Cut Yourself some Christmas Slack

It’s totally natural to want Christmas to be perfect- especially when you have kids. But sometimes we want it to be special, and perfect, and magical, so badly that we run ourselves into the ground. We run around for weeks, maybe even months, tending to every little detail at all hours of the day and night, and make what should be a merry time of year a miserable time of year. We rack ourselves with stress, guilt, and worry.

I can’t do it anymore. And I don’t want to. I want to enjoy it at least half as much as my children, and that means cutting back, and in doing so, cutting myself some slack.

 

Every year I tell myself these things. This year, I’m determined to listen.

 

STOP rearranging the ornaments. Literally no one cares about the placement being perfect except you.

You don’t HAVE to bake the cookies from scratch. Santa doesn’t give a shit if they’re homemade.

Watching UPS tracking will not make the packages arrive any faster.

The presents don’t have to be wrapped perfectly. You could toss the crap in bags and the kids would still be just as grateful.

Naughty or nice, the kids don’t need everything on their lists. They really don’t. They’ll only even play with half of it and the rest will sit collecting dust, so you CAN just pick a few things.

If their hair or clothes get messed up before photos with Santa, it will be alright. Down the line, you’ll even laugh about it.

Traditions are still traditions even if they get “messed up” or missed for a year. AND HELLO? You can always make new ones!

If you burn the turkey, or the brownies, or the pies, or all of it, it’s truly not the end of the world.

If you’re feeling unappreciated, appreciate yourself. You’re awesome. Buy yourself a gift. Merry f’ing Christmas to you from you.

 

Sit down. Just SIT DOWN. Drink some frothy egg juice or peppermint hot chocolate- whatever tickles your pickle- take a deep breath (not of the liquid, that would be very bad) and relax. You deserve to enjoy this, too. And the less stabby you are, the happier the rest of your family will be- which is a win all around if you ask me.

Posted on December 7, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

What’s NEW at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town 2017!

One question I always ask myself come Christmas season- is bearing the cold really worth going to outdoor events? When it comes to Busch Gardens Christmas Town, the answer is ALWAYS yes. And not just because they have so many warm places to hide from the icy temperatures- but because it’s worth having chilly cheeks.

Every year there’s something new, something magical, something fun. Though I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t return if they didn’t add something new each year– going to Christmas town is one of my family’s favorite holiday traditions!

What is there new to see this year, you know, outside of the amazing shows, more than 8 million lights, over 1,500 fresh cut Christmas trees, 20,000 ornaments, and 900 window candles and luminaries?

We got to Christmas Town early on Friday afternoon (I highly recommend getting there as soon as the park opens so that you can do all of the activities that don’t require the dark before the crowds show up- the hours are 2-10 on select dates through Jan 1st) and headed straight for Santa’s new workshop. It has been moved inside of Dark Kastle in Germany and I cannot tell you how AMAZING it is. You need to see it for yourself. But I can show you a few pictures (bear with me, my nice camera is broken and my phone, well… it doesn’t always cooperate in taking the best of photos)

The queue starts outside and wraps through the entirety of the inside of Dark Kastle, completely decorated from top to bottom, front to back

The line can get very long, but most of it is inside, and away from the cold. There are lists and crayons your children can use to fill out for Santa before they see him, or to write him a letter.

 

Presents, trees, and trinkets as far as the eye can see

There’s even a HUGE Santa tracker spanning an entire wall

 

Once you make it through the decked out halls, it’s time to see the big guy!

 

Another new addition, and a great way to get out of the cold and re-charge, is the Cookies & Cocoa shop. It’s in the town square near Land of the Dragons (where Santa’s workshop used to be). Here, you can grab 1/4 pound of cookies for about 2.99 (they have a big assortment!), specialty hot cocoa, and they even have cookie decorating kits so your kids can sit down in their heated seating area and decorate Christmas cookies!

Stop in to the Globe Theater in England to catch a showing of Scrooge No More, grab some holiday themed food at either Trappers in New France or the Festhaus in Germany, swing by Holiday Hills (Festa Italia) to see the brand new Rudolph’s Movie Experience- a special 12-minute movie presentation of the classic that immerses you in special effects, holiday scents, and dazzling lights.

By then, it should be dark enough to truly enjoy the lights in the park, and they are always a sight to behold (if you’re not afraid of heights, I highly recommend viewing them from the skyride, or Mach Tower)

Head to the Busch Gardens Williamsburg website for more info about hours, prices, and special events!

Posted on December 4, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

I’m Tired of Playing Santa

How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa? Was it a monumental blow to your childhood? Were you mad at your parents forever? Did it “ruin” Christmas that year?

I can’t remember the exact age, or the exact year, but I know it was early- because I had an asshole older brother who spoiled it for me. I don’t remember being mad, especially not at my parents, but it changed things- forever. It sucked the magic out of Christmas. Instead of going to my Grandma’s house and watching the spectacle of dancing Elves and sitting on Santa’s lap on Christmas Eve, I was immediately employed to BE one of the elves. It was exciting to get to help the younger cousins believe for a little longer, but it was also a bummer.

When I had my own kids, I swore that I’d do my best to make sure no one ruined this magic prematurely for them–especially not each other. I’m a full supporter of letting the magic last for as long as possible, because once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. I will forever hold to that, but…

I DIDN’T THINK IT WOULD LAST THIS LONG!

Maybe I was naive in my assumptions of just how long I’d have to keep this ruse going, but I figured by 10 years old, with a kid as perceptive as mine, I wouldn’t still have to be trying so hard. For his little brother, sure! He’s only 8. He still has trouble with the concept of girls not having penises.
Still, 10 years in (9 if you count his first Christmas where all he did was cry and shit his pants), and my obnoxiously-intelligent 10 year old still very easily believes that some random magical elf-man squeezes his ass down the chimney of every boy and girl to deliver them gifts made by tinier elves.

It means every year, I still have to go out of my way to not mention that Santa is… well, he’s me. It means every year I have to buy separate wrapping paper, separate hiding spots just in case the kids find the hiding spot for the gifts from me–EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE ALL FROM ME. It means taking them to sit on Santa’s lap and waiting in the lines and dealing with other snot-nosed kids. It means taking the time to bake cookies we think “Santa” will like, and then putting them all out with milk and trying to make sure the dogs don’t get to them, and then waiting until the kids have gone to bed for long enough to pretend to drink the milk (BECAUSE EW) before dumping it out, but only partially, because Santa never drinks ALL of it, and taking a few very careful bites out of the cookies– which I don’t even want to eat because it’s after 8pm and unlike Santa, cellulite on my ass doesn’t make me jollier. It means sneaking up my creaky ass stairs that are ONLY creaky after I’m sure the kids are sound asleep to sneak out the presents from Santa and carefully place them under the tree in front of the gifts from me because they can’t be under or behind them, that wouldn’t make sense.

I realize that some parents do this for 15 years, and I applaud you. I don’t know how you do it for so long. I’m not a great actor. I’m TIRED. This whole Santa thing is exhausting.

Now, before you click that X button in the top right corner because I sound like an ungrateful whiny Grinch, there’s always a silver lining to the exhausting all the facets of parenthood brings- even stressful Christmas exhaustion.

It’s lovely that he still lives in fear of the naughty list, and it’s great that he isn’t ruining it for his little brother because I’d have to sell him on Craigslist if he did, but his belief means more work for me. It means I get another year of them believing in magic, and the way it lights up their face when they believe Santa has visited, and all the exhausting traditions that go along with it, like cookie making. It means I have an excuse to eat those cookies after 8pm. THE CALORIESSHOULDN’T COUNT IF I’M ROLEPLAYING AS SANTA, OKAY?
It’s one more year of my kids being KIDS- magic believing, Santa loving, gullible little kids.

I guess being Santa isn’t so bad…. though I’m still mad about the calories.

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Christmas Gift Ideas for the kids They’ll love ALMOST as much as you!

Although I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, for me, it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Maybe it’s that my kids change their minds too easily, or maybe it’s that I’m just not a planner- but I haven’t even started yet. Call me a slacker. I won’t really disagree. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, though. And it certainly doesn’t mean my children have not made extensive lists. While browsing them, and the seemingly endless online sales, I had a thought. The kids have a million Legos. They have toys they never play with that they swore they’d die if they didn’t get for Christmas. This happens every. single. year. so…. why not, this year, get them things I know will come in handy? Not just for them, but for me, as a parent?

I know. It sounds selfish. Here’s the thing: I AIN’T SANTA.

Santa gives the frivolous gifts. Why should I? I realize that Christmas isn’t really the time to be 100% practical in what the children receive. I spent years bitter about the time my mom gave me a package of socks that she’d ripped into and pulled a pair out of for herself.
At the same time, if they already have everything they could want–too much of it in fact– why not be creative with their gifts this year and give them shit they can actually use. To help me.

YEAH, IT’S SNEAKY. I’m okay with that.

I’m not going full package-of-socks, here. I’m not that cruel, but why not get things that not only will the kids like, but will benefit us parents as well? Two birds, one holly-covered stone.

Here are my top suggestions, along with a few tips if you’re going to be purchasing from any OTHER list, though I don’t know why you would.

GIFT: Walkie Talkies- THEY think they’re getting a nifty communication device- able to transmit messages to friends or siblings. I like to call them- Potty Pagers. This way, you no longer have to scream at the top of your lungs from the toilet for your kids to get you a new roll while they pretend not to hear you. WE DON’T LIVE IN A MANSION, KIDS. I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE DRIP DRY.

TIP: Is there a volume switch? You’d better make damn sure there’s a volume switch, or the only setting is METALLICA. Then you’ll find yourself trying to smuggle the thing out in the middle of the night so no one catches you and living a lie for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

GIFT: Headphones- Long thought of by kids to be magical listening devices, we parents know that we can use them so we don’t have to hear whatever mind-numbingly awful/obnoxious crap our kids are watching/playing. We can also take them and use them to drown the turds out if necessary. Win/win

TIP: Will you have to sit on the floor to play with this gift with your child? There are no studies confirming that you can die from playing on the floor with your kid, but I’m pretty sure you can die from playing on the floor with your kid.

GIFT: Special cups- I know, it sounds weird. But there’s nothing more special than having your very own special cups. I have an entire set of Disney Princess mugs that I drink my coffee out of that make my days. To your kids- they’re getting something special like you. Something ONLY they get to use. But you know what it is to parents? Fucking proof that THEY are the ones who dirtied up 14 cups in a 3 hours span. NAILED’EM.

TIP: Never get your kid anything you aren’t positive that hearing 52 times in a row with no pause won’t drive you into a blind rage where you Hulk Smash everything in sight, unless of course it comes with a headphone jack, in which case, see above.

TIP: If your children ever dare complain about the gifts they receive, remind them that you have underwear older than they are and you’re not complaining.

 

If you’re gonna spend money, you might as well spend it on shit that’s not gonna make you crazier than you already are.

Posted on November 28, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

What you REALLY need to make Holiday (or ANY) Travel Bearable

I remember a time in the not-too-distant past where my family had just gotten off of our very first cruise and were starting the first leg of our journey home. We take road trips quite often, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. We got all packed in, the kids set up with their books and coloring things, and that’s when we realized we’d already watched all of the movies we’d brought with us for the portable DVD player.

Crap.

The kids would just have to rely on their books and toys, then. No biggie.

Wrong.

About two hours in to our ride home, I heard a familiar moan from the back seat. I couldn’t place it at first. I turned around and my then whatever-year-old (remember, this is the past) had turned a lovely shade of puke-green. He’d never gotten car sick in his whole life. It was too late to pull over, and we were completely unprepared. The only thing we could do was empty out a lunchbox full of snacks and just…. yeah… we let it happen. We also threw that lunchbox away in the parking lot of a roadside burger joint never to be seen again.

We have this awful habit of getting stomach viruses on the way home from trips (it’s one of the reasons we STOPPED flying)- but once he felt better and we were back in the car, he was completely fine until he picked up his books again. That’s when it hit me. The moan was the moan of “book related car-sickness”. I know it well because I have the same issue. I can’t read in a moving car. Which sucks because I love books. Which sucks because he loves books. Which really sucked because that’s all he had to do.

It wasn’t a fun trip home.

I thought to myself many times on those many silent hours “you know what would really help? If Netflix were frickin’ portable”

And as though the powers that be were listening to me–it is now! Woulda been great back then, but definitely better late than never, because guess who’s never yacked into a lunchbox on a car trip again?

This holiday season, I know many of you will be doing lots of travelling and trying to keep the kids happy and occupied. Or at the very least occupied. 23% of parents in the US say their number one concern on trips is keeping their kids entertained- you are NOT alone. So, along with the snacks, barf bags, coloring books, and motion sickness pills (look, I’m not saying you’ll need them, I’m just saying it’s better safe than having to toss the ol’ barf bag into a dumpster on the side of the road)- check out the ‘Available for Download’ menu on the Netflix app on your mobile or tablet device and browse all of the titles available to take with you whenever and wherever you want.

ARM YOURSELVES! Make someone of every age happy by stocking up on their favorites before the long car rides to the in-laws (or wherever it is the holidays may take you). And they don’t even have to wait for Christmas for this wonderful gift of Netflix. You just have to remember along with the mashed potatoes and presents to do it!

 

Here are a few suggestions for a few age groups, in case you need some inspiration!

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment