First, it was the pajamas.
Every year, the kids get matching pjs for Christmas (from the Elf, but more on that later). Both kids were once happy wearing gender neutral footie pajamas in a T size. All I had to do was find a pattern I liked and order two of them. Easy! Then another year passed. One left the T's behind, so I found myself running back and forth between the toddler boy and the little girl department, but both still wore footies, so life was still good. Another year later, and I had to match a nightgown to a pair of button downs. It took two adults, two laptops, multiple web sites, and a lot of cursing to find a match. This year, I thought the search would kill me. Black Friday? Nothing. I must have gone through a bottle of Visine hopping from site to site clicking on this pair of pjs for him, then that pair for her. Every time, one pair was sold out of the size I needed. This went on for days. DAYS. I even contemplated the wicked expensive ones that coordinate with embroidered names on the shirts, but I couldn't quite stomach the price. Finally, finally, Amazon answered my call. Then, filled with the thrill of victory, I went and found a matching set of pj's for the damned American Girl doll, complete with era-appropriate sleep cap. Who's the dumb shit who will now have to accomplish this hat trick again next year? That would be me.
Then, it was the Elf on the Shelf.
(Side note: our Elf is not the standard issue one, but a miniature green Care Bear with a Santa hat and vest.)
The problem started last year when one over-achieving parent at school started "doing things" with the Elf. (See the link below about how crazy some people get about these dumb things.) So-and-so's Elf left pictures of his family. I dutifully found a close up of a different Care Bear online (so I can claim it is our Elf's "sister"), this one wearing a jaunty scarf and left it lying around. Then So-and-Sos buddy decided to ask her Elf questions. So I dutifully wrote out answers in teeny tiny block letters to such questions as where do you live (Guam), how old are you (186), and what is your favorite color (magenta), which I, of course, dutifully wrote down so I wouldn't forget. I even congratulated myself on acquiring that second Care Bear during the course of the year. The day after Thanksgiving arrives, both the old Elf and the new Elf appears, my son is thrilled, my daughter turns to me and asks, "Where's the scarf?" Oh. Fuck. Me. So what do I do? I get a (very kind) friend to make the stupid scarf. For a stuffed animal that I tell my kids is a magic spy from Santa. It is this type of thinking that gets people put into asylums.
Finally, it is the Christmas Calendar.
When the kids were tiny and still completely adorable no matter what they did, I took hundreds of pictures of them. When one got into the cookie batter, I made sure the whip out the camera, then let the other one do the same so I could get matching shots. Thus, making the end-of-year calendar at the online photo store was really easy. Both were out playing in the snow - January! Both were swimming in the pool - June! You get the picture. (Groan.) Then, I added in individual photos of every family member on their birthday. The entire job would take me roughly one televised football game. You know where this is going, don't you? This year, it took me four days. They aren't so cute covering in food anymore, so I take far fewer pictures. They also don't do matching activities, so finding shots of both kids doing anything, let alone something relevant to each other and the month in question is incredibly difficult. So, the first day was spent picking pictures. Then another day to try to match in pictures of their adorable cousin. A third day was spent actually uploading the photos and trying to make the calendar itself, pulling and adding shots, moving things around, etc. The final day was spent on the birthday shots and trying to get my BILs photo sharing website to stop crashing long enough for me to illegally download pictures from it. Of course, there was a time crunch as it had to be done by midnight of a certain day in order to get roughly 65 percent off the order. (I also usually have to do two separate ones for each side of the family.) By the time I hit the order button, I was ready to throw my computer through the nearest window. And where do BOTH sets of parents hang this fantastic work of art that I shed blood, sweat, and tears for? On the INSIDE door of the pantry.
So for those of you who think that going the extra mile this year is a good idea - think of the marathon you'll wind up running before it is all said and done. I'm looking at you, Queen B, who has already posted pictures of your Elf zip-lining across the living room. Instead, follow the example of my very wise SIL, enjoying her first Christmas as a mom, whom, when I asked if I could buy her son pjs to match my kids (for a picture), laughed and told me that if I wanted to drive myself crazy, it was all on me.
Truer words were never spoken.