The Pressure to Create the Perfect Pandemic Holiday in 2020

It’s bad when it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I feel very, very, late to the Christmas party.

I get it, I really do, in the third wave of a pandemic “we need a little Christmas right this very minute.” So, if you had your house all gussied up for the holidays before your carved Halloween pumpkin had time to start decomposing on your front porch I not only applaud you but I’m downright jealous.

Jealous because thinking about Christmas makes me anxious. The reason is because I (like I’m sure a lot of people are) am putting a whole lot of pressure on the holidays. This Christmas has to be the best in an attempt to make up for what a horrendous and scary year 2020 has been.

I keep on telling myself that if I create a magical Christmas for my family then it will be the start of better days to come. It’s like I’m jinxing humanity if I can’t deliver a holiday masterpiece.

There are so many problems with trying to have the “best pandemic holiday ever” that not even looking through my collection of “Christmas With Southern Living” cookbooks could  ease my burgeoning panic. I even turned to the heavy hitter, the 398-page tome “Christmas All Through the South” that promises ways to build “joyful memories, timeless moments and enduring traditions.”

Certainly, a three-foot-high gingerbread pancake tower “glued” together with maple whipped cream for Christmas morning brunch sounds not only scrumptious but certainly memorable.

Then there’s a “hearty picnic in the pines” that seems very pandemic safe since you’ll be outside and who wouldn’t want to eat a caramel drop banana bread trifle dessert while perched on plaid “Royal Stewart” tartan wool blankets with matching flatware to celebrate getting your Christmas tree?

The small problem with that outing is that we get our Christmas tree from a nursery so although that trifle sounds next level delish I don’t think eating it in a parking lot would be quite the festive outing. Really, are there enough plaid blankets to make that excursion one for the memory books?

I did make a list of all the new things that I wanted my family to do since a lot of our traditions would be different this year due to the coronavirus. I then looked at that list and cried. Not a big boohoo but a few tears of anguish because the list I made meant one thing – a lot of work for me.

It’s not that I’m not exceedingly familiar with being the Christmas Sherpa in the family, I don’t know what mom isn’t, but to create new traditions and whip up a one-of-kind holiday, well, I don’t know if I have that in me.

To admit that freaked me out. It also made me feel old and a little bah humbug. But then I substituted the word “realist” for old and that helped. With my new self-appointed title of 2020 holiday realist I dove back into my Christmas books with a more pragmatic attitude.

Then in the 2006 “Christmas With Southern Living” I saw a note my mother had written on the inside cover. It read, “The magic of Christmas is being together and knowing that a family’s love is unwavering.”

I felt some of the pressure ease from my body, not all mind you, but some. We would be together for Christmas – just the four of us – and anything else will be icing on the gingerbread pancake tower.

Although, I still plan on trying some new traditions. I’m thinking of doing an outdoor Christmas Eve scavenger hunt.

Scratch that. I just told my daughter about it and she asked me, “Why do you hate us?” So, I’m guessing that’s a hard pass. At least I’ve got that pancake tower and I’m sure it will be glorious.

Dear Snarky – My Mother Won’t Share Thanksgiving Recipes With Me

Dear Snarky,

What do you think about a mom who won’t share family recipes with her daughter? Due to the coronavirus our large family has decided to not celebrate Thanksgiving together.

This means for the first time in my life I’m not having Thanksgiving with my parents. So, I asked my mom for three of her recipes so I could recreate her sweet potato pie, sourdough rolls and corn casserole. She straight up told me no.

I was shocked. When I asked her why she told me that they were “cherished heirloom recipes” and that she knew if she shared them with me I would post them on Instagram and my cooking blog.

So, what if I do that? I have more than 10,000 followers on Instagram and I didn’t get those without posting recipes.

I don’t understand what the big deal is? They’re recipes not her social security number. I think she’s being highly unreasonable and mean but she won’t change her mind. She said the recipes need to stay in the family and have been handed down for generations and don’t need to become “blog bait.”

I’m starting to think my mom may be losing it or is jealous of me. What’s your advice on how to talk some sense into her? She’s not rational at all.

Signed, Recipes Wanted

Dear Recipes,

I am totally gobbling up this letter (sorry not sorry for that lame attempt at humor) and laughing because talk about manufacturing drama when there really doesn’t need to be any.

In a surprise to some I’m going to come out and say I don’t blame your mom. It’s her right as the matriarch to be very protective of what she sees as family treasures and to be not a fan of sharing them on the internet.

I know this may sound ridiculous but a lot of people are super possessive over things like this. My family got in a fight over a sugar cookie recipe. True story.

I will admit to being a bit amazed that you never learned these recipes. It appears you like cooking because you have a blog which makes me wonder why you were never in the kitchen during Thanksgiving meal prep. If you were I’m guessing you would already know the “secret ingredients.”

That said, I’m going to bet that you’re a very good cook and clever and that with some trial and error you could probably recreate these dishes and better yet give them your own flair. If you publish the recipes (and I know you will because I’m guessing that’s the reason you really want them) I would suggest saying they were “inspired by warm family memories.”

Do this and move on. It’s a dumb ass thing to fight about and I think you already know that.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – A Greedy Daughter Is Out to Fleece Her Parents

Dear Snarky,

I’m not sure you’re the right person to reach out to for advice because to be honest I only read your stuff for the laughs. It’s a little awkward to now be in the position to actually be writing to you but I usually agree with what you tell people so here goes.

 My 30-year-old daughter recently got married. Because of COVID it was a very small wedding. That’s not to say it wasn’t exquisite. It was just very intimate. Now my daughter has asked my husband and I to give her money we saved from “not throwing her a huge wedding.”

 At first we thought she was joking and my husband and I had a good laugh. Unfortunately, she’s dead serious. She even told us that by having a small wedding she saved us at least $40,000 but she would settle for $25,000.

 To say we were taken aback would be an understatement. My husband got furious and pointed out that we still spent a pretty penny on her wedding and that what we spent was what had been budgeted. There’s no extra money laying around.

 I told her that she’s a 30-year-old attorney and her husband is a 35-year-old executive and that they are at little too old to be asking for handouts.

 It got very heated and now our daughter is not talking to us. She’s even blocked both of us on her phone. I’m afraid the longer this lasts the harder it will be to heal the rift. Do you have any advice on how to move forward?

 Signed, Worried and Disappointed Mother

Dear Worried,

 Give me a second because I need to pick my jaw off the floor. Holy-Freaking-Crap that is some brazen daughter you’ve got there. That said I’m sure with those stones she’s an excellent litigator.

 To be clear a 30-year-old highly educated woman and her fast approaching middle-age husband who is also gainfully employed should not be trying to fleece their parents/in-laws. Because that’s  what this is – a fleecing.

 I don’t blame you or your husband for losing it. The greed and total lack of conscience and gratitude is alarming. Both your bank account and your feelings have to be feeling very raw right now.

 As for what to do to heal the rift my response is do nothing. That’s right, just sit tight because your daughter will come back around. It’s obvious that she’s having a temper tantrum and it’s also obvious that she’ll want you to do something else for her.

 My best guess she’s going to come back and try to negotiate for at least $12,500. Stand firm. It sounds like you need to establish some boundaries for your relationship moving forward.

 Also, and this may freak you out. But based on her actions I would never give her medical power of attorney or any power of attorney – EVER.  I don’t trust her and she seems to be very financially motivated in her dealings with you. I apologize if this has upset you further but I felt I had to point this out.

 Best of luck and remember you are not responsible for your adult child’s behavior! DO NOT beat yourself up over what she’s doing. It’s 100% on her.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – My Sister Pretended My Baby Was Hers

Dear Snarky,

I’m so angry at my sister right I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

I recently had a beautiful baby girl. My sister had been devoted to my baby and that made me so happy. We haven’t been very close for a while due to her making some really stupid decisions with her life and putting my parents through hell. But since my baby was born she has been with me a lot and seemed so proud of my daughter posting lots of pictures with her on Instagram.

Last week I found out that my sister has been using my baby to blackmail an ex-boyfriend into thinking it’s his kid to get money from him. All those pictures she was posting on her Instagram were just a way to make this guy and his family believe that my baby was my sister’s.

I found out when the ex-boyfriend AND his mom AND his two sisters came to my house to ask me if the baby was mine or my sister’s. One of his sister’s had been comparing my Instagram account with my sister’s and had her suspicions that the baby on my sister’s page was really mine.

When I heard this I got hysterical. I can’t believe my sister was using my infant daughter to get money from a former boyfriend! When I told my husband, he said my sister was banned from our daughter’s life forever. 

I totally agree but my mom thinks I should give my sister a chance to explain herself and she pointed out that this “ban” will ‘mess up every family holiday for the rest of our lives.’

What do I do? My gut tells me to stick with the ban but my mom is now pleading with me to not do this.

Signed, I Wish I Had a Better Family

Dear Better,

Let’s start with how you signed your letter. You do have a better family. The one you’re making with your husband and your baby. So, take great pride and solace in that fact.

Now onto your mother. It appears she has a history of making excuses for your sister and that, I’m saddened to tell you, is probably never going to change. The fact that after hearing how your sister used your baby – her granddaughter – to blackmail a former boyfriend for cash and your mom’s take away was basically don’t be mean to your sister because there goes Christmas dinner is beyond crazy.  Your mom, in my opinion, is as messed up as your sister.

As for your sister I totally agree with you on the ban. Your number one job as a mother is to protect your child and I think your sister has proven herself to be a threat to your daughter’s safety so in my book that means don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of our lives.

If years later with extensive therapy your sister proves herself to be worthy of another chance you could reconsider your ban. But for now, I think you and your husband have made the right decision and if your mom gives you any attitude tell her she can also be banned. Hopefully that will shut her up.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

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Hike or Murder?

You never really think it’s going to happen to you. Sure, you’ve seen movies and TV shows about it and even probably read your share of books focused on the topic. But seriously, what woman thinks her husband is actively trying to kill her?

It all started with a hike. This hike was described to me by my husband as a way to escape the pandemic and commune with the wilderness. Well, consider me sold. I was up for it and  excited about traipsing through the forest.

What I didn’t know was that this hike was in reality a death march.

When we arrived at the hiking path I was raring to go until I read an extensive warning sign at the entrance to the trail. It was full on doom and gloom.

I soon began to feel more than a little apprehensive. The sign even stated that before beginning the hike you needed to have on your person “10 essential items” from a compass to a first aid kit. We had one single thing on the list and that was water. There was also a bear caution poster that told you to “think like a bear.”

Hmm, not a bear but if I was one I believe my thought process would be, “My that human looks tasty.” Not to brag but I consider my plump body a most excellent bear meal or at the very least a lovely and abundant appetizer.

After reading all the signage I was ready to hike alright – back to the car.

But my husband assured me we would be bear aware and if we stayed on the trail it would be fine. Because I naively trusted him, based on decades of marriage, off we went.

For the first 10 minutes the trail was well defined and then it quickly morphed into rock quarry on a steep incline. I looked at my husband and asked him if anything about my appearance resembled  a freaking mountain goat? I didn’t think so and I was certain my DSW tennis shoes weren’t hiding cloven hoofs.

Things got worse from there because we weren’t on a hike. We were scaling a mountain. Up, up and up we went with my husband shouting words of encouragement that, “it was going to be so worth it.”

  About 45 minutes into this “hike” I was close to praying that a bear would “rescue me” because at least I could quit climbing over boulders precariously perched on the side of a mountain. At this point I wasn’t even walking upright. I was bent over like the earliest prehistoric man using my hands as I climbed the rocks to make sure I wouldn’t fall.

Once we were an hour into this trek of doom I figured out what was really going on. My husband was trying to kill me. It’s a simple but effective plan. A guy takes his wife out for a hike and oops she plunges to her death off the side of a mountain.

No one would doubt his story. Chubby, slightly older lady falls. It happens. I was so certain that this was my fate I screamed in anguish, “Why are you trying to kill me?”

He actually laughed at my misery and then minutes later yelled, “We’re here!”

Here was a beautiful lake tucked into the side of a mountain. Yes, it was indeed totally worth it.

Later, I told my husband I didn’t think he was really trying to murder me. I blamed the altitude. But, I don’t know. The more I think about it that hike had all the trappings of a “Dateline” episode in the making.

Dear Snarky – My Mother-In-Law is a Serial Liar

Dear Snarky,

 I’ve got a big gripe about my mother-in-law. She’s a huge liar about her adult children. But she’s sneaky about it. She doesn’t come right out and lie she hints and I’m about to hit my breaking point and feel like I need to call her out.

 The straw that broke the camel’s back was when she posted on both Facebook and Instagram that my sister-in-law was in medical school. This is how she said it: “Whose daughter just might be in med school?”

 Here’s the real deal she’s not. My sister-in-law is veterinarian tech. She doesn’t even want to be a vet. She’s loves being a vet tech.

 I don’t understand why she thinks it’s okay to blatantly lie about her kids. Her other recent whopper was that my husband was being recruited by multiple colleges for a coaching position. Except she said, “When you son gets recruited by Division 1 colleges for a coaching positions” and she showed a meme of a someone jumping up and down.

 My husband is a high school math teacher and coaches the baseball team for fun and the extra money. No college is looking for a math teacher to coach their team.

 I feel like the family needs to shut down her lying but both my husband and sister-in-law say it’s not worth the drama and that everybody know she’s lies already so no one believes her anyway. My father-in-law says, “she exaggerates but it’s harmless.”

 I don’t agree and need your advice if I should be the one that tells her stop it.

 Signed, I Don’t Like Liars

 Dear Don’t Like Liars,

 Perhaps you should post on social media – Guess who has a crazy ass mother-in-law?

 It’s obvious this woman has some serious issues and what she’s doing, contrary to what your father thinks, it’s not harmless.

 Besides spinning huge fabrications about her children’s life’s she’s also letting them know she’s not that proud of them. When she constantly embellishes their professions she’s telling them, “Yeah, I’m not happy with what your real career is so I’m going fib and let you know what I think you should be doing.”

 What she really needs is therapy to get to the root of the problem – why she lies? That said, as the daughter-in-law this is not your battle. It’s up to your husband, his sister and their dad to intervene.

 My best guess is that over the years they probably tried and it was such a cluster that it was easier to just make excuses and/or ignore the egregious lying.

 I’m not saying you should do nothing. I would definitely talk with your husband and his sister and urge them both to get help for their mother. I would also maybe even involve a professional in the discussion.

 What you can’t do is lead the charge. Your role should be one of support and gentle shoving to move the family in the right direction on this mental health issue.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – My Fiancé Keeps on Postponing Our Wedding

Dear Snarky,

I’m confused what is going on with my fiancé right now. He keeps on pushing back our wedding date. We were originally scheduled to get married in February of 2021 but he wanted to change it to the summer of 2021 so we wouldn’t be getting married during flu season. Now he wants to wait until 2022 to make sure everyone can get a COVID vaccine before the wedding.

I don’t get it. We had always planned to have a very small wedding so it’s not like it’s a crowd size issue thing. I also told him I was against waiting till 2022 to get married and would be open to the wedding being just the two of us so we wouldn’t have to worry about COVID but whatever option I offer up he shoots down.

My mother says I need to “read the handwriting on the wall” and break the engagement but she never liked my fiancé much so I feel her advice is not very open minded. What do you think?

Signed, 2022 Bride

Dear Bride,

I’m going to give you the exact same advice I would give my daughter. This whole marriage thing  (ahem) doesn’t look good. I say this because it certainly sounds like you fiancé is finding every reason he can to postpone your wedding.

This is when you need to quit laying in bed at night re-examining everything he says, second guessing your feelings and hemming and hawing and just ask him the hard question – Do you still want to still marry me?

If he says yes then follow up with, “Would you be up for the two of us getting married on our original February date?”

If he can’t answer this question with another enthusiastic YES and proceeds to make excuses then I think you know he’s doesn’t really want to marry you.

For sure he may like being with you, he may even love you but he does not want to make a life long commitment to you.

I suggest breaking it off with him pronto. You gain nothing but misery and disappointment staying with a man who not only doesn’t want to marry you but also doesn’t have the stones to be honest with you about his feelings and instead throws up one excuse after another. 

Hear me loud and clear on this – You. Deserve. Better.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

 

College Drop Off in the Time of Covid

It’s not the kind of text you ever want to receive. I’m talking about the angry husband text that’s disguised as the nice husband text. The key words are, “not trying to be difficult . . .”

Oh my, those words are code for, “What were you thinking?”

Worse, the text came with a picture showing a multitude of tiny screws.

Uh oh, I did mess up. It seems the desk, dresser, and headboard I ordered for the bedroom of my daughter’s new college abode had more in common with a jigsaw puzzle than actual furniture.

Ugh. It was going to take hours to put this furniture together and I wasn’t one hundred percent certain that once it was assembled that it would be sturdy enough to withstand a door slamming.

Worse, maybe this was a sign that we made a horrible decision to allow our daughter to go back to college during the COVID terror in California of all places. Maybe all those baby screws represented our hearts breaking?

I was still very conflicted over acquiescing to my youngest child’s pleas to return to school. The university didn’t exactly make it easier. I felt like I was playing a shell game. The first cup was in person school, the second was hybrid and the third was virtual. These cups have never stopped swirling the entire summer. But the fact that virtual could move to hybrid sooner than later was my daughter’s strongest selling point about why she needed to be back at school.

Just getting her (and us) out to California was DefCon 1 anxiety inducing. The worst was being on a plane. I felt like I was writing a love letter to the coronavirus. I tripled masked, wore a shield and clutched a Ziploc bag of Clorox wipes so hard my carpel tunnel’s flared.

Fortunately, the airline was not messing around. It was a mask palooza and a plane full of empty seats. When we got to California it was super locked down. Indoor dining, bars, gyms, nail salons, malls etc. were all still closed. It was also the land of a free drive thru rapid response COVID test on every corner.

As I was pondering getting a test because I always wonder if I’m asymptotic my husband sent me another text, “Why don’t we just buy real furniture? You know the kind that doesn’t come in a million pieces.”

That text was easy to answer because I went for my husband’s Achilles heel – fiscal responsibility. I wrote back, “Well, we’ve already paid for this furniture and you can’t ship it back. Besides “real” furniture would be three times the price.”

That shut down the text conversation. But it didn’t shut down my fears. It’s never easy leaving a child at college but the coronavirus has turbo charged my list of worst-case scenarios. My chest hurt and it wasn’t from COVID-19.

When I returned from Target bearing bags full of bathroom supplies I walked into my child’s college bedroom and saw my husband and daughter diligently working as a team to put her furniture together.

The scene made me smile and eased the ache in my chest. You can’t bubble wrap an emerging adult but you can let them know that you’ll always be there to help them figure out how to build furniture and their lives – no matter the number of pieces.

Dear Snarky – My Sister Is Giving Thanksgiving the Bird

Dear Snarky,

My sister has lost her ever loving mind. We’re already making plans for the holidays and it’s my sister’s turn to host Thanksgiving. Yesterday she sent out a family group text saying all of us have to get a COVID test before we can enter her home AND she would prefer the test be a rapid response taken not any earlier than the day before Thanksgiving.

She even included a link to where you can get a rapid response test. What she didn’t include is that they cost like $100 and that’s with insurance.

Her text, as you can imagine, started a whole mess. We were already going to be socially distancing for dinner. So, my other sister and I thought we had worked everything out.

Now, what should have been a nice meal has turned into family members fighting and even politics has been brought into it and that’s gotten ugly.

Is there any way we can save this Thanksgiving?

Signed, Turkey Trouble

Dear Turkey Trouble,

Slow clap for your sister. I think she’s a freaking genius. What she really wants to do is get out of  hosting Thanksgiving.

Her reasons could be multi layered. I can 100 percent understand her not wanting extended family in her home during a pandemic and I can also totally get that maybe she just doesn’t want the hassle.

I mean, come one, hosting is a lot of work. Add in the political differences in your family and the fact that Thanksgiving is a mere 23 days after the Presidential election and all I have to say is that your sister may be trying to save herself a whole lot of drama.

Perhaps instead of trying to “save” Thanksgiving you reimagine it. It sounds like no one in your family wants to go the rapid response COVID test route. So, I suggest each family does their own dinner.

You can even all eat at the same time and Zoom your meal. If you live close to one another you could drop off your favorite Thanksgiving side or dessert at each family member’s house as a way to share the experience.

Sure, it’s not a traditional big family Thanksgiving but hey, it’s 2020 and if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s learning to be flexible and open to change. The good news with this whole situation is that you’ve got more than two months to figure it out. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – A Family Member Is Pretending to Be a Teacher

Dear Snarky,

My husband’s stepsister is lying about being a teacher and I need a way to stop her. Due to a lot of schools deciding to start the school year virtual she is advertising herself as being a teacher and is offering tutoring sessions to help parents homeschool their kids.

She’s calling herself a “teacher on the go” and will even go to people’s houses for tutoring. The huge problem is this relative didn’t graduate from college. She flunked out her sophomore year.

When I called her out on this she said anyone can be a teacher. Her excuse was that parents that homeschool their children are “teachers” and she homeschooled her kids for one year so technically she has taught kids.

I told her that when she tells people she’s a teacher they’re expecting someone with an actual teaching degree. This is when she told me to shut the F up.

How can I stop her from lying to parents that I’m sure think they’re getting an actual teacher?

Signed, So Pissed Off

Dear P.O.,

Woah, this is so messed up. I’m sure every teacher reading this right now is thinking WTF? I think your first course of action is to have your husband or another family member who has a closer relationship with her to give this moron a come to Jesus talk on what she’s doing is probably illegal.

I’m not a lawyer but I think pretending to be a teacher could be construed as fraud. It’s also all kinds of horrible for her to be taking advantage and preying on worried parents during a pandemic.

When a parent sees “teacher on the go” I think you can reasonably assume they’re  thinking of someone with an education degree who is or has been an actual teacher in a classroom setting. Not someone who got bounced from college at 20 and then years later homeschooled her kids. 

Yes, I realize , it’s up to parents to do their due diligence on anyone they invite into their kid’s lives but I also agree with you that this relative needs to be stopped

If she doesn’t listen to reason then I would feel compelled to let any of her clients know that the “teacher” they’ve hired doesn’t have a degree nor has she ever stepped foot inside a classroom.

Is it a busy body move? Hell yes. But parents need to stick together especially right now.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉