Premature Christmas

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 8.14.13 AMIt’s taken a lot of discipline and dedication to make it to this day without giving in or being weak. Oh, how I’ve wanted to not just succumb but to throw myself in with the herd and celebrate being one of “those people.”

But, I can’t. I. Must. Stay. Strong. I’m almost to the finish line. All I need to do is gut it out for 24 more hours and I’ve done it. I’ve achieved my goal, no forget that, it’s not a goal. A goal is something you’re aiming to accomplish. What I’m talking about is so much more important than any goal. It’s about obeying your mother which you don’t approach with a half-hearted, namby pamby “I’ll try.” No, maternal obedience from an adult daughter demands, a “must do” attitude.

This steadfast compliance in the face of overwhelming temptation is why it took everything I had while buying leaf bags at Lowes to not lovingly gaze at a fresh evergreen garland with a sassy overlay of candy canes and a sprinkling of faux snow that screams Santa + Jack Frost = Best Friends Forever. You see, I was raised from a very young age to embrace one of my mother’s most fundamental edicts – thou shalt not decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

This used to be one of my mom’s easier rules to obey. Back in the day most folks didn’t even put a tree up until December Uno. It was downright weird to see anyone going full holly jolly before you could actually start opening a flap on your Advent calendar. This was primarily because everyone had “real” Christmas trees. Time travel back to the 1970’s and the fake Frasier Fir was so flammable some counties had outlawed it. Never mind that it looked almost as artificial as the facelift my great Aunt Ethel got in Guadalajara, Mexico circa 1972.

Once faux Christmas trees reached an authenticity level so acute that it could fool even the most discerning of squirrels the last remaining barrier to premature Christmas decor was breached. Now, it’s almost impossible to not I spy at least one neighbor with Christmas lights up in October. The neighbor might not have the lights on but they’re up and if I follow my mother’s rule to the letter that’s still a no, no.

I always admired my mother’s keen passion for keeping Thanksgiving as a separate event and not smooshing it together with the Christmas season so it becomes like a piece of chocolate in a s’more. You know how when you eat a s’more you get a taste of the chocolate, but it’s totally overwhelmed by the gooey, bulky show off that is a charred marshmallow. That’s exactly what she thought happened to Thanksgiving when you’re carving the turkey next to a fully flocked Christmas tree.

Growing up, especially as teenagers, my sister and I would delight in aggravating my mother by pointing out people in town who had Christmas decorations up early and to be truthful early to my mom was anytime before the first weekend in December. When a salacious marital cheating scandal happened to a prominent citizen my mom’s very pious response was, “Well, what did anyone except from that woman. She had Christmas up before you could even buy a Butterball in the grocery store. I’m telling you it speaks to character.”

When I pressed my mother for details about how exactly putting Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving was a moral defect. She looked at me like I had just asked if writing thank you notes was ever optional and responded, “You don’t skip over Thanksgiving just because something better in the form of Christmas is lurking all bright and shiny around the corner and you don’t skip out of a marriage for exactly that same reason. It would behoove you to remember that young lady.”

Remember it I did. And as much as I have always wanted to get started on putting up Christmas decorations early (because what woman with a holiday To Do list a mile long doesn’t want to start getting stuff done) I lived in fear my mother would find out and have a very dignified, and somewhat reserved, hissy fit. (Think of it as a long, drawn out, sigh of devastating disappointment.)

This year is the first Thanksgiving I’ll celebrate without my mother. She passed away in March. My sister called me and asked if I was going to start decorating early. I told her no way because I believe with all my heart my mom is still with us and she would somehow manage to express her disapproval from the great beyond.

“I feel the same way,” my sister shared. Then we both started laughing. My mother maybe gone but her Thanksgiving spirit or “Holiday Decoration Timeline” is still living large.

Hey, while we’re talking about Christmas do you know what you make a great gift? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Crisis at the Christmas Cookie Exchange

MjAxMi1kODFkYTU5MTRkNThlZTVm_50c4e6977d8afOne of my favorite things about the holidays is baking. It gives me an excuse to feast on cookie dough. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to because of the whole “raw egg can kill you” thing, but God bless Betty Crocker if that’s what sends me to the great beyond so be it. I’m one of those people who thinks that sometimes the dough if better than the finished product. I have a theory, well more of an ongoing research project, that the prettier the cookie the worse it tastes.

Take the elaborately decorated sugar cookie – not so yummy. The first clue the cookie is going to be all for show is that you can actually tell what it is. Of course, you know it’s a cookie, but I mean you can tell it’s Rudolph or Santa’s sleigh because the frosting doesn’t overwhelm the shape. This is a warning. It means the frosting is not buttercream. It’s the demon spawn of buttercream . . . royal icing.

Royal icing in the cookie world is like a beauty contestant  – all style no substance. And by substance I mean no rich, buttery, melt in your mouth, goodness. Do you know what’s in royal icing? Things like water and meringue powder. Does that say delicious to you? Of course it doesn’t, but people use it because it does nifty things like “harden”, maintains a “high gloss” and works like “cement.” Based on those descriptions you might as well spray your cookies with Extra Hold Aqua Net. I’m sure the taste would be about the same.

This is why I’m pro the less attractive sugar cookie or the cookie that would win Miss Congeniality (robust personality, but not that cute) in the baked goods beauty pageant. Because a cookie that has you wondering if it’s supposed to be shaped like a Christmas stocking or a vacuum cleaner usually means it’s got a delicious, overlay and overload of  buttercream frosting. That said, do not make the mistake, like I did, of taking Miss Congeniality cookies to a cookie exchange. Your feelings could get hurt.

What’s up with these cookie exchanges? I swear it’s like sorority rush or the NFL draft (which having been in a sorority and having watched the NFL draft I’m here to tell you both of these institutions have way more in common than you would think). You go into the party with your platters of cookies and then people select, maybe bid, on the ones they want to take home. Well, my Miss Congeniality cookie was the lonely girl sitting solo in the middle school cafeteria. There wasn’t one taker.

The real taste bud taser was that a woman who brought multi colored “cookie presents” was acting like she had just won Top Chef and guests were oohing and ahhing over her treats. How many Mistletoe Mojitos had these women consumed? Couldn’t they tell these squares were made out of Fruity Pebbles cereal and melted marshmallows? It was just a jacked up Rice Krispy Treat. Sure, Mrs. Top Chef had decorated each square to look like a present with a fondant bow, but that still didn’t excuse her hubris. She kept talking about the “flavor profile” of her cookies. Really? Fruity Pebbles cereal has a flavor profile? What is it red dye and palm oil?

This is when I kind of panicked. I felt sorry for my cookies and I wanted them to find a good home. So, I thought WWPDD (What Would the Pillsbury Doughboy Do)? I tell you what he would do. It would be not let a mighty fine sugar cookie made with the finest of ingredients get bested by freaking Fruity Pebbles. So, I went for the soft spot of any cookie exchange – caloric content.

The cookie exchange is quite the dichotomy. You have a bunch of women wearing Spanx, who work out twice a day and have either just finished a juice cleanse or are about to start one surrounded by their mortal enemies – carbohydrates and sucrose. So, I shared that my cookies were more energy bars than desserts. (People will eat an energy bar that has as many calories as a Snicker as long as they think it’s full of “good carbs.”) Then I backed up that claim with more fabrications. I might have casually mentioned that protein powder was mixed in with the flour and that a flax and sesame seed oil reduction replaced most of the butter.

Before you could say Merry Christmas women were putting down those Fruity Pebbles squares and going for my Miss Congenialities. Was it wrong of me to lie? Of course, but it’s the holidays and my gift to everyone was guilt free eating. Sorry, but I can’t feel bad about that – ever.

 

 

 

Globe of Gratitude Anyone?

il_570xN.288494957I know a lot has been written about the Elf on the Shelf. Pro and con, hate and love, who cares? What I want to do is, using the elf as my template, conjure up the next big toy/ parenting insanity combo.

I’ve done my research (I Googled) and hello, this elf thing is only ten years old! A decade is all it took for elf mania to sweep the country. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that a plastic elf is kicking Merry Old St. Nick to the curb. Yeah, that’s right Santa Claus, a multi-century old tradition of giving, is being usurped by an 4 inch toy with it’s own “Claus Couture” clothing line!

And not just usurped, but I fear brave readers that the shelf elf is on its way to becoming a religion. Okay, relax. I’ll concede (just so I don’t get ecclesiastical themed hate emails) that calling it a religion maybe overstating things, but for sure it has become a lifestyle choice and, as we all know, for many people that’s pretty much the same thing.

So let’s take this knowledge and get to work.

The good news, I, from my own experience of spending many, many, hours sitting in school drop off and pick up lanes, know that a lot of parents are idiots. I’m not just basing this on their lack of skill when it comes to following the proper rules and procedures for the whole kid exiting your car thing. I’m also using the visual inventory of what kids are wearing and holding as they disembark from their parent’s vehicles as another measurement of stupidity. Let’s be real here. When a six-year-old has a iPhone 6, a $100 backpack, and boots that cost twice that it doesn’t take a behavioral economist to ascertain that as parents we are not just stooges, but also highly susceptible to the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” peer pressure. In the history of mankind has there ever been a better time to market something ridiculous to moms and dads? I think not.

This means it’s go time for the next lame, yet exceedingly popular, holiday toy/cult. To achieve elf like success I’ve selected two areas of focus. One, it has to create a lot of work for the parents so complaining about the toy becomes almost a hobby. Second, and this is the big one, it has to be something that speaks to a certain breed of parents’ psychological need to compete via social media. I believe if the elf came out pre Internet it wouldn’t have had a chance. Yeah, maybe it would be a so, so holiday book, but it wouldn’t be out there kicking Claus kiester. This whole elf phenomena didn’t take off until parents began flocking to social media to show off what their elf was doing. It was then that he race was on. Not only are there cutesy, G rated elf photos, but now you can even find Elf on the Shelf porn which I believe is the universal sign of marketing success.

I have a few ideas, none of them great. The one I think has the most potential is the “Globe of Gratitude” nicknamed “GOG”. It would be a plush, stuffed, circular toy that looks like earth and starting on Thanksgiving parents would take out the globe and pass it to their children as they share what they’re thankful for. Then each night until the New Year parents hide the globe and when their kids find it every morning there’s a small present thanking them for being grateful. This could be big.  It checks off the areas of focus and them some!

Let’s break it down. It’s got the work thing covered. Imagine the hassle and expense of having to buy and wrap little presents for your kids from Thanksgiving to December 31. I can already see parents madly tweeting about being so “tired from all the Globe present shopping” (#globegifting, #gog, #gotgog?) and Pinterest pages popping up offering “quick and cute” globe gift ideas, cookie recipes and party themes. (Followed by Pottery Barn Kid’s debuting their Gratitude Globe sheet set and flannel duvet cover.) But hang on, that’s just the beginning of the social media onslaught.

You know how people LOVE to do humblebrag gratitude posts? Well, imagine all the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram competitive postings from parents sharing their kids’ precious and precocious  globe gratitudes every, single day! Forget about Kim Kardashian’s assets this would be the thing that would break the Internet.

Well, now I’ve just got myself really excited. Anyone ready to help me with this? I’ve got a $50 Southwest Airlines coupon. Toy Show here I (we) come!

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

Christmas Confessions of a Weary Mother

ae36562c66fad2ff246db4fd78613f0fIf you want to suck the air right out of room casually mention anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas that you find the holiday season less than magical. As people are gasping for oxygen, quickly add that this doesn’t mean you don’t totally embrace the religious significance of 12/25 (this will aid in getting folks breathing again). As they’re furiously inhaling use this time to further explain that you find conquering your Christmas To Do list about as much fun as smooshing your noncompliant ab flab into Spanx. As soon as you finish this sentence watch as people flee from you in fear that your anti holly, jolly, holiday spirit might be contagious.

This is because confessing that you consider Christmas a month of hard labor is number two on the Top 10 List of Things No Mother is Ever Allowed to Divulge. This is not to say; I don’t find moments of Christmas enchanting and life affirming. What I don’t find so captivating is the 21st Century pressure to create a perfect Christmas. Did my mother and her generation feel this compulsion? No. We need to look no further then the average Christmas in 1975. Using my family as an exemplar let’s survey the facts. There was one tree, one single room festooned in evergreen finery, some outside lights strung so haphazardly by my dad, that my mother informed the neighbors it was “avant garde.” The only Christmas craft I did was shove cloves into an orange to hang in my great aunt’s closet and the presents were purchased from Sears. Meanwhile, family bonding occurred when I helped my grandma make all the Christmas cookies, marveling at how she could chain smoke a pack of Virginia Slims and, yet, not get a single ash in the gingerbread dough.

Now, compare that to the current lunacy mothers have wrapped themselves up in. I’d like to blame social media for turning Christmas into a competition or at least creating a social class of holiday underachievers but first we need to look back further, pre Pinterest, and there you’ll find ground zero for Christmas crazy, Family Fun magazine. Yep, this is where it all started. The out-of-control crafting, artisanal winter parties for children featuring an albino Rudolph made from goat cheese, pre-macerated by the molars of Malta monks, with an heirloom sun-dried tomato nose. Add in decorating your fireplace mantel with snow that’s actually hand loomed, pet dander and you have the birth of holiday insanity.

The saving grace of all this nonsense (not that I don’t think a goat cheese Rudolph doesn’t sound delish) is that a decade ago mothers could still fib about their Christmas creations. As in, “Oh yeah, for sure, the kids and I are going to start harvesting pet dander this weekend.” Today, that won’t pass muster. Oh no, in 2014, everyone is living in the show me state. You just can’t say you did something you have to produce a pictorial with catchy sayings and enhanced graphics.

All any of this has done is create Tis the Season to Be One Upping. Case in point, I don’t know of a single person who just puts up one Christmas tree. We’re in the middle of a hard-core, tree-palooza. Go to anyone’s house and there’s a tree in the living room, another in the kitchen, a ski lodge inspired evergreen in the den and a personalized, themed tree for each child’s bedroom. (And to my friend with a tree in her downstairs half bath please note I’m considering staging an intervention.) I’m exhausted just thinking about all the decorating, never mind the backbreaking labor of taking it all down, packing it away and hauling the boxes to the basement.

And it’s not just the decorating. It’s the parties. Am I the only one who ponders the fact that genteel hospitality maybe dead? R.I.P. going to a holiday party where you’re only required to bring yourself (and a little something for you hosts). Now it’s cookie exchanges, gift card tree swaps, and the worst, the very worst, the office Secret Santa because that’s just what you need on your To Do list – buy presents for a co-worker whose name you have trouble remembering.

None of this even compares to the holiday time suck that is the Elf of the Shelf. Okay, folks, I don’t claim to have the best connection to the big guy surfing the celestial byways on the fluffiest of cumulus cloud BUT I’m thinking while He might be okay with sharing his birthday with Santa this whole shady shelf elf is a no–can-do.

Did you know the phrase Elf on the Shelf, when translated from the obscure, native, North Pole language of Ydnac Enac, means More Work for Mothers? How many times have weary, almost to the point of tears, moms finally laid down their heads to go to sleep and just as they’re about to float off to the land of blissful slumber they are jerked awake by remembering they didn’t move that freaking elf? And, oh no, you just can’t move the blasted thing, to say, the dining room. You have to create an elf tableau so impressive that your Instagram picture has the potential to go viral and get you on the Today Show.

The stress from maintaining a 30-day alternate hobgoblin holiday universe is manifesting into a new disorder called elfinsomnia. This ailment is currently linked to being responsible for two out of three maternal meltdowns in the Target checkout line during the month of December.

I swear to you, even with all my grousing, I still hear the bell. You know the one from The Polar Express where if you truly believe the bell still rings for you. Except, I’m afraid it’s the alarm on my cell phone telling me it’s time for my anti-anxiety meds. On a positive note, at least, they’re red and green.

Merry Christmas!

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

Dear Snarky – My Daughter is Being Excluded Because I Don’t Believe in the Elf on the Shelf

b9787fff692e72467ad4fb95e3a7078bDear Snarky,

 I’m hurt, upset and really angry. My 6-year-old daughter wasn’t invited to her best friend’s Christmas party because get this – I don’t believe in the Elf on the Shelf. That’s right, because I, as a mother, have chosen to not doing the Elf thing, my child gets to be excluded from a party because there are going to be elf crafts etc.

 Any suggestions how to control my anger would be appreciated.

 Signed, Elf Hater

Dear Elf Hater,

Someone help me out here. Has the Elf on the Shelf drop kicked Santa Claus to the curb? Because spoiler alert here Santa’s the one who brings you all those presents. That said, the good news is your 6-year-old will get over it. In fact, I’m sure she’s already over it.

As for your fury go ahead and wallow it, stomp your feet, have a glass or bottle of wine and get it out of your system. You have every right to be momentarily ticked off about the IQ level of a mother who would exclude her daughter’s best friend based on whether or not her family embraced the nightly theatrical production that is the Elf on the Shelf.

I know some moms are going to argue with me that the Elf Mom had every right to not invite the little girl who comes from a family of non elfers. Their main point will be that you wouldn’t invite a child to a Santa Claus party if the kid didn’t believe in Santa.

Yeah, let me just tell you that argument is beyond lame (and just for the record I would invite any and all kids to a Santa party). The Elf on the Shelf isn’t based on a centuries old tradition of giving. It’s from a 2005 children’s book. So, I think advantage me on this one. And more importantly, in the spirit of this amazing time of year why would an alleged grown woman go out of her way to exclude a child?

Take a tip from this seasoned mother – you can’t go wrong being nice especially not at Christmas. Now, let’s all bring it in for a group hug.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page (click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog).

P.S. You are going to have to re-like Snarky on FB since my site got hacked. Thanks!

A Very Snarky Christmas

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One of my favorite things about the holidays is baking. It gives me an excuse to feast on cookie dough. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to because of the whole “raw egg can kill you” thing, but God bless Betty Crocker if that’s what sends me to the great beyond so be it. I’m one of those people who thinks that sometimes the dough if better than the finished product. I have a theory, well more of an ongoing research project, that the prettier the cookie the worse it tastes.

Take the elaborately decorated sugar cookie – not so yummy. The first clue the cookie is going to be all for show is that you can actually tell what it is. Of course, you know it’s a cookie, but I mean you can tell it’s Rudolph or Santa’s sleigh because the frosting doesn’t overwhelm the shape. This is a warning. It means the frosting is not buttercream. It’s the demon spawn of buttercream . . . royal icing.

Royal icing in the cookie world is like a beauty contestant  – all style no substance. And by substance I mean no rich, buttery, melt in your mouth, goodness. Do you know what’s in royal icing? Things like water and meringue powder. Does that say delicious to you? Of course it doesn’t, but people use it because it does nifty things like “harden”, maintains a “high gloss” and works like “cement.” Based on those descriptions you might as well spray your cookies with Extra Hold Aqua Net. I’m sure the taste would be about the same.

This is why I’m pro the less attractive sugar cookie or the cookie that would win Miss Congeniality (robust personality, but not that cute) in the baked goods beauty pageant. Because a cookie that has you wondering if it’s supposed to be shaped like a Christmas stocking or a vacuum cleaner usually means it’s got a delicious, overlay and overload of  buttercream frosting. That said, do not make the mistake, like I did, of taking Miss Congeniality cookies to a cookie exchange. Your feelings could get hurt.

What’s up with these cookie exchanges? I swear it’s like sorority rush or the NFL draft (which having been in a sorority and having watched the NFL draft I’m here to tell you both of these institutions have way more in common than you would think). You go into the party with your platters of cookies and then people select, maybe bid, on the ones they want to take home. Well, my Miss Congeniality cookie was the lonely girl sitting solo in the middle school cafeteria. There wasn’t one taker.

The real taste bud taser was that a woman who brought multi colored “cookie presents” was acting like she had just won Top Chef and guests were oohing and ahhing over her treats. How many Mistletoe Mojitos had these women consumed? Couldn’t they tell these squares were made out of Fruity Pebbles cereal and melted marshmallows? It was just a jacked up Rice Krispy Treat. Sure, Mrs. Top Chef had decorated each square to look like a present with a fondant bow, but that still didn’t excuse her hubris. She kept talking about the “flavor profile” of her cookies. Really? Fruity Pebbles cereal has a flavor profile? What is it red dye and palm oil?

This is when I kind of panicked. I felt sorry for my cookies and I wanted them to find a good home. So, I thought WWPDD (What Would the Pillsbury Doughboy Do)? I tell you what he would do. It would be not let a mighty fine sugar cookie made with the finest of ingredients get bested by freaking Fruity Pebbles. So, I went for the soft spot of any cookie exchange – caloric content.

The cookie exchange is quite the dichotomy. You have a bunch of women wearing Spanx, who work out twice a day and have either just finished a juice cleanse or are about to start one surrounded by their mortal enemies – carbohydrates and sucrose. So, I shared that my cookies were more energy bars than desserts. (People will eat an energy bar that has as many calories as a Snicker as long as they think it’s full of “good carbs.”) Then I backed up that claim with more fabrications. I might have casually mentioned that protein powder was mixed in with the flour and that a flax and sesame seed oil reduction replaced most of the butter.

Before you could say Merry Christmas women were putting down those Fruity Pebbles squares and going for my Miss Congenialities. Was it wrong of me to lie? Of course, but it’s the holidays and my gift to everyone was guilt free eating. Sorry, but I can’t feel bad about that – ever.

There’s more Snarky coming your way in book form!  (Two books to be exact.) Come on, admit it, your holidays would be so much better with a heaping helping of Snarky. And because I adore you so very much all you need to do is just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

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If Loving Santa is Wrong Then I Don’t Want to be Right

I love Sasanta1nta Claus. He’s my kind of guy. Chunky, yet self-assured. A lover of Coca Cola products. Jolly, outgoing and immensely kind – making him a perfect foil to my less than positive demeanor.

He has a flair for fashion. Could anyone else work that vintage Nordic leisure suit look as well as Mr. Claus? The white fur, the big belt buckle, those boots. He’s got it going on, plus not many people can pull off that shade of red.

His financial acumen is world-class. Just look how long he’s been in business. He’s run an amazing, magical toy operation for centuries and his overnight delivery system is still the gold standard. If he ever gets tired of the Mrs. I could be persuaded to make myself available.

Living on the North Pole would be a dream come true. I’d never, ever, have to put on a swimsuit or even expose my lower limbs and my arm flab wouldn’t see the light of day. I’d be wrapped head to toe in woolens and blankets. Think of the money I’d save on waxing – uni-brow, mustache, the rouge chin hair, all acceptable in the North Pole. I have it on good authority the North Poleans call all that excess hair ”facial warming follicles.” Paradise, I tell you, paradise.

My great love for Santa leads to a flurry of mixed emotions this time of year. I’m excited about preparing for his arrival, but I’m also exhausting myself defending his reputation and ensuring that the population-at-large is adhering to St. Nick’s high standards. Seriously, I’m two issues behind on my Us magazine reading.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a whole lot of Santa Slackers out there. If that isn’t bad enough I’m having to do battle with the Santa Slayers. Thank goodness for Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread Men and sugar cookie dough washed down with a Diet Coke chaser. If it weren’t for my high-octane carb and refined white sugar diet I doubt I would have enough energy to do what I do best this time of year – kicking some serious butt for Santa.

The one group that is really trying my patience and zapping a whole lot of my zest for the season are the Santa Slayers. These are the people who say Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Please note, if you don’t celebrate Christmas because you are of another faith. God bless, high-five your higher power etc. Also, if you do celebrate Christmas, but chose not to believe in Santa that is, indeed, your own personal business. What I’m talking about are the families that do celebrate Christmas, do not celebrate Santa and go around telling other people, specifically children, that Santa Claus does not exist. My holiday greeting for you – Shut Up!

When my son was in kindergarten I got my first up close and personal look at the Santa Slayers. It was the winter party and some children were excitedly talking about what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas. Another girl in the class sashays over and tells the kids (in what can best be described as the haughty, bitchy vocal tones of an under nourished 50 something Park Avenue social matron who has just found Jesus being channeled through the body of a 5-year-old), “Santa Claus doesn’t exist! Your mom and dad are liars that don’t believe in the Bible.”

I loudly gasped and sprinted over to do damage control while wearing my Santa hat, jingle bell bracelet, and battery operating glowing Rudolph nose. Another mom beats me to the table. She was the Santa Slayers mother. “Good, ”I thought she’ll take care of the problem. But, nooooo, she puts her arm around her daughter and says in a similar haughty fashion, “Yes, Santa is all made up by people who aren’t good enough to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.”

By this time two kids had tears running down their faces. I quickly blurt out, “different families believe different things and I know at our house we believe in Santa Claus.”

The other mom looks at me and shakes her head in disgust and does that very annoying tsk, tsk, thing. (Really, who tsk tsk, anymore? Even my mother stopped tsk, tsking, a good 20 years ago.) I look at her, shake my jingle bell bracelet in her face, and say, “Perhaps we should we take this outside?”

She quips back a curt, “Let’s.”

Out in the hall we go where I don’t even get the first word in (that almost never happens). Santa Slayer Sr. attempts to get all theological/psychological on me and explains how it’s anti-Christian to believe in Santa Claus AND throws in that I’m doing long-term damage to my child’s psyche.

This is where I had to tell her to shove it and confess that I’m madly in love with Santa Claus, possibly romantically, we’re both currently exploring our options. I added that I consider him a de facto member of my family and to please not forget he’s a saint. That shut her up for about two seconds. Her rebuttal was that you couldn’t believe in Santa and Jesus. I asked the biblical scholar where does it say that in the Old or New Testament?

She didn’t have a quick retort so I went in for the kill by leaning in uncomfortably close to her. Speaking in my version of a sexy voice, that unfortunately sounded like I had just chugged a Quaalude and cough syrup smoothie, I rasp, “Santa is super awesome. Don’t knock the big guy till you tried him.”

To really up the gross out factor I took my tongue and did a disgusting yet kind of sensual licking of my upper lip.  She shrieked and took off running down the hall, never to return to the kindergarten party. Oh yeah, that’s right, I taught her not to mess with my Santa.

Just to make sure she never forgets Mr. Red Suit & Black Boots every year I send her the most irritating Santa card I can find (even though I’ve moved three times since the incident). This year I found a great one at Hallmark. You open the card and Santa says “Ho, ho, ho Merry Christmas!” The bonus is that  the “ho, ho, ho” goes on for about three minutes even with the card closed. Awesomeness!

Almost as aggravating at the Santa Slayers are the Santa Snobs. Both groups are related by their deep-seated prejudiced against my chubby love bug. The Santa Snobs are the “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” Keep Christ in Christmas” do gooders. Yes, we all know Christmas is about Christ. Duh, it’s called Christmas.

I’m a believer in that we, as humans with fully functioning frontal lobes, have the brain capacity to multi-task and celebrate primarily, the birth of Christ and secondarily, the arrival of Santa Claus. My decision to include Santa into the holiday mix doesn’t make me a bad person nor does it make you a better person than me because you have a Santa free Christmas.

Yes, I know what you’re going for. You, by scolding others for their enjoyment of Santa, feel superior and infinity more pious. Oh and please, I’m down on my knees begging you, to quit pointing out that Santa can be word scrambled to spell Satan. As I’ve mentioned earlier I have a personal relationship with Santa and in no way does he have hoofs, horns, a tail or carry a pitchfork. He’s more of an extra-large Pillsbury Doughboy kind of guy.

I do have to give the Santa Snobs some props.  The whole only three gifts at Christmas thing because the wise-men brought Jesus three gifts – brilliant!  Think of the financial and not to mention the time savings with only three gifts to buy per family member (you don’t even have to get stocking stuffers) thus leaving you more hours in the day to enjoy your very merry sanctimonious holiday.

The absolute worst abuse that Santa suffers this time of year comes from his evil twin – the Secret Santa. Mr. Claus has no desire for his good name and legendary reputation to be soiled by the lackluster work of the Secret Santa. One of my life goals is to eradicate the Secret Santa practice from the face of the earth.

Presently, my two kids each have two Secret Santa week-long gift drops and my husband also has a Secret Santa, but his last two freaking weeks. Doing the gift math that means that I’m responsible for buying 30 “little” gifts and five bigger “reveal” gifts. Now, factor in the time spent shopping for the presents, multiply that by the cost of each gift and you come up with the total spent on Secret Santa presents coming in very conservatively at $250.00. Yikes and yuck!

Also, in the grand cosmic design of the whole Secret Santa universe the person who gives really good Secret Santa presents always and I mean always gets the lamest Secret Santa gifts in return. You know what Santa really wants us to do? He wants every group that does a Secret Santa to stop, drop and roll that greedy gift idea right to the nearest trash can and donate to the charity of their choice instead.

While we’re kicking Secret Santa to curb I suggest that the Santa Slackers also be deposited in the trash. I’m talking about some of the men and women who don the Santa uniform and go forth into our shopping malls and other retail establishments as stand-ins, helpers, and assistants for the Big S.C. I have no problem with the worthy individuals who take their responsibility as “Santa Lite” seriously and exercise great pride in their work. I take issue with the faux Santas that are phoning it in.

A couple of pointers that need to be included in every Santa’s employee manual.

1) Santa should not have body odor. He should only smell like peppermint, candy cane or other Christmas scents. I suggest a liberal spritzing of Febreze Holiday spray before reporting to work and peppermint altoids should be di rigueur.

2) Santa’s beard should not showcase what he just had for lunch. A pristine, snow-white beard is required at all times. (P.S. The white beard is going to make your teeth look super yellow which means it Crest Whitening Strips time for you.)

3) Work on that ho, ho, ho. It needs to be robust and friendly. A bad one can really creep the kids and the moms out.

4) Make sure your red suit is suitably rotund. No one likes a skinny Santa.  He’s immortal and not worried about his LDL cholesterol or chest pains so plump that big boy up.

5) Bring the magic. Don’t let the real Santa down or you will find yourself eternally on that naughty list or perhaps worse, me, in your face, complaining because I believe baby, I believe!

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 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.