Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Detox

The last few days have been crazy. Of course, as you can see from the pictures in the Christmas Eve pics, P4 was the last to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. He was so excited. Prior to that, the eldest two possums had had a less than steller visit with some family. In effect, we allow them to see a biological family member out of courtesy to that relationship. We're under no obligation to do so. But, we've always been of the opinion that kids can't have too much love heaped on them,, as long as no one became a negative influence, we were cool with them seeing that part of their family. Unfortunately, I think it's escaped this particular family member that P1 and P2 are no longer six years old. And, more disturbing...they've now become intensely involved in the Catholic Church. So, what was supposed to be a visit with this family member became eight hours in the church. *fume* Essentially, because the family member had already promised the church that she would help decorate for the holiday masses, the kids got drafted into helping. possums are very generous and helpful. They do more chores than most kids simply because they enjoy helping out and recognize that: if everyone pitches in, then the work gets done faster. However, they weren't counting on someone dropping them off at a church with a nun from India. They polished pews, untangled and hung lights, set the alter with clean linens, brewed coffee and arranged cookies, folded programs, and various other tasks. However, at one point, P2 was told, by the nun, that he had to string lights on the trees. Well, that would be wonderful if he didn't have a serious allergy to pine oil. He carries an epi pen! He tried to explain this to the nun and, I shit you not, she said, "That's silly. No one is allergic to pine." WTF?! Luckily, P1 stepped up and said, "He is! And, you can call my mom if you want. Want to see his epi kit?" So, the nun backed off. But, as one might imagine, the possums were pretty pissed that their "visit" turned into slave labor for the church. And, as you can imagine, Pmomma was furious because my children had been left alone in a Catholic Church with a nun and a lay minister (the priest was out distributing toys with the family member). I mean, seriously - let's forget it's a church and just focus on leaving two pre-teens in a largely unsupervised building immediately next to a busy road with lots of interstate travelers. Let's just focus on the fact that they're strangers in that small town and a 70 year old nun isn't likely to be able to protect a child from much of anything.

I'm very proud of the kids, though. P1 made sure to voice her discontent. P2 was irritated and, according to the relative, became "surly" after church. YA' THINK!?!?! I don't know...maybe it was the fact that they gave up their first weekend of winter break to polish your church? AND - to add insult to injury, this relative got them exactly one small gift (t-shirts that didn't fit them any more because, well, they're not perpetually six years old despite the nostalgia of the relative). Yet, these same people bought x-boxes and toys galore for the foster family. Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to be charitable or sacrifice. I'm just saying it's a bit much to expect an 11 year old and a 12 year old to be as gracious as a forty year old. They were disappointed. And, then... there was some added family drama. It's a long story. But, they've made the decision that they don't want to see this family member much anymore. So, my policy of giving the relative enough rope to hang themselves may have been a great plan.

Sorry. Didn't mean to vent such personal things, but the fact that my kids were cleaning a church, when they could've been here baking cookies and having a fantastic time, pisses me off.

Well... I have a bit of a meme (I'm starting it).
I love giving gifts...and I don't mind receiving them. So, I'm curious...
1. What was the best gift your received ever?
2. What was the worst?
3. What's the best gift you've given someone else?
4. What's the worst?
5. What did you get this holiday season?
6. Where did it fit on the best to worst scale (best being 1 and worst being a 10)?

I tag a bunch of people: Russel/Kazim, Ginny, Sean the Blogonaut, Poodles, VampDi, Maggie, SWE, 1steelecobra, Joe, Dawn, Saurian,...basically everyone. You don't have to forward the meme and nothing bad will happen if you don't play. I'm just curious. If you don't see your name here, I still want to hear your answers. :)

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of happy possums on Christmas morning.

iPods. They've been wanting them for two years.

Owen's new blanket!

What will she create? I can't wait.


Eight Hour Lunch said...

Argh!I can't imagine many things that would have pissed me off worse than that. Then again, you may be on to a clever way to insert little subversives--like a cute little atheist sleeper cell. :)

Angela said...

I am really enjoying your blog and feel for your poor kids and their miserable experience.

I thought I would just share the BEST Christmas present I ever received - my Dad wrote a bit of an autobiography of his life and gave it to us three kids. It was absolutely fascinating to find out what his childhood in a very poor section of Pittsburgh was like and his life experiences in general including his time in Vietnam. I would recommend this idea to any parent as a gift for your child!!

Poodles said...

GGGRRR!!! I think beyond the whole safety issue what irritates me about that and about the fact that the LDS churches do the same thing is that the catholic chruch is the WEALTHIEST company in the world and they can't give somebody a PAYING job to clean their church and set up for a party? The LDS church used to pay people to clean their chruches but then they fired them and now the members "get callings" to do it. So religious people say you need to be religious to be generous I say BS! Donating time and money to a wealthy company isn't helping society one bit!
GGGRRRR!! Sorry for the rant but that kind of thing pisses me off!

Ok I will go work on the meme now. :)

1steelcobra said...

I was once dropped off at an Aunt's farm to help out for a week or so. Wasn't much fun, but at least I was expecting it.

But getting dropped at a relative for the weekend on the idea that you'll be hanging out there, and getting drafted to basically be a cleaning/decorating service for a church is just a misrepresentation of the entire visit.

Speaking of pine oil allergies, another Aunt (my mom has 3 younger sisters) has it. She's the upper middle child and tend to annoy everyone. Not bad enough for anything like real pranks, but enough to joke about using Pine-sol or pine-scented candles.

Katie said...

Oh I used to hate it when my mom used to wrangle me into free slave labor for the catholic church. I love helping people out all the same but I have been forced to make ravioli for sale, clean an entire church as well, and a laundry list of other activities I don't care to drag up.

Here's my worst present of the year,the rest are posted elsewhere, it personally rates a 1 (worst). The only brother that still lives in town decided to give me a horribly smelly set of faux asian-esque candles for the holidays. Now everyone who knows me and my allergies will know that I do not allow anything scented, perfumed, etc into my home because my breathing ways will immediately close up and I get horrible migraines just from the scent. It took me less then 24 hours to hand off that gift to someone else.

Dave Salyers said...

This is why I live 3 hours away from my well-meaning LDS Mormon relatives (and 3 States away from my Pentecostal/Holiness/Baptist ones). My Catholic in-laws are too scared of me to try to pull that one anyways.

wineymomma said...

That is absolutely horrid! I cannot imagine how upset/pissed hubby monster would be if that happened to our monsters.

I can tell you, however, that there would be no more visits!

Vamp said...

I'm glad the kids have gotten to the point, on their own, to stop visiting the relatives who use them as pawns. Too many unpleasant surprises happen everytime they go. That side/part of the family will leave a bad taste in their mouthes for the rest of their lives now. It's too bad, but that's life.

SWE said...

At the heart of my grandfather's atheism was slave labor for Methodists. His parents were very devout, pillars of the church etc. So of course, by the time my great grandmother was the widowed mother of eight it was expected that my grandfather would just take care of all of the chores around the church (for no pay, when the family was literally starving).

He, however, always blamed the church for their abuse of trust rather than his mother for her misplaced trust. I always thought that was interesting. (I blamed my mom, but then I'm a girl 2 generations later...)

It will be interesting to see whether the put-upon possums are more disgusted by this relative or the church he/she serves. Either way, this experience is apparently life-simplifying for you.

Psychodiva said...

love the stripey outfits :)

Saurian200 said...


Whew! What a terrible way to treat kids during the holiday. I can understand taking kids to a church for serivices over the holidays, but to draft them into working for the church without telling them before hand is just thoughtless.

Anyway, onto the meme:

(I'm assuming these questions are about gift giving in general and not about Christmas speciffically.)

1. What was the best gift your received ever?

A few years ago my brother got me tickets, for my birthday, to go to Wizard World Philadelphia with him. Growing up we were very close despite him being a lot older then me.

But about that time he had been promoted at work and become involved with an animal rescue group so we had been spending a lot less time together then we used to. He got me the tickets so we could go into Philly and spend the weekend together at the show.

We've always been big comics nerds so that weekend was a blast between going to the show and hanging out together. Since then it's become a tradition and now we go every summer.

2. What was the worst?

Also, last year, on Christmas Day we got a call from my uncle letting us know that my grandmother had died. Granted that wasn't a gift but it was the worst thing I have ever recieved on holiday.

3. What's the best gift you've given someone else?

For mother's day this year, since I was broke, I fired scanned the best puictures of myself and my brother that I could find, fired up photoshop, and made a collage of the pictures that showed the two of us growing up from our baby photo's to now.

Even though my mother loves that sort of thing, she was moved even more than I was expecting. My father even loved it and asked for a smaller framed version that he could hang in his office for father's day. Needless to say, I am very happy with that.

4. What's the worst?

I got someone a chia pet once. That's about as much of the story as I'm willing to tell.

5. What did you get this holiday season?

Some good stuff. The one thing I will mention was the giant bucket of Smores. I love Smores.

6. Where did it fit on the best to worst scale (best being 1 and worst being a 10)?

I would have to say a four. It would have been better if I hadn't gotten sick on Christmas Day. Still, I never really outgrew the fun of Christmas morning. Sick or not I still mostly enjoyed myself.

FSMismyhero said...


How awful for the possums. It’s too bad they had to have such a bad experience but at least they saw that relative for who they are.

Your post reminded me of a question I've been wanting to ask you.
How do you keep your religious relatives from preaching/indoctrinating your children?

My husband and I are starting to think about having children and one of my biggest concerns is how I'm going to raise them as agnostics (we're atheists but I want them to make up their own minds) when we have some extremely religious family members. I'm not so much concerned when their p1 and p2's ages, but when their more like P3 and p4's age and more impressionable. Any advice/experiences you could share would be extremely helpful :)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I guess I should answer my own meme, huh?

1. What was the best gift you received ever?
I think it would have to be the roller skates I received as a kid.
2. What was the worst?
Most of the people I know are great gift givers, so I don't have many "truly awful" gifts. But, there's one person who just never puts ANY thought into gifts. This one year, he walked in with a bag from the Dollar Store and tossed me two, plastic ice cube trays. They weren't cool shapes or anything...just your standard plastic ice cube trays. That was kind of a "Wtf?" gift? Then, this same person have P1 a three year old Happy Meal toy. He's not broke...just a bad gift giver.

3. What's the best gift you've given someone else?
Apparently, I hit the jackpot this year (for my grandparents). On Thanksgiving, I took tons of pics of the family...that hadn't been done for twenty years or so. I *was* just going to give them a bunch of prints, but...ggpa and ggma are in their late eighties and are from the "don't poke holes in the walls" school of home management. So, I used snapfish and made a photo book. They absolutely loved it. I think my other favorite was when we created a movie bucket for my daughter's friend's birthday. I found the movie for like $5 at Target, so we used the extra money (I have a limit for birthday gifts) buying a plastic bucket that we filled with microwave popcorn, candies, and bottled rootbeer. The bucket has now made the rounds of those girls and each one fills it for the next one's birthday with fun things.

4. What's the worst? I have to admit that I suck at last minute gifts. Anything less than 24 hours and I'll blow it. Anyway, I ran into a grocery store to pick up some flowers for a friend and she ended up being deathly allergic. And, the worst part is I remembered, too late, that she'd told my about her allergy. I felt sooooooooo horrible.

5. What did you get this holiday season?
P3 made me a cute apron with her handprints on it. And, DH bought me a Nintendo DS. I got a couple of DS games from my parents.

6. Where did it fit on the best to worst scale (best being 1 and worst being a 10)?
7 - I can't complain about anything I received this year. It was all very nice.

Mephitis said...

Oh my daughter got the same digital studio!

I did your meme also.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Owen got a bad deal. Ipods and computer games for the others. a blanket for him.

Joe said...

For as sucky a time as the little possums had, this fixes a couple of issues about "having" to visit people you don't really care for. They won't forget what happened.

And, I answered your meme

SWE said...

Oh, yeah, I also answered. And the number of times I have rushed out for flowers for someone who had told me before that they were allergic are too numerous to count. I have to find something other than flowers...

ShadesOfGrey said...

Heeey, I wanted the digital studio! Oh, silly me, as an adult, I can go buy my own. I love being an adult.

Well, you've given me several more reasons to hate the Cath church and my effing Cath relatives.

AlisonM said...

When you are given charge of someone else's children, YOU DO NOT GO OFF AND LEAVE THEM WITH SOMEONE ELSE! It's as simple as that. You don't even need to go into the laundry list of why this is so, or what could happen, it is a simple fact that brooks no argument. Period. If the relatives aren't responsible enough to follow this rule, then they can't be trusted to have the children by themselves. They don't like it, tough noogies.