Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. -Dr. Seuss

It's sad to say, but I'm suffering from a serious case of lack-of-Christmas-Spirit-itis, and it's really bumming me out. In years past, our tree would have been up on Thanksgiving, our stockings would already have been hung by the chimney with care, cookies would be baking in the oven and my disposition would be bordering on elf-like cheeriness. This year, however, I've yet to connect with my inner-Santa's-helper.

We were out of town this Thanksgiving, so the Christmas tree wasn't up on the 26th, and 10 days later, it still isn't up. I don't even know where we've got it stashed--the garage maybe?--which isn't an auspicious start for Tannenbaum 2009. I did manage to wrestle the boxes of decorations out of the attic, but haven't figured out how to get the stockings up without the girls trying to use them to clamber up the side of the chimney. And if I had my druthers, I would've started my baking by now--filling the downstairs freezer with all kinds Pat-tempting goodies--but the heating element in the oven decided to fail catastrophically Wednesday night, so there'll be no chocolate crinkles, sugar cookies or snickerdoodles 'til the new part arrives from Texas (thank you ebay!).

The biggest holiday hurdle to overcome, though, is the severe case of toddler-induced malaise from which I am currently suffering. During the past 20 months, I've heard the phrase, "You've certainly got your hands full!" approximately 73,726 times from various strangers, acquaintances and friends while out and about with The Peanuts. To this frequently encountered greeting, my response has usually been, "It's really not bad. They're great little girls!" And while I stand steadfastly by the "great little girls" part of that statement--really, I couldn't ask for two sweeter, happier, more loving little people to call me "Mama"--my hands seem fuller and fuller every day (incorrect grammar, I know, but it stays).

I have myself to blame--I lulled myself into a false sense of maternal security when the girls were teeny. Once we got past those first few months of midnight feedings and endless spit-up, I really thought I had a handle on being the mom of a duo. They ate the same things, they chewed on the same toys, they slept at the same time, they giggled at the same stories, they pooped at the same time (sorry, but it's true)--our world was a rather reliable realm of sameness and I loved it. Then they started walking.

It was a milestone I'd been dreading since they first pulled themselves into a standing position, and though they really didn't start cruising until the 15-month mark, their independence of motion jarringly marked the beginning of their independence of spirit. Suddenly, no one wanted to eat--not even the beloved combo of avocados and macaroni and cheese!--the only toy they wanted to play with was the one their sister was holding, naptime became a total crap shoot as to who would sleep and for how long, and diaper changes evolved into a part-wrestling match, part-hazmat power struggle that I now dread almost as much as mealtime.

I can hear you snickering out there, my dear mommy and daddy friends who have already been down this road, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop it right now! Don't get me wrong, I knew this was coming--I'd seen all of your kiddos go through the same thing, but in those days, I was just "Fun Aunt Erin" who could leave when the tempers and screams reached levels I couldn't handle. Now, I'm the one who has to figure out why the MagnaDoodle is pissing Evie off and how I can get Camie to eat something more than Kraft cheese singles. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I mean EXHAUSTED!!! Worse than those first few weeks home with the girls. At least back then--back in the good old days--I knew it was just a matter of time before we all found our bearings and began moving forward with purposeful stride. Today, the only stride found around these parts involves a rapid succession of breakneck steps, a stumble or two over a variety of strewn objects and an ensuing tumble that may or may not end it tears (theirs or mine).

I know I've just got to adjust to this new phase of our lives together--not expecting a rhyme or reason to their moods, doing my best to roll with the punches (figurative punches, not literal ones, 'cause we don't hit our sister!) and, above all, just trying to keep us all on an even keel. Good gravy, I don't think I could have fit another emotionally themed cliché into that last sentence if I'd tried. :-)

Maybe the holidays will get me into that new way of thinking. Watching the girls marvel at the Christmas lights, be-bop along to Jingle Bell Rock and delight in tasting the special treats enjoyed only at Christmas time (eggnog and cranberry sauce anyone?) might be just the boost my deflated psyche needs right now. I mean, what's more charming than the sight of your beautiful children on Santa's knee...

Then again, there's always Valentine's Day...


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