Every one tells you how the magic of Christmas is once again revealed when you have kids. This is BS. For a few reasons. Allow me to elaborate.
Reason #1: My husband. He's nosy as hell about where the money goes even though I am not a woman who spends money with abandon. It's annoying when he wants to know "What is this $1.76 at Circle K?" but I make allowances since we have caught fraudulent charges this way.
HOWEVER. I am now a "stay-at-home-mom." This was a joint decision, made in the best interest of the family as a whole. As in, not necessarily what is best for MOM, but what our kids needed and, well, since we decided to procreate and all, time to suck it up and commit. This ended the era where Mom (previously known as Laurel) earned an actual paycheck. Joint checking gained an entirely new significance. Gone are the days when Laurel could purchase a nice-ish gift for that boy she married and have any reasonable expectation of surprising him. This is how she was reduced to asking her dad to pay for this year's gift with the promise of paying him back as soon as the gift was opened. A bit humiliating, truth be told. Dad was a really good sport about it, though.
Reason #2: My mother. I've discovered that my mom has a bitch streak as wide as an oxcart. This should not surprise, really, since my sister and I both sport healthy bitch streaks. But Mom? Honestly, you would think we were Jewish or Catholic based on the reverence we (and everyone else) share for my mom.
Mom is over the holidays. Fair enough, as she has spent every single Thanksgiving and Christmas in the kitchen for the past forty years. BUT. She has two able-bodied adult daughters and one son-in-law who are all bang-up cooks. And a nephew who is a professional chef. As in, New York and Chicago's coolest restaurants sous chef. We volunteer year-in, year-out to bring/cook anything and everything. My dad even offered to have the holidays catered this year. Mom has refused each and every overture to take some of the holiday burden from her tired shoulders. And then she gets pissed because she is doing all the work. The pathology surrounding the laundry room is perhaps even worse.
Reason # 3: My dad. Holy hell. He lives in a bubble. The only reality for him is the one he is in that very instant. I'll be juggling dirty dishes, whatever casserole my mother has granted me permission to be in charge of, and a six-year-old and three-year-old who are wild as bats because SANTA IS COMING TONIGHT!! and from the computer room I hear, "Laurel?"
"Can you help me with this for a minute?"
Inevitably, the "this" is related to email. I have never been able to explain to him how Microsoft Outlook is a program. On your hard drive. It downloads email from "out there" and puts in on your computer "right here". If you do not use or link it with an online server, then the email gets pulled from the mysterious internet and only exists on the computer you downloaded it to. I've tried analogies, like how voice mail from BellSouth is different than an answering machine. No love. This has been going on for years.
I swear he's a smart man. He just gets wrapped around the axle on something and you can't dislodge him. He always comes back with: "But I have Outlook on the computer in the office. Why don't these messages show up there?" Nothing I say will penetrate the frustrated conviction that because both computers have Outlook they should exhibit the same information.
Reason # 4: People who should be here and aren't PLUS people who shouldn't be here and are. My grandfather was a Christmas staple. The holiday didn't start until he and his wife arrived. Seriously. It just wasn't Christmas until Pappy pulled up in his big gray sedan and wheeled their suitcases into the guestroom. He died almost three years ago and things haven't been right since. I mean, less right than they were for the previous three years when his wife had Alzheimer's and was so fragile in any space outside her own home.
Then there are the widows and orphans. I am SO GLAD that we are this sort of family, but it does make me, erm, bitter when I'm ready for all the extra people to go on home. Someone doesn't have family for the holiday? Can't afford to travel? Recent loss in their family? They'll be at our house. I really, really love this about my family but I'd like a year where we can wander around with no make-up and pajamas all day.
We talk about inventing a holiday for this express purpose. We won't tell anyone else when/what it is. It will be our family holiday. But I'll be damned if my mom does the cooking or my dad brings his computer.