the triple jump: holiday hopscotch

Our Thanksgiving table, half set, lined with dried Magnolia leaves & real blue pumpkins

It’s damn near impossible to pull off. The triple jump through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years—add Hanukkah and a single birthday party for boy/girl twins, and you’re as good as dead. Do you know there are people who already have all their holiday decorations strung up with care? The holiday starting gun goes off on Black Friday, only the gun’s pointed the wrong way.

Had I not hosted Thanksgiving dinner for nineteen people (photos are here, on Flickr), I too would have brewed the wassail and said wassup to The Elf On The Shelf, had I owned one. I’d unwrap the funky ornaments from their tissue paper, using words like “gentle” and “careful” to guide the hands of my kindergarteners, with Stevie Wonder’s Silver Bells on repeat. Cookies baking. A Santa hat on someone. Instead, I’m the one strung up, and there’s not enough scotch to get me through this holiday hop.

How do you parent your way through this? Through all the presents? Yes, you emphasize giving, you make packages for the homeless and volunteer. When giving presents to our kids last year, we tried to give gifts of experience—tickets to a show, over a snow cone maker. How do we really get through all the get? When it gets to the point where the kids are tearing off gift wrap, hardly noticing the big reveal, then asking for the next, something needs to be done. Yes, we always put the majority of the new away, stored out of sight, out of mind, gradually introduced throughout the year, so they may enjoy each item all the more. Still, I truly want to know what the parenting best practices are with regard to all this getting. In the meanwhile, I’m off to brainstorm more gifts of experience. “This coupon entitles you to one day of watching Mama’s nose turn red as she slurs her words.” Holiday magic.




  1. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Saw this on Pinterest and think it’s great. Of course, I think I’d add Santa gifts and stockings because those are family traditions.

  2. Although I am not a Christian, and only take part in the secular part of Christmas…and very little of that…if I were to have children, I would explain to them that the Christ Child received three gifts – albeit good ones – and if three gifts were good enough for him, then three gifts would be good enough for them. Even the story of the real St. Nicolas talks about giving three gifts over three nights. Of course, if you do Hanukkah gifts (eight more), plus birthday gifts….OMG, nevermind. You’re sunk. Drink up, sister.

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