Jolly Holidays


The Son asked me a question.  Hours before he’d been caught in a half-truth about homework, so he was careful with Tone.  “Mom, what do you want for Christmas?  And don’t say world peace.”

“I want you to get your learners’ permit.”


“No, really.  I need you to drive your sisters around.  I’m tired and I need to start drinking at home.”

“Mom.  We’ve been over this.”

“Plus, you’ll feel better about yourself.”

“Oh my god.  Never mind.  Why can’t you answer like a normal person?”

“Fine.  A sweatshirt. Giants World Series.  Small.  And not the weird one with the big blocky letters.  The cool one with the big ‘2012’ on it.”


I then harassed Mr. Halfstory about his Christmas spending habits.  Traditionally, and curiously, The Son has gotten short-changed while the girls rake it in like seasoned poker players.  Every year we both strive to buy thoughtful, meaningful gifts.  I even try to make things, which brings me back to the days when I used to nail cup hooks into shellacked wood pieces and beg my older brothers to use them as key holders.  My mom used to employ her fool-proof hand-made item: my brothers’ new tube socks she’d cut into Barbie sweater dresses, complete with roll down portrait collars.  No sewing required.  No wonder I staple my hems.

Then I discovered the hastily discarded, empty cardboard boxes in the “playroom.”  I am putting quotations around that word because no one actually plays in the playroom.  Originally, we imagined our kids happily conversing over chess games in there, or, as teenagers, sitting around in bean bag chairs, chuckling over their dumb parents.  (Actually, that might be happening.)  But probably not in the playroom.  The reason:  potato bugs.  No other explanation needed.

Mr. Halfstory spoils our children.  He hides gifts and “necessary” sports equipment because he knows I secretly think they can make it work with worn-out Converse and gym shorts.  Also, I believe the entire house should be cleaned before any ice cream is purchased or the internet activated.  We’ve come full circle from our respective childhoods.  His parents, wonderful though they were, ceded over his fashion choices to whatever he found left over on his bed from same sized friends.  He got a fresh Han Solo t-shirt out of that, come to think of it.  My mom, exclusive member of I. Magnin, took me back-to-school shopping every Fall…without any actual real money!  And yet…not only is Halfstory a deep-thinking and moral person, he is very well-educated, is a certified Fun Dad, and he has a career!  Plus he still likes all of us, even though we use all the money.  I’m thinking here of not bringing down the hammer so much, especially with the end of the world on 12/21.  Or was it 12/12?  I wish the Mayans had clarified this.

The playroom. The box. Don’t ask.

Moving on. Here are some of my New Year’s resolutions:

Use things in freezer.


Find out what’s in trunk of car.

Get through an entire CD without skipping anything.

Rediscover NPR.

Try not to be judgmental about craft blogs from Portland (not yours, Marcie).

Try not to be judgmental about Mr. Halfstory’s sports obsessions.

Try not to be judgmental about people with really nice houses.

Ok, try not to be judgmental.

Really, really listen.

Please note: I’m not skipping Christmas.  Because I have not yet finished the books I’m currently reading I thought I would make a short list of what I perceive are great gift books, just in case you are wandering around a book store somewhere without a clue.


This is Where I Leave You and/or One last Thing Before I Go

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

State of Wonder

White Teeth

Winter’s Bone

About a Boy

Untold Story

The Language of Flowers

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

The Long Night of White Chickens




Dreamland Social Club

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The Fault in Our Stars


Here if You Need Me

The Possibility of Everything


The Wave