In both 2012 and 2013, snowstorms cancelled the last day of classes leading into the year’s winter break. Except for a brief return Monday (for Northeast students) Mother Nature gifted mine and yours with a couple of extra days this week. If we ever needed it confirmed, this week did so: Mother Nature is no mother.

If she were, she’d have known these kids needed to be back in school. NOW. Already a long break from classes (Dec. 20-Jan. 4), my two were ready to be back at it. Admittedly, I much prefer extra days on the back end of break vs. Decembers 2012 and 2013 when that last day before winter break, with all of its scrambling to finish shopping and baking and cleaning before the kids are released, were foiled by “Mother” Nature. Pfft!

holiday goofballsThis year’s break wasn’t the easiest as one person to whom I shall refer as “Sullen Boy,” clearly missed the memo about holiday cheer. All Sullen Boy wanted for Christmas was a go-cart. All Sullen Boy’s sister wanted for Christmas was for her brother to get a go-cart. All Sullen Boy’s parents wanted for Christmas was for Sullen Boy and company to stop with the go-cart already!

Over dinner one night in early December, we told Sullen Boy and his sister there would be no go-cart under the tree. And we’d already let the Big Guy know as well. Our reason was simple: Marty and I didn’t know what the heck to look for, where to look for it, and couldn’t he just wish for something easily found on Amazon?!!!

Except for the occasional “I don’t care, Christmas is gonna suck,” Sullen Boy held it together during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Aside from his regular sulking over the knowledge of no go-cart, I suspect the child needed a quality dose of Vitamin D. And here we can blame “Mother” Nature, again. Gray skies and fog? In December? Seriously?! Sullen Boy’s lucky he didn’t find a full-spectrum energy lamp under the tree!

Up until Christmas Eve, it appeared Sullen Boy had come to accept there would be no go-cart on Christmas morning. Marty and I weren’t saying, “Never,” but rather, “Not now.”

And we thought he understood, that he was ok with that, that someday, maybe even in February when he turned 12, his dreamed-for go-cart would appear. Then, while having chili at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve, Sullen Boy dropped the bomb: “If I don’t get a go-cart, I’ll know there’s no Santa Claus.”


I was aghast at this mastermind, wielding Santa like an Ace up his sleeve. Who does that?! Apparently my kid, that’s who. With a stubbornness that can only be linked to a long line of stubborn Murrell men, I blame his father.

In spite of my sisters and parents scolding Sullen Boy that Santa doesn’t respond well to veiled threats, he knew he’d struck emotional gold. While it surely wouldn’t result in a go-cart ‘cause Santa don’t play dat, Sullen Boy had just won the guilt game.

And when Christmas morning arrived, resplendent with moderate temps, green grass and a beautiful sun we hadn’t seen for what felt like weeks, Sullen Boy’s expectations were met, there was indeed no go-cart waiting for him.

I didn’t hear him say the words, but I knew he was thinking, “See, there’s no Santa.”

And Mother Nature, in all her irony, shined a glorious sun all over the day.

I will go no further into Christmas 2014, about how Santa may have mixed things up and accidentally given Sullen Boy a couple of repeats from the year before. I also won’t go into the Christmas Day gathering at my parents and how, just as grace was being said for Christmas dinner, I burst into tears.

I will merely say that this holiday was not our best example of gratitude and goodwill. Taking a cue from Sullen Boy, it was pretty lame.

On the consumerism side of things, this holiday is awful, but for whatever reason—lack of sun, lack of snow—I just never felt that pa-rum-pa-pum-pum drumming in my heart that only the Christmas season brings.

I think it actually had a lot to do with the season kicking off so dang early! What was with the Christmas radio station cueing up long before Thanksgiving?!

By the time the manger was ready, I was beset with some of Stephen Colbert’s Grinchitude. If I had to listen to Mariah Carey sing “I All Want For Christmas is You” one more time, I was going to make a fruit cake just so I could drop-kick it out the back door.

And now here we are, finally enjoying Mother Nature’s gift: winter. Suddenly it’s cold outside and I want to bake, snow is swirling and blowing and I want to listen to music. The holiday fir, dropping its needles like snowflakes, is suddenly just a bit prettier today than it was two weeks ago.

While Sister occupies a rocking chair on the porch, ears covered in headphones, Sullen Boy cuddles up to me and suggests we open the puzzles, asks if we could play Scrabble . . . and so what if I crave a bit of “me time,” them being home a couple of extra days? Okay Mother Nature, you win: Thank you!

Originally published 10 January 2015 in The Observer.

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