The Bad Mommy Cooks—Christmas Eve Edition

Merry Christmas, everyone! Okay, maybe Christmas was way more than a few days ago, but it’s taking me a little time to crawl out from the holiday rubble our house is buried in to post this blog. Hubby and I have been making Christmas Eve dinner for the family for about twelve years now (we’ve had a few years when he’s been working that we’ve had to skip, though). When I was growing up, my grandparents did Christmas Eve and it’s always been a fond memory of mine. My grandparents were Italian, so they would have the Feast of the Seven fishes. On Christmas Eve, no meat is consumed…only seafood. It is supposed to be comprised of seven different fishes/seafood, but over the years (after much obsessing over this fact), hubby and I have adapted it to serving whatever we feel like—we try to stick to seafood, though. In the past, we have made wayyyy too much food and end up throwing a ton out (that is, whatever my mother doesn’t scrape into her pocketbook to feed her dogs with later on). Plus, my father in law isn’t a fan of the seafood feast, so we usually have some sort of meat, too. (I don’t eat the meat because it was drilled in my head that eating meat on Christmas Eve is bad luck…or some other nonsense like that.) Okay, so our feast isn’t completely traditional, but we try, okay?

Believe it or not, it’s the only day of the year that hubby and I co-exist in the kitchen without wanting to stab each other. It’s kind of…nice actually. That’s not to say things don’t get tense and we don’t yell and flip each other the middle finger on occasion. An emergency usually arises, resulting in me stomping off to the grocery store to retrieve some item that was inadvertently off the grocery list (usually by me). Hubby takes his cooking Christmas Eve a hell of a lot more seriously than I do, believe it or not. He makes it difficult on himself because he wants to try new recipes and he refuses to use ingredients like imitation lobster or crab. If I even suggest it, he gets very stressed about it. And to add to his stress, he’s been playing Santa Claus to the little kids after the meal and he gets neurotic about that as well. It’s a refreshing change to our usual roles.

This year my in-laws were visiting hubby’s sister in Florida and my brother’s family was also not coming—I told hubs we needed to scale back. He looked at me like I had slapped him clear across his Santa Claus cheeks. I held my ground and insisted. I even surveyed the family to find out what dishes were their favorite—unfortunately their responses varied so much we ended up making a lot of what we usually do—we only cut out two or three dishes.

However, everyone was a big fan of hubby’s Crab Corn Chowder (I may have mentioned it in my Massachusetts blog ) so we needed to make that. There are a ton of ingredients that go into this, and it’s very labor intensive, so instead of pulling his hair out Christmas Eve, he made it the night before:

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Yes, that’s Scotch in his hand. He’s like ninety-seven years old sometimes. Here’s the result (*You can click below the pictures for the recipes!):

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Crab Corn Chowder

So yummy—and great on a freezing cold day. We’ve eaten it every day this week since the weather’s been so appropriate. It’s also good with cornbread.

The night before he also made his crab cakes: IMG_5358

He just got this recipe from a cooking class he went to. I wanted him to make crab/shrimp sliders with pimento cheese, but he thought these would be easier. They were okay, but I do love shrimp sliders.

I made “Stromboli” of course and hands had to be slapped away—my nephews were grabbing it before it was done. This photo was taken literally thirty seconds after I put it on the table:

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I just realize that we always have Stromboli and antipasto on Christmas Eve, despite that pepperoni is a meat…I wonder why that’s okay? Anyone out there know the answer? Or was this some tradition that my grandparents adapted without regard to the meat situation?

In addition, hubs insisted on lobster mac and cheese (yup, with real lobster) and twenty-two different cheeses (okay, slight exaggeration…):

 

And ginormous bang bang shrimp:

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*Bang Bang Shrimp

Bacon wrapped scallops are a crowd favorite:

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I also made calamari which is a bitch to bread. It took me about an hour to bread one pound. You’ve got to get the breading on the inside of the ring to make sure it doesn’t fall apart. My efforts were not wasted:

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For dessert, I made my great-grandmother’s honey balls (struffoli for you hard core Italians out there). No one really eats more than one ore two of them, but the nostalgia is necessary. Especially since I refuse to make any kind of holiday cookie anymore until hubby lets me buy a new oven:

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*Struffoli

And my fridge is once again bursting with leftovers. Oh well, maybe next year we actually will scale back and order pizza or something. (Nah…hubby would cry and nobody likes a sad Santa.)

 

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The Bad Mommy Cooks—Christmas Eve Recipes

The title of this blog entry is kind of a misnomer—it should be The Bad Daddy Cooks—Christmas Eve Recipes. I didn’t cook any of these except the struffoli. (Really, who wants me messing up a holiday meal?) 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’ve included all the recipes, except for the easy, self-explanatory dishes like bacon wrapped scallops and fried calamari.

Here’s all you need for your own kick ass Christmas Eve meal.

Crab Corn Chowder:

(He adapted this one from several different recipes)

8 oz of lump crab meat

2 slices of bacon

2 jalapenos (no seeds or ribs), minced

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, grated

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

16 oz of frozen corn kernels

1 cup half and half (divided)

1 or 2 red-skinned potaotes

2 cups of chicken broth

2 TBSP of flour

1 cup of whole milk

Directions:

Set a large pot (like a spaghetti pot) over medium heat. Add bacon and cook till crisp. Transfer to a paper towel when cooked.

Add jalapeno, onion, garlic, carrot, celery salt, pepper, and sugar to the bacon fat. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies have softened. Add corn and cook for a few more minutes. Take about 3/4 cup of corn mixture and add to 3/4 cup of half and half in the blender—blend and set aside. Add potatoes to the pot. Cook for a few minutes and then add chicken broth. Boil until potatoes are tender. Whisk the 1/4 cup of half and half and flour together. Add to pot and stir constantly until chowder thickens. Pour pureed mix in pot. Add milk, crab meat and bacon. Cook another few minutes until heated.

Lobster Mac & Cheese:

(He got this from one of the many cooking classes he’s taken. 🙄)

1 box of elbow pasta (we used the large elbows)

4 cups whole milk

8 TBSP of unsalted butter

1/2 cup of onion, chopped (WHAT?!?!?! I don’t like onion! He tricked me!)

4 cups of Gruyere cheese, grated

2 cups of sharp cheddar, grated

4 oz of Velveta, cubed

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp of dry mustard

1 lb of cooked lobster meat, cut up in bite sized pieces

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs

3 TBSP of butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. (Side note: I told hubby to preheat to 400 because our oven SUCKS, but he didn’t listen, so that resulted in the meal taking about a half hour longer to cook. 😒)The instructions also said to grease the baking dish with butter, which we forgot to do and it turned out fine and with less butter. We could all use less butter, right?)

Cook pasta al-dente and set aside. Heat milk in sauce pan, but do not boil. in a separate pot, melt 8 TBSP of butter. Add onions and cook till softened. Add flour and whisk without browning butter. Add milk and whisk. Cook till thickened. Off heat, add cheeses and whisk until melted. Add salt, pepper and dry mustard. Add pasta and lobster and stir to combine. Pour into dish.

Make the crumb topping by melting 3 TBSP of butter and combine with bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese. Bake for an hour or until sauce is bubbly and crumb topping is browning.

Bang Bang Shrimp:

(The original recipe was for chicken—we’ve only used shrimp.)

1 cup of buttermilk

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornstarch (here’s where I “messed” up—we had 1/2 cup…somebody didn’t bother to tell me that we were doubling this recipe. 🤔)

1 egg

1 TBSP of hot sauce

1 lb of shrimp (we used “large”…they were ginormous.)

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup Panko bread crumbs (we should own stock in Panko bread crumbs)

1/4 cup mayo

2 TBSP sweet chili sauce

1 TBSP honey

2 tsp of hot sauce

Directions:

Make the sauce by whisking the mayo, chili sauce, honey and hot sauce together. (This keeps well in the fridge for days.) Meanwhile, heat fryer (if you use the air fryer, I’m sure it’s healthier—we used the deep fryer.)

Whisk buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, egg, hot sauce and salt and pepper in a bowl. Dip the shrimp one at a time in this mixture and then dredge in bread crumbs. (This is VERY messy and time consuming—allow yourself at least one hour for this task—no, I’m not kidding. 😬) Fry it up and serve it hot.

Crab Cakes:

(Also adapted from a cooking class recipe—I only see these cooking class recipes once or twice a year. Good thing he got an apron from the teacher for the student who takes the most classes…insert eyeroll here.)🙄

1 cup mayo

2 eggs, beaten

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

2 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 TBSP parsley, finely chopped

40 Ritz crackers, crushed (I also hate Ritz crackers so I didn’t eat this one…I heard it was good, though)

2 lbs of lump crab meat

Directions:

Whisk mayo, egg, mustard, lemon juice, red pepper, and parsley. In another bowl, toss crabmeat with crackers. Fold into mayo mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Scoop crab mixture into 1/4 cup mounds and pat into patties. Fry in deep fryer, air fryer, skillet—whatever you have.

Struffoli:

(I found a recipe on Pinterest, but I’ve scaled it back considerably because the original recipe made a billion honey balls and took me 7 hours to make. This now makes about one plate full and takes around two hours—less if you have a fryer.)

2 cups flour

3 Tbs butter

1/8 cup sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup honey

1 container multi-colored non-pareil

Mix the butter and flour together with your hands in a bowl until butter is in small bits. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt, strring to incorporate. Add eggs and vanilla, and stir until a dough forms. Knead a few times, then leave in bowl to rest for 1/2 hour in fridge. Roll out dough in ropes—cut into 1/4 inch pieces and roll the pieces into balls. Fry up in small batches (they will expand as they cook). Heat up honey in a saucepan and then toss cooked balls in the honey. Stack into a pyramid shape, add remaining honey to the top, and sprinkle with non-pareils.

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#12

It’s December 26th. You did it! You made it through the Christmas season! 

Or did you? Technically, Christmas is over. Yet, there’s still a chance for you to go crazy.  I promised you 12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas and I’ve only given you 11 so far. Even if you held it together for the entire Christmas season…even if you shopped and wrapped and baked and falalalah’d with the best of them…#12 just might get you.

#12. The Aftermath.

Yes, that’s right. Even when Christmas is over…especially when Christmas is over…you just may end up losing your mind.

December 26th and you’re left with the remains of your busy holiday season—the empty boxes, the torn wrapping paper shrewd all over the house, the sticky floors, the broken candy canes, the dishes, the leftover fruitcake (Someone took a bite? Now you can’t regift it!) . You’re exhausted from the previous 24 days activities, but wait…it’s not over yet!

Not only does your house look like a gift wrap store threw up, you’ve now got to fold up all the boxes and get them into the trash inconspicuously, so the neighborhood robbers don’t realize you just purchased a scooter, 2 iPads and 4 tvs. Half the toys you bought require batteries…which you forgot to buy. Kids are now in tears because they can’t play with that one battery operated toy they must play with today. Not to mention your husband bought you the wrong size jeans, Junior broke a toy already, and your Aunt Edna seems to think you would look fabulous in a hot pink, sequined flamingo sweatshirt. Your daughter’s Lego house is missing pieces, she got two of the same game, and your hubby’s camera needs a memory card. The dog chewed your new phone charger and ate the stuffing from the new comforter. There are gift cards burning a hole in your kids’ pockets, gifts to exchange, and toyboxes and shelves (to store all that new crap) to purchase. You’re gonna have to sit in traffic again today to go back to the store with the millions of other suckers.

There’s a dead tree to drag out to the curb (remember how fun that was getting into the house???), ornaments to re-box (would it be bad to just line a Rubbermaid with tissue paper and stick them all in there?), and outdoor lights to take down (and it’s colder now than it was a month ago). Did I mention that the kids are off for the next week and a half and you have to find some way to entertain them? That means trips to the movies and skanky bounce places. Plus you made dentist appointments and haircut appointments for them back in October, but now you don’t even want to get dressed to leave the house—three weeks of terrible eating has begun to sap you of all of your energy and you feel like crap. You try to reason with the kids to get them to throw out toys they don’t play with anymore and there are more tears and time outs. The bills have suddenly arrived, demanding to be paid as well. You can’t believe you spent that much (maybe your credit card was stolen???). Didn’t you swear you were scaling back this year???

Speaking of scale, don’t even get me started on the extra 10 pounds you’ve put on during the season of eating (and drinking). The reality of your overindulgence is evident as you struggle to put on your jeans today (hmmmm…maybe hubby didn’t buy the wrong size after all), sucking in your gut and lying on the bed to get it done. The scale is screaming at you to put down that sugar cookie and jump on the treadmill, but you’re too damn tired to even fathom it. Plus, you still have so much left to do! All you want to do is crawl under your new fluffy blanket and sleep till January.  And you can…after you go to the toy store and wash the dishes and go grocery shopping (you haven’t bought food for “Real” meals in 2 weeks) and throw all the garbage out and eat all the leftovers and shove all the toys in your kid’s closet (because the shelves you bought were crap and fell apart already and they refused to throw things out and you’ll have to wait till they’re asleep to do it). Pour yourself a glass of whatever wine is left and curl up on the sofa to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Time Square. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#11

With only four more days to go before Christmas, I’m sure you’re feeling the noose tighten by now. Even those who were blasé about the rapidly approaching holiday (erm…my hubby), are now realizing that crunch time is upon us. You wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, a list of all the gifts you were supposed to buy, running through your head like a stock market ticker. You mentally prepare lists: lists of food to buy, gifts to wrap, stocking stuffers to find, cleaning that needs to be done. And on top of it all are

#11. The “Extras”. The extras are just that—supporting players in the main movie of your very own “Christmas Spectacular”. They’re not the stars and they rarely even have a speaking part, but most people would notice if the movie extras just suddenly disappeared, wouldn’t they?

The extras encompass everything that isn’t a “given” about Christmas—gifts, Christmas dinner, a Christmas tree, etc. The extras are just that—extra stuff that your family has decided to engage in during the holidays for one of two purposes. #1 for “Tradition” (either new or old) purposes, or #2…to stress you out even more. Extras can be going the Nutcracker, having an ugly sweater party, or driving around to look at lights. The extras are supposed to get you in the Christmas spirit, and maybe they do, but not without mainlining TUMS.

One year hubby and I decided we would start a new tradition (because all the other things we did obviously didn’t stress us out enough) and go see a Christmas play in the City. Going to the play itself wasn’t the difficult part, although riding on a train stuffed with people on a Saturday afternoon was no fun, and my son hated the play because it was a musical and he thinks musicals should be abolished from the earth like the plague, and both kids were pissed because we wouldn’t buy them $20 foam fingers at the play—that wasn’t the “bad” part of this trip. We figured while we were in the City, we were going to go see “The Tree”.  Three days before Christmas. On an unseasonably warm, 70 degree day in December. We are obviously idiots.

For those of you who don’t live in the tri-state area, “The City” is New York City, and “The Tree” is the tree in Rockefeller Center. Going to see the Tree is an extremely “tourist-y” thing to do and trying to get near it is kind of like a scene from Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. Getting anywhere the City can be complicated as well—you know, with all the tourists spilling out all over the sidewalks and everything. I say this like I’m not a tourist myself, but I guess I would be considered one since I’m not a native New Yorker. But there’s a difference between “tourists” (those people with the cameras taking pictures of sidewalk grates, lampposts, and everything in between) and “Jersey/ Philly tourists”. We’re not impressed by anything in the City since we’ve been there countless times. We don’t take pictures (usually) and we don’t walk around with that wide-eyed, deer in headlights look. However, we still don’t know the ins and outs of the City, and you can find us scratching our heads and consulting our phones as we try to navigate through the insane crowds of the actual tourists. And underestimating how far twenty city blocks actually are. And getting halfway to our destination and feeling like our legs are going to fall off if we walk any further and that we need to hail a cab. And realizing that we don’t actually know how one would hail a cab. Do you put your arm up like in the movies? Do you put your fingers between your lips and whistle? Can anyone actually do that anymore? (My Nana could do that, but I’m pretty sure it’s a dying art form.) And then finding out that you need to make reservations to eat any place decent—five months in advance.

Imagine the four of us wandering around the City—overheated, tired, hungry and cranky. We finally get to the tree after what feels like seven hours of repeatedly being beat with a stick like a piñata. At the Tree there is a crowd eighty people deep (I know I tend to exaggerate but this is not even remotely an exaggeration. In actuality, I may have underestimated how many people were there.) We take a quick obligatory picture near-ish the Tree and then begin the long, arduous journey back to the train station. We miss the train by thirty seconds (also not an exaggeration) and end up sitting on the floor of the train station for another hour until the next train comes.

So what did we learn here? Sometimes the extras are no fun. Sometimes the extras are actually painful (the blisters on my feet were legendary). But there’s a reason they’re “Extras”. We don’t really need to do them if we don’t want to. If they don’t bring us joy, then no one will miss it. Don’t beat yourself up because everyone is Snapchatting their pictures in front of the tree or taking pictures at elaborate light displays. If it makes you miserable, don’t do it. Hence why that trip to see the tree was our first and most likely last.

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#10

I almost forgot about #10. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve worried about #10 in our house.

#10. Perpetuate the lie of “Santa Claus”.

When I was about four years old, my evil uncle (who was only five years older than me), gleefully ruined my childhood. Yup, he told me that there was no such thing as Santa. I was devastated. Of course I was still smart enough at that age not to let on that I knew. In my head, if you didn’t believe in Santa, you wouldn’t get any presents.

My own kids stopped believing at some point in time at the end of their elementary years. I’m not sure exactly when because like me, they didn’t let on that they were wise to the secret. I would say my son was about ten and my daughter was younger than that because the older uncle sibling always seems to ruin these things. So the last three years or so have been much easier at Christmas time, simply because we don’t have to pretend. We don’t pretend that Santa brought presents at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, at the same time he’s bringing gifts to a billion other kids. We don’t have to make sure we wrap all of our other presents in different paper than the “Santa” wrap. We don’t have to fill our own stockings because the kids will ask why we didn’t get gifts—were we naughty??? We don’t have to wait till the kids go to bed to put their presents under the tree. (And of course you have to wait until they are absolutely, positively asleep before you can even think about bringing the gifts down, usually somewhere around 3 am when you can barely stand because you’re so tired—they seem to be on high alert for any noise on Christmas Eve.) We don’t need to track Santa on the Norad Santa tracker (which actually was kind of fun and I still do it anyway…). We don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn on Christmas Day to see what Santa brought us. We don’t have to go nuts coordinating outfits and trying to put tights on a two year old to go see Santa. We don’t have to wait on line at the mall for hours with the other sucker parents, turning various shades of red as their kids claw their way off of Santa’s lap. (Seriously, does any kid from ages 18 months to three years old actually sit on Santa’s lap without screaming bloody murder? My oldest refused from ages two to seven.) We also don’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for those pictures documenting the trauma they’ve endured at the hands of the scary old man. (Confession time: we never actually took the kids to see Santa at the mall—we’ve always gone to see the free Santas at the firehouse, library, school, etc. You don’t have to wait long, you don’t have to feel bad when your kid refuses to sit on Santa’s lap, and you can take all the horrible pictures you want for free.) We don’t have to sit with a five year old who wants to write a painstakingly slow letter to Santa. We don’t have to mail that letter and waste a stamp. We don’t have to sit at the computer for hours trying to compose a video from Santa to the children (Who said technological advances were a good thing??? My parents never sent me a video from Santa!)

In a flash, our kids didn’t believe, and this was one less burden off our shoulders at this already burdensome time of year. God…what a relief! But at the same time…it’s heartbreaking. More proof that they’ve grown up so quickly—so much quicker than I thought possible. I miss the joy believing brought to them. The desire to behave, so that they could impress Santa (and later on, his elf spy). The innocence and ability to believe something so incredibly ridiculous could actually be true. Sometimes I wish I had that innocence back. They’re not so innocent or easy to impress any more. I wish I had savored it a little bit back then, not rolling my eyes and wishing that the dreadful Santa years would be over with. Because they are now…along with my sweet and innocent babies who used to believe.

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#9

I know I promised 12 Ways to Lose Your Mind this Christmas Season over 12 days, but it seriously was a much more daunting task than I anticipated. I just can’t seem to get myself together, I just can’t seem to figure out which end is up while trying to prepare for Christmas next week. Mostly because of Way #9. If you really want to stress out this holiday season,

#9. Continue on with your regular life. Yup, that’s right. Didn’t you know? Life still goes on during the holiday season. Kids need to get to basketball practice, hubby needs to go to the dentist, you need to go to work (wouldn’t it be nice to have the month of December off to get your $hit together???). Dinners need to be made, dinners need to be cleaned up, grocery shopping needs to happen. Bathrooms need to be cleaned, laundry needs to be done, etc., etc., etc. On top of all the stress of the rapidly approaching holiday…YOU STILL NEED TO DO ALL THE STUFF YOU WERE DOING BEFORE! This means less sleep, crappier meals, more caffeine, and a much crankier you.

And never mind the regular life that you have to hold together—at this time of year, you’re more likely to have a monkey wrench thrown in the works than any other time of year. It’s inevitable that someone in the house will get a stomach bug, strep throat, or the flu. You’ll have to replace the living room rug at midnight on the eve of Christmas Eve because you have a houseful of people coming the next day and there’s puke embedded in the fibers. You’ll need to call the a hvac guy the next day because your heat died. Your kid’s pants for their Christmas concert will be too tight and you’ll have to run out at zero hour to get a new pair, or subject yourself to the passive aggressive whisperings of the PTO moms behind you about how you’re a bad mom. It’ll snow and you will discover your kids outgrew their boots, there’s a rip in one of their coats, and each of them only has one glove. Your youngest child will fall off a ladder while trying to sneak a peak at the gifts hidden on top of your closet and break his arm. You will forget to pay the electric bill and the lights you spent so long stringing will go out. Your basement will flood from a piece of lint stuck in your laundry slop sink. Your dog will eat a tennis ball and you’ll have to run to the emergency vet. Your cat will eat mistletoe and puke it up all over your bed.

MAKE IT STOP!!!!! You should be, at the very least, granted a pass from crappy things happening to you during the Christmas season. How are you supposed to spread cheer when you spill your morning coffee on your lap and ruin your new shirt? How are you supposed to spread good will toward your fellow man when your breaks are squeaking? How are you supposed to enjoy the season when it’s go, go, go from the moment you get up to the time you go to bed? Well, you’re not. What you’re supposed to do is…STOP. Take a breath. No, not that way…a real breath. Let yourself have a good cry. Have your nervous breakdown and then wipe the tears away. Christmas will happen whether you do it all or not. Lower your expectations of yourself—-no, I’m not kidding. Allow yourself to actually enjoy it. Skip the gym, order takeout, watch a Christmas movie, take a mental health day from work…whatever it is you need to do to get through the day. It’s what I’ve vowed to do this last week before Christmas. I’m accepting I can’t do it all and the only person it usually matters to is…me. So what I’m going to do when the stress of everyday life combined with one hell of a holiday season gets under my skin is relax. I’m not taking anything seriously anymore. Christmas will come whether I stress out about it or not, and it’s a hell of a lot more enjoyable when I don’t stress.

I’m going to go off to yoga now and just chill in Savasana. You can join me if you want. Just someone remember to wake me up January 2nd.

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#8

We’re getting oh so close to Christmas. Maybe you haven’t lost your mind yet. Maybe you’ve decided that this is the year you’ll scale back. You won’t do the outdoor lights or bake. Maybe you’ve taken my advice and got a sweet pre-lit tree. Perhaps the gift gods have shined upon you and you’ve stumbled upon the perfect gifts for everyone. Well, there’s still time to go insane. It’s actually so easy that you almost can’t avoid it.

#8. Play Christmas music. Okay, okay…I know you’re thinking, “Oh my God! Is she the Grinch? How could Christmas music possibly cause you to lose your mind?” Well, consider that it’s December 17th and we’ve probably been listening to Christmas music for well over a month and a half now. That’s right…radio stations, commercials, stores…they’ve been subliminally slipping in the Christmas music since before the day they put their Halloween candy on sale for half price.

The radio stations by me have been playing Christmas music since November 1st. Yup. It’s not even cold yet! We haven’t even had turkey yet! What’s going on? When I was a kid, Christmas music, Christmas movies…they didn’t start till mid December, when everyone was ready for the holidays to begin. What’s the rush???? The rush is for the sole purpose of making you lose your mind by Christmas time.

At first, you’re happy to hear those few little notes of holiday cheer. You start humming along, giddy at the sound. The songs remind you of Christmases of yesteryear. There’s actually some memory reaction that music triggers in our brain, so this whole “playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving” isn’t an accident. Retailers are trying to get us to remember Christmas and feel all warm and fuzzy about it. And SHOP. Shop in their stores that are playing “Joy to the World” while you’re looking for Back to School supplies. And it works. You’re remembering playing “Jingle Bells” on your mini keyboard for your family when you were nine—so you grab an identical (and updated) mini keyboard for your own child, hoping she’ll enjoy it as much as you did (you “lost” it in your closet somewhere around New Year’s, but you never remember those sort of details). As you pass the pre-made gingerbread houses in aisle six with “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”, you recall making gingerbread houses with your nana. You toss the gingerbread house in your cart as well—your kids will love it. You can make that when you screw up the cookies Then you pass that damn cologne counter in the mall that usually makes you choke, but it doesn’t this time. ‘Cuz they’re playing “Blue Christmas” and you can smell your grandfather’s cologne. With tears in your eyes, you realize you must buy this for your hubby, boyfriend, significant other. (Which is a little creepy.)

The overkill isn’t just in stores. We’ve been playing it for awhile at home now, too. We’ve listened to Christmas music while putting up lights. We’ve listened to Christmas music while wrapping. We’ve listened to Christmas music while baking. We’ve gone to our kids’ Christmas concerts at school, we’ve gone Christmas caroling, we’ve been singing Christmas music at church. We’re hearing Christmas music in the car, on TV, at work…we’re hearing it in our sleep. It’s lost its cheerfulness. It just reminds you that Christmas is fast approaching and you’ve got a ton of crap that still needs to get done. Christmas music becomes that countdown clock in our heads that is tick, tick, ticking away at a breakneck pace. Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, and Hanson…all singing about how your holiday isn’t as great as theirs. (Well, of course it’s not—I don’t have a maid, a nanny, or a billion dollars.)

All of a sudden, we’re FaLaLaLaLa’d the %&$* out with still over a week till Christmas. At this point in time, we actually don’t want to hear any more Christmas music—ever. We’re dying to turn on the radio in the car and hear Beyonce singing about something that isn’t mistletoe or boughs of holly. You know every verse to “Silent Night” and that’s all you want…a SILENT NIGHT. No Jingle Bell Rock, no Deck the Halls, no Little Drummer Boy.

You vow to take your sanity back. You pour yourself a cup of tea, turn off the radio and sit in blissful silence. For about thirty seconds. Then you jump up and return to your holiday duties…after all, you still have so much left to do.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Christmas music isn’t stressing you out. You’re one of those people that have “Everything done” (and are so quick to tell everyone on social media about it and how you don’t understand why the rest of us suckers are still rushing around like headless chickens). In that case, you can listen to your Christmas music—in your own car, your own house, your own headphones. But don’t let me hear it…I just may go off the deep end.