Apparently, we have a new holiday tradition in our family. When you have children establishing a tradition is pretty simple-do it once and it is a tradition.
Our new tradition, and really I am ashamed to admit this, is listening to Christmas music.
Yeah, I know, it's not too bad, but wait there is additional information you need to know. It is two weeks before Thanksgiving and we are listening to the Christmas music while driving around on Saturday afternoon errands.
To make matters worse, the day is a balmy 60 degrees and we are doing errands that have nothing to do, what so ever, with any upcoming holiday. We are doing something truly mundane like going to the post office or library, we aren't even shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.
As I recall, this is exactly what happened last year, so I guess it makes it a tradition.
So there we are blasting Christmas music on the one local channel that started playing all Christmas music all the time.
It should feel odd, but alas, not: kids will do that to you. As far, as the kids are concerned Christmas is the only topic available for discussion.
In fact, the children are preparing their Christmas wish lists right now and have been doing so since the first hefty toy ad appeared in the Sunday paper.
The lists change daily based on their current obsession, which also changes daily.
Adults lament the retailers rushing the season, but as far as the kids are concerned, things are right on schedule. It is approximately 14 days after Halloween and there are Christmas trees up in every retail store, holiday programming is on TV and Christmas carols are playing on the radio. For kids, life is good.
In our house, a heap of Christmas toy catalogs graces a corner of the dining room table. The collection started slowly, with a few trickling in those first weeks of October, but now they come almost daily.
I swear we have at least five editions of the Toys R Us catalog. Each edition makes the claim to be the biggest toy book ever. The books are creased and dog-eared with numerous highlighted items on each page.
I keep a careful eye on the catalogs because small children with sticky fingers occasionally walk off with the catalog. They stash it under their pillow to rifle through at bedtime after lights out.
The catalogs have an irresistible appeal, all those many, many toys. When a kid is bored or needs to pass time they grab a catalog and begin perusing the toy selection.
With each viewing, the list of wants gets longer and longer. I point out to the kids that no one, not even Santa himself, will spring for a $90 spy gear set...no matter how good they have been.
We are saving the catalogs and fliers for Thanksgiving Day.
On turkey day the children will cut and paste to their hearts content, making a giant Christmas wish booklet. We require a large amount of catalogs and fliers. Early on, we learned a painful lesson-no two children can share the same catalog. Someone will cut out someone else's toy and there will be blood.
Ah, picture wish lists such a step up from when I was a kid and was forced to write an actual letter begging Santa for the latest Barbie or new sled.
The cutting and pasting works so much better because we make the kids cut out the price of the toy and write a note about where to find the toy.
We have convinced them that Santa requires these vital pieces of information in case his factory is unable to make their toy.
It really helps to have a picture of what the kid wants, we all know that their descriptions can be maddeningly vague. A picture eliminates the frantic call from Grandma asking, "Was it the purple Island Princess Barbie or the pink one?"
Trust me, stand in any toy aisle, in any store, in any town, and you will hear a relative, doesn't matter which one, Grandma, Aunt, Cousin, on the phone with the kid's parents.
They are calling to clarify "did he mean the dump truck with the digger?" or substitute "I can't find the one she was talking about but they have...." and then the poor sap launches into a description of the toy.
Desperate relatives will accost total strangers and ask them probing questions about the age and sex of their children. The questions determine are to determine whether you are qualified to help them choose a gift or not.
Now, a picture wish list be handy?
Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.
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