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After what seemed like the 393rd time of yelling at my sixth grader, "Come on! Move it! You got to get out the door!" I must admit I am kind of looking forward to Christmas and winter break. It gets old. Every morning trying to get the boys off to school is one challenge after another. My first grader isn’t so bad, except he does get mad when I don’t wake him up at exactly 7 a.m. But the sixth grader, woo, I tell you, some mornings feel like I’m trying to extract an atom from a very small molecule.

It took me awhile to get into the Christmas spirit this year. There’s something about 50 degree sunny days that doesn’t exactly scream, "Christmas is just around the corner!" I've never been one to get a jump on the holiday, but a string of nice weather doesn't get me there any faster. Sure, I know some people who have their cards addressed and stamped the day after Thanksgiving, the tree up, and all the presents bought and neatly wrapped. That’s just not me.

I finally ordered my first batch of presents on about the 10th of December. I’m still struggling to figure out what to get a few key people in my life and I hope that I have some sort of epiphany before I can’t get free shipping in order to get stuff delivered in time.

Oh, and the tree. Yeah, you know you are way behind the game when your kids have to ask, "Are we having a tree this year?" To which, of course, my response was, "You ever heard of the twelve days of Christmas? We have to wait to put it up until there are twelve days to Christmas." Never mind it was already twelve days before, but I was able to fudge it a bit and put it off until the 13th.

Between working, activities, and other distractions, the thought of Christmas and the looming winter break has not exactly been a priority.

But then, last night as I brought up the boxes from the basement for decorating the house, my youngest son's eyes lit up. "Do we get to put up the decorations now?" "Yep, as soon as dad gets home with the tree, we’re going to be good to go." We started unpacking the boxes and amidst the chaos that ensued in my living room, was my son wondrously commenting, "This is all so beautiful! Oh the memories! Where's the cow that moos 'tis the Season to be Jolly?" The joy on his face at that once a year moment when you uncover everything that's been boxed up for about a year, brought me a little closer to the Christmas spirit.

And then, I got into full swing this morning as I madly tried to get the older one up and out. I found myself singing, "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…" as I shoved him out the door to get to school.

Then it hit me. Christmas vacation starts in exactly one week. Ugh. Oh boy. 

It’s not that I don’t love being around my kids. They are funny, silly, and engaging when they want to be. And, I’m about to have two full weeks where I don’t have to spend half my morning pulling the almost 12-year-old out of bed. But there’s something about winter break that really doesn’t seem like much of a vacation at all. I glance at the 10 day forecast, and sense we will be spending a lot of time in the house for the two-week "vacation" period.

It will go something like this… On about the 23rd, one of them will remember something that they really wanted for Christmas. And I'll be thinking, "Sorry kid, the shopping ended about three days ago." And then, like kids do, they'll talk incessantly for the next two days about how much they want that one thing that wasn't on their list. I suppose it’s the power of positive thinking that if they say it enough it will magically appear. Then Christmas morning will come, they'll open the presents and excitement will ensue until the moment later on in the day they realize that one thing was missing. I’ll remind them their birthday is coming, so maybe they can ask for it then. Then I’ll feel bad that I’m such a lazy bum that I didn’t go out with all the other crazed last minute shoppers to get that one thing.

Then the "vacation" really starts on the morning of the 26th where they'll fight about who gets to use the computer/game system/TV/etc. And then the boredom sets in. And that goes something like this… Let's get this straight, yes, we do have food. No, it's not true that there is nothing to eat. Some of the food is actually good. I don't care if you are bored. There are five million things to do around the house (and not one of those things is to bug me about how bored you are.) If you are so bored, go clean your room. No, we are not going to Target/GameStop/enter retail establishment here. I don't know what's for dinner. No I haven't seen that toy that you haven't thought about in almost a year. Yes, I'm sure (well, maybe) that I didn't throw it away. When I say no it means no. Do not touch your brother. I don't care if he looked at you. Please be nice. Yes, I know it is bitter cold, but you can stay outside for longer than 13 minutes.

On Monday morning when they finally return to school, they’ll complain about going back and how nice it was to be home for two weeks. And I’ll be thinking, "Great. Get your bottom out the door. Mom needs a real vacation."

Hmm, maybe I need to retrace my steps to that moment this morning when I was feeling positive about Christmas. I think I'll pour myself a cup of coffee, pull out a shaky globe, sit by the tree and just be glad I have a family to spend it with.

Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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