As per its usual course, the month of December is kicking my ass.
This year it's a little more intense because my ex "gifted" me an extra twenty-three days with Ben. Not that I mind the extra time with my son. However...
Ben is totally amped out over Christmas, even more so than in years past. He is incessantly dipping into extra Advent calendar candies and into my own private stash of Hershey kisses. He's also ripping into my coveted Christmas cards the second the mail comes through the mail slot and he manages to tear at least two-thirds of the cards before I even see them.
"Who's that in the picture?" I'll ask. "I don't know; I ripped their head/heads off," Ben informs me.
As for other fun December antics, Ben's already peeked into his stocking when he thought I wasn't looking and when I offered to pay him to help wrap client gifts, he spent the better part of three hours crouched behind the couch - sniper style - aiming the Nerf gun at me. At my butt, to be more precise. And then he wondered where his payment was once I finished wrapping twenty-three presents. When I denied him payment, he shot the dog. In the butt, of course.
Tonight, he's threatening to sneak out of bed and eat all the Advent candy. And if I hear the words Nerf Stampede Gun (which is an extreme upgrade from his current Nerf gun) one more time, I swear I'm going open up all the wine in the house and drink steadily until December is over and that's a lot of wine: I'm well stocked.
Yay, Christmas. How I've missed you.
My family and friends know that I can't stand the holidays.
Christmas went south for me back in my early 20s when I had a relationship with someone whose family glorified the gifts to no end. I never recovered.
But now, since I have a kid, I can't get all Grinch-y every year.
So I drag the tree out of the rafters right after Thanksgiving and make a big fuss over the ornaments and then we make cookies and gingerbread houses and this year, a giant gingerbread man, and I make a fuss out of how creative my child is when in actuality I know he's going to be sneaking bites out of all the culinary projects and we'll all suffer from the imminent sugar highs and lows.
I send out 75 Christmas cards and then freak out because once again, I don't have enough. I take Ben to see Santa and wait in a long, ghetto mall line and pay too much for a picture. I agonize over what to buy my ex "from Ben" and open his gift to me "from Ben" (to me) before Christmas to get an idea of what to spend and then hurriedly re-wrap the gift so Ben doesn't notice. I worry about Ben getting too many presents because last year was a complete fiasco and I had a wickedly spoiled child on my hands come January.
And for what? To commemorate Christ's birth? I do that quite well on my own, during every month of the year thankyouverymuch. If anything, the consumerism and sheer excess in December detracts me from the essence of the season and that realization puts me in a very bad mood.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I stayed at my dad's and went shopping on Black Friday with my stepmom. We left the house at 4am, something I vowed I'd never do. Admittedly, the ads sucked me in.
It was a manic experience, to say the least. So manic, in fact, that I got a make-over at the Clinique counter at 5:30am (hey, a full face of make-up is always great on Black Friday!) and I bought two pairs of leggings, three shirts, a sweater and a skirt. All this for the girl who could give the Kardashians a run for their money in the clothes department. But hey, it was Black Friday; the motto for the day being: "More! More! Even More!"
I wound up taking half the shit back the following week. Because Black Friday is a big seduction for evil December. Yuck.
Well, apparently that's what my body thought too because as soon as we came home from our manic shopping trip, my body was burning with hives. And so it went into December. Shopping = itching. Wrapping = more itching. Merely flipping the switch for the tree lights each morning caused my body to immediately flush.
The Urgent Care doctor said to wash everything in the house with special detergent, change to Ivory soap, lay off the scented lotions and perfumes. To no avail. Itch, scratch, itch. Steroid pills. Steroid injections. Bendadryl around the clock. Good times.
You did this to me, Black Friday. I know you did.
So last week I saw a third doctor who is sending me to an allergist. The allergist is a friend of the doctor, who made a special call on my behalf, and of course he's not on my insurance plan
Because it's December and I'm cursed.
My theory is this: I'm allergic to Christmas and to the entire month of December. How else can the sudden onset of itching hell on Black Friday be explained?
I'm envisioning the prescription to be something along the lines of:
Patient must refrain from most holiday related activities including, but not limited to:
Stringing lights on her house (like I would ever do this anyway, I've got tacky neighbors who put enough crap up for our entire block)
Destroying her kitchen with homemade cookies (yes, that happened last weekend with Ben; don't let the 7-year-old loose with the flour)
Battling long lines at Wal Mart (I only went because I was desperate for Benadryl, but then I saw the brown leggings and the matching shirt and the sale on Weight Watchers frozen entrees).
Patient may steal Advent candy from her child's calendar on the days that the child is with his dad (great, that gives me two whole candies).
Patient may also dip into wine that is otherwise reserved for client gifts (started that on Dec 1)
Patient is excused from all holiday parties (there were none to put on the calendar anyway) and also from constructing a gingerbread house that caves in immediately upon completion (it's a yearly tradition, and an annual meltdown).
Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Help me understand. What happened to the quiet, peaceful, somber spirit of the manger and the clear, starry night, and the wismen and the advent of new life? Now all the advent that's celebrated in our house is the daily fight over 5am Advent candy. And it's not even that good.
Come January, I'll have gained several pounds from the discarded gingerbread walls and the copious amounts of wine (but not from the Advent candies). We'll have a tree that hangs out in our living room far past its welcome. I'll still be apologizing to the friends who didn't get our Christmas cards.
All the while trying to discern our friends' identities from the headless Christmas cards. (And those of you who used Shutterfly or Tiny Prints totally wasted your money at this address. Just so you know).
The horrific gifts will go into the horrific gift box, otherwise known as The New Client Welcome Kit. Ben will shoot the dog with his new Stampede gun and I'll take "that damn gun" away for a week. He'll shoot me and I'll roll my eyes and wait for the next dart. I'll dip into his college fund for the fourteen "D" batteries required to fuel "that damn gun." We'll all suffer from my anti-carb diet.
Ah yes, this is what is known as The Christmas Hangover.
Last week, Ben began his daily plea for a dreidel and I couldn't be happier. Judaism, at least during the holidays, is looking pretty good. We'll light a candle each night, open a dollar store gift and eat matzoh ball soup. F the tree, the lights, the POS gingerbread house, the overpriced toys and the neighbors who think they're the Griswald family.
I know my mom and my sister will be on board. They both recently said, "Christmas should only come around every four years."
God bless my family. They are so smart and logical. Mazel tov. Or whatever.
If this were to happen - this Christmas every four year thing - my skin would "cool down" (as the dermatologist says), my jeans would fit all month, my son wouldn't whine and I might even enjoy the tacky lights and the annoying music. I could even be convinced to bring a dead tree in and let it shed, along with the dog, all over my living room.
In the meantime, word from the North Pole is that there isn't one Stampede en route for Ben. No, there's two which means someone should shoot me now.