816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider - The ‘Oh, Joy!’ season has begun

“Oh, joy.”

Only I didn’t say, “joy.” My word choice was less family friendly. The Halloween costume that Noah had selected — and I had purchased a month ahead — no longer fit him. The pants were 3 inches too short, the sleeves hit above his wrist and the tush … well, that couldn’t have been comfortable even after a small rip gave him a little more room.

It was a mere week before Halloween and I was back to the drawing board. I was rushed, hurried and disappointed that I wouldn’t have time for my own costume, because Mom will always take a backseat to Noah trick or treating as a ... a ...

“Buddy, what do you want to be? I’ve already spent too much on this costume. We need to make something with what we already have.”

I felt like the person who waits until Christmas Eve to shop, the person who takes the frozen turkey out on Thanksgiving morning and says, “Wonder how I’m supposed to cook this? Where


the oven? Can I microwave this?”

I was making compromises that I didn’t have to make if I had only started earlier, when — in reality — I


start plenty early. The kid just had an unforeseen and exceptionally large growth spurt. Running low on time, patience and materials, I panicked.

“Get used to it,” I told myself as I looked back and forth between the ketchup bottle costume that I was crafting and the calendar. “Halloween is only the beginning of the Oh, Joy! Season.”

Maybe this is a parent thing, or a mom thing — maybe it’s just a me thing — but this time of year brings me more angst than joy. The weird part is that when I break it down, I like each of the elements: I like making a memorable holiday season for my family. I like cooking, shopping, decorating and wrapping. I like parties and caroling and wishing people happiness. I like decorating with bright and shiny ornaments. I like all of it.

I just don’t like it all crammed together in such a small space.

Halloween really was the warm-up. Décor was minimal and lots of people got by with only purchasing a couple bags of candy and opening the door a few times. As holidays go (kid growth spurt complications aside) it’s not too labor intensive.

Then comes Thanksgiving. Think of your ideal Thanksgiving: nice meal at a pretty table surrounded by people that you love. Relax, kick back and watch a football game until pie is served. Dreamy, right?

Now imagine all the planning, shopping, cooking, slicing and dicing that goes into getting it on the table. Think of the mess that demands to be cleaned. Dream becomes nightmare.

December ratchets the parenting game up to a whole new, expert level. Winter sports have begun, but we need to schedule around them


the cornucopia of Christmas programs that will flow from school like punch from a cup with a crack.

We get to plan extended family holiday events, work parties, neighborhood and friend get-togethers. There will be a party for every outside-of-school activity that our kids are in, too.

Don’t forget to make our houses fancy with all those ideas on our Pinterest boards. Bake ’til we sweat sugar and steal time to gift-wrap until we wonder if a tape dispenser implant on the back of the wrist would be a good idea.

Then, when we think the 2013 calendar is about to explode off the wall…. hang up a 2014 calendar.

We made it.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh! Joy!