Some people are reeeeeeeally into Christmas. Like, they decorate their whole house, and participate in cookie swaps (I still don’t really understand the concept behind these events), and have all their gifts purchased and wrapped about a week after Thanksgiving. I am not one of these people. Christmas is decidedly not my thing. I don’t disapprove of Christmas; I’m just not enthusiastic about it. My official position on Christmas is “Meh.”
However, I have made a concerted effort to up my Christmas game since I had kids. These efforts have been shit upon each year by fate or my children or both. There was the Great Tree Disaster of 2010. Then there was last year, when I tried to stuff five pounds of holiday shit into a three pound bag with Holly Day 2012, which had predictably bad results. I basically do the bare minimum so that my kids will enjoy the holiday, but not expect anything grandiose or overly festive.
Then one day a few weekends ago, I saw a recipe for sugar cookies that someone had posted on Facebook that promised to be the softest, tastiest sugar cookies ever. I clicked on the recipe and read through the ingredients. It called for sour cream, which is weird because usually sugar cookie recipes call for cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is the #1 reason why I don’t make sugar cookies, because a) I honestly have no idea what cream of tartar is or where to find it in the grocery store, and b) because I don’t know what it is, I assume that it is gross, and will, in turn, make my cookies taste gross. But this recipe, the one with the sour cream, made me pause. I’m being dead serious here when I tell you that one ingredient is what started my shift in attitude towards Christmas this year.
I believed in the sour cream, in its ability to make the cookies softer and tastier. I imagined about how much fun the girls would have cutting out sugar cookies and frosting them. I thought about how it could possibly be a special memory that my girls would carry with them, a happy memory connected to Christmas. I bought the ingredients at the grocery store and picked up a set of holiday cookie cutters, and I spent the day mixing, rolling, cutting out, and baking those pain-in-the-ass cookies. I made homemade frosting and got out the sprinkles and those kids decorated the shit out of those cookies. We listened to the obnoxious radio station that only plays Christmas music 24 hours a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I discovered that no one in the entirety of the Internet can agree on how to make black frosting using the four food coloring colors normal human beings have shoved in the back of the cupboard by the stove.
In short: it was GLORIOUS. But FYI, here’s a hot tip, Google: if I’m asking how to make black frosting at 9pm on a Saturday night, suggesting I purchase black frosting dye is about zero percent useful. Dickheads.
The following weekend, the kids and I decorated the Christmas tree. I realized about five minutes after beginning to unpack the decorations just how un-jolly the Janels of Christmas Past had been: in 2011, the lights on the tree gradually burned out, leaving the tree totally dark by Christmas Eve. Instead of buying lights for next year, like a normal human being who anticipates celebrating Christmas the following year, I packed up everything and put it away for 2012 Janel to deal with, because FUCK YOU, FUTURE JANEL. In 2012, I remembered what an asshole 2011 Janel had been, and instead of buying proper lights for the tree, I used white outdoor icicle lights. It looked tacky as hell. Again, instead of buying lights to put away for the next year, I packed up all that shit the following January and left it for 2013 Janel to deal with. Instead of putting up a dark tree and saying “fuck it and fuck you, Christmas!”, I let the kids decorate the tree, then took myself to Target the next day and bought two strands of lights. I imagine this is how normal non-baggage-toting Christmas-celebrating people conduct themselves. Please don’t correct me if this assumption is incorrect, because I’m on a roll, you guys.
Since The Sugar Cookie Event, I’ve noticed little bits of Christmas sneaking up on me here and there. I spent ten minutes in Target debating which Christmas CD I should purchase to listen to in the car because I suddenly decided it was imperative that my kids learn Christmas carols. I’ve watched Christmas Vacation by myself three times in the past two weeks. I stood in line by myself in a mall for a goddamn HOUR with my kids so they could see Santa. I bought a little fiber-optic Christmas tree to plug in to my work computer. I mean, what the fuck more do you want from me, Christmas?Festive as fuck.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m more relaxed because this is the first year in many that I’m not laying awake at night wondering how I’m going to pay for Christmas. Maybe some of my ghosts of Christmases long past have decided to stop rattling their chains and put them away for good. I don’t know. All I know is these kids are happy, I’m happy, and this Santa looks drunk. Which, if you ask me, is exactly how things should be.