11) I would, however, be thrilled to receive an indestructible dog leash dipped in Kevlar, perhaps, and maybe a ridiculously huge cardboard box. Empty, of course. The one you so graciously left for my brood three years ago was far and away the most fabulous item under the tree. It was the gift that kept on giving—till early spring, as I recall.

Sincerely,

Planet Mom

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom and www.Twitter.com/PlanetMom.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

The Island of Misfit Parents

I’m a poor tool when it comes to holiday décor. A mere handful of days remain on the calendar before Christmas and I have yet to string a single light on shrubbery or hang a solitary stocking from the banister, now cold and bare. Never mind erecting an oversized tree in our living room, one that may or may not stand entirely straight. That would require ambition, the ability to govern the impossible-to-govern and an exhaustive search for our less-than-functional tree stand. What’s more, its assembly would consume an inordinate chunk of time, devoted primarily to hauling the artificial wonder from the bowels of our attic (hopefully, without incident), dragging its dead weight down a narrow staircase and around impossibly tight corners and then piecing the beast together, branch by color-coded branch, all the while exercising civility and decorum.

A tall order, indeed. It’s no wonder I put it off each December. Although maybe it has something to do with the fact that my kids are far more interested in climbing inside and atop the monstrosity of a box and barreling down the staircase than in helping to build the cussed tree that said box has housed for nearly a decade and a half.

Every year, though, I vow to improve; to embrace the Yuletide more than ever before, to rouse a spirit of goodwill and cooperation among the elfin creatures who reside here, to deck the halls in a more timely fashion, to actually mail our Christmas cards before Groundhog Day. Of course, I make such a pledge so that my children might refrain from reinforcing my holiday-related ineptitude (i.e. Mom, I hope you know that PRACTICALLY EVERYONE ON THE PLANET has already put up their tree—except us—we’re misfits).

Ouch. It’s not as if I haven’t meant to do all those things, and more. Aside from attending 487 Christmas plays, holiday concerts and craft-making sessions involving pine-scented whateverness, I’ve compiled an impressive to-do list—one that spells out in great detail what I should be doing to prepare for this season of seasons. If nothing else, I am well-intentioned, as evidenced by my heartfelt promise to bake the giant Halloween House cookie that has mocked me since mid-October—the one I threw in my cart in a moment of deluded inspiration, never once believing that it might STILL be in my pantry two months later. I wish I were kidding.

Child: “We’re NEVER baking that cookie, are we, Mom?” Me: Hangs head in shame.

To add to the mélange of angst and discontent brewing beneath this roof, our tiny herd of reindeer has yet to be assembled in the lawn, an event that has come to symbolize a welcome committee for Santa, much like the gingerbread cookies and carrots we place in a tin made especially for that purpose. Naturally, I defend that which is indefensible. “There’s no snow on the ground! Plunking reindeer in the grass, not to mention, ‘…plunking reindeer in the grass WHILE IT RAINS,’ just seems wrong. And besides, one set of antlers is defective. And the lights are shoddy, at best. And the neck swivel thingy lurches and jerks as if it were a sprinkler head. On crack. Remember how your dad had to cobble the stupid thing together with wires and screws…and the hideous-looking tangle of lights he wound around its belly? At least we have a Christmas wreath hanging on our door…and a pumpkin on the stoop! How many people can say that in December?!” I foolishly boast.

Of course, commentary like that is never well-received, usually being met with a chorus of groans, a profusion of eye rolling and remarks that generally employ the word “lame.” As in: “Seriously, Mom? That’s so completely lame.”

She had a point.

Admittedly, I am a poor tool when it comes to holiday décor.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on the Island of Misfit Parents). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com and www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, I Pretty Much Suck at Parenting, Welcome to My Disordered World

Jingle All the Way

It’s possible that I might be slightly smitten with jingle bells—more specifically, with the completely delicious and decidedly hypnotic sound they emit. A feast for the ears. A balm for the soul. A window into the past for people like me, who’ve harvested decades-old memories that involve horses, snow-covered cornfields and wintry afternoons spent on my grandfather’s farm. As a result, I am fairly incapable of resisting the allure of a store bin filled to capacity with sleigh bells. That said, I cannot walk by without reaching in to sample each and every melodic wonder. To pluck great hordes from the array, one after another, appraising each with regard to its heft, luster and, of course, the inherent splendor of its sound. Call it a weakness if you will. Perhaps even a debilitating fixation. I have no shame.

Needless to say, there is a profusion of jingle bells in this household—both brass and silver, embossed and etched—many of which adorn our tree, several that rest near our beloved crèche, all of which are patently adored. Additionally, at least two clusters of bells, ones that are tenuously affixed to braided strands of crimson and gold, dangle freely from doorknobs so that our comings and goings, as well as those of friends and family who visit, are joyfully announced. What’s more, there are bell necklaces and bell bracelets, bells on stockings and bells on sleighs. Even a pair of plump snowmen COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF BELLS are poised to welcome Christmas Day—as are the hand-painted variety that a favorite student teacher recently bestowed upon my brood.

As one might expect, I spend an inordinate amount of time each December perfectly enthralled by the chorus of ringing the aforementioned bells are capable of producing (i.e. I move from room to room, gently waggling each bell in succession, holding it to my ear so that I might savor the sound as it lingers deliciously). Some offer a mere tinkling and the suggestion of an echo, as if a tiny man were inside striking the walls with a hammer, while others resonate seemingly forever a sound so rich and so pure it can almost be tangibly held in one’s hands.

The latter is my favorite and the special sort that we resurrected from my mother-in-law’s estate several years ago, along with a host of ceramic centerpieces she crafted herself and a handful of wooden blocks that spell out MERRY CHRISTMAS when properly arranged. Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to the sleigh bell—a silver-plated, baseball-sized genuine collectible manufactured by Wallace more than 30 years ago. Naturally, it makes a distinctive sound. And whenever I want to revisit a time when my husband’s mother was here (which is often, since there are so many conversations I wish we could have), I pick up the bell—which, I suppose, is not unlike the days I find myself wandering around in search of the Carter’s slippers my children wore so many years ago. The ones with tiny jingle bells housed inside their wooly dog exteriors, triggering fond remembrances of a pair of pajama-clad, bedtime-story-toting toddlers at will. In an instant, I can see them shuffling about, their rounded bellies protruding ever so slightly, their smallish hands clutching a toy of some sort.

Come January, as I take down the tree and unceremoniously stow away the remnants of Christmas cheer, I simply cannot bring myself to box up the bells, banishing them to the attic for an entire year. Not yet anyway. I’m not ready to say goodbye. Long after the Moravian star is removed from its lofty perch, the garland is gathered and legions of ornaments are shrouded in newsprint for safekeeping, the sleigh bells remain. Perhaps in defiance of society’s urgings that the Yuletide is over. Perhaps in spite of my longing to restore order to my hopelessly disordered world. Perhaps because of the warmth they engender, during this holiest of seasons and always.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (anxiously awaiting the sound of sleigh bells). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "N" is for Nostalgia, Holiday Hokum

The Unsung Heroes of Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, an event that thrills me beyond all compare. Always has. Maybe it’s the candy corn spilling from caldron-like bowls and the tiny bat-shaped pretzels that woo me each October, though I find the former sickeningly sweet and the latter far too endearing to consume. Perhaps it’s the ubiquitous nature of pumpkins, the deranged sort of joy I derive from carving them or my curious obsession with corn mazes that makes the holiday so completely wonderful. Or maybe it’s simply because it qualifies as one of the few times I win popularity with my brood—by, of course, encouraging them to play with knives and to saturate every molecule of their being with pumpkin gloppage in so doing.

At any rate, I greatly enjoy Halloween, especially its huddled masses of trick-or-treaters come nightfall, the ones who traipse around my neighborhood in packs wearing a hodgepodge of disguises, embracing all that is truly terrifying, indescribably bizarre or exceedingly hilarious. And the dogs. Oh, how I adore the dressed-up dogs and the whole let’s-turn-our-Chihuahua-into-a-tiny-pirate craze. Never mind how inherently disturbing that may be. But I digress. It’s the innovative costumes that truly wow me—the works of pure genius cobbled together with found objects, discarded cardboard and gobs upon gobs of creativity. Duct tape, too, on occasion.

Case in point: The large and decidedly hideous “pile of poo” I once witnessed at a Halloween party (i.e. a mocha-hued shell of dung-inspired horror, expertly fashioned from an abundance of papier mâché and delicately infused with real kernels of corn, worn by a man who appeared to be surrounded by a cluster of flies that seemingly hung in the air and followed him as he moved from place to place). I kid you not. It was priceless and I cannot begin to imagine how much time and effort it had taken to create such a masterpiece. To top it off, the aforementioned gentleman was flanked by his toddler, aka “Little Shit,” who was similarly outfitted and equally comical. If nothing else, it was memorable and demonstrated, yet again, the ingenuity that Halloween can, indeed, inspire.

Likewise, I cannot erase from my mind the “human microwave” I encountered some time ago—a two-legged, cardboard-esque creature with a cleverly concealed treat bowl buried deep within its cavernous “belly,” one that was situated behind a makeshift door that conveniently opened and closed for easy access.  It was a positively ingenious contrivance, and the brainchild of a boy who would go on to study engineering. I certainly hope he includes achievements such as this (read: thinking outside the box) on his résumé in the future (even though, technically speaking, he was inside a box). I know I would.

That said, I’ll be equally entertained by a comparable level of brilliance this year when and if someone crafts (and actually wears!) a giant 3-ring binder—of Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” fame, a topic that trended on Twitter for quite some time following the second presidential debate. More specifically, I’ve pictured a crop of mannequin-like legs wearing fishnet stockings and stilettos, spilling from an oversized loose-leaf binder, reminiscent of the candidate’s recent gaffe. I can only hope to stumble upon such foolishness on Halloween—with camera in hand.

It’s likely I’ll be snapping pictures of my kids that night as well—to celebrate the fact that they will have finally settled upon costumes. Oh. My. Hell. To say that our recent excursion to a certain Halloween-themed establishment was a grueling affair cannot be overstated. Nor can its interminable nature. In sum, after combing the aisles for schlock we apparently had to have, we spent roughly three days ogling rubber masks. Of course, we tried on 4,387 of them. Then there was the matter of finding a mirror, so that said masks could be admired and subsequently placed in the KEEP, DITCH or MAYBE pile. In so doing, we effectively blocked the path of multitudes of patrons (i.e. perfectly normal people who weren’t incapacitated by the urge to try on every cussed mask).

Likewise, each and every wig, helmet and/or machete-like device (including the one that sounded like the stabbing scene from Psycho), had to be thoroughly examined and evaluated. Joy.

If only I could interest my charges in actually making a costume from the mountains of schlock we currently own, harvesting untold volumes from our garage and closets, I’d be getting somewhere. Oh well. Even still, I love Halloween.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (looking forward to stumbling into trick-or-treaters who think outside the box). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum

A Kinder, Gentler Sort of Holiday Madness

It’s the eleventh day of Christmas and finally it’s safe to venture beyond one’s home out into the Land of Wares. At least it would seem so. The tired, the poor and the frenzied masses have all gone home, lugging obscene quantities of discounted schlock from near and far. No longer are the aisles choked with throngs of ill-tempered people—addled by the irksome constancy of holiday music, less-than-functional shopping carts and the vexing nature of can-I-really-afford-that-which-promises-to-wow-my-child-as-much-or-more-than-a-pony. Furthermore, hideously long lines, impossible-to-find merchandise, and the occasional slug-inspired sales clerks no longer fuel my nightmares. Nor does the siren song of Black Friday, Super Saturday and Mega Monday wail in my ear. Even the highways and byways seem more manageable in the wake of this oh-so-wonderful Yuletide. Parking lots, too.

Quite frankly, I was teetering on the edge of insanity just days before Christmas, my head reeling with sales jingles and an acute awareness of my fiscal limitations. Plus, I was fumbling around with way too many crumpled scraps of paper filled to capacity with wishes that had been hurriedly scrawled, scratched out, and then revised in the margin or penciled in literally atop an existing entry, making the resultant tome very nearly indecipherable. Couple that with the insurmountable task of calculating sale prices, on top of sale prices, less the percentage of savings guaranteed with my shamelessly disordered wad of coupons, as well as remembering a host of preferred shapes, sizes, colors and molecular structures of the aforementioned wish list items and it’s completely reasonable to expect ensuing madness.

God forbid someone’s pajama pants might feature the wrong monkeys (heretofore known as “monkey pants”).

Needless to say, I fell victim to the surge of gotta-have-it-or-I-will-surely-wither-and-die mentality, besieged by the almighty tide of consumerism and swallowed whole by its frenetic and unrelenting pace. Translation: I joined the masses of those who wandered aimlessly in both stores and tangled parking lots, mumbling great strings of incoherence about the state of my cussed list, seized by a quiet panic over frivolities such as Justin Bieber’s hair style (who knew there was more than one?!), the untold variety of Harry Potter whateverness and whether or not Stubby and The Fat One (the bearded dragons my charges so desperately wanted for Christmas) had already been sold to the highest bidder—in which case, I might as well have lit myself on fire to avoid a far more horrible fate.

That said, I’m not especially proud of the fact that I spent a veritable eternity facing a wall of Littlest Pet Shop creatures and a bank of creepy cyber bugs, paralyzed with indecision over toys that would be discarded in roughly 27 seconds. The bendable sock monkeys would rule the day anyway, as would the offensively loud pair of elephant banks, the freakishly large rubber shark, the aforementioned monkey pants and the glut of fuzzy, green socks a certain someone used a total of ten adjectives to effectively describe in her “Dear Santa” letter. Likewise, I am equally ashamed to admit having been so completely obsessed with finding the perfect gift (and fit) for my husband that I tried on an embarrassment of winter coats, and in so doing, became literally entombed within one in a remote corner of a department store that should probably ban me.

I wish I were kidding.

Read: Just after I had finished zipping it past my nose, snapping all the snaps and appraising its exceptional warmth and coziness, the teeth of the external zipper suddenly gave way at its base, causing a small wave of panic to wash over me. All I could readily focus on, as I groped around for the stupid zipper and FLOUNDERED INSIDE SAID TORRID MICROCOSM OF DOOM was the newspaper headline that would surely read: Woman Trapped Inside Giant Parka. Rescued Three Days Later by Kohl’s Employees. Driven Certifiably Insane by Incessant Loop of Holiday Music and Sauna-like Temperatures.

Thankfully, I was spared that particular brand of humiliation and escaped from the jacket in question without incident. The zipper miraculously righted itself, I chose a perfectly wonderful coat from the legions I had sampled and went home a happy woman—almost as happy as I am now that the madness is over and normalcy has returned to the land.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (probably not shopping). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com and www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, The Natives are Decidedly Restless