Move over Martha Stewart
As the holiday’s fast approach, it can become a stressful couple of months for parents. Especially parents of multiples. What better way to approach the holiday hustle than with a sense of humor.
You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout; get your feet in the pie. This familiar verse—modified to the realities of the McGee household—has become my mantra as I approach another round of holidays with my wife Lisa and our 3 ½-year-old twins daughters, Katie and Sara. Fortunately, as each year goes by, there’s less crying and pouting; but enough about Lisa and me. Like most families, we’ve had our share of warm and wonderful holiday moments. However, I seem to best remember the ones that would never make a Currier and Ives print.
For instance, we were proud parents the Halloween when our 1-year-olds were finally able to walk on their tiny toddler legs up to neighbors’ doors to trick-or-treat. However, Sara overdid the personal mobility concept. For as soon as a neighbor opened the door, Sara barged right in and made herself at home—in the kitchen, dining room, or wherever looked most inviting. It was then my mission to extricate her wriggling body from the family’s dog or homemade caramel corn and explain. “Yes, honey, I know we just got here, but now we have to go.”
Katie made her Halloween reputation as a home-front hostess. When costumed kiddies held out their sacks at our door, 2 ½-year-old Katie took it as an invitation to plunder, reaching in to relieve them of their best treats. It was a toss-up who threw the bigger tantrum—the kids whose candy was swiped or Kate when she had to give it back. Lisa and I were no better. Last year when we all got back from trick–or–treating, we searched through the girls’ treat bags and began recycling the least attractive items back to the doorbell ringers. Naively, we thought our twins eating dinner in the kitchen would be oblivious to the chicanery in the dining room. Suddenly there came an independent howl from Sara, “HEEEY, Mom’s giving away our candy,” Nothing like being caught red-licorice-handed.
Sick of the holidays? Not us!
At Thanksgiving, McGee family tradition usually involved one of us being in the emergency room or otherwise disabled. Lisa was on pregnancy bed rest Thanksgiving before the twins were born, which, we like to feel, gave the kids a leg up on this quaint family custom. Last year, Lisa’s family joined us for Thanksgiving. Aunt Robbin contracted a killer flu bug as she was getting on the plane in Texas and was totally laid low by the time she arrived in Denver. Poor Robbin spent the entire five days down in our unfinished basement “guest room” and the twins only saw her from a safe distance at the top of the stairs. Weeks after everyone went home; Katie and Sara would ask if their Aunt Robbin was still down in the basement. Expecting tales of tempting turkey dinners or Indian/Pilgrim vignettes, we asked the kids what they liked best about Thanksgiving. Kate said she liked it when dad dropped the jar of honey, and Sara picked it when the garbage disposal blew up.
Obviously, our daughters think it is a fine Thanksgiving custom to confine guests in accommodations we usually reserve for our cat, to dodge food particles spewing out of the sink, and to reverently gather around the mess of glass embedded in honey on the kitchen floor.
Out of the mouths of babes
Christmas, of course, is also special. Amidst the snowflakes and silver bells, Lisa and I always look forward to the “Annual Christmas Tree Fight.” Besides the timing of putting up the tree, we wrangle over which way it should face, how it should be anchored, what the trimming should be, and where and when it will fall over.
While my wife and I were arguing last Christmas, Sara said, “You guys stop fighting.”
“We’re not fighting, I protested, “We’re discussing.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be disgusting at Christmas,” Sara replied. Can’t argue with that. Last year, we put up a novelty Santa, who boomed “Ho, ho, ho—Merry Christmas” every time the door was opened; besides fielding the toddler question, “Dad, who’s Mary Christmas?” seemingly hundreds of times, I began to find Santa’s unceasing jolliness just a bit tiresome.
By the third day, Santa had mysteriously disappeared. My guess is that he was bound and gagged by some cheerless Grinch and hidden in an upstairs closet.
But, at least we had the spiritual consolation of Christmas Eve services in our church. We thought the kids were old enough to sit in the sanctuary with us, until, at one of the most solemn, silent moments, Katie sang out loud and clear, “Mom, I’ve got to go potty!”
Granted, it wasn’t “God bless us, everyone,” but just about what we’ve come to expect from our little dickens.
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