Monthly Archives: December 2011

Always Read the Fine Print AKA What Not to Say to Your Mother-in-Law

Like I told you before, we usually do Christmas with my husband’s family over Thanksgiving. They do “the opening of the presents” differently than I’d always done it with my family. In my family, only one person opens a gift at a time. Everyone oohs and ahhs over each gift and the whole gift giving process can take quite a bit of time even though my family is not very big.

Kelly’s family is very large and  in their family, Uncle Sam (That’s not a pseudonym. My children actually have their own Uncle Sam.) passes out all the presents with help from the children and everyone opens everything simultaneously. Keep in mind that we have two Amys; two Bens; an Ann, an Anna, and a Hannah; a Karlea and a Kelly; a Kara and a Karen, and a child with the last name “Lawson” and family members who have the last name “Lawson,” Did I mention that most of the kids helping to distribute the presents can’t read? So I’m never quite sure if I’m actually opening the present that was meant to go to me or who gave my children any of their presents or if they ended up with what they were intended to have.  Since we stay at Kelly’s mom’s when we’re there, I usually get a chance to see all of the gifts she received later in the evening after most everyone has gone home.

This year, one of the gifts we gave Kelly’s mom was a set of Amazing Grace products from Philosophy. I love Philosophy’s products and I especially love Amazing Grace. It has a very soft, clean smell. I gave the same gift set to my mom for her birthday and I thought my mother-in-law would like it, too. That’s why I was a little confused when after most of the rest of the family had left, she sat down beside me with one of the bottles and said simply, “Explain this, please.”

I was flummoxed.

“Well,” I said, “it’s a shower gel, lotion, and perfume that I really like and I thought maybe you’d like it, too.”

“Oh,” she said.

We talked for a few more minutes about fragrances and the like. I was only half-way listening because my mind was reeling wondering why the gift needed an explanation. As long as I’ve known her, and from what I hear, even before I came on the scene, my mother-in-law has worn Youth Dew by Estee’ Lauder. One of my brothers-in-law and his wife give her a new bottle every November for her birthday. Maybe, I thought, she was offended that I would give her a fragrance gift when everyone knew she already has a signature scent. Since the gift had already been given, I just made a mental note to stay away from fragrances as gifts in the future. They can be a very personal choice. The next day, however, she used the products and told us that she really thought she would enjoy them.

On the way home from Kentucky, I called my mom and she  asked me how everyone in Kentucky liked the gifts we’d given them. I told her that I wasn’t sure that I should have given my mother-in-law the Philosophy set. But honestly, after we talked, I really didn’t give it much more thought.

Until today.

Taken from somewhere on the Internet

My mom called me while I was out Christmas shopping and said, “I think I may know why Kelly’s mom responded the way she did about the Amazing Grace gift. Have you read the bottle?”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Philosophy products, each bottle has a “philosophical” paragraph or two imprinted on it. The paragraphs are usually feel-good kind of “touchy feely” words. Since I just happened to be shopping in a store that carries Philosophy products, I decided to wander over and read the Amazing Grace bottle.

In case you can’t read the small print on the bottle in the picture, let me include it for you here:

The natural aging process causes the soft tissues of our faces and bodies to begin to descend. Our eyebrows frown, our lids droop, our eyes appear hollow, our noses and ears larger, and our jawbone is less defined.  As for our breasts, bellies, and our buttocks, it’s no different. We can fight the process or we can yield to losing our bodies, gaining our souls, and finding our grace.

Lord, love a duck. I did NOT just give this to my mother-in-law. Drooping eyebrows, hollow eyes, big old nose and ears with a blurry jawbone? Did they just go there? Breasts, bellies, and buttocks?! Are you kidding me?!

I don’t know that I was even in the running, but my chances of becoming the favorite daughter-in-law this year are looking about as promising as this year’s Republican presidential nominee hopefuls.

So Ranger Rick Safety trip and word to the wise for your Christmas giving:  Read the fine print, people. Especially on the gifts that go to your mother-in-law.

By the way, Jen and Tara at shortyarns invited me over for a visit this week. They wanted me to write about Santa losing his sleigh on Christmas Eve. As someone who spent fifteen minutes looking for her keys this afternoon only to find them stuck in the front door keyhole, I felt I had something to say. As someone who has spent the last two days walking up and down through every store parking lot in town trying to remember where she parked the paid-for minivan, I felt well-equipped to write on this subject. To the guys who watch the parking lot surveillance cameras at Walmart and Target, you’re welcome. I’m glad I could amuse and entertain you with my parking lot wanderings.  Anyway, come on over and read this week’s entries. Jen wrote a very imaginative piece about Santa being outsourced by those little Elf on the Shelf guys.  It’s a fun site. Check it out!



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Setting the Mood for Christmas AKA Big Crunchy, Andrew Broccoli, and Roger

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Christmas music. I usually try to wait until at least after Halloween to start playing my jingle tunes, but I reserve the right to listen to a few of my favorites any time the mood strikes, be it December or July. Before any of you call me out as one of those people who wants to skip Thanksgiving just to get to Christmas, I’d like to say I’m not hating on Thanksgiving, but you can only sing “Count Your Many Blessings” so many times. Let’s face it. Thanksgiving gets the short end of the music stick, too.

For me, music helps to set the mood for Christmas. Even if my decorations aren’t completely up and my presents aren’t wrapped (or bought, for that matter), Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” makes my days merry and bright (even though my Christmases are rarely white).

Speaking of Bing Crosby, our family has given the great crooner a new nickname. From now on he will be affectionately known in our house as “Big Crunchy.” He has my daughter to thank. See, last year for Christmas, Kelly gave me XM radio for the minivan. I’ve loved having it, especially since the holiday stations started up after Thanksgiving. The box isn’t that big, so from the back seats it can be hard to read the names of the artists and songs that are playing. This became most evident when my youngest hoped aloud the other day that we would hear more Big Crunchy Christmas songs. We had no idea who she was talking about until Bing and The Andrew Sisters started singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and she gladly exclaimed, “There he is! There’s Big Crunchy!” And so he shall be for the rest of our days.

She’s in second grade and she’s a very good reader, but she’s still stumped by some of the harder words, especially ones that aren’t in her native tongue. A few days ago she was looking at things I’d bought for one of the many white elephant gift exchanges I’ve participated in this season. For a couple of parties I bought Christmas CDs that were on sale at Walmart, a small Christmas candle, a bar of chocolate, and a Christmas mug that I filled with a bag of my spiced/Russian/Christmas tea mix. I stuck one of each in a bag with a card labeled “Holiday Spirit Picker Upper.” One of the CDs I bought was Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas” CD.

“Who’s Andrew Broccoli?” she wanted to know.

Close, sweetie, but not quite.

Maybe it’s a vision thing and I should take her to get her eyes checked. She was sitting across the table from me this weekend as I perused the latest ad from the Lifeway store. She noticed one of the books that was advertised on the cover and wondered aloud, “Heaven is for Roger? Who’s Roger?”

“That’s Heaven is for REAL, dear.”

“Oh!” she said, “I was going to say, that doesn’t seem right that it’s just for Roger.”

So maybe my tree isn’t decorated yet. (I told the kids that we’re going organic this year and that since green is the new black we may just be enjoying the tree in all its naked beauty. At which my boys said, “Eww! Naked!!”) But I have Big Crunchy playing in the background and my Christmas candle is burning. My family’s nestled safe in our nest and for this moment in time, life is good. I hope it’s good for you this very moment, too.


Filed under Christmas

Making My Lists, Checking Them Twice

Sorry I’ve been missing in action the last couple of weeks! I’ve been trying to take my own advice about keeping the focus where it needs to be this season which means I’ve had less time to spend here at Snoodlings.

I don’t have much time set aside to spend here today, but I did have a few ideas I wanted to share with you today. Many of you are probably sitting in your completely decorated houses beside your beautifully decorated tree with all of your elegantly wrapped gifts underneath its branches, sipping homemade hot chocolate from a mug you made and fired yourself, munching on baked goods, and making your gift list for next year. Aren’t you something? Others of you may be struggling to catch up….like me.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no expert on getting it all together and keeping that way, but I have picked up a few tips along the way that have helped me. During this time of year, I am never far away from my Christmas notebook.

The notebook contains my kids’ wish lists, family members’ sizes, the list of what they’re actually getting, my grocery lists, my To Do lists, my price comparison lists, etc. Not only is this notebook helpful now, I keep my notebooks from year to year. They remind me of what presents I’ve given previously and also give me ideas for presents.

Another thing I keep in my purse this time of year:

I keep all of my Christmas receipts here. In case we need to exchange something, I have the receipts all in one place. They also help me keep track of my Christmas spending.

A few weeks ago at a meeting, a speaker gave us a list of great ways to make this time of year easier. I don’t have time to share all of them with you, but today I’ll tell you about the one that impacted me most.

Spend a few minutes and write down your top three priorities for this time of year. Then choose a personal “theme” for your holidays that reflects those priorities. Here are a few ideas:

Faith, Family, & Friends
Keep it Simple
Better Done than Perfect
An Old-Fashioned Christmas
Less is More
Unplugged for the Holidays
Time Together
Change it Up with New Traditions

I couldn’t pick just one, so I’m using “Faith, Family, & Friends,” and “Better Done than Perfect, Good Enough Will Do.” I want to have more time to spend with my family and friends so I don’t have to agonize over the perfect teacher and hostess gifts. I can pick up a dessert from a favorite bakery if I don’t have time to bake something from scratch. I don’t want the stress of getting everything done perfectly to take the focus from the meaning of this time of year. I want more time to reflect on God’s perfect gift and how I can live like someone who knows what it means to have received it.

So what theme would you choose for yourself? Do you use a Christmas notebook?

P.S. Sorry for the repeated notices about this post. I tried a new posting format today and I obviously need more practice!


Filed under Christmas