The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

I KEEP TRYING TO SING THAT SONG TO MYSELF because it helps me -if only a little bit – to squelch my inner Grinch. It just doesn't feel like Christmas is less than two weeks away.

We've put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house. Much of the shopping is done. Tacky Christmas ties and jewelry have been donned.  We've attended a couple of holiday parties.

And we've baked cookies. Which should really get me in the spirit, right? This year, we went from this


to this


in 48 short hours! And there are what, 12 more days until Christmas? At this pace, I'll need to make like six more batches of Sand Tarts! But everyone loves 'em. And we don't bake them so we can look at them, do we? (Visit my other blog, My Grandmas' Recipes, to get the recipe.)

Meanwhile, Peezer has begun a martial arts class, which he looooves, but which has me scrambling to get home early enough from work to take him on Tuesdays. Then Seth finally admitted he felt yucky enough yesterday to allow me to take him to the doctor, so I scheduled a telecommuting day around that. Not to mention, December is the busiest time for an HR professional, and I'm busy TIMES FIVE CLIENTS right now. But it sure beats unemployment!

It's a juggling act around here, people. It's all about time management.  Though sometimes I wonder if I unintentionally sabotage myself.

Last week, I picked up the Suburban from the repair shop, returned the service loaner, and had enough time to make it to pick up Peezer on time without rushing. However, I encountered a patch of stop and go traffic, and unfortunately, the guy in front of me stopped and I…. go-ed. Right into the big metal bracket on the back of his vehicle where the spare tire should have been. Normally, if it's Suburban versus Honda CRV, you'd put your money on the Burb. Not so this time:

Crumpled burb

Ugh. Well, no air bags deployed, no one was injured, the other driver was pretty nice about it, both vehicles were driveable, and the insurance process has been fine. But it's just one more thing to have to deal with at an already-busy time of year.

At least I didn't wreck the service loaner!

So now I'm zipping around town in a rented Nissan Altima. Which is actually cool, because, unlike my land yacht giant SUV, I can park an Altima in a DC garage, so I'm going to take a break from Metro and drive downtown this week. Which will probably make me appreciate my Metro commute.

Still. I've loaded Christmas music onto my smart phone so I can listen to it. I have a stack of greeting cards and four books of stamps and I'm kinda looking forward to that project. Curt's talking about cranking out another issue of our famous annual newsletter, "The Leek." 

And amid all the hustle and fuss, I've received a few reality checks. A beloved teacher at our middle school just died after a two-year battle with cancer. An older cousin went out to cut down a tree by himself and was struck and killed when it fell.  Blog-friends are facing challenges: One's facing her first Christmas without her husband, who died earlier this year. Another is in the midst of an ongoing struggle to overcome cancer. The list goes on.

My challenges seem like pure fluff when you consider all of that.

So, Deck the Halls and all that stuff. THIS is what I need right now:


THAT's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. The rest is just… fluff.


Surf and turf, baby!

LAST NIGHT I finally conducted the Great Lobster Experiment.  You don't remember? That's because I first concocted the scheme last year. You see, in 2002, I suddenly developed an intolerance to my favorite food, shrimp. Not an allergy where the throat constricts, but what I'll gently call a Violent Gastric Reaction.  Took me three tries to figure it out, but once I determined it was shrimp, and also probably scallops, I swore them off for forever. And, I reasoned, as lobster is shrimp's oversized cousin, I figured the shrimp reaction would only be maginified if I ate lobster, so I swore it off, too.

But the I got to thinking how LONG the next 40+ years would be if I could never taste the sweet, succulent meat of a lobster tail, all dripping with butter and delicious. So, I decided to take a chance. I would eat lobster one evening for dinner, in the comfort of my own home, so that if I did end up sick, I could confine myself to the bathroom at one end of the house and send everyone else to the other end, so as to mercifully spare them from the violent retching noises that were sure to ensue.

Yesterday, when I saw lobster tails on sale for $5 each at Safeway, I threw two packs into my cart and practically ran home. "Kids!" I yelled. "We're having LOBSTER TAILS for dinner!"

I steamed them up (the lobster tails, not the kids) and melted a stick of butter. Then I tucked myself into this baby:



It was every bit as delicious as I remembered. Even more so, maybe. I finished this tail, then I ate another one. Butter was dripping down my chin! Children were fighting over the last tail! There was mirth and joy and celebration and bliss! Choruses of angels sang "Hallelujah!" from the heavens!

And then, I waited. If I was going to get sick, I knew the symptoms would show themselves within a couple of hours.

But: Nothing happened. Nary a stomach cramp. Zippy nausea. Nothing unusual forced its way out of either end of my body! I slept like a baby, and this morning?  Well, let's say that all of a sudden, I'm a lot less of a cheap date than I was last week, when I was relegated to the red meat and chicken sections of the restaurant menu.

Next time the Red Hook Lobster Pound lunch truck docks near one of my clients' offices, I will brave the long line for an authentic New England lobster roll.

I can have the lobster at the kids' favorite birthday destination restaurant, Sakura!

Red Lobster? Don't mind if I do! And bring me some of those cheddar bay biscuits!

I'll still steer clear of shrimp and scallops, but look out, all you lobster tails – Mama's back.