The First Leon: A Man Child’s Christmas

Mama’s drinking wine tonight because her third child is driving her a little bit insane. Didn’t know I had a third child, did you? You thought I only had two precocious little girls, right? Yes, in addition to them, I also have a man child.

That’s right, I have a 38-year-old man child living in my home, though, to be fair, I usually just refer to him as my husband.

What did he do to force me to reveal his true man child identity? He messed with Mama’s Christmas ornaments. Like he’s the sort of mischievous Elf on the Shelf that bored as hell creative moms have living in their house.

I bought some fun, festive LED-lit letters this week to jazz up our dining room with some Christmas spirit. I left the room for one minute. ONE MINUTE. And this is what I come back to.

He then proceeded to talk about how great it would be if we had a friend named Leon. He was dead serious.

Glass of wine poured.


Holiday Mashup

Mama’s making you feel better tonight with a good old holiday mashup. What’s a holiday mashup you may ask? My living room.

holiday mashup

The family is going to be chopping down a Christmas tree tomorrow, so my husband brought down the ornaments from the attic. Sounds like we’re pretty damn on top of shit, huh? Not if you look closely enough at this picture.

Sure, you’ll see some silver balls and leafy wreaths, but, if you look closely enough, you’ll also see some things that don’t belong.

Maybe you see a painting on the mantle with some hand prints. Those aren’t just any hand prints. Those are turkeys. That there is some old fashioned, homemade Thanksgiving decor. Not too bad. I mean, Thanksgiving was basically a week ago.

Look again. In case you were wondering, we aren’t goth. Typically, one would not enter our living room to find skull-emblazoned lacy throws hanging from the mantle. You won’t find my husband or me rocking heavy black eyeliner and Manic Panic. No, you’ll just find us on the couch consuming booze instead of taking down outdated decorations. That cloth, along with the terrifying booing pumpkin on the mirror, have been up there for a solid six weeks.

So, if you are lamenting the fact that it’s already December and you haven’t decked the halls in your house, yet – have no fear. At least your living room isn’t a holiday smorgasbord.


StoryWorth: The Perfect Holiday Gift

What do you buy someone who has everything – especially when “everything” is not hyperbole, but a literal observation of their basement? Finding the perfect holiday gift for parents, in-laws, and grandparents is one of the most daunting tasks of holiday gift shopping. My kids are insatiable gluttons who want demand everything. They’re easy. The 65 and older crowd, however? They don’t want any more “stuff” in their house.

If every knick knack you perused on Black Friday left you with nightmares of your future self tossing it in a dumpster after you shipped your folks off to the nursing home, well I’ve got the gift for you!

StoryWorth touts the tagline of “The most meaningful gift is family.” Of course that’s true. It’s also true that you’ll be kicked out of Christmas dinner (or at least gain a few dirty looks) if you arrive empty handed. Luckily for us, the perfect holiday gift is here. StoryWorth brings the gift of family to a whole new level.

How It Works

Each week, StoryWorth emails your gift recipient a question about their life. They then write or record their answer (story) which is shared with you upon completion. At the end of the year, all of the stories are bound in a keepsake book.

There are a range of questions that prompt recipients to share childhood memories or ask them about life’s moments that brought great emotion. Some questions allow the recipient to share their experiences during historical events, or even provide an opportunity to express their values and beliefs. Questions are sent to you ahead of time for vetting, and you are always given the option to select another question or even write your own.

Why It’s the Perfect Holiday Gift

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my father-in-law is the most kind and thoughtful man. Buying gifts for him is nearly impossible, as we feel that, for all he does for us, he deserves a 6-month trip to Europe. It’s safe to say that gift ain’t coming from us anytime soon, so last Father’s Day, it was a Godsend when I stumbled upon StoryWorth.

StoryWorth has taught us so much about this incredible man. We learned that his childhood in Chicago epitomized the Baby Boomer generation (there were 40 kids on his block alone). We learned that his grandfather worked his way up from office boy to Vice President of a railroad. Who doesn’t love visions of their grandfather as a mischievous boy, sneaking coal into his brother’s Christmas stocking? Most of all, we have amazing stories to share with our daughters about their beloved Papa. Even as old women, my girls will be able to read these stories, written in their dear Papa’s own words, and remember his warm heart and gentle manner. They will also get to recall his favorite joke, which I’m sure thrills him!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The one criticism I had about StoryWorth is that, as the weeks went on, I feared I’d bought a completely selfish gift. Remember when Homer Simpson bought Marge a bowling ball that had “Homer” written on it? StoryWorth is like that. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to finding one of my father-in-law’s stories in my in-box. Whether they make me laugh or cry, these stories never fail to warm my heart.

As he does, my father-in-law made me feel much better about this. He reminded me that StoryWorth allows the recipient to reminisce about the good times in their lives, reflect upon the bad, and, most of all, it allows him to share his life with his loved ones. He also loves StoryWorth as it helped him to channel his inner writer. Seriously, here’s an excerpt from his answer to the question: “What is one of the bravest things you’ve ever done and what were the consequences?”

I think people are brave throughout their lives, doing little things and big things they know are right, and doing them fearlessly. Trying new things they know they won’t be good at right away, or things that might make them look funny at first. Getting up every day, going to school, going to work, doing things you like to do and things you don’t like to do, doing what you are supposed to do to support yourself and your family, and make the world a better place. That is brave. I guess brave is an attitude you have to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences.

How lucky are my kids to call this man Papa?!

The Most Meaningful Gift

StoryWorth helped me realize that there is no more perfect holiday gift than telling someone that you love them so much that you want to know them even more. This holiday season, if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for a loved one, buy a subscription to StoryWorth. It truly is “the most meaningful gift.”

If you use the link below (or any of the StoryWorth links within this post) to order StoryWorth, I will receive a small commission. (I made it clear that, even in gift giving, I’m selfish, right?) Seriously though, please know that this is my first affiliate post. I sought them out because of how much StoryWorth has meant to my family. But if this works out, get ready for me to start schlocking things left and right!

StoryWorth: The Perfect Holiday Gift

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links earn me a small commission.

The Christmas Loser

Christmas is, if anything, a competition – one that my husband has won for the last several years.  Last year I thought I had it in the bag, but then I was informed via Etsy that the Danny Devito rubber stamp I ordered would not arrive in time for the holiday.  A Christmas Loser again.

Until this Christmas.  It was around the 22nd that I smugly proclaimed that I clearly was going to be this year’s winner.  My husband has always been a gifted gift giver (he’s never bought me anything heart-shaped, for instance). But this year, he had been plagued with sickness.

One planned trip to the store was replaced with a trip to the doctor for ear tubes (no, I’m not married to an eight-year-old, just the only grown man who has gotten tubes twice in his adult life).  On the 24th, he was struck with a stomach bug, which meant that, unless he wanted to have a “Christmas Incident” in the middle of Sephora, last-minute shopping was out of the question for him.

He lamented that he only had one thing for me and, without even opening presents, a winner was declared.  The sheer quantity of presents I had bought did not just exceed his, but they also included a membership to a sock-of-the-month club – the perfect gift for a man who a co-worker once declared was “known for his socks.” And then came Christmas morning.

I expected perfume.  I had been not-so-subtly hinting that I was in need, and, I don’t know, perfume has always seemed to me like one of those extravagances that I felt funny about buying for myself. The box under the tree, however, was all wrong.  It was too big.  Too big even for a boxed set that came with lotion.  I unwrapped the gift to find another box inside and still felt perplexed.  It was some kind of electronic device, but what was it?  I lifted the lid to discover that my husband had bought me a laptop.  The real gift came, however, when he proclaimed, “No one else is allowed to use this.  It’s just for you.  To write.”

Before you start thinking he’s too good to be true, let me share a fun fact with you. My husband brought me to see Bad Santa on our first date. 

For the nearly 15 years since college (excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth writing that sentence), the only things I’ve written are grad school papers, report card comments, emails, and texts.  As a result, there were times that I got a little too carried away in my emails.  It was as if my brain was telling me to write, that it needed to express its snarky commentary in some form.

And so my friends got lengthy dissertations about my toddler’s bout with Coxsackie virus and diatribes against “some nasty bitch” who cut me off in the grocery store parking lot.  Fascinating stuff, described in enough detail to make Dickens accuse me of being too wordy.  I often wonder if anyone has actually read one of my emails in entirety in the last decade.

For years, I toyed with the idea of a blog.  It was the kind of writing I like best – self-centered, all-about-me essay writing.  No need to  research historical events, no requirement of a creative mind.  Blogging was the avenue for your typical smug, unctuous writer who thinks other people actually give a flying fig what they have to say about anything.  I had clearly found my niche.  So, for years, I did what all great procrastinators do, I thought long and hard about it, and updated my Facebook status.

Until this Christmas.  Because with a gift like this laptop I’m writing on, and more importantly, the message that came with it, how do you not take that extra step? How do you hear that someone you love believes in you, and then use their gift to Facebook stalk and judge the profile pictures of your ex-boyfriend’s family and friends?  (For the record, I predict that this laptop will most definitely find itself down some truly remarkable Facebook wormholes).

So, even though pair number 1 of the sock-of-the-month club were clad with a jellybean design, I suppose I was technically the Christmas Loser this year.  And so it is time now to declare the official winner of Christmas 2015 – my long-suffering friends who will no longer be receiving a detailed Monday-morning discourse about my weekend trip to Target.