Saturday night our neighborhood held its annual Christmas Crawl (and I squirmed awkwardly as our Jewish neighbors arrived. OY. How about we call it a Holiday Hop?) We hosted the cocktails and as our neighbors arrived, I gave an extra long hug to one in particular, a mom who is also an elementary school principal.

"Are you okay?" I whispered into her hair.

"Yes..... No," she said, and hugged me back.

We didn't talk about it in front of the children. Only the teenagers knew what happened in Newtown on Friday and we quickly informed them that we didn't want the little ones to overhear anything. The grown ups did manage to have a few hushed conversations about whether and how to talk to little kids about this horrendous event. There was some debate about whether they needed to know and whether they would eventually hear and wouldn't it be better if they heard about it from us?

I came down on the side of yes, it would be better if they heard it from us, but since my 6 year old still cries over children's cartoons and is scared of CANDLES, I didn't think she can handle hearing about a madman gunning down children her exact age as they sat at their school desks and I'd rather take the chance that she would never hear about it at all.

Meanwhile, as the adults were talking about it and not talking about it, Z was busy being thrilled. This was the first year that she was allowed to stay up for the whole evening's events. The thrill lasted until the main course, when became clear that what parents do at these events is actually pretty lame: a lot of standing around and talking over plates of food, food that has a LOT of green and/or black flecks in it.

So at the last house, when the grownups started to drink and chat in earnest, Z retreated to the basement to watch "Elf" with a bunch of the older kids. I went with her, because she is such a sensitive child and I didn't remember much about the movie except that I found it funny as an adult which meant that she might not be able to handle it.

I was right.

Her concern began five seconds in, when a baby is placed alone in a crib at an orphanage.

"Is he really an orphan? With NO Mommy or Daddy??"

When Will Farrell, ridiculously dressed and earnest-faced, begins his trek to find his father, who is on the naughty list and lives in New York, she started crying. SOBBING.

"But will he find his Daddy? And will he BE OKAY?!"

She could not handle "Elf." At all. We bowed out after Will Farrell sang a hilarious (if you're me) or awfully sad (if you're a sensitive, literal-minded 6 year old) song to his father, who thought this ridiculous looking man in front of him was a singing telegram.

"He just wants his Daddy to LOVE HIM," she sobbed into my shoulder. 

I tried to tell her that this was an actor, telling a made up story, not a real person having a real sad experience. But for Z, everything, even the silliest of cartoons and movies, is immediate, visceral, TRUE.

Yeah, I don't think she could handle the horrible true story of Newtown.

I can barely handle it myself.
Today she is at school. Sitting at her desk. Just like any other day.

Full of innocence.


There is no elf on this here shelf

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Z came bounding off the bus, barely waiting until her feet hit the pavement before telling me about this amazing ELF! That's on a SHELF! And it has magical powers and it's going to be in a new spot in her classroom EVERY DAY and it reports back to SANTA!

"GREAT!" I said, by which I meant: Is no place free of this damned elf on a shelf nonsense?!?! SCREW YOU TEACHER!

I first heard about the elf on a shelf a few years ago, when friends started posting photos on Facebook of the cute place they'd hidden the elf that day. I even, momentarily, considered getting one as I knew the girls would love the excitement of finding him in a new place every morning. But then I remembered the other posts on Facebook, the ones lamenting the need to move the effing elf yet again or moaning that they'd woken up early in a sweat because they forgot to move the elf and didn't want to make the kids cry AGAIN.

I wake up in a sweat about enough things, thankyouverymuch, especially this time of year. I would like to rid myself of some holiday imperatives rather than willingly BUY MORE.

So there is no elf on this here shelf. And I quickly decided that the elf on the first grade shelf is a great thing, because then we don't need one at home!! TEACHER, I TAKE IT ALL BACK.

But then.

Our 7 year old neighbor came over one day last week and asked to see our elf and looked astounded and sad for us that we didn't have one. This is the same child who watches grown up action movies regularly, will only read books if they are about vampires and/or zombies and makes fun of my 6 year old for watching Dinosaur Train and yet she still believes in Santa and has a freaking elf on a shelf?!

Well. I would like a medal for not telling her just how ironic that is.

This girl will not let up. Every day she asks if an elf showed up yet. EVERY. DAY. And then looks pityingly at Z, as if she might give her a pat on the head and a lollipop for her suffering.

Z seems fine about it though, thank goodness. She just says "No. No elf here yet," and moves on.

Let's see how long I can hold out.

Do you do the elf on the shelf?


Dancing with my self (and others)

Last Saturday night, there was a party. An incredibly awesome party.

For me.

I sort of helped plan it, because I'm just that controlling helpful. I wanted to go dancing, but didn't want to drive all the way to DC (Exhibit A: ELDERLY.) I wanted to dance with lots of people, but I didn't want to wait till midnight when most clubs really start hopping and I didn't want to dance with a bunch of 20 year olds to music I don't know or like.  (Exhibits B, C, D and JUST KEEP GOING.)

So CG rented out this little ballroom dance studio close to our house (Go small town with your almost hip ways!) and brought in a ton of food and booze and friends and, well, it was just the best party ever in the history of parties.

I loved every second of it. 

Oh right, I've been meaning to call my chiropractor....

That's my mom dancing with CG there in the center. My mom drove down from NJ!

I'm leading! No, I'm leading!

That blur in the middle would be me, dancing with my self, Billy Idol style.

World's largest and most delicious sheet cake.

For CG's 40th? I'm going to have to rent out an entire space camp or something.

I think my 40s are going to rock.

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