Candy Everybody Wants

From the Archives.  Happy Halloween, everyone.


As I sit here rifling through my kids’ pumpkin buckets, sneaking a Snickers here and a couple Kit Kats there, I am pleased that Halloween is officially in the books. However, as with any holiday celebrated in the company of hyperactive children, there were some takeaways:

1. Trick-or-treating with a beverage in a red Solo cup is permissible, as long as you are accompanied by kids. Trick-or-treating with a beverage in a red Solo cup is suspect if you are A) a single man dressed up as a mammogram machine, or B) all alone.

2. There is a candy hierarchy. Like it or not, neighbors judge you based on what you hand out. Want to blend in? Tootsie Rolls are fine. M&M’s or any product in the Hershey’s genre will get you there. But Smarties? Smarties were a crap candy in 1974 and they are a crap candy today. Dum Dums are not much better. If the candy is available for free at a local bank, it is best not to distribute it. But to the fellow on Sycamore Street who handed out the whole Twix bars: you are a Golden God.

3. Scented candles, particularly lavender or pine, may soothe guests in a massage parlor or spa, but they are disconcerting choices inside of jack-o-lanterns. For reasons unknown to science, they pretty much smell like pee.

4. The teeniest, dumbest kids get the most candy. Deal with it. My two-year-old son yelled “Trick or Treat” at shrubbery, birdfeeders, and several mailboxes. But when he reached the front porch of every house, he went silent. He did not say “Please.” He did not say “Thank you.” But because he is only three feet tall, folks gave him handfuls of goodies again and again and again.

5. To the kiddos: 364 days of the year, when a strange man invites you into the haunted voodoo tent in his garage, say NO. In fact, call the police. On Halloween, go on in. It turns out the shrunken heads are actually licorice flavored.

6. To the parents: 364 days of the year, when your kids ask if they can eat more candy, say NO. But on Halloween, say YES. Actually say the words: “Eat more candy.” The shock alone will probably cause the kids to eat less than they would have had you argued about it. Plus, for about forty-five minutes anyway, they will think you are awesome.

7. And finally, when the sugar crash hits, whether the kid falls to the sidewalk in a full-on tantrum, or merely falls asleep with his face in a pile of Milk Duds, it’s all right. The kids are not evil; the parents are not ineffectual. It’s Halloween. Despite how scary things may look, no real harm has been done. It is just time to call it a night.


Originally published on the Huffington Post.


Smashing Pumpkins

I’m a fan of the pie, the muffins, the bread, and the cake, but I do not like raw pumpkin. I am not squeamish about carving. I even kind of like the feel of the cold, slimy innards. I just don’t like the smell. It’s like a cross between play dough and sadness. There’s unfinished business in there, I think.

The insides of pumpkins are saddest on the morning after Halloween. Too many sugar-crashed children awaken to the broken remains of their toothy jack-o-lanterns on the sidewalk or street.

But it is always good to be reminded of a different perspective.



Sometimes smashing pumpkins can bring a community together.

Sometimes smashing pumpkins can even be good.


In Chagrin Falls, Ohio, it is a yearly tradition that high school seniors and local law enforcement come together one night a year to crush pumpkins. And then play in the mess.

Not everything cracked needs glue.

Not everything that is in pieces needs to be fixed.

And sometimes all we need is to take a break from our tough shells, laugh a little at our slimy insides, take a running start, and glide gloriously through the mess.





Holla Wean

It is late October, which means only one thing in this house: what the *&%# are my kids going to be for Halloween?

Every year, I vow that next year will be different. I will not wrap myself up in their crazy. I will not cotton last-minute schemes. I will not enter Party City on Oct. 30th in search of “medium-blue socks and a small bag of feathers.” Instead, like the well-behaved family that I know we could be, we will make early plans. We will select costumes and wear them. Or we will let the chips fall.

I really thought that this was going to be our year.

In July, both girls had wanted desperately to be Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I was jazzed. We would have no simpering princesses. No sequins, pompoms, or lace. Instead, we would show off two strong heroines. With easy costumes to boot. Wear black, braid hair, carry an arrow, and call it done. But our oldest daughter is going through a bit of a tween phase, and said she would not be caught dead in a costume that matched her baby sister, who in turn, seems to be going through a bit of a copycat phase, and will only be Katniss if her older sister will match. So now neither one will volunteer as tribute.

My friends seem to eliminate this waffling and tomfoolery with the popular household theme costume. I’ve known families who dressed as minions or superheroes, Star Wars personalities or characters from Scooby Doo. My neighbors transformed themselves into the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard a few years back. Baby Boss Hogg and teenage Roscoe P. Coltrane were particularly on point.

I floated a theme idea to my own family this year, and the only notion upon which anyone could agree was that I would portray the Wicked Witch. That theme was jettisoned, however, when everyone else in the family fought over Dorothy. For a few moments at the Science Center, we were committed to being a family of astronauts. Space Team Harbaugh. Our costumes would be both empowering and STEM-appropriate. But the rockateers disbanded at the gift shop when I saw the price of one single spacesuit. Astronomical! Out of this world! They must have been using the proceeds to fund actual space exploration.


Without a theme, we quickly became untethered. Costume notions have entered and exited the house with the breeze. Already, our six-year-old has vetoed the fireman, dinosaur, bumblebee, ballerina, and ninja. I really thought we had a winner with that last one until her sister reminded her it was “lame” to wear the same costume two years in a row. I wanted to kick her.

I complained to my husband about the kids’ failure to commit, but he adopts a “not my circus, not my monkeys” attitude about this holiday. Give him his way, and we would skip it altogether. He does not like candy. Or pumpkin lattes. And he once told me he would rather “scrub a toilet than wear a costume.” To be fair, he has begrudgingly dressed up whenever I have insisted, though that has usually meant putting on a Hawaiian shirt, carrying a beer, and calling himself Jimmy Buffett.

I suppose yearly costume failure is in my lineage. Growing up, most years, I was either a pirate or a gypsy – which both looked pretty much the same. My father came from a long line of hobos. And my brothers alternated their pirates with various sportsmen: pirate – golfer – pirate – baseball player – pirate — quarterback. My sister was often a witch. None of us won many awards for originality, but we had full candy buckets at the end of the night, which, as far as we were concerned, was the whole point.

I have never subscribed to the notion that a Halloween costume is an extension of your soul. I like a heavyset male in a tutu claiming to be Tinker Bell as much as the next gal, but I’m also fine with ghosts and black cats. I do not equate costume proficiency with winning at life. People with basic get-ups can still be complex humans. Especially if they pull it off without spending any money. Last year, Lizzie’s preschool teacher became my new hero when she whipped up a turtle with some green paper and a stapler. That was my kind of cheap.


Of course, there are other forces getting in the way of my frugality. In addition to believing her costume is an extension of her soul, my oldest daughter fears this might be her last chance for trick-or-treating. I have tried to convince her that she’ll eke out a few more candy-grubbing promenades. But she’ll start middle school next year. Maybe she is right. I distinctly remember my last year as a costumed participant. My girlfriend and I dressed in robes and face cream and claimed we were “moms” – as though either of our mothers had ever looked that way. Neighbors humored us, but we knew. We were old enough to walk into a store and purchase our own candy. It was time to hang up pumpkin buckets, and put the pillowcases back on the bed.

Which is why I will probably drive my daughters to Party City tomorrow afternoon. And why I will pay to rush ship a different costume to our house next week. For a young girl, October 31st is a chance to be anything she wants: a painter, the President, a doctor, an astronaut, a rock star, a superhero, or the commissioner of the NBA.

The world sometimes disagrees. But on Halloween, blessedly ridiculous, frequently last-minute, Halloween, I want no limits. On that night, I want my girls to have all of the options, and all of the opportunities.

If only to help me reinforce this idea every other day of the year.


The NY Observer ran a version of this piece on Oct. 27, 2015.


Greetings from the Pumpkin Patch, Parking Lot 7-B

I took Henry on his first school field trip today.  There were some difficulties.

We were instructed to meet at a nearby pumpkin patch.  I grew up in the suburbs, but if I drove ten minutes in any direction I inevitably landed on someone’s farm.  I was never far from crops, creeks, and animals.  However, my own children, raised in Los Angeles, are thoroughly removed from anything resembling bucolic rusticity.  I suppose that is why most schools here make such an effort to occasionally transport the children to where the wild things are.

Except there must have been some funding shortages this year, since our “pumpkin patch” was across the street from the shopping mall, cattycorner from a Mobil station, and not far from Benihana.

I should have turned around when I saw the long line at the admission gate.  It was like something out of Dante.  This was no verdant field in which to wander freely with a cup of cider.  This was someone’s cash cow.  I could practically hear the CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING every time another family entered the patch.

And let’s be clear:  this was no more a patch of pumpkins than I am an exotic dancer.  This was a patch of parking lot made to loosely resemble agriculture with a couple of corn stalks and some scattered straw.  And its relationship to pumpkins was tenuous at best.  Most of the round, orange fellows were piled in boxes and crates near the port-a-potty.  Those that were on display were more like museum artifacts than future jack-o-lanterns.  Signs throughout the sham patch cautioned us not to stand on, lean against, or even look at the pumpkins too enthusiastically.  And call me crazy, but I maintain that anything my family is going to cut up, light on fire, and throw in our trashcan should cost less than, say, dinner for four.

Speaking of refuse, one of the huskier workers spent most of our visit digging through the waste receptacles — perhaps to retrieve the plastic animal feed cups that the less earth-conscious patrons had thrown away, or maybe in search of a sandwich.  I could not be certain.  The whole place was a shady business.

But my son was delighted by all of it.

His school-issued t-shirt was several sizes too big, but he was able to chew on it more effectively.  Plus, it was blue, which is currently one of his five favorite colors.

He did not mind that the line for the pony ride was forty-seven minutes long.  The wait afforded him extra time to kick straw into piles.

Other than initially mistaking them for bears, Henry was enchanted by the penned up goats.  It did not bother him that they seemed overfed or that the light brown one in the center was sleeping in his own feces.


Henry also appreciated the addition of the souvenir station and bounce houses.  He did not feel it compromised the integrity of the ranch atmosphere one bit.

He loved the cardboard boxes of miniscule pumpkins, because he could hold two or three in his hands at once.

And Henry thought 24 bucks was a totally reasonable amount to spend on this faux farm experience.  And that it was also totally fine that the pumpkins cost extra.

I hate contrived joy for children.  I dislike scripted holiday entertainment, and the way kids now look to us, their parents, for food, drink, shelter, love, and concierge services.  Since when did the scheduling of perpetual fun become a mother’s job?  My own mom drew the line at dropping us off at the city pool.  Go play! was her battle cry, and it was a good one.  I crave authentic childhood experiences for my kiddos – hide-and-go-seek in the neighborhood, dips in the paddling pool, hikes off trail.

But equally important, I think, is listening to what my kids want.  For them to know I hear what they are saying, understand what they are feeling, and that I value it.  Even if their world view does not align utterly with my own.  Which means, every once in a while, I must look at the parking lot pumpkin patch through the eyes of my son, stare down its flimflam and bamboozlery, and declare it beautiful.




February 14.  The one holiday when it is impossible not to think just a teensy bit about the L-word.

Lima beans.

Wait, that’s two words. Okay, then. LOVE.

If you have not yet read Mandy Len Catron’s New York Times article entitled, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” please go do that now. Seriously, it is better than anything I am about to say.

However, if you have already read it, or have just returned from reading it, please continue. I have a thought or two on the subject.

I have just finished helping my kiddos prepare their Valentine’s cards, a process that began with excitement, was hindered by crying and dishevelment — not unlike most projects around here – and ended with a sort of weary pride. This year, the prevailing argument centered on why I never let them buy the pre-fab boxed cards.

“Because that is cheating,” I said.

“Cheating?” said the Katie, the oldest. “But Valentine’s Day isn’t a test.”

“Besides, Mom,” complained my 5-year-old, “I can’t even draw a good heart.” It was at approximately this point in the evening that little Lizzie fled to her room to cry in her closet.

I had told the kids that hand-made cards were more thoughtful, and that Valentine’s Day was a chance to share our kind feelings with those we loved.

“But I don’t love most of these people, Mom,” Katie complained. “They are just kids in my class.”

Later, after the cards were completed and the kids were tucked in bed, I looked over Lizzie’s pile of professed mess-ups. There were more than two-dozen attempts to draw a heart. All of them lovely. So earnest. So sweet. So much like her. But she had had an idea in her head about what the perfect Valentine was to look like, and no amount of cajoling by me could bring her around to the idea that all of her hearts were wonderful.

Once again, I think I failed to teach the lesson I thought I was teaching.

Here’s the thing: Valentine’s Day is kind of stupid. Kids sending meaningless cards to other kids is stupid. For most of us, Valentine’s Day is just one more excuse to eat more candy than we should, drink more wine than we need, and argue with the person we love about why he/she didn’t buy us something better.

But, as a kid, I freaking loved Valentine’s Day. I would look carefully at each card I received in my brown paper lunch bag. Had Todd signed Love, Todd to everyone or just me? Did Jeff purposely give me the card with a red heart instead of a pink one? Everyone knew red hearts were more romantic. Of course, now that I have children of my own, I am certain that neither Jeff nor Todd nor any of the other half-dozen or so boys I professed to “love” on those Valentine’s Days gave much thought at all to their cards. They were doing what my kids were doing: just trying to get them done.

These days, teachers are smart. Both of my girls were asked not to put the recipients’ names on the Valentines. “Just pass out one to everyone,” Mrs. M. encouraged. That way, no one got anything special from anyone else. And, of course, no one got hurt.

Except we lose something, don’t we? when we treat everyone exactly the same. If Valentine’s Day serves any purpose whatsoever, it is a yearly reminder to demonstrate affection, to allow ourselves to know and be known.

Which gets me back to Mandy Len Catron’s piece. Catron referenced a study conducted twenty years ago by a psychologist, Arthur Aron, that purported to create love in a laboratory. In the study, two strangers were simply asked to answer a series of questions together. The end result: affection. Catron tried this same “experiment” herself, and described the strange intimacy of passing an evening puzzling through Aron’s questions with a person she barely knew.

It seems to me that all of us, whether we are in a relationship or not, could benefit from an infusion of laboratory-tested intimacy. Maybe this Valentine’s Day, instead of dinner or a movie, just sit and talk to someone you love (or are hoping to love). Not fake talk, of celebrity gaffes or television plots. But real talk. Find someone you love and answer some questions together.

This Valentine’s Day, allow yourself to be known.


For those who need extra encouragement, I’ll start:

Question # 4 – What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

Years ago, this probably would have involved lying on a beach in a far off land or attempting to sing and dance on a Broadway stage. But these days, my perfect day is simpler. I would awaken feeling rested, having slept more than enough. I would eat breakfast in a chair, a proper eggs and bacon on a plate situation, rather than toast balanced on the washing machine or chips munched as I pack lunches. I would tell my kids I love them and see them walk safely into school among friends. I would exercise hard — run and lift and jump — and not hear a peep from my wonky knee or Achilles. I would bathe afterwards, and wash and comb my hair. I would remember to wear deodorant. I would write, read, and laugh with people I love. And then I would sleep some more. [As I read over this answer, it sounds so DULL, but honestly, most days, I don’t manage any of this.]

Question #30 – When did you last cry in front of another person?

Last Thursday. At Target. In broad daylight. And much to the chagrin of the lady working in Customer Service. To be fair, it had been a difficult shopping excursion. I had a sick kid. I was late for a party. I couldn’t find the tablecloths. No one would help me. Looking back, I don’t even know what triggered it, except that the lady in my checkout line was roughly the seventh person who had failed to help me that day. Raising kids takes a village and, that day, I was a shoddy solo act. I had all kinds of keenly mean things to say – about decency, and dignity, and the kind of women we should be to one another in this difficult world. Instead, I cried. More on that here.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Laugh. Cry. Go let yourself be known.



Tidings of Comfort

“If you are traveling this holiday season, make your destination a Bethlehem.”

I heard this advice in church last weekend. Since I spent much of the service trying to prevent Henry from crawling beneath the seat in front of us and/or helping Lizzie use spit and an old Kleenex to wipe marker off of the hymnal she had used to draw Santa on horseback, I am amazed that I heard and retained anything at all.  A mini-Christmas miracle.

But I love this advice.  If you are at all like me, and you have had the wonderful opportunity/misfortune to travel frequently during the holidays, you know the joy/horror of staying with family and friends.  There are five of us now.  And a dog.  And even though we try to be gracious and helpful houseguests — zipping to the grocery store, chipping in with laundry and dishes — we still require lots of food and pillows and toilet paper.  That we are inconvenient to host is a fact not lost on me.

But it is also not always easy to be hosted.  I ate snails for dinner last night.  Lunch today was something coated in mayonnaise and cheese.  Right now, I feel like curling up with cocoa and a book, but instead, I need to dress for dinner guests.  In short, when it comes to visitors during the holidays, the stress goes both ways.

I don’t always know what I believe about Christmas.  Was He or was he not the son of God?  Smarter folks than I have tried to suss this one out.  But I do know this:  two-thousand years ago, weary travelers found refuge one night, made the best of unfamiliar circumstances, and their child grew up to be a gift to many, many people.

May we who host, and may we who are hosted, be Bethlehems to one another this holiday season.  May we offer comfort and make do, since we never quite know the miracle unfolding in the hearts of our children or in one another.

Merry Christmas.



Christmas Cards Against Humanity

I am not sending Christmas cards this year.

This is not news. I did not mail any last year. Or the year before.

In fact, the only time I ever attempted December correspondence en masse was fifteen years ago, when we got puppies. I bought antlers and a Santa hat, and took photographs of our furry babies. I printed wallet-sized images on do-it-yourself photo paper – you know, in case my friends wanted to carry my dogs in their wallets – and made a list of forty-two folks whom I figured deserved a letter. In the end, I wrote, addressed, and mailed maybe six cards. I have not tried again since.

The holidays are busy and sending cards is a chore. I am flabbergasted anyone manages to do it. As a perpetual recipient and lackluster sender, I have developed a few theories about why these missives continue to crowd my December mailbox.

  1. Narcissism

Where there used to be images of shepherds or candles, cards are now adorned with portraits of perfect families. Archangel Gabriel is out. The Nguyen-Chestertons are in. When I rip open the envelopes, I am greeted by ruddy-cheeked children in gingham and plaid. There’s the family at Disney. And again at the seashore. Isn’t it neat how everyone is wearing khakis?

  1. Competitiveness

If you send someone a card this year, the rules state that they should reciprocate. If two years pass unrequited, you don’t need to waste any more stamps. They’ve moved on. And if at the neighbor’s eggnog soirée you notice a card on the mantle that should have gone to you, it is permissible to throw it in the fire. It is like a grown up game of Pokémon, or bad reality TV — The Real Holiday Cards of Somerset County.

  1. Duty

Every year, on December 8th, my grandmother used to set up a folding table in the downstairs bedroom, lock the door, and “do the cards.” She rolled up her sleeves and did the dirty business of communicating with family and friends. Who got married? Who dropped out of school? Who got pregnant with someone else’s baby, but we are all okay with it and the christening was Sunday. We send cards because we are supposed to. It’s what separates us from the goats.

  1. Love

Despite the fact that I see most of my friends on Facebook, and we exchange phone calls, emails, and Tweets, I still love receiving their preposterously darling cards. Especially the ones with actual writing – elementary school penmanship brought out once a year, just for me. And for those friends I haven’t seen in years, the ones off the grid — keeping bees in Cleveland, curing meats in Poughkeepsie — these cards are our only tether. I have watched hairlines recede and families grow and blossom. And I have watched my friends grow up happy. That is how I get to think of them year after year.

No matter where you come down on holiday cards — narcissist or Santa, baby Jesus or Grinch — I hope we can agree on one thing: they make for one hell of a drinking game. Some time this season, when you can’t face another ugly sweater party or white elephant exchange, just deal out the Christmas cards and pour the tequila. The rules are simple. One shot for fall foliage, two for matching cardigans, three for kids cuter than yours. And chug the whole bottle, worm and all, for anyone ridiculous enough to put antlers on a dog and send out wallet pics.


Originally published in the New York Observer.  Special thanks to my Aunt Kathy for the image of Grandma “doing the cards.”







Wallowing in a Winter Wonderland

So we stood in line to see Santa yesterday.

There were some problems.

For starters, the Santa-to-child ratio. I’m no mathematician, but my estimates put the number of kids ahead of us at just under 17 million. Number of Santas ministering to those children: one. Those were crap odds.

We know that Santa is clutch. He’s up against heftier numbers on game day, and he always comes through. But that must be due to his crackerjack support network — the elves, the Mrs., the deer. Our Santa… he had staffing problems.

From what I’ve researched, elves are of paramount importance to this whole seeing Santa business. These green-clad minions move folks along. They keep the action merry. But there were no polar aide-de-camps working our line. No one in or out of tights jingled a bell or cheerfully hinted we were getting any closer to the Big Dance. There were no elves staging photographs. Terrified children stood in awe of Santa and/or picked their noses, allowing precious seconds to pass. No elves hustled anyone off of Santa’s lap or hurried families through a candy cane exit.

Seeing Santa is not work you want left to parents. If we wait all that time, when it is finally our turn, we want the perfect shot. We have Facebook pages to update, and friends to Instagram with photos of our kids in complementary reds and greens. We want Santa to hear everyone’s complete list, even little Timmy’s. He is shy, but if you just give him a minute or two, he’ll open up and tell you everything for which he is quietly hoping. The choo choo train. The blocks.

In short, parents are Santa hogs.

Which is why, after an hour-and-a-half, my kids and I were still nowhere near the jolly man in red. I tried bribery. “How about some kettle corn?” And cajoling. “Wouldn’t it be way more fun to see Santa next week at the mall?” I even tried to dash hopes. “Seeing Santa isn’t that big a deal anyway. Who wants hot chocolate?”

My 9-year-old wavered when I mentioned a beverage, but sensing my desperation, insisted on a pizza, too.

My 2-year-old had already bumped into everyone in line near us, so he was eager to break out of the queue to knee-cap new victims.

But 5-year-old Lizzie would not budge. Her eyes were full of hope. She wanted to ask Santa for a Barbie doll. “I know we’ll make it, Mom. We just have to believe.” What could I say?

So for 93 minutes we believed.

But then Santa left for a smoke break.

And there was some sort of program involving hand bells, and carolers, and a speech about a Christmas tree. I tried to watch. But we were standing in a line that was no longer moving, waiting to see a fictional character who was no longer there.

I lifted the red velvet rope and gently tugged my children out into the darkness.

There was crying on the way home. Also an argument over burritos. I tried to engage them in conversation. “If you had been able to see Santa, what would you have asked for?”

“A new mother,” came the first response. It was fair. They could not be angry with Santa. They could only be angry with me.

dadvmom.com_wallowinginawinterwonderland_heartcandyanesAt home, after a dinner that was neither pizza nor burritos, we wrapped presents for a family whose name we’d pulled at church. A Barbie doll, a train, some matching jammies in red and green. For a little bit, anyway, we played at being their elves.

We drank cocoa and laughed when Dad tried to play “Jingle Bells” on his ukulele.

We told each other what we wanted for Christmas.

And as I snuggled with my children on the couch, once they had determined they no longer hated me, I decided that Santa Claus could kiss my ass.

Originally published on the Huffington Post.


Deck the Fridge

We went to church today and were surprised to learn that it was Advent. I don’t know what was more surprising: that today was Advent or that every year, we are perplexed by the start date, which comes, more often than not, fast on the heels of Thanksgiving. Put the turkey platter back in the high cupboard. Dust off the Advent wreath from the attic. Makes sense.

Except this year, we don’t have an Advent wreath. Whilst lighting our previous circle of holly branches and fir, the girls argued so vociferously over whose turn it was to light the pink candle that Lizzie’s hair caught on fire. So…ixnay on the eathwray this year.

Also absent from the Kelly-Harbaugh home this season is any kind of elf on any sort of shelf. It’s not because ours has gone missing or that the dog tore it in half — though if we did have one, both of those scenarios would have been quite likely. It’s simply because Mom thinks they are dumb. With apologies to all those clever elf-handlers, photographers and scenario-developers out there, we’re just not keen on doing much of anything for our children while they sleep. We have a hard enough time caring for them while they are awake. Plus, elf orchestration cuts into Mom’s TV time.

We do have stockings. Only four of them, though, since they were purchased during a Lowe’s after-Christmas sale many, many years before the children were born, and during a time when even the distant possibility of two children was two more than I could ever envision. Of course, our current home here in California does not have a fireplace. No mantel. No backyard fire pit. Nada. We are debating between hanging the stockings on the oven — at least it is a heat source, and thus in the fireplace genre — or on the freezer, which though it is the opposite of a fireplace, can serve as a daily reminder that if we continue to consume Trader Joe’s chocolate ice cream at our current pace, we will soon be able to fit our cankles into those large stockings.

We will be traveling for a few weeks over the holidays, so I’m not entirely sure we are going to put up a tree. We’ll have to weigh the hours of decoration and clean-up against the hours we will actually be in the room to stare at the tree and enjoy it. Any Math friends want to write us an equation for that? I’m thinking t=tree, x=ornaments, and w=the number of glasses of wine Mom will need to be bothered with any of it.

In terms of outward preparedness and holiday paraphernalia, we are clearly flunking Christmas this year. Luckily, according to the songs that have been playing in department stores since Halloween, Santa only grades children. And, as the candles indicated this morning, we still have a little time to get our act together. Game on. Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.






Hasty Buns

We made homemade pie crusts today. And baked homemade rolls. We tossed together some homemade chicken stock; its aroma is filling the house with anticipatory joy. My nine-year-old wanted dumplings, so we whipped up homemade pot stickers, too. And dipping sauce. We couldn’t forget that.

But I fear I may be running out of juice. Thanksgiving’s not for another two days, and we basically just made from scratch all the things I usually buy. To balance this, for Thursday, I might just have to buy all the things I usually make. Either that, or serve chicken soup, pie crust, wantons, and rolls.

Also popcorn. I love popcorn.

In the end, of course, I know it doesn’t matter.  Whether we eat turkey and turnips, or popcorn and pot stickers, the food is actually the least important part.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May yours be a day of fullness and gratitude.