Holiday Drama, Trauma and Joy

Today, our last Free-for-All of the year, let's get into the holiday spirit by sharing our favorite holiday "balance" tales. The time your boss made you work Christmas Day. The year you gave yourself the present of quitting a hated job. The New Year's Eve spent finishing your application to law school. Whatever happened yesterday or your dreaded obligations for next week.

I once had to go to Mexico to work a trade show on Thanksgiving. The trip turned out to be really fun, although my relatives back home in turkey town thought "working on Thanksgiving" constituted some kind of sacrilege. It is easy to forget that Thanksgiving is an American holiday.

My worst Christmas, without a doubt, was the year my first husband and I split up. The break occurred a few days before December 25, and naturally we canceled our holiday plans together. I had no place to go, and frankly, no desire to celebrate. I holed up in my father's empty house (he was traveling with his new love). I pretended it wasn't Christmas, and promised myself the next year would be far, far better. The following day I called all my relatives and friends to tell them the marriage had imploded. So Christmas, although not joyous that year, was oddly meaningful -- the marriage was dead, but the day marked a rebirth for me.

What are your best or worst holiday stories?

Please note: On Balance is taking a timeout. This will be the last new On Balance until Wednesday, January 2 (thanks, Chitty!). However, the comments can roll in throughout the week as new holiday tales of drama, trauma and joy occur. See you in 2008!

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: Working Women Are Happy (And So Are Their Husbands) | Next: New Year's Resolutions

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I work every Christmas, and I love it (really). It removes me from the family drama (I can't recall any good Christmasses growing up). I get holiday pay (double time!). The families of patients think you're a saint for working and tell you so, and we always have a wonderful meal. Everyone working brings their specialty. You end up with more and better food than your family would ever attempt, including ethnic delicacies. And I get that warm feeling from the gratitude of those who didn't work, and got to watch their kids open presents. That's when I DO feel like a saint.

Posted by: babsy1 | December 21, 2007 7:29 AM

Being Jewish the "holidays" are much less stressful. Work quiets down for a while, the kids get a break from school with no pressure to travel and we get to spend quality family time together without worrying about shopping. That is balance!

Posted by: happydad | December 21, 2007 7:38 AM

Our son had been on dialysis since the age of 6 months. He was on the kidney transplant list. On December 22 we received a call that a kidney was available for our son who was now 2 years old. He was transplanted that day and I have never forgotten the Mother that gave the ultimate gift at the worst moment of her life. God bless her and her child.

Posted by: PSNYDER1 | December 21, 2007 8:16 AM

Easily the worst Christmas and yet, in a peculiar way, the best Christmas was when I was in Viet Nam in 1971.

Easy to figure out the worst part. But hundreds of us saw the Bob Hope show on Christmas day. That night, the wire (the guard posts around the base) was lighted up all night with different color parachute flares. These flares would hang up in the air for a few minute and someone was popping one off every few minutes. A virtual fireworks show all night.

Frieda and I extend Season's Greeting to all.

Posted by: fred | December 21, 2007 8:29 AM

I worked on a kidney transplant ward. One year a father gave a kidney to his 7 year old son a week before Christmas. When I asked the son what he wanted for Christmas he said "Nothing, my daddy has already given me my present". That was a great Christmas.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | December 21, 2007 8:36 AM

My Christmas' have been great but this year will be hard. My mom died in October and although we were not close, she is still gone. I have been running like a madwoman getting everything done and even adding to my standard lists just to keep so busy I cannot think about the fact that she is gone. Reading this blog this morning reminded me that Christmas will be hard. Well, I have the love of a great family and great friends, so I will get through it the same way I get through everything else . . . one step at a time. . . one minute after another. She loved Christmas, and I know that she would want me to make Christmas extra special this year!!

Posted by: MomTo2Kids | December 21, 2007 8:55 AM

Great stories...funny how sometimes the best moments come when you are far from home.

Yesterday was the last day of school. As part of the Winter Concert, the third and fourth grades sang Ray Charles' "What a Wonderful World." Listening to their young voices, for a few moments it was easy to forget everything bad in the world.

Now the same children (a smaller subset) are running around my living room, jumping on couches, screaming their heads off. What a Wonderful World...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 21, 2007 9:05 AM

Similar to Fred: worst Christmas was 1966. I was 7 years old; Dad was in VietNam. We went to Mass at St. James' Catholic Church in Denver, CO. We saw a soldier there, just a young kid in uniform. He was harassed out on the street afterward, called terrible things. And all I could think of was my father, and how much I missed him, and how the kinds of things being said to this kid could be said to my Father.

Remember all of those so far away this year, and be grateful for those who are home.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah (if it's still appropriate to say that), Happy Solstice, and enjoy the season.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 21, 2007 9:06 AM

Nothing really traumatic here, just learning experiences.

a. working thanksgiving and then trying to explain thanksgiving to Australians
b. trying to shop for a Christmas tree during the heat of the summer...think really stupid (same location of course). Maybe the really stupid was putting on lights during the longest days of the year
c. Comforting my grandfather after the death of his second wife. She was special to us all. Learning compassion is a good thing.
d. Waking up in Honolulu in the middle of the Christmas eve night to my brother screaming "it is snowing, it is snowing". Of course, it wasn't snowing. It was just an exceptionally full moon. That reminds me to call him right now and ask him to recheck his eyes...

Posted by: dotted_1 | December 21, 2007 9:23 AM

Oh yeah...Merry Christmas to you all!(Fred, Fredia/Freida, MN, KLB, ArmyBrat, Meesh, Fo4, Leslie, and all of you believing in practicing the art of pleasant blog conversation)

klb - I bought wasabi nuts and thought of you..dang, those packages are expensive!

Posted by: dotted_1 | December 21, 2007 9:26 AM

There was the year the kids and I all had the stomach flu. The kids were still not eating much by Christmas Day so I ordered out Chinese -- we mostly ate the white rice. I was lucky to have done my shopping well in advance so Santa made it Christmas morning but none of us were very jolly just the same.

Posted by: anne.saunders | December 21, 2007 9:30 AM

They may be expensive but they are also addictive (and worth it). I brought a can to one of my co-workers this morning. She was already eating them by 8am.
Happy Holidays to all.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | December 21, 2007 9:44 AM

Okay, this will show how different people remember different things. I was talking to my Mother a few minutes ago, and asked what her most vivid Christmas memory is. Without a second's hesitation, she said "1965. Five kids with chicken pox."

I had completely forgotten about it!

The story is that we were living at Fort Knox, and the next-door neighbor went into labor with her third on the night of December 21. Mom had agreed to watch the older two boys, who were the same age as my brother and me, for a couple of days. By the morning of December 24, it turned out that those boys had chicken pox - and so did my brother, my sister and me. Of course, when the neighbor and her new baby came home, her older two were absolutely prohibited from going home to see their new sibling - couldn't expose the new mother or baby to chicken pox. So they stayed with us until December 28 or 29. Their father brought some of their Christmas presents over, and Mom's Christmas involved taking care of the five of us with chicken pox.

Interesting how Mom remembers that so vividly, and I had completely forgotten about it. Guess that's because we had different roles in the production, huh? :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 21, 2007 9:54 AM

I've never had a bad Christmas. If you are healthy and with family and friends, then life is good.

However, I can tell you my sister's worst Christmas was the year her then husband got drunk and fell into the Christmas tree and broke a lot of her good ornaments. We got it all on tape and laugh about it now.

Posted by: Irishgirl | December 21, 2007 10:20 AM

My favorite holiday memory was an Easter: my Grandma lived for Easter, with not just an Easter egg hunt, but an Easter BASKET hunt for me. One year when I was about 7 or 8, my mom told her that we couldn't make it down. She was crushed. Then, the night before, my mom threw me in the car, and we drove the 4 hrs down, arriving right before Grandma was going to bed. I will never, ever forget the look on her face when she opened the door and saw me there. It made me feel very special to see how happy my just being there made her.

Worst Christmas was last year: we had a big almost-reunion planned on my dad's side of the family in NC, with my brothers, their kids, and even my Granny. The plan was to wake up Christmas morning, do presents at my mom's, then get in the car and drive the 6-7 hrs. Then, 3 days before, my husband got the flu, and spent two days barely able to get out of bed. On Christmas morning, he pulled himself up to go to my mom's, and vowed he was "getting better" and could go (basically, he faked it long enough to get us all in the car). So I drove us all the way down, with him horizontal and practically comatose in the front seat, and a 5-yr-old and 1-yr-old in the back. He then spent almost the entire next 5 days in our room, asleep. But at least no one got sick, and the kids got to play together, and I got to see my family.

One of the highlights of the trip was finding a Waffle House -- we knew there wouldn't be much open on Christmas Day, but my husband finally got a little hungry, and since he was so weak from not eating, I really wanted to get him some food. We saw the Waffle House sign, and I stopped, expecting the worst -- I mean, who wouldn't be in a bad mood, working for minimum wage on Christmas day? But it was like a little slice of homey happiness -- the waitresses were laughing and joking and entertaining our kids, just fussing over them the whole time and telling us how cute they were. And my husband ate an entire sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich -- his first meal in 3 days. It was really an unexpected little bit of comfort, and exactly what we needed.

Posted by: laura33 | December 21, 2007 10:57 AM

My best Christmas was after the breakup of my first marriage.

I drove to my parents with my toddler son. It wasn't an easy trip - it involved a ferry ride on rough seas. When we got there, it was just starting to snow. Seeing my son's wonderment at seeing the snow was priceless.

It was wonderful being there without my overbearing, controlling soon to be ex spouse. He had ruined every holiday for me for seven years. Just being able to relax and be at peace was absolutely the best gift ever.

Posted by: marielley | December 21, 2007 11:10 AM

Christmas 2003 moved to Richmond at the last minute from NoVA. EVERYTHING had to be imported (extra chairs from my house, wineglasses, the carving set for the roast, extra plates, cloth napkins (to satisfy my grandmother that *some* formality would be retained). Mom and I headed down around noon leaving my lab-mix at her house. We tried to get back as soon as we could but it was too long for him to be alone. He managed to rip the sweater my mom gave me before we left, the box of See's candy (a West Coast tradition that you can find in the local malls on a seasonal basis) and get into the pantry cabinet and open a box of microwave pop-corn. My mom cried when we walked back in. The best part -- and the one my mom can now laugh at was the popcorn. He managed to strategically locate several unopened packages throughout her house including under the rug (which meant he pulled it back, placed the package down and put the rug back) and behind a bookcase. The one behind the bookcase surfaced about a week later...

Posted by: tntkate | December 21, 2007 11:41 AM

Christmas 1990. I got married in October, lost my job in November (10 days before I could have qualified for disability), and then looked into my wife's eyes for the last time on Thanksgiving day. It's my last memory from my visual world before I went completely blind. Though it's a daily struggle, I've accepted the fact that I'll never see the light of day as long as I live.

But Christmas brought hope, and we were young back then. Even though both my wife and I had dropped out of college and lived in the most run-down apartment complex in Fairfax City, we still had dreams, and just as important, a great sense of humor. I remember my wife and I laughing hysterically as she drove the 13 year old Vega to church. On cold days, we had to help it up the hill by scootching in our seats to get it over the top. It was Just like the story, "The Little Engine that Could". LOL!

And then, a few days before Christmas, my wife bought a pregnancy kit. Even though the NFP charts were a textbook case and we could have spared ourselves a few bucks, the test confirmed our suspician. Positive! Yes, I was going to be a father! It was time to start preparations, though I really didn't know what to do.

That year, we bought our first 3 ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree. It's strange, I have a memory of that somewhat naked tree all lit up sitting in the corner of our apartment's tiny living room. I know I've never seen it, but its image is etched in my mind to this very day.

Posted by: DandyLion | December 21, 2007 11:48 AM

Back in 2004, we got caught in that combination of unofficial worker slow down and ice storm that snarled the airlines for a few days around the holidays.

We got to our flight on time on the 23rd, we had a flight crew, but one of the flight attendants would be over her allowed hours by 15 minutes by the time we landed, so we were not allowed to take off. NWA kept assuring us a replacement was on her way from a nearby flight...that I found out was canceled because of weather. The management were even lying to the flight crew and gate agents - I had to tell the staff that I called the info line and found out the flight was canceled!

So we got a hotel room on NWA (they tried to stiff us on that saying it was a weather thing until we pointed out that it was their staffing problem), and got tickets for a flight to our destination the next day - one that left in the late evening, which meant we were going to miss all of the Christmas festivities, since our family celebrates on Christmas Eve. We found out, though, that if we got to the airport at the crack of dawn the following day we could put ourselves on the wait list for an earlier flight, so that was our plan.

So the next morning, we got up insanely early, went to the airport, reconfirmed our boarding passes, and got ourselves on the top of the standby list for the earlier flight. We then just bummed around the airport for a while, and worked our way over to the gate for the earlier flight.

While we were there, we struck up a conversation with a couple who arrived at the gate with us about the same time. They were scheduled to be on a flight later than the one we were currently waiting for, but earlier than the one for which we had secured tickets.

The man's mother had had a minor heart attack the previous day. They had been having their holiday in Hawaii, and were working their way back home. They were on the phone with her and family all the time - she was completely stable and in the hospital mostly for observation purposes.

We checked in with them during the day (because we felt bad for them), and in the course of one of the conversations, we noted that we were at the top of the stand-by list. They told us they had only put themselves on the list a short while before, just on an idle whim. So they knew that in the off-chance there were some standby seats, they weren't going to get them.

So the plane lands and is trying to offload people...but there's a slight problem: another plane is sitting at their gate. While we're waiting for the airport to figure this out, we checked with the couple again, and they told us their mother was still doing just fine.

After 45 minutes, they got the plane moved, and we all traveled across the terminal to the new gate.

When we got to the new gate, we saw the man of the couple (who had damn-near sprinted ahead of us) angrily shaking his finger at the gate agent. It should have occurred to me then this was a bad sign.

NWA loads the plane, and then miracle of miracles, we hear them announce they have room for standby people! We gathered our things and started to head towards the desk...and then watched the couple with the ill mother breeze by us, determinedly not looking at us. Then the gate agents announce that was all the space they had, so sorry.

We harangued the gate agent, pointing out that we got to the airport at 4:30 am to put ourselves on the top of the standby list. He apologized and told us we were sure to understand...the man's mother had *died yesterday* and he needed to get home.

Now I was sympathetic to their plight, really I was. My husband and I had agreed that if their mother had actually died and there was standby room, we would see if we could give them our seats and if the airline could bump us to their flight.

But to tell such a bare-faced lie really annoyed me. No one had stopped them from checking with the airline and figuring out the earliest time you could put yourself on standby and doing we did. Because after that 45 minute gate delay, their flight was only about 2 hours after that - ours was over 8! We ended up getting a 3 month trial pass to the NW World Club and snacked and drank our way through the rest of the evening...

I was further annoyed later on when our aunt - who works for US Air - said she was checking out that flight and saw that we actually HAD been assigned those seats - they were only changed right before the plane took off.

We got to our destination eventually only losing one of our bags (a miracle considering that our luggage had been shifted around so much).

To top it off, we had to deal with my MIL's passive-aggressive anger. See, she thought that since we spent a hellish two days in an airport instead of with her, we should then extend our trip to make up our lost days. We pointed out we both had work responsibilities and the dog in the kennel, so we really couldn't do that.

So, knowing we had to get to the airport by X hour to pick up our recently arrived bag before it landed on a van to be delivered to their house (most likely AFTER our departure time), she decided to change her clothes. Three times. We just made it, thank god.

We now skew our trips to the earlier part of the holiday week (my husband insisted he needed to work up until the last minute...he later conceded he was just being anal and wanted to minimize his time back home).

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 21, 2007 11:50 AM

I'm not sure if this is a good Christmas memory or not. It's just different, and very memorable for me.

My MIL absolutely adored Christmas--it was her favorite time of the year and she loved to gather her family and large group of friends together for endless celebrations throughout the season. One year she was diagnosed with lung cancer about a week after Christmas. By the summer it was pretty clear that she wasn't going to live much longer, so on the annual beach vacation in July (which was always attended by the same large group of family and friends) we celebrated Christmas together. We had everything--the tree and party and presents and ornaments and music and food. My husband and I had just gotten married a few weeks before that, so the traditional cheesy "Our First Christmas Together" ornament came from that Christmas. My MIL lived until just after Labor Day, so we were grateful that we took the time to have that last Christmas together.

Posted by: sarahfran | December 21, 2007 11:53 AM

To date, my worst Christmas experience has been getting roped into going to Vegas on the 26th to meet up with my mother's family for a few days of merriment. I don't gamble and don't like to shop, and when you don't have your own car there's not a heck of a lot else to do there. I was also sick as a dog with something respiratory I'd picked up on the plane to my parents' house, and then I got food poisoning.

However, this Christmas looks to be worse. My father passed away in October, and this year will be just my mother and me at home for the day. We were a really tight family and it's hard to even think about that living room, with his empty lounge chair and stocking over the fireplace. But at least we're going to Vegas again on the 26th to see Mom's sister and family. I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the latter...

Posted by: northgs | December 21, 2007 11:56 AM

I usually love Christmas, but it's tough this year. Both of my parents died right before Thanksgiving. Their birthdays were the first week in December. When I was out shopping, it hit me hard: I would not be buying gifts for them this year.

I'm really going through the motions in order to make Christmas wonderful for my daughter. I am wrapping myself in her joy and excitement ("Is that a Starbuck's gift card on the tree for me? Can I have it NOW?"). We've baked cookies this week and she gave cookies to all her little friends at school. She had a holiday concert last week and a piano recital this week, and those were fun. I am really looking at the small things for inspiration...and incredibly enough, I find it there. But I must say, I am SO ready to kiss 2007 good-bye...

Posted by: pepperjade | December 21, 2007 12:21 PM

I cut out the "dreaded obligations" and am a much happier, saner person!

Posted by: MILW | December 21, 2007 12:25 PM

Christmas Eve 1981--we rushed our gasping 6-week-old second son to the emergency room, fearing that we were losing him because he was having great difficulty breathing. First son was watched by a dear neighbor, God rest her soul. Baby boy had a respiratory infection and was still too young to transfer from nasal breathing to oral breathing. The best part? Son was fine after antibiotics were administered, and the emergency doctor called us at home on Christmas Day to see how our son was doing. What a gem!

Christmas 1994--canceled a planned trip to rush home since my dad was in the hospital and not doing well. Got to his bedside at 1:00 a.m. Christmas Day and stayed until he died 36 hours later. He knew we were there and he spoke volumes to me with his eyes (as well as verbally, but his "plates" were out of his mouth and words were garbled). It was so sad, but I treasure those 36 hours with him.

Fred (talkin' 'bout my generation....), ArmyBrat, and others who served and are serving, God bless you all and thank you for your service to us all. You are true heroes and you make it possible for us to celebrate.

Posted by: lsturt | December 21, 2007 1:42 PM

I'm really hoping that this Christmas will be one of the most memorable ones for me. My daughter is three (the age of Christmas magic), and my mother is coming in Saturday night and my brother and his wife and their 1-year-old son are coming in Sunday. Christmas Eve service at the National Cathedral (yea, passes) and having my whole family around us - what could be better?

Posted by: plawrimore1 | December 21, 2007 1:51 PM

I had a lot of bad Christmases growing up (my mom would, without fail, provoke a huge blowout fight on Christmas that would usually leave us kids cringing under the tree), but they've been getting better every year since I was in my twenties.

Last year was the best -- DD had just turned 1, so she understood something special was going on. I was pregnant and thought we'd have a baby by this Christmas, and for the first time ever, we spent Christmas morning in our own home, together. It was wonderful. I'll never forget the Oooh DD let out when she came downstairs and saw the tree all lit up.

This year's shaping up to be pretty good, too. We're a little sadder (there's no new baby), but it's been really fun watching DD absorb all of the Christmas stuff. And pretty much any day I get to spend having fun with DD and DH is a good one.

Posted by: newsahm | December 21, 2007 3:34 PM

This year will be a good Christmas, because of our new baby. We are not prepared at all. Today, I went out with my husband and bought gifts for the children. I will probably give my brothers cash or giftcards with some candy treats. My mother is getting cash to spend in Atlantic City (this is truly her only vice, and she is pretty self controlled with it). All in all, I have done very little shopping, and plan to do just a little more. But to me, this Christmas is about spending time with family and introducing the baby to everyone, and not about gifts at all. In fact, with every year that goes by, I think that gifts become less and less important, and time becomes more and more precious. I just want time to nurse the baby, visit with my mother and the rest of the family, read with my son, talk to my friends, cook an occasional meal, and have sex with my husband. And somewhere in between, time to sleep a little. That is all I really want.

This year, I feel that other than time, I have everything I have ever wanted in the world. It is a wonderful feeling.

Happy Holidays to all.

Posted by: emily1965 | December 21, 2007 3:36 PM

Last Christmas was pretty good. It was our first as a married couple and the first in our first home. We hosted Christmas, and it was a blast.

This year looks good too. I just dropped off an entire carful of Christmas presents to a local family living in a motel room--a mom and her 5 children who have been through a pretty rough time. The looks on their faces was priceless. I feel very blessed this year.

Reading everyone's stories has been great. It makes me excited for all the Christmases to come, and fearful for the ones that are bound to happen. But that's life! And we're all lucky to be experiencing them with people we love.

Happy Holidays to the OnBalance crew! I'm looking forward to hearing from you next year.

Posted by: Meesh | December 21, 2007 4:23 PM

My most memorable Christmas was 1978 in Salzburg, Austria. My family was in Vienna for the year and we decided to go to Salzburg for the Holiday. Mom got a mini-tree for the hotel room, they had the Christmas Market in the main square, we listened to the Turnblase (toorn-blazeh) one evening in another square, and it was snowing much of the time.

One of the unexpected Christmases came just before DS was born. DW was on bedrest for the final trimester and we weren't expecting to be able to spend the day with any family because my sister was going home and DW's family was having the celebration where they were. Turned out an old friend of DW came over in the early afternoon with her mother and children and we had a Christmas dinner. Then, I get a call from my mother that my sister's flight was leaving that night from our local airport and they were driving her up to catch her flight. They arrived in the early evening and we had a wonderful Christmas celebration.

Can't remember any truly bad Christmases.

Posted by: WorkingDad | December 21, 2007 5:06 PM

I love Christmas too - we had nice extended-family Christmases growing up, and just as my brothers and I were growing out of childhood, new cousins would arrive, so there was always at least one little kid around for whom it was worth making the fuss and engineering the surprise. My favorite Christmas, though, was in Year 3 of my marriage - we had an 18 month old and a newborn son. So no one expected us to go anywhere, and we spent Christmas at home, just the four of us. And once the babies were abed, it was just the two of us. My husband, so solicitous, made a lovely dinner. So romantic. - Since then we've moved, the in-laws come over, there are five children (in the extended family) ages 8-11, and it's not so romantic, but still lots of fun. Blessings all around.

Posted by: kavvakumovits | December 22, 2007 4:39 AM

As Christmas approaches, we get a flood of holiday cards, at least one hundred. Many have photos of kids and newsletters or other little updates. Our friends are far flung these days, and many of the friendships are kept alive through these annual cards. One of my favorite parts of the holiday season...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 23, 2007 9:39 AM

Is anyone out there?

My Christmases are typically spent eating Chinese food and going to the movies. Last year took the older one to see Charlotte's Web, but alas, there are no G rated movies out now (we saw Mr. Magorium several weeks ago).

We got some babysitters (cousins) and are hoping for a Christmas movie this year.

Our Christmas tradition has become going to our neighbor's house (he's Jewish, she's Catholic - they own a few restaurants in town) and they have a big party every year. It's fun and right next door!

Otherwise, as usual, I'm one of the few people in the office - my husband's company gave them off today and next Monday. *sigh*.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 24, 2007 10:21 AM

Merry Christmas, everyone!

And F04, thanks for the Xmas Eve message. Added to the permanent voicemail archives...Immensely grateful you decided to stage a return.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 25, 2007 10:07 AM

Sheesh, it's looking bleak on the blog today. But I have a song of joy in my heart, the kind only there on the day after Christmas. Much as I love the holiday season and seeing Christmas through my children's eyes, I am grateful that the insanity is almost over and things will shortly return to normal. Woohoo!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 26, 2007 9:56 AM

Hi WorkingMomX!

Guess it's just you and me today...

I like your post-xmas philosophy. It's true -- it's nice to have survived another "season." We had a nice low-key xmas and the kids are enjoying their toys. Good time to rest and gear up for the new year.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 26, 2007 11:50 AM

Hello whoever's out there!
We had a low key day yesterday, my 5 YO decided he wanted to stay in his jammies all day, so whatever. DH and I went to the movies as his cousins babysat. They took the 5 YO overnight, so we took the 2 YO out for (really yummy!) chinese food last night. He was great.

Today no one's in the office! It's pretty darn quiet. I have a few things to finish up - then it's out of town next week woo woo! Excited to get away for a few days with the kids. :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 26, 2007 2:02 PM

actually this is a good week to work because it's so "lite". you can actually get stuff done and leave early.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 26, 2007 7:28 PM

Just opened a few more cards to find wonderful pictures and news from friends BE (Back East). One with cancer is doing great, a new baby is now a cute toddler, and I even got a birthday card - unusual for those of us born in December. This day is starting off great!

Posted by: babsy1 | December 27, 2007 7:15 AM

I have never understood why working on the holidays was such a big deal.

I worked for 7 years in a job where we worked every day, including holidays. We took turns splitting up Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

When we would travel to be with my in-laws I would take off, but when we stayed in town for a holiday I would work.

It was always casual dress, and my company would cater lunch for us on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We usually got sent home after lunch anyway because it was so quiet. The best part is then we'd get a comp day to use later.

I never had a problem with balancing work and holidays - we always managed to work around my work schedule and still celebrate, even though it would sometimes be a bit later in the day.

Posted by: viennamom | December 27, 2007 8:39 AM

All the adult offspring have returned to their abodes and the house is returning to normal. It is quite a strain on the household infrastructure when the population increases by 133%! The washing machine and the dishwasher ran every day.

Just not use to having 4 children home all the time!

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!


Posted by: fred | December 27, 2007 9:04 AM

Fred, having 4 kids at home, from time to time, must be a good problem, I imagine, LOL.

Happy New Year to everyone, posters, lurkers, old friends and new!

I haven't any thought more original or sincere than the one expressed before Christmas by Emily. This is my favorite excerpt:

". . . with every year that goes by, I think that gifts become less and less important, and time becomes more and more precious. I just want time to nurse the baby, visit with my mother and the rest of the family, read with my son, talk to my friends, cook an occasional meal, and have sex with my husband. And somewhere in between, time to sleep a little. That is all I really want."

Posted by: mn.188 | December 27, 2007 9:52 AM

What a house, Fred! Sounds pretty hectic. I'm sure you enjoyed it and are glad it's over, all at the same time.

It's so eerily quiet over here. Next week will be picking up again - when I'll be out of town!

Then, less than two weeks later, easing into the new year and the busy-ness, we have off for MLK day.

It's quiet around here, which is why I don't mind working around the holidays.
there's not much to do - and the people I work with are happy they can take off and I get to work...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 27, 2007 10:26 AM

All three kids have been up since 5 am. Have watched Dodge Ball (had to explain quite a few things to our five year old -- sooo inappropriate) and now in retaliation she is playing with the mouse while i type. now off to play endless rounds of fuiszball and pool until we can head outside and terrorize the neighbors ...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 27, 2007 11:58 AM

The au pair took the little one to the zoo yesterday, while the older one was at our cousin's house. I don' tknow what they did today - but the playdate for the older one was postponed til tomorrow.

I'll hopefully be home early, but we'll see. Things keep cropping up.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 27, 2007 12:51 PM

I woke up from a big, fat nap yesterday and heard the boys (5 and 10), laughing and playing downstairs. Lately, they've been at each other's throats, so my first thought was "What's going on down there?"

So I mosied on down and heard the rithmic, "Ker-chunk, poof, thunk" sound of their semi-automatic Nerf rifles they got for Christmas. Wow! They weren't shooting each other. Then I found out what the target was.

They were trying to blast the angel off the top of the Christmas tree!

The parent inside me says that everything is wrong with this scene. Everything!

But the child inside me took over and had me ROFLMAO.

My giggle muscles are sore this morning!

Posted by: DandyLion | December 28, 2007 5:52 AM

"This will be the last new On Balance until Tuesday, January 2."

January 2, 2008 is on Wednesday....

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 28, 2007 8:28 AM

Dandylion: that's a great story. There are times when we look at the boys and have to punish them, but are so impressed by their ingenuity and we'd like to laugh. So I watch my husband pretending to be angry and I can hardly keep it together.

We do like when they work together (they are only 2 and 5) but we can only foresee issues, given how smart we think they are :)

As in, it is only a matter of time before they outsmart us...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 28, 2007 11:20 AM

good catch, chitty. will fix...wednesday is the next new column.

loved the story DL.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 28, 2007 1:05 PM

"The au pair took the little one to the zoo yesterday, while the older one was at our cousin's house. I don' tknow what they did today"

What a pathetically sad statement. You don't know what they did today???? Your children should be taken away from you and you should have your ability to have children stripped away from you. YOU SICKEN ME!!! There are so many people out there who are begging to have children that they would raise and care for. And here you are. Treating your children as if they were pet rats.

Posted by: antipATRICK | December 31, 2007 12:17 PM

Oh pATRICK!!! I'm still waiting for you to get up the courage to face me. People have said you've had problems in your life. Oh so sad. So have we all. Get over it. You're not special and neither are your little problems.

Posted by: antipATRICK | December 31, 2007 12:20 PM

O, antipATRICK, you are such a jerk!

But I am sure that you have no problems in your life. (worth anyone's sympathy at any rate.)

But you are probably just as happy that ANYONE responds to you.

Posted by: nonamehere | December 31, 2007 12:59 PM

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