Let me count the ways the holidays suck: Those “What We Did This Year!!!” holiday bulletins. Aunt Rita’s Fruitcake. Those annoying-ass-plastic-clam-shell thingys that all toys come in now. The line at the Post Office. The olfactory clusterfuck coming out of every candle store at the MegaMall. “Feliz Navidad,” the Christmas song from Hades. Shall I go on?
I know, I’m a crank and a Scrooge and Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Once upon a time, when I had a life and did not have children, I liked Christmas just fine. I’d shop, wrap, schlep my butt over to my parents’ house and get shitfaced on Mimosas by 1 in the afternoon. And then take all my loot back to my apartment. What’s not to like?
But then I had kids. Christmas dies an ugly little death after you have children. Because all of a sudden, there’s this pressure to make magical memories with them. Total fucking buzzkill.
The pressure of creating the perfect Christmas for your children? It’s the reason they need to install a Valium Salt Lick in the shopping mall after Thanksgiving.
And while they’re at it, can they make the drinking fountains squirt out grain alcohol? Because mommies need that shit.
And what about that whole Mall Santa Photo Thing? There are pictures of horror-stricken, traumatized, wailing kids all over the Internet this time of year. Why do we subject our kids to this? We put them in the itchiest, most uncomfortable outfits they own, haul them down to the mall, make them wait in line for an hour with those freaks who bring their dogs to see Santa, hiss at them if they try to do anything normal, like fidget or run around, plop them into the lap of a strange bearded dude, and expect them to think, “This is Awesome!”
Now before you accuse me of snobbery and arrogance, I will admit to you up-front that I took first-born to see the Mall Santa. Guilty. I did it, and I paid out the ass for the dorky picture…oh wait. No, I didn’t.
Because I was brilliant enough to wait until my child was three years old before I took her to see Mall Santa.
I have reasons for this. The first year, I’d just given birth. The Woman with the Hemorrhoid that Ate Colorado was totally not up for Mall Santa. Also, first-born was so underweight that she looked like E.T.
The second year, first-born was going through the Winter of Oozing Eczema. Enough said.
Year three, there was nothing holding us back. Except for the fact that she was three. The Demon-Child Year.
But I, determined to get my $24.95 snapshot of Holiday Bliss, put her in the itchy dress and schlepped her down to the Megamall. On a weekend in December. Clearly, Mommy ain’t real bright.
Things went South within a half hour. First-born stormed the kiosk that carries those hand-held massager thingys. Ummm, y’all know those are vibrators, right? Massagers, my fat fanny. These particular specimens even glowed and sparkled. First-born snatched herself a snazzy pink vibrator and took off running through the mall, full-tilt. Not only did I have to chase after her, I had to drop my purse and 3 oversized shopping bags from Crate&Barrel mid-mall, because first-born is wicked fast. Finally, I tackled her, in front of the Coach store. “Hi, swanky ladies in track-suits buying overpriced bags…don’t mind me here, wrestling The Vibrator Bandit to the ground…”
And then there was the hideous wait in line, with those freaks who bring their dogs to see Santa. First-born had an irrational fear of dogs at age three; it’s a *long* 45 minutes when your toddler acts like every Shi-Tzu in a sweater is Cujo.
Admittedly, I was in a foul mood when at last, it was our turn to shine. (Hello? Can I campaign any harder for the Valium Salt Lick and the Everclear Drinking Fountain?) First-born shuffled towards Santa and then bolted, insisting, “I’m not sitting on the hairy man.”
So I did what any mother would do. I shook her and hissed into her ear, “Do it now or no Happy Meal.”
She sullenly plopped her butt on Santa’s lap and as the Mall Elf chirped, “Smile and say Snowflake!” first-born spontaneously combusted.
“Stink! Argh! He stinky-stinky!” she hollered, opening her jaws wide and chomping firmly down on Mall Santa’s wrist.
You’d think they’d prepare these Mall Santas for shit like this. I mean, kids piss on Santa all the time; can’t they handle a leeeetle nibble?
Mall Santa hucked first-born off his lap and said accusingly, “Your kid just bit me lady!”
As if I didn’t have eyes.
“She didn’t do it that hard,” I retorted. Pussy.
“She broke the skin,” Mall Elf said helpfully. Stuff it, Enabler.
“She broke the skin,” Santa repeated.
“Oh come on!” I said. “Don’t tell me one of those things (gesturing to a sweatered and cranky looking Dachshund) hasn’t ever taken a chomp out of you. Chill, Kris Kringle.”
Which is how, in December of 2004, I ended up in the office of Paul Blart:Mall Cop, filling out an inordinate amount of paperwork. I also had to take first-born to the doctor, get her blood drawn and analyzed, and fax the results back to the MegaMall. Because my kid could, you know, have rabies.
The entire ride home after the Santa Incident, first-born insisted that she had done nothing wrong. In fact, she argued that Mall Santa deserved to be bitten. Because “he stinky, Mama. Santa not supposed to stink.”
Pass the Valium Salt Lick, please.