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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Before children, I romanticized about choosing a family Christmas tree. I grew up in a house where my dad assembled an artificial tree every year. The idea of going to a Christmas tree farm, or even a local tree sale, delighted me. Little did I know that selecting a tree would be a low point in our holiday season.

Year 1 (2007): Lauren is 20 months old; Will is 5 months old. My husband and I are smart enough to realize that visiting a tree farm is too big an undertaking with two babies. But we think, “Hey! Wouldn’t this be a great time to take our Christmas card photo?” The kids were not up for a photo shoot, as evidenced here:

Hmm... maybe it's the oversize lobster claw mittens that upset Lauren?

Year 2 (2008): I’m fairly certain we were scarred from year one. Ted asked my mother-in-law to join us, so that someone could manage the children while we made our selection.

Year 3 (2009): Back to the original town sale. I stay in the car with the kids, who show no signs of interest. Ted chooses the tree, I give him the thumbs up, and we’re out of there. So much for a family experience.

Year 4 (2010): We get brave and decide to try visiting a Christmas tree farm with the kids. We visit post lunch when Will (age 3) gets tired. This is probably the most miserable Christmas tree shopping experience of my life. We end up leaving the boy in the van with his hat pulled over his eyes.

Lauren (age 4) doesn’t like the tree we’ve selected. She wants a Charlie Brown version, instead.

And here is my poor husband, trying his best to smile for the camera.

Year 5 (2011): Something happens. We return to the same tree farm, half-expecting one of our children to have a melt down, but no one does. The whole family is in a good mood and excited to find a tree. It’s a Christmas miracle 5 years in the making.

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The card that started it all...

When Lauren was born, my husband and I were ecstatic. After two-plus years of trying, we were blessed with a 9-lb. baby girl. So it is no wonder when Christmas rolled around, I wanted our holiday card to be memorable. Sure we could do the typical cute baby in a red dress photo, but it seemed to me she deserved something better. After some thought, I landed on this idea: Lauren, Ted and I posing in furry Mad Bomber hats from L.L.Bean. Who could resist a chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed baby in one of those hats? Who wouldn’t laugh?

My mother.

She told me friends and family couldn’t stop talking about our Christmas card. That was exactly the point. The card was meant to be funny. But my mother didn’t think the photo was funny, in a ha-ha sort of way.

“Do you know what you look like?” she asked. This was a loaded question. She seemed disgusted, frustrated even. “Like you’re from the Maine woods.”

“But we are from Maine,” I told her. “And that’s why we chose those hats.”

“Plus,” I added, “mad bomber hats happen to be in vogue right now.” She didn’t believe me, what would I know, living in Maine and all? I was tempted to send her spreads from In Style magazine and the New York Times that featured the hats, but I didn’t. Who had time to send press clippings with a new baby and a full-time job?

In the years that followed, while I longed to take a photo of my kids in the back of a vintage, flat bed truck, or splashing in muddy puddles during low tide, I went against my instincts and sent the expected: sister and brother cuddled together on a wingback chair in their holiday finest. They were both in Santa hats, but somehow that managed to slide.

Still, my mom hasn’t let me forget the supposed stir the original card caused. And like any grown woman with two children of her own, I want to please my mother. Or more accurately, I don’t have the energy to debate greeting card choices with her when there’s so much to do.

But this year, I decided to go with two versions of our holiday card—not unlike what New York Magazine did with the 00’s issue cover photo. The kids were fortunate to have their portraits done (for free) by children’s book author, Charlotte Agell at a library book sale. I thought, how cool would it be to have these drawings become our holiday card? Of course, my mother would never go for the illustrations, and once again, I’d cause a second round of the Christmas card debate.

But then I had another, cute photo of the kids on a porch swing. Traditional. Not necessarily Christmas-y, but presentable nonetheless. I decided this safer version would go out to my mother and my side of the family.

I know I’m a wimp—thirty-something and I’m still acquiescing to my mother’s wishes. But this way, everybody wins. My mother gets a card she likes. I get a card I like. If there can’t be peace on earth this holiday, at least there’s peace between mother and daughter.

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My two toddlers could easily achieve this culinary feat... they're pros.

Our kitchen usually looks just like this New Yorker cartoon, which reads, “And that’s how you make a peanut butter sandwich.” Enjoy and have a great holiday! We’ll be back with a new post soon.

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The nightshirt in question

The nightshirt in question

The holiday catalogs have arrived, and even though I can’t afford much this year, I still look. Most of them offer the expected—Pottery Barn’s picture perfect décor, LL.Bean’s cotton flannel shirts and Hanna Anderson’s red and green striped pajamas. Sure, these companies might mix it up with a few added styles, but other than a sale, new holiday tag line or special offer, the content never really changes.

Out of all the catalogs that have come in the mail, Orvis has tripped me up this year, not with their catalog design or product offerings, which are typically dowdy women’s clothing, pet beds, travel and hunting gear, but one singular product… the oversized “Sleeps with Dogs,” nightshirt, selling for $59.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have purchased items from this family-owned, Vermont company—a hallway bench, a wax jacket for my husband, a dog bed—but who in their right mind is going to want to pronounce, “I sleep with dogs?” It’s like asking your spouse never to have sex with you again. And this from a woman who sleeps in a fleece, sweatpants and wool socks for most of the winter.

I realize there are people who sleep with their pets. In fact, I have married aunt who has a guest room, where she and her dog bunk together. She watches late night television, reads and cuddles up with her big, furry companion, all in the name of respecting her husband’s early bedtime. But would she wear this shirt? No. Why? The woman has some taste.

Who, I want to know, would give this shirt to someone? Of all the holiday gifts you could choose, would you land on the “Sleeps with Dogs” nightshirt? Well, maybe if you didn’t like that person much.

So dear Orvis buyers, I get that your customers are dog lovers. I get that you sell leashes, feeding bowls and coffee mugs with Golden Retrievers on them. But the Sleeps with Dogs nightshirt should go straight to the Annual Tent Sale in a large bin for $1.99. And if I’m wrong, let me know. Of course, if you redesign it for a real dog, like a St. Bernard, then the “Sleeps with Dogs,” nightshirt might be a hit.

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Viva El Papa

Do I have my hands full or what?

Do I have my hands full or what?

While taking photos of Mutt and Jeff in their new t-shirts, trying in vain to get them to look at the camera at the same time, Will says: “That’s enough, Mom!”

So behold, the kiddos in their Father’s Day best.

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