Amy Roberts: The Twelve Stages of Christmas
Between my neighbors, my friends and my family, I’ve spent the past few Decembers surrounded by kids of a believing age and adults who are desperately trying to keep up the charade. There might be 12 days of Christmas, but I’m pretty sure there are also 12 stages of Christmas. They go something like this:
1. Everyone to the attic! We’re getting the decorations out!
2. Realizing your neighbors who keep the lights up all year are not lazy, they’re geniuses.
3. Casually hiding the glitter-covered pine cone with pipe cleaner antlers and a red pom for a nose under the couch.
4. Swearing at Christmas lights then throwing the whole string back into the decorations box so you can swear at them again next year.
5. Piling the kids into the car to look at other people’s decorations.
6. Reminding children that Santa is watching.
7. Commenting loudly and often that it’s too bad Santa will obviously be skipping your house this year.
8. Googling “adult-only resorts.”
9. Convincing your child who just found the glitter-covered pinecone under couch that the Elf on the Shelf must have hid it there.
10. Giving said pinecone premium tree-front real estate and moving the $30 ornaments to the back of tree to ensure pinecone is focal point.
11. Replacing the milk and cookies with wine and Doritos after the kids go to bed.
12. Opening gifts and realizing the people who love you the most know nothing about you.
If I have learned one thing from years of participating in and observing various family traditions over the holidays, it is this: The amount of time and energy we spend to make this month “magical” is proof we humans are not the top rung on the intelligent life ladder. And I will never understand how most of us carry computers with the ability to power an entire city in our back pockets, yet we haven’t managed to invent a string of Christmas lights that can still work after one bulb goes out.
Addison, my 5-year old niece, is especially excited for Christmas this year. She’s at the age now where the innocence of belief is perfectly paired with the commercialization of the holiday — she wants it all and if that means Santa has to trade in his sleigh for a UPS truck, so be it.
For weeks she’s FaceTimed me almost daily, providing me with detailed status reports. I’ve received insider information on each present under the tree – who it is for, who it is from, and what she believes is inside. She’s acted as both judge and jury, personally determining who is on the naughty or nice list at any given moment. Sometimes she provides reasoning for her decision. “Grandma is on the naughty list because she wouldn’t let me put makeup on Royce.” (For reference, Royce is a dog.)
I also get the play-by-play on the shenanigans of the Elf on the Shelf. I don’t know how that custom started; I don’t remember it being a thing when I was a child. The whole concept is so strange to me. Why would anyone willingly add to the number of those sitting in silent judgment of their life with a fake smile on their face? I thought that’s what a mother-in-law was for. It seems to have gotten a little out of hand too. The elf is supposed to watch kids and report back to Santa, but instead he’s roasting marshmallows and hooking up with Barbie.
During my last video conference call with my niece, I reminded Addison she better be good, or Santa might not bring her anything. She gave me an unnerving smile and replied, “Well, I was pretty bad last year and he still came.”
Can’t argue with that logic.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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