Monthly Archives: November 2012

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Consumerism

Christmas Color

To say that my dad loves Christmas is more than just an understatement. It would be like saying, “Hey, let’s watch some reruns of my favorite old tv show, I Kind of Like Lucy.”  Or maybe that the characters in a Nicholas Sparks novel are fond of each other. My dad looks at Christmas with the kind of glee that most people reserve for winning the lottery. (It’s the kind of glee that I reserve for a night when marriage equality becomes reality in three more states.)

My dad’s Christmas-mania extends to all things winter. When snow is predicted, he can’t sleep through the night. He wakes up hourly, hops out of bed, and looks out the window to see if it’s snowing yet, or how much has accumulated. It drives my mother crazy, but after forty years, I suspect she’s less annoyed by it than she lets on.

The last two years, we’ve had a pretty low-key Christmas morning at my house. We do the whole Santa thing, but the boys don’t seem to get too bonkers with anticipation. They wake up on Christmas morning, open some presents, have breakfast, play for a little while, and then we spend the rest of the day with my parents and extended family at my parents’ house.

Last week, I suggested adding a new activity to the Christmas Day lineup.

“Hey, Mom,” I said, “I was thinking that maybe it would be fun for you and Dad to come have breakfast with us on Christmas morning. You could see the boys open their presents, and they’d think it was fun.”

She wasn’t convinced. “They’ll want to get up and open their presents awfully early, won’t they?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “I can probably hold them off until 7:30 or 7:45 without a problem.”

The line was quiet. I know that getting up for breakfast madness at the crack of dawn is not Mom’s idea of a good time.

“We’ll see,” she said.

“Ok, but be careful. If you mention it to Dad while you’re still thinking about it, you won’t have a choice anymore.”

We spoke again on Saturday.

“I mentioned your Christmas idea to your Dad yesterday,” she said.

This is good. My mother can be a little slow to warm up to an idea, but mentioning it to Dad meant that she must be on board. I mean, sure, getting up early is annoying, but there are only so many chances to watch the boys open presents on Christmas morning while they’re still young.

“I assume Dad jumped up and down like the boys would?” I asked.

“No,” she laughed. “He said, ‘Maybe we can go to their house on Christmas Eve, after the boys are asleep! Then we could sleep there, and surprise the boys when they wake up in the morning.'”

“You’d certainly be welcome,” I said.

“I tried to remind him that we’ll have houseguests at own house that night,” she said.

“Well, it’s up to you guys,” I said. “I’m going to try to get a Wii U tomorrow, and if I do, it’ll be a very exciting Christmas morning.”

On Sunday morning, I got up before the boys were awake, and drove to the local Target. We like to joke that it’s the secret Target, because there’s never anyone there. You can go there on a Saturday and not see another customer. But when I got there a little before 7:30 on Sunday, there was already a small line of people waiting for the store to open at 8AM. I was seventh in a line of very cold, but very friendly, people.

I thought I was all set. I mean, certainly there would be enough consoles for seven people. Over the next little while, the line kept growing. A few minutes before 8AM, there were probably thirty people waiting. Literally, that’s more people than I have ever seen at this quiet little Target.

The manager came out. He asked if everyone was waiting for a Wii U. Obviously we were. Then he let us know that his store only had four of them. Oops.

Well, the local Best Buy was going to open at 11AM. I have limits, and I wasn’t going to stand in line outside Best Buy for three hours on a cold Sunday morning. I went home and had breakfast.

I said to Austin, “Ok, I’ll drive by Best Buy at 9:30. If there’s a long line, I’ll just come home. If there’s only a few people, I’ll try waiting until they open.”

So I made some coffee and drove over to Best Buy. There was no one waiting. Too good to be true? I parked, and walked up to the door. A few minutes later, a woman got out of her car and walked up to me.

“Are you waiting for a Wii?” she asked.

I nodded.

“I think you’re in luck,” she said. “There were a few of us waiting at 7, and the manager gave us tickets when he got here. He gave out six, and said he had four more. I haven’t seen him give out any tickets since then.”

Turns out I didn’t have to wait very long. They decided to open the store an hour early to get rid of the crazy people camping out on Sunday morning for a Wii U.

I got a ticket, and the manager said how glad he was that he worked in the suburbs now.

“I used to manage the Boston store,” he said. “I will never forget the launch of the PS3. We had to call the police, and they came in riot gear. This is much nicer.”

Much nicer, indeed. They had enough that everyone who was waiting was able to get one.

That was most of my Christmas shopping taken care of right there, in one swipe of the credit card. The boys are totally going to lose their minds when they see a Wii U under the Christmas tree.


I might lose my mind, too. There’s a new game console in the spare bedroom closet, with a new Mario game, and I have to just leave it there for a whole month.

I had never considered this possibility when I thought about becoming a parent.

I’m Sick of Hearing You’re Sick of Politics

voting day in a small town

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there’s a presidential election tomorrow.

If you look at my twitter timeline or facebook feed, you might think that the worst thing a person could do, in advance of a presidential election, is to talk about politics. Apparently it’s boring, or they’ve heard it all before, or they just don’t care that much.


I wish that I had the option to put politics aside. I really do. I’d much rather read a new book or spend some time playing the new Assassin’s Creed game (it looks like fun, but I’m letting my husband finish it first) than read about what horrific things the Republicans have said and done today.

But the stakes are too high.

I wish that politics were an optional pastime in the United States. It would be great if it were something that only hardcore wonks talked about, because choices between political candidates were about complex, arcane economic policies. I wish that the implementation of something like quantitative easing was how elections were won and lost.

It’s not, though.

Instead, our elections are about basic values. They’re about my family’s basic right to exist. They’re about a woman’s right to choose. They’re about whether or not your neighbors get to enforce their religious strictures on you and your family.

Maybe those basic civil rights don’t feel like a big deal to you. Maybe they don’t have a big impact. Maybe you feel like your family is protected, regardless of who is elected to Congress or the White House.

I wish I had the luxury of being sick of politics.

I don’t, though. Instead, I wake up on a Sunday morning, and the first thing I do is read the poll numbers. It looks like marriage equality has a real chance in Maine and Washington. I’ll be ecstatic if it succeeds in either, and I’ll pretend that a failure doesn’t feel like a punch to the gut.

I joke about it with my husband, but when I walk by a house with Republican campaign signs in the yard, I wonder, “Do the people in that house hate me?” In my head, I’ve ranked them. When I see a Scott Brown sign, I’ve decided that the occupants are probably just ignorant of the dangers. They probably don’t hate me. A Mitt Romney sign? He’s been pretty clear about what he thinks about the rights of gay people, so those neighbors are more likely to hate me and my family. And when I see a sign for Sean Bielat? Then I know it’s someone to avoid.

Last December, Austin ended up in the hospital unexpectedly. It turned out that he needed to have his gall bladder removed. It was all pretty routine, but after the surgery, he had a fever and needed to stay in the hospital for a few extra days. We’d been supposed to take the kids to Disney World with my parents. Instead, we were hoping that his fever wouldn’t come back and he’d be able to come home.

What I can’t shake, though, is the what-if questions. What if he’d felt sick a few days later, when we were already in Florida? Here in Massachusetts, we’re married. Would a hospital in Florida have treated us the same? Under an executive order from President Obama, they have to. (Sort of. Mostly.) But executive orders are flimsy. They can just change. And you can be pretty sure that President Romney wouldn’t let an executive order granting hospital visitation to same sex couples stand.

That’s just one tiny thing, in a sea of others. Things that impact lives.

So I’m sorry that you’re sick of hearing about politics. I am, too, for different reasons.

But really? Too fucking bad.