I don’t know how I get sucked into the Pinterest DIY boards. Its pathological. I don’t have a crafty or creative bone in my body, but they draw me in to the land of Pin where I invariably stay for an average of 45 minutes.

I start by thinking “These people are all so clever and creative! Look what they did with that old dresser/door/crib/hunk of trash! Its amazing. Why didn’t I think of that?” This deeply appreciative phase lasts for about 15 minutes. 

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The sun is shining for the second day in a row in a month that is normally Sylvia Plath gloomy. This means that I am, 1) more cheerful, and 2) struggling with the overwhelming desire to redecorate my house.

This desire is caused by the sun, at its winter angle through the windows, illuminating a fresh vista of dust, dirt, smudges, chipped paint and other household flaws. Here is where my usual organizational ability fails me.

I don’t want to be methodical, I want to start everything at once.

Update the fireplace brick and mantle, paint the foyer, change the drapes in the whole house, re-cover the dining room chairs, put new doors on the bedroom closet, empty my office, paint the walls, rearrange the furniture and sort all the books.

You get the idea.

What I really need is for tomorrow to be rainy and gray so I am not tempted to stop at Home Depot on my way to work. They open at 6:00 am…

As we inch ever closer to Christmas and Hanukkah I confront the age-old problem of how to conduct religious rituals without religion.

I was raised Catholic, my husband was raised Jewish and we are both Atheists. Our daughter identifies very strongly with the Jewish side of her family and considers herself Jewish for all intents and purposes. She intermittently makes noises about a Bat Mitzvah, but that goes away as soon as she is reminded of the amount of study involved and that she would actually have to attend Temple.

She likes the ritual of the Hanukkah candles, eating latkes, and of course the eight (small) presents she gets.

She likes decorating a Christmas tree, eating the cookies and All That Music! She keeps asking where her Advent calendar is. I forgot to get one. I can usually find one for $1.99 at CVS, but didn’t see them this year. In her mind that cheap, graying chocolate from the advent calendar is part of the Christmas ritual. Maybe I’ll try Walgreens.

This morning she negotiated the date for decorating the house. I am usually very firm about only 14 days of visual chaos, but Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year so the house will be blue & white and red & green for 19 days.

So like people all over the world, we will open presents Christmas morning, go for a movie & Chinese food, and then light the Hanukkah lights Christmas night. If folks don’t know us they might even think we were religious.

The Christmas in July sales, attempting to stimulate our lousy economy, have instead stimulated my (usually) once-yearly holiday trauma flashback memories. This unusually rich vein of blog fodder is the result of a simple equation – number of holidays I have experienced in my life, plus the number of siblings and their assorted spouses(s) and children, multiplied by both my parents or [H + S(sp+ch)] X P = ho ho ho.

Holidays were schizophrenic because my Dad had a “Who” mentality which meant there could never be enough tinsel, decorations or carols, and my Mom had a bare bones, Jesus-was-born-in-a-manger-why-do-we-need-all-this-crap approach. And theirs was a marriage very much about taking sides and scoring points so, child pawns were useful.

My Dad insisted on putting up the live tree Thanksgiving weekend even though he knew my mother would be sick of the messy needles long before Christmas, and he wouldn’t take it down until New Years day. A major problem with this plan was that there was no place in my parents tiny house to put the tree. Each year one of my brothers would wrestle an easy chair from the living room up to the boys bedroom for the duration. This reduced the seating in the living room to a couch and a chair (4 seats) and my dads chair, which no one sat in even when he wasn’t home. A festive and cheerful atmosphere was thus created.

My Dad died slowly, and at home, just a few weeks before Christmas so my mother went all out and decorated the whole house the way he liked, tinsel and all. Then on Christmas eve, 15 days after we buried him, she gave all her children a special present and had us all open them at the same time. Imagine our surprise when it was a framed picture of dead Daddy! I went into the kitchen and did shots of whiskey with my brother. A much more appropriate tribute to my father, who really knew how to drink.

The next year my mother put out a ceramic, table top Christmas tree with blue lights, put her crèche on the mantle and we never saw the tinsel in that house again. Ho ho ho.