I’ve got the horse right here…

There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve got a winner, stacking all your chips on it, and then realizing that not only is it NOT a winner, but it’s basically more of a clunker.  I am just saying this because this year I’ve been forced to emotionally confront the multiple demons of clunkers wrapped in parcel paper.  While we’ve had some mild successes, by now the Twelve Days is more about humorously facing the way J humors me, smiles for the camera and then -when everyone’s done with their bit for the day- dashes up the stairs to his room.

J has been happier today than any previous day during the Twelve Days process because he found a video at Barnes and Noble that he had not seen in years, and that was the equivalent of traveling back in time and betting all your money on whether Secretariat would win the Triple Crown.  Cha-ching!  What’s the video?  It’s Sesame Street’s Sing Yourself Silly …it’s one that has James Taylor singing Jelly Man Kelly and Ernie powering his way through Put Down the Ducky.  This particular video selection was on heavy rotation many years ago, and then it simply gave out and was not to be found at any store for a long time.  Yesterday, J’s homing device went ZING! as soon as we walked into B&N and he motored through the store and stood directly in front of it, staring insistently while I asked “what?” like the dork that I am.

This has brought him such joy that if I could wrap it and hide it under the tree again for him to find, I would.  He was fine with today’s present…another Madeline book.  And he ran up the stairs with his new book and soon Mary Had a Little Lamb played in tinks and honks was audible through the whole house.  Last time I saw him (about five minutes ago) he was happily sitting on his bed, leafing through the book and bouncing up and down while listening to his music.

It has been a lazy weekend…we woke up to snow this morning and could hear the snow plow making its way through the neighborhood.  The snow is gone now, but it’s still pretty cold so we’ve mostly stuck to indoors activities.  Yesterday, while eating a sandwich, we watched a TV show where a woman was talking about how she prepares her family’s Christmas meal.  I guess this woman is a huge deal in the “blogosphere” and has made quite a name for herself…

Anyway…she said something about making Duchess potatoes and talked about how down-home it all was.  Duchess potatoes (which looked like fancy-shaped mashed potatoes to me) are, indeed, fancy-shaped mashed potatoes.  She said something about broiled Brussels Sprouts with a mere sprinkling of olive oil and salt and pepper on top.  The first idea that came to mind when I saw this was “with all the windows closed because of the cold weather, I would NOT feed Brussels sprouts to my family.”  I don’t know if this is a problem for anyone else, but that’s going to give people some serious gas around here…and that’s even without the gravy she poured on top before serving.

Yesterday I did a lot of food shopping.  This is not because we are having a fancy Xmas meal or anything, this is because -if it snows and we’re stuck here- I want to make sure I can cook something other than just pasta or soup.  As I munched through my sandwich (which was made with a store-bought croissant, ham and cheese) I started wondering how far over the top I could go with a holiday meal.  I thought back on every Christmas and Thanksgiving and I realized that, even at my most committed, I have yet to cross the line into “more precious than words” territory.

Maybe I’m being judgmental (and, please, tell me if you think it’s true): isn’t the economy still in the crapper?  I was at the store yesterday and I was trying to figure out which one was a better value: a tray of pork chops or a whole pork loin I could carve into pieces for stir-fry, boneless chops and such.  I am constantly trying to reinvent the wheel with ground beef.  Why is this woman (whose house was eventually filled with about 20 guests) making small curly-cues of Duchess Potatoes?  There are only four of us, and I make a batch of mashed potatoes, throw milk and cheese in them, and bake them so they’re once-boiled/once-baked mashed potatoes.  The next day, with a little coating of bread crumbs, they make a good side for a couple of fried eggs.

I think we are the only dorks who have fake garlands on our porch.  A lot of other people have fresh swags with twinkling lights and a real wreath…I had to dust our decorations before I hung them for the world to see; my husband told me “you don’t even have to do that…once it rains or snows they’ll be clean!”  The only “real” Christmas decoration is the tree, and that’s because I still remember my mom’s fake tree and am traumatized by it.

Am I going about this all wrong?  Shouldn’t my house smell like fresh baked goods all the time?  Shouldn’t we walk around wearing matching sweaters and turtlenecks?  Should I make Duchess potatoes and look absolutely put-together while breezing my way through the kitchen?  Am I being LAZY about Christmas?

During a commercial break I discovered this Duchess potato, Brussels sprout broiling person is known as The Pioneer Woman.  What does that make me?  I googled this lady and, apparently, she’s very popular and has made quite a name for herself.  People buy her books, read her blogs…  I didn’t get her OR her Brussels sprouts or Duchess potatoes.  Of course, I don’t get the Real Housewives of anywhere either; they have cookbooks and fashion lines and food products and I don’t understand why because there is nothing pioneering about the one (although further research indicates that this is a term frequently applied to women from Oklahoma?) and nothing real or housewife-like about the others.

I am a housewife.  Most of my day is spent wearing yoga pants (for exercise that takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes of my time,) doing laundry, trying to figure out if that blotch on the carpet is easily removed, racing against the clock so I can get some time to myself before J gets home, finding a new way to make chicken…  Am I a Make-Do Woman?  As a Make-Do Woman, do I get my own TV show and recipe book?  Do I get to meet Matt Lauer or Ellen DeGeneres?  Or, as a Make-Do Woman, do I just spend the rest of my life scratching my head and wondering why some of us do what we do as well as we can because it’s the way it has to be while others don’t really do much, but don’t do it with such flair and a head for business that they become some sort of role model?

Yeah…I’d give it more thought, but the dryer just stopped, the washer had stopped five minutes before it, J has to write people’s names on envelopes for gift cards and I have to open a jar of Alfredo sauce to pour over pasta from a box that I’ll be boiling for dinner.

Yes…I do make my own pasta, and my gnocchi, and I can cook a really fantastic meal, but -believe me- I don’t do it wearing expensive clothes or in a fully-equipped kitchen…I do it in sweats, cursing, burning my fingers and with fake garlands framing my doorway…

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