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Ah the holidays. A time of peace, joy and magic. Of sparkling lights, cheesy music, fattening food and beautifully wrapped gifts. And don’t forget the stress that comes from making, buying and planning all of the above. There are houses to be cleaned and decorated, cards to be bought and sent, cookies to be baked and delivered, events to be planned and attended, traditions to be created and upheld, and gifts to be purchased, wrapped and shipped… all in the name of peace, joy and magic. It’s enough to make a girl long for New Years. Or at least to keep her up all night, ticking off endless lists in her head, while she stresses about stupid things like does she have enough scotch tape.
Yes, there is much to be done during the holidays. But the thing we all forget to do is the most critical thing of all… to stop and enjoy it. What good is a perfectly trimmed tree if you don’t have time to sit in front of it with a glass of wine? What good are those homemade latkes or Christmas cookies if you don’t taste them? What fun is a holiday party if you spend it stressing about making it to the next one? What does it matter if you find the perfect toys for your children if you don’t take the time to play with them?
This year my holiday wish for you all is for you not to have a happy holiday, but instead to ENJOY a happy holiday. I wish for you to enjoy many nights drinking hot chocolate (and by hot chocolate I mean wine) with your loved ones in front of the fireplace… or if you live in LA, in front of your flat screen TV and simulated fire DVD. I wish for you to share a wonderful meal with your best friends and to laugh until the wee hours. To delight in the pure glee on your little-ones’ faces when every gift is unwrapped. To spend hours walking around and enjoying the beauty of the season. To savor each bite of food, every moment with your family and all of the wonderful gifts you are given. To ENJOY a holiday season full of peace, joy and magic rather than stress, greed and guilt.
So this year if my holiday cards don’t arrive until January, or my cookies come from the grocery store, or I don’t attend every holiday party, or my jeans don’t zip up, or my presents arrive in ugly gift bags instead of beautifully wrapped packages or perhaps don’t even arrive at all… don’t blame me. Blame the peace, joy and magic.
I love me some Thanksgiving. What’s not to love? Family and friends all gathered together. Delicious food and the ability to eat as much of it as you want without feeling guilty because everyone knows that calories don’t count on holidays. Same thing goes for drinking. Everyone knows that alcoholism doesn’t count on holidays. Plus, how the hell can you cook without wine? Or survive an entire day with aforementioned family without wine (Except for mine, of course. Happy Turkey Day Mom! Thanks for giving me life!)
Unlike some other holidays lurking around this time of year, Thanksgiving is pretty stress-free (unless, of course, you are
dumb generous enough to host.) There’s no gifts to be painstakingly purchased. No gifts to be returned, only to panic when the giver of said gift comes to visit and wonders where are those lovely ceramic figurines with the creepy, giant eyes that follow you everywhere, even your nightmares. There is no planning of a night out awesome enough to close out a great year and make all your Facebook friends jealous. Nope, none of those annoying holiday stresses. Thanksgiving is all about eating and drinking with friends and family and giving thanks for it all. Oh yeah, and I think it is also about Pilgrims, Native Americans and a giant Pumpkin who terrorizes children. But don’t quote me on that.
However, as much as I love Thanksgiving and think it is important to give thanks, there is one thing about Thanksgiving that I dread: the moment when all the food sits before you on the table, and instead of allowing you to dig in, the well-intentioned hostess asks everyone to go around the table and say what they are thankful for. Seriously?! That is the right moment for that? How about starting the giving of Thanks during the five hours when everyone is eating dip and dry carrots and waiting for the damn turkey to be done? And why is it so hard to come up with something that I am thankful for at that moment? Perhaps it is because I am dizzy with hunger due to the fact that I starved myself all day to make up for the sick amount of calories I plan to consume. Or perhaps it is because I am drunk as I started drinking at 6 am without eating anything besides the cold, wet stuffing I snuck and ate with my fingers out of sheer desperation. Or perhaps it is simply the pressure of putting a whole year of thankfulness into a few words. Whatever the reason, when called upon, I usually break out in a cold sweat and blurt out something like: “Iamgratefulformyfamilyandfriendsbecauseilovethemsomuchohyeahandmyhealthandmyfamilyandmyfriendsdidialreadysaythat.”
So, this year I am going to do things differently. Firstly, I am going to make more of an effort to give thanks all year round. Secondly, in order to bypass the paralyzing moment of Thanksgiving pressure, I am going to take the time to lay out some things that I am thankful for right here and now.
THIS YEAR I AM THANKFUL FOR:
Everyone who has read this far in the post. For those of you who stopped reading after the first paragraph or who totally ignored this post: I hope you choke on a turkey bone or gain ten pounds, whichever is worse. Just kidding. But to those who read my blog: THANK YOU!!
My amazing, smart, hilarious, charming daughter. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.
My awesome family. I know you think your family is awesome, but my family kicks your family’s ass in my book. Sorry.
My wonderful friends who support me, challenge me and love me no matter what.
A husband who makes me feel smart and funny, and who still likes to grab my ass.
Having an ass that someone still thinks is worth grabbing.
Push-up bras and Spanx: Some people call it cheating. I call it branding.
Good red wine.
Cupcakes: The perfect cake to frosting ratio.
My daughter’s amazing, obnoxious, loud, boisterous laugh.
Wedge heels: Almost comfortable.
Movie theaters that let you pour your own butter on your popcorn. Yes!
Stretchy jeans: I refuse to call them jeggings.
The health of me, my family and my friends.
Baby Tylenol: Helped my daughter through a lot of crazy fevers this year.
Girls days with just my daughter and I, when I have no work, no chores and nothing to do but be with her.
And the one thing that I am most thankful for…
Laughter: Curer of everything that I am NOT thankful for.
So there you have it, My 2012 List of Thankfulness! Hostesses take note: this hereby exempts me from the torture of participating in this tradition this year, and possibly for all subsequent years. So back off and let me eat overcooked turkey, already! But just because I will not be participating myself, doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching this unfold. As much as I hate doing it myself, I love watching other people sweat at that inevitable moment when the person who goes before them takes the exact thing that they were going to say. I love that moment! In fact, you might even say that I am thankful for it.
After 16 days, 3 countries, 27 hours of flight time with a 14-month-old, 5 hours of total flight time without baby, 12+ hours in a car with baby, 6 bus rides, 2 train rides, innumerable taxis, 2 sleeping pills, 2 all-nighters, countless bottles of wine, 12 gelatos, 4 lbs (a small price to pay), many frustrated screams, many, many nervous laughter outbursts (I tend to laugh at inappropriate times when I am stressed), 1 amazing wedding, 1 week with my husbands lovely family, 0 relaxation and too much laughter to count… I have returned. And along with a small spare tire around my belly and a couple of crappy souvenirs (sorry family!) I have brought many stories to tell. But, as I am still exhausted from everything listed above, I will start you out with the following list.
10 THINGS I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION
1. Discovered that a baby screaming on a plane while all the other passengers are trying to sleep is NOT the end of the world. As much as I was dying inside at the thought of being “that mom”, I got over it. And I am sure that the other passengers did too. Eventually. And even if they didn’t, I will most likely never see any of them again anyway.
2. Learned the art of the afternoon nap. Italians are very good at this. It took me a couple of days and a couple of bottles of wine at lunch to learn, but I finally got the hang of it… just in time to come back to the real-non-napping world.
3. Walked around in my bikini WITHOUT SUCKING MY STOMACH IN. Hey, if 82-year-old Italian women with breasts that look like beach balls in a trash bag can rock a bikini with confidence, I sure as hell can too.
4. Stayed up all night to confirm that, yes, currently there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Norway. Twice.
Bonus: No getting up with baby, who was safely with her Grandparents in a different country. Hallelujah!
5. Made sand castles on the beach, paddled around with the entire family on a paddle boat with a slide, rented one of those 6 person bicycle-cars where you strap your kids to the front, and partook in other various cliche familial activities I swore I would never do – and had more fun than I have had in a long time.
6. Gained 4 lbs. This is only notable because I expected it to be much more considering my daily meal schedule in Italy:
Breakfast: Americano coffee with latte frio. Brioche and toast with Nutella.
Lunch: Salad and grilled vegetables, followed by a first course of pasta or risotto, followed by a second course of meat or fish, followed by a dessert of fruit or gelato. All washed down with a few glasses of white wine and sparkling water.
Aperitivo: 1-2 drinks made with Aperol, such as a Negroni (gin, Aperol, and sweet vermouth) or Aperol Spritz (champagne and Aperol) plus nuts, focaccia, chips or whatever the bar brings to the table.
Dinner: Another 4 delicious courses, similar to lunch, ending with fruit and dessert.
Walk around town, ending with 2 scoops of gelato. Yum.
See… only gaining 4 lbs is pretty much a miracle. Maybe I sweat off the rest of the weight on the night the hotel air conditioning broke. Don’t ask.
7. Spent hours and hours walking around the small Italian town of Cesenatico in the middle of the night when my jet-lagged and over-excited daughter didn’t want to go to sleep. AND kicked my flip-flop an impressive distance when a cockroach crawled on my foot during one of these walks.
8. Sang Itsy-Bitsy Spider in every single accent my husband and I could think of (British, Southern, Gangsta, Spanish, Indian, Rastafarian, Alien, the list goes on and on…) in a desperate attempt to entertain my daughter after 5 hours in the car.
9. Saw more peni (is this the plural of penis?) barely concealed in thin spandex speedos in one day than I ever hoped to in an entire lifetime. I’m still recovering.
10. Learned to let it go (kind of), take a breath and just laugh when my daughter didn’t behave as I would like. She was in a new place with new food, new people, new schedule… new everything. Is it any wonder that she doesn’t want to sit in her high chair for a 2-hour 4-course dinner, stay seated and silent after 9 hours on a plane, or sleep when WE wanted her to even though her body was telling her otherwise? When I would get really frustrated, I forced myself to take a step back and just laugh. Usually. If that didn’t work, there was wine and gelato.
Until next time… Ciao!
Happiness is… Snuggling up to my baby when she wakes up AND Cuddling up to my glass of wine…I mean husband… when she goes to sleep.
Do you ever think that Mondays were created solely as punishment for things we did over the weekend?
When the cat’s away, the mouse will… sit on the couch with a green mask on her face, eating Thai food, drinking wine, and watching bad reality TV.
“Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink, I feel shame! Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this wine, they might be out of work, and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, “It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver”
― Jack Handey
Sometimes I think that baby food doesn’t actually seem that bad. In fact, it kinda looks good! Of course, that’s usually at the end of a long day when I am thinking about having to make dinner.
Now I know this is getting a little personal, but I have to share this fantasy I have been having a lot lately. Man, is it steamy (sorry dad!)
Ok, so here it is… I check into a fancy hotel under a fake name. I go up to the hotel room, which is complete with a big, beautiful, and very sexy bed. I take off all my clothes and sink into a lavender scented bubble bath. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door! I pull on the hotel’s fluffy, white bathrobe and answer the door to find a very cute bellhop… do hotels still have those or does my fantasy take place in 1936? Anyway, the very cute bellhop comes inside my hotel room and says, “Hello Ms. Aniston. I have your order.” Then he brings in a rolling cart with a big slice of chocolate cake and a wonderful bottle of red wine. I say in a husky voice, “Thanks. I’ve got your tip right here….” Then I give him $2 (hey, it was only cake and wine) and he leaves, and I spend the entire night by myself in the big, sexy bed in my fluffy, white bathrobe, watching crappy chick flicks and eating the entire slice of cake and drinking the entire bottle of wine, and no one is crying or snoring or farting or waking me up or asking me why I am wasting my time with any movie starring Cameron Diaz or do I know how many calories are in a slice of chocolate cake or did I just drink an entire bottle of wine by myself or why am I drunk dialing my mom or why do I say my name is Jennifer Aniston when I check into hotels (hoping for an upgrade.)