Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions, blast from the past edition

I just found a piece of paper which was titled. "New Years’ Resolutions 2000." And it reads:

1. Stop saying “Fabulous”

2. Don’t talk so much like a sailor

3. Exercise

-- contortion

-- ballet classes with Maestro

4. Spend less money

5. Overcome the Joyce Leslie fantaticism

The good news is in the last 11 years, I have managed to succeed in resolutions 1 and 5, the bad news is that I have to renew all the other ones and if you replace the word "fabulous" with "douche bag" and "Joyce Leslie" with "" the others totally stand, too.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Santa Fight Club

Ever since I realized I could stream This American Life, from my iPhone while I’m working out, I have been a happy exerciser. The raw power of TAL is almost enough to make me work out more than twice a week. Last week, I listened to a great one, Santa Fight Club about these two rival Santas who literally came to blows over the future of professional real-bearded Santa-ing. Just don't listen with your young kids in earshot.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas-cookie-making mania

Here’s a part of Christmas-celebrating that seems odd to me: the compulsion people have to make cookies. I’m talking about normal people, non-baker-types, who for the other 11 months of the year feel no yen at all to fire up the ovens and get all nitty gritty with the flour and the sugar. I know a whole host of people like this, who when December rolls around, suddenly catch cookie fever and take on these extraordinarily complex baking projects which lead to cookie boxes that look store-bought – ribbons, bows, cellophane wrapping, the whole nine yards.

My mother was always one such person. There were at least five different kinds of cookies in her repertoire – all of them traditional Italian cookies – the powered nut balls, the frappe’s which look like bows, biscotti, among them. Her and my grandmother would spend hours tying the bow dough perfectly, fighting the whole time

“You’re not doing it right! Look at that one! We have to re-do it!”

“Whatta you talking about? Fifty years I make the frappes!”

“Then you’ve been making them wrong ALL THIS TIME!”

We kids did not help in the endeavor, because if my grandmother’s seasoned fingers were not nimble enough, then ours certainly weren’t. It was much like that scene from The Hours where Julianne Moore tosses out the birthday cake her son helped her make and makes a new, perfect one by herself. Except without the first cake altogether.

I, too, feel compelled to bake Christmas cookies, but I’ve stumbled onto the formula which works for me and for the kids, and it is this:

1. We bake one batch of sugar cookies

2. We separate each stage – 1.mixing, 2.rolling, cutting and baking, 3.decorating – by several days

These two decisions helped me to avoid several awful side effects of Christmas cookie baking:

I no longer get that overwhelmed, why-the-hell-did-I-start-this-goddamned-project, I-am-a-trapped-hausfrau feeling that comes when I do anything domestic for over one and a half hours.

Since each stage only last 30 minutes or so, the kids can help the whole time

AND most crucial of all, by letting the kids help decorate, I am able to tell everyone I give the cookies to, “The kids made them” which covers up my lack of skill, because the truth is, they’d look precisely the same, if I made them all by myself. I can’t coat a Douglass Fir sugar cookie with red icing to save my damn life (cookies in the picture above are not, obviously, mine. I was too depleted after making them to take a picture, as usual).

I put four or five awful-looking but delicious cookies in a Chinese food container and then take a Sharpie and write “Happy Holidays” on the top. Maybe I’ll draw a Christmas tree underneath. And that’s it. Done and Done. Season’s greetings people. Eat your cookies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Time to Make the Stockings

And a very merry, holly jolly day after day after Christmas to you! We've had a action-packed Christmas weekend which included me turning into an incompetent but very determined Martha Stewart facsimile when I decided that at all costs, I would make my children handmade stockings before Santa came. This was an ill-advised move. For six years, my kids have gotten by on using other people's stockings or generic ones from the 99 cent store. But this year when we couldn't locate any of the shitty store-bought ones, it occurred to me that instead of replacing the shit with more shit, I could, theoretically, give the gift that lasts a lifetime by crafting stockings from fancy wool/ felt blend and then sewing on the kids' names, felt decorations, and sequins. At first, I balked at my own proposal, but then I remembered that my mother had made these exact type of stockings for us when we were very young and my mother's no seamstress either. If she could do it, then certainly, INDUBITABLY, so could I. Better, probably. Once I realized I could compete with my mother's accomplishment, it was a done deal. I bought a tonnage of felt and sequins and got to work.

After working til nearly midnight on the night before Christmas Eve, I had cut both stockings and sewed on Christmas trees and Seconda's name. This took me about five hours. I realized that to meet my goal -- attaching a faux-fur trim on top, and decorating each tree with sequins. loads of felt presents under the tree and a simple night skyscape of shooting stars, moons and candy canes -- I'd probably have to work from that moment until New Year's Day. It took me 10 minutes to knot the end of the freaking thread to say nothing of actually threading the thing.

So on Christmas Eve, I brought the work-sack full of felt to my parent's place, the which I basically turned into a Stocking-Manufacturing Sweat Shop. While my mother and father cooked, I barked orders at the rest of the crew - my sister was appointed head of Cutting, David was Official Threader, my cousin was a freelance sewer. Then when my grandmother finally got sprung from her duties frying riceballs, I roped her into the operation and THAT'S when shit got started in earnest. Nonnie, who worked as a seamstress in swimsuit factories for several decades, knows her way around a needle and thread. In the time it took me to knot the end of the thread, she'd already sewed on five letters. I am not even exaggerating. It was like having a contest between sometime who was sewing with their fingers and someone who was sewing with their toes.

Our group effort paid off and by the time I went back to my place on Christmas Eve, I had a few minor things to add, and then to close the stcokings up. These two things took four hours. As I pushed midnight, sewing frantically while David dozed, I realized that the next morning, when the kids woke at 6am, all bushy-tailed to see Santa's offerings, I'd be in one colossally shitty mood, and probably end up shouting at my kids all because I stayed up into the wee hours making a freaking homemade stocking NO ONE ASKED ME TO MAKE.

Now that this insanity is behind me, however, and the stockings are fully adorned, the sequins shimmering, the adorable felt presents lined up in adorable rows, now I"m delighted at the endeavor. My children, who at this point don't give a flying shit about the fact that I overcame incompetence and burned the midnight oil to achieve the feat, will look on these stockings in a few decades and remember me fondly. Or maybe they'll think, "Yeah she was one self-obsessed nutty broad, but hey, these are damn cute stockings."

Yeah, I realize it would have been a good idea to include pictures but I was too busy making the things to photograph them, and now I'm in Jersey, enjoying being snowed-in and listening to my parents argue while cooking dinner. Photographs later, readers, and prepare to be dazzled.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How TV made me a better mother

Let me say first of all that we do have limits as far as screen time is concerned, but I'm the first to admit my kids watch plenty of TV. In the morning, all bets are off, and its a TV free for all, although since they are lately late-to-bed-and-late-to-rise, this isn't more than one or two shows usually. I've got Sec with me most afternoons and, as I'm sure you know, she's one high-impact child so I consider it essential to promoting peace on earth to allow her a show or two before we pick up Primo. After homework's done, they'll sometimes take in an episode of Curious George, and if they are ever left in the care of my grandmother they basically are glued to the TV. So TV is not a stranger to our home. The AAP wouldn't stage an intervention but they would frown upon it. And knowing this, I end up beating myself up about their screen time, though there's not a chance in hell I could reduce it. And that's because . . .

Without TV, I would be the world's shittiest mother.Some people's kids will entertain themselves quietly for long stretches of time, reading books to their siblings and playing tea party with their teddy bears. These people can enjoy the liberty of not having a TV in the house and then telling they don't have a TV in the house and feeling great about themselves. But some people have kids who, when left alone for five minutes, kill the fish and take all the feathers out of their pillow and tell the neighbor they hate their outfit. Some people have kids who come to blow while fighting over a wizened poinsettia leaf that was found near the garbage. When you have these kinds of kids, you let them watch TV because if you didn't you'd end up banging your head against the wall in an effort to knock yourself unconscious. That's best case scenario.

Primo has been really worried about the possibility of thunderstorms and tornados lately, making him decidedly opposed to leaving the house. “Decidedly opposed” is the polite way to describe a situation where screaming, yelling, whining, crying and threats are used whenever we have to go out – for a playdate, groceries, birthday party, library. It is taxing. But because I’m a fighter by nature, the kind of person that refuses to admit defeat, I soldier on, forcing him o confront his fears and do what needs getting done. It did occur to me though that perhaps the kid needed to feel like he had more control over the day so I asked him what he’d like to do this weekend and he said, “Let's have a Christmas party!” You may recall that I JUST THREW the birthday party of the century for him, so I vetoed this idea immediately, but then he downgraded the party to simply “invite two friends and their families over to watch Christmas movies.”

Movies, did you say? BINGO. All systems go.

We Tivoed "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" tossed popcorn in the microwave, and set up blankets and pillows on the floor of the living room. Then David busted out the beer he’s been homebrewing and I put out some Costco guacamole and a Carr’s Entertainment Assortment package of crackers. Instant party.

May I say, too, that it was the most pleasant affairs that I’ve hosted in years? Kids a-chuckling, contained in one corner of the apartment, parents imbibing in the other. There were no fights to break up, no interventions necessary. The most taxing thing was cleaning up the popcorn from the rugs afterwards.Primo was happy, Sec was happy, David was happy and I was happy.

Spontaneous, unstructured play is good and all, but when your kids are impossible and you live in a 900 sq foot apartment, it can be a little much on the nerves. TV, on the other hand, heals all wounds.

So today I say, three cheers for the boob tube! AAP, I love you and all, but just for today, you can suck it.

Monday, December 20, 2010


The first mistake I made was asking Primo what “kind” of a birthday party he wanted to have this year. In retrospect, I see that was dumb, When you’re six years old, a birthday party shouldn’t require a category, It should be sufficient for the theme to be “fun.” I should have made some cupcakes, hung up a few rolls of crepe paper and assorted balloons and called it a day. But, no, I had to go and ask what “kind” of a party he wanted. I should have known my kid would not choose a conventional option like “Spiderman” or “Transformers” - the kind that’s easy to achieve with a purchase of some paper plates and maybe a banner for the door. Did I really think Primo, lover of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Greek mythology, would say he wanted a “Star Wars” birthday?

“I want a Plants vs Zombies birthday party!” he yelled immediately.

“Oh, ok, “I said, “That might be a little tough. I mean, I don’t have any idea how to do that.”

“We can play Plants vs Zombies!”

“No, no no. That’s out of the question. No video games at the party.”

“Ok, then we can listen to the soundtrack. Come on, Mommy, I KNOW you can do it! Don’t give up, Mommy! BELIEVE in yourself!”

Oooh, nice. My own galvanizing words come back to haunt me.

The kid knew who he was dealing with. I am a party planning maniac, an unhinged, incompetent, cheapskate Martha Stewart figure, and I love nothing if not a good challenge.

“Fine,” I said, “we’ll do it. A zombie party.”

“A Plants vs Zombies party.”

“A Plants vs Zombies / conventional zombie party,” I specified.

Turns out this is not as easy as one might think. Choosing the undead as a theme for a siz year-old birthday poses several problems.

  1. There is a dearth of zombie-related paper products out there. When I say dearth, I mean an absolutely gaping hole in the market. So we opted for plain old Solo plates, on sale from Key Food.
  2. Zombies, believe it or not, are fairly frightening creatures and not all six year-olds, and their toddler siblings, enjoy being terrified by images of rotting corpses brought back to life (is that what zombies are? I don’t even freaking know). So I had to find zombie accoutrements which were authentic but still light on the terror factor. This meant I could not show the Thriller video, as I initially planned. I didn’t need nasty 3am emails from mothers whose kids woke with nightmares.
  3. Zombie party favors are few and far between especially after the month of October. .

Are you ready, readers, to hear how to throw your child a state of the art, Plants vs Zombies/ conventional zombie birthday party? Prepare to enter DIY paradise!


Hand-crafted Plants xs Zombies decorations, which included the sunflowers, peashooters, and cherry bombs. .

Copious print-outs of the videogame screen which reads “THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!” courtesy of Google images.

The piece de resistance: I got my younger sister, whose boyfriend works for Firefox, thus making him in my eyes an internet and tech wunderkind – to insert a real image of Primo jumping into a pool into the image from the videogame screen where the zombies are advancing into the swimming pool. This allowed Primo to ENTER the VIDEOGAME. It was pretty freaking cool.


Bagels. Everyone likes bagels, including zombies.


My peeps on FB stepped up to the plate for this one, helping to create a winning zombie game lineup:

Hot potato mine!

Duck duck zombie

Zombie freeze dance

Hands-free eat–the-brain/donut-off-the-string

Zombie model magic creation station

Zombie face painting, courtesy of my cousins

Make an eyeball out of ping pong balls.

Pinata in the shape of Crazy Dave from the video game (in actual fact, a pirate, but look, who really can tell the diff?)

Last but not least, Pin the Brain on the Zombie, on a board crafted by Master Primo himself


Gummi brains

Brain pops (made by taping a printout of a brain over the lollipop wrapping)

Brain teasers

Chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (sunflowers being the go-to weapon in the videogame)

Glow-in-the-dark zombie finger puppets

And each kid got his own fashion pin featuring a zombie saying like:

Zombies were people too

I’m with Zombie

I heart brains,

You’re my friend and all, but if a zombie chases us, I’m totally tripping you

Yes, eBay is a magical thing.

That’s about it.

EXCEPT for the best part which was the KICK-ASS birthday cake featuring images of the different Plants vs Zombies weapons and zombies printed in color from the internet and mounted on cardstock, then glued onto toothpicks and uses as caketoppers??????

Whatesv. All in a day’s work. It’s not like I did it to prove that I’m the best-ever party planner and Mother of the Year. I did it, of course, just to put a smile on my darling son’s face. Any medals of honor I get in the process would be icing on the cake.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where did I come from?

My daughter is such a strange and captivating creature, sometimes I have no choice but to respond to the things that she says with the rhetorical question: “Where did I get you from?”

“Where DID you get me from, Mommy?” she asked one day, genuinely curious.

“From the moon.”

“You got me from the moon?”


She paused and considered.

“Did you really get me from the moon Mommy? In real life?”

“No, honey.”

“Then WHERE did you get me from?”

A tough question. Where to begin? Do I go all Darwin? Dazzle her with fancy prehistoric terms like “australopithecus”? Do I tackle the birds and the bees? The wonders of the uterus? None of it answers the question really. So I tell her what I told her brother when he asked:

“In real life, God made you and put you in my belly,” I said.

She looked skeptical, and really, who could blame her? It’s not easy for kids to sort out fantasy from reality to begin with and then you throw in stuff like God and Santa and growing humans from tiny eggs inside your belly and it gets just impossible. But that’s life – confusing, undecipherable. I’m glad she has skepticism, but I’m a person who believes in stuff, all sorts of stuff – God and saints and miracles and evolution and science and myths and magic and ghosts and folklore and community. I’m the opposite of an atheist, if that’s possible, because I pretty much believe in everything, to a greater and lesser extent. There’s no explaining life without explaining the divine, where I’m coming from, so that’s where I started. Later, we’ll get to the Big Bang theory and Evolution of the Species. And eventually – sigh -- the birds and the bees, though I’d better start brainstorming a better title for that particular seminar, one which doesn’t make me sound like an octogenarian.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Time to Talk

About four years ago, I was flipping channels and ended up watching a documentary on cyber-bullying which has been one of the most haunting things I’ve ever seen on television. Like so much of what we read about in the news, it’s something I wish I could un-know, because the thought of something so awful happening to my kids literally keeps me up at night. But unlike so many things that happen to us and the people we love, like disease and accidents and misfortune, bullying is something that we, as parents, can absolutely do something about, if we’re informed. The same goes for teen dating abuse and domestic violence – these aren’t things we are powerless against, once we learn a little about them.

Which is why I gladly accepted the invitation to the “Its Time to Talk” Conference last Wednesday, sponsored by Liz Claiborne. Since I attended last year, I knew I’d hear a lot of demoralizing, heartbreaking stuff about dating abuse and domestic violence, which would cost me a few night’s sleep and probably give me more gray hairs that I can afford. But I also knew forewarned is forearmed. And hey, not only do I have myself and my own small-fries to think of, I have you, dear readers, to watch out for too. Now, I know most of you have young kids at home and it seems like you’re decades away from having to worry about this stuff, but the hard truth is, what we do now is important in equipping our kids to deal with these issues later on. If you wait to discuss digital ethics and what a healthy relationship is until you think your kid’s old enough, in the tween years, you’re already playing a dangerous game of catch-up. So here’s what you need to know right now:

Digital devices are powerful, and you need to prepare kids to use them:

The time to broach the fundamentals of digital stewardship is the first time you give your child a cell phone, or a computer, or any kind of electronic device, says Dede Bartlett, founding Chair of National Domestic Violence Hotline Advisory Board. In addition to explaining how you dial numbers and send texts, says Bartlett, you have to go over what the rules of engagement are going to be. The rules that you’ll enforce will depend on your family, but the important thing is that you have rules, that you discuss a strategy for using the devices, and that you do not just hand over something as powerful as a cell phone or a Facebook account without fully discussing first what the implications of use are and that what happens online COUNTS. We need to teach kids that there are people with feelings on the other end of those screen names and that they must treat people online just as we would in person. Bartlett recommends instituting a curfew where all devices are collected at 10pm and held until the next morning. Another expert I heard from advised that before giving permission for your kids to join social media like Facebook, you come to an agreement on how you’ll be able to check in with the page and make sure they’re staying safe and being safe to others. Bottom line: these devices are powerful tools but they can also be used as weapons and the onus is on us to make the distinction clear.

Don’t overlook the power of the bystander:

When it comes to bullying, we tend to think of there being two parties involved: the bully and the bullied. But in the majority of cases, bullying doesn’t happen if bystanders are mobilized, and this is as true in the cafeteria or at recess as on Facebook or on a chat board. Of course, we’ve all been young and we know its not easy to stand up for the kid who’s getting his butt kicked: most of us in the tween and teen years are just trying to get by without attracting too much attention, trying to stay under the radar so we don’t become targets ourselves. But not only it is critical for us to teach our kids to be advocates for others, its also not as hard as it used to be in many ways. And that’s because . . . .

There are easy ways to stamp out bullying, when it happens digitally

We have to understand that the kind of bullying which happens today is not the type we remember from our own childhoods. When we were kids, you got bullied at school or on the way home, or when you went out with your friends, but when you were home, you had a break. There was an escape, even if brief. Today, though, it’s a different story, says Bartlett: “Because of technology, bullying is 24/ 7,” she explains, “because of technology, it is instantaneous, because of technology, it is permanent, because of technology, it is anonymous. Today, there is no refuge. And this terrible specter of teen and tween suicides that we’ve seen should scare the hell out of every single parent in the US.”

OK, now that I’ve terrified you, let me hasten to add this: even though technology has helped to make bullying and dating abuse so pernicious, in some ways it has made it easier to stop, too. Because so much of it happens anonymously, that means it is not only easier to participate in it, its easier NOT TO. So we need to teach our kids that if they get an email which is intended to embarrass, ridicule or deride someone, that they have a responsibility to stop it in its tracks and that is as easy as hitting “delete” rather than “forward.” It seems like nothing at all, but it is everything, because if we help create a culture where shaming and embarrassing other people isn’t that cool or funny or interesting, many of the “pranks” and the “wouldn’t-it-be-funny-if"s just wouldn’t get started. That’s the first step.

Accept the reality that kids start dating young:

It may be difficult to accept the idea that a 13 year-old could be in am abusive relationship because it seems insane to imagine a 13 year-old in a dating relationship at all. When I think of my daughter having what I can only bring myself to describe as “relations” at the age of 12 or 13, the thought it so terrifying, it does seem easier just to choose denial. Unfortunately, this kind of willful oblivion has serious consequences for our kids. Melissa Kaufmann, training coordinator for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Teen Dating abuse hotline, says kids as young as 13 contact their hotline (they offer not only a phone line but a chat line, which she says really allows the younger teens to feel comfortable broaching the subject). Kaufmann also explained that when she started the helpline, she thought it would involve a lot of awareness-raising for the kids, sort of helping them to understand that abuse was something that could happen to them, but what she found was that the situations the helpline was getting calls about were just as dangerous and violent as what a 34 year old mother of two goes through with an abusive husband. So first thing is accepting what it means to be a 14 year-old today, and then, taking this experience seriously, because as Kaufmann explained, abusive relationships for people under 18 can prove even more difficult to tackle since teens under 18 don’t have the same access to services that an adult would, in terms of shelters and getting protective order issued. Really young kids are getting into really serious situations and we can’t help them unless we first bring ourselves to see what’s happening.

If you have young children at home, here are some things you can do now to help protect them from teen dating abuse, domestic violence and digital abuse:

· Really prove to them that they can talk to you about anything, and you’ll listen

· Teach them to respect others and themselves

· Model and discuss what a healthy relationships looks like

· Prepare them to enter the digital world and insist on transparency, so you have access without violating trust

There is tons more information on the subject, and if you want to learn more, go to Love is Not Abuse.

*I wrote this post after attending an informational media event on behalf of Liz Claiborne and Mom Central Consulting and received a gift bag and gift card as a thank you for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good coffee after bad

You know the expression, throwing good money after bad? This morning, what I’m doing is throwing good coffee after bad. I’m so damn tired that even my third cup of coffee isn’t making a dent into the mountain of fatigue. Isn’t it depressing, too, when you’re so tired for no apparent reason? I’m mean, I had a decent night of sleep – waking once when Sec crawled into my bed and kicked me for a half hour – but then slept til a respectable school day hour. But I’ve still got a headache and the dreary-eyed blues. And this leads me to conclude that my fatigue is a result of me being old as DIRT. Yep, its just one of those side-effects of getting on in years that your old, worn-out body can’t even handle the normal rigors of daily living.

So pointless is this coffee drinking that I’m about to cut myself off from caffeine for the day. Unless the barista’s screwing with me by handing over decaf. Which would be the worst practical joke ever.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Marzipan Pig

Want to read a flat-out freaky kids' book? I highly recommend The Marzipan Pig by Russell Hoban. We inherited this book from my cousin's collection and one day were curious enough to open it. What awaited us was nothing short of children's literature of the absurd. It is such strange shit, so creepy and unsettling yet delightfully funny and lyrical - a total gem, and adding to its gem-ness are the illustrations by Quentin Blake, whose name and whose effortless-looking line drawings you'll recognize if you're a Roald Dahl fan.

Here's the storyline:

A sentient marzipan pig falls behind a couch and is left there to rot, bemoaning the loss of his potential to bring sweet happiness to someone. Then a mouse stumbles upon the pig, gobbles it down and becomes stricken with a kind of love sickness. Instantly, the mouse falls in love with a grandfather clock, but sadly this love is unrequited, and though the clock does give the mouse the time of day, that's about the extent of it, so the mouse gives up on love, goes for a walk outside and promptly gets devoured by an owl, who instantly falls head over heels for a taxi meter.

Yeah, a taxi meter.

The owl thinks the fare is a measurement of the taxi's love and urges it on, "Love me more! More!" with which the taxi seems to comply, by raising the fare as it continues to drive.

And that's only about 10 pages in.

"Tis the season to give absurd kiddie lit. . .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We came, we saw, we conquered Santaland

Thus read my husband’s Facebook status on Sunday evening. Yes, before it was even December, we got that Santaland shit done. A bit premature, you say? Try this on for size: we exited Macy’s 30 minutes after entering it. Man, that’s how long it would take you to find a freaking bathroom in the department store and we toured all of Santaland, had a one-on-one with the red-faced guy himself, and walked out with a glossy, perfect 8 x 10. And that, dear readers, is how you do Santaland.

The secret is simple, and I am ready to share it with you: you’ve got to go the weekend of Thanksgiving, preferably the Sunday, and you have to be there a few minutes before Macy’s opens. We’ve been doing this for the past four years and its worked like a charm. How did we come to unearth this little secret?

By trial and error of course.

One of my best qualities is my ability to learn from failure. It is for this reason that I try to fail frequently, and ideally, abysmally. Which is exactly what I did when Primo was one year old, and David and I hopped on the subway to 34th Street, the weekend before Christmas, and about noon. We ambled over to Macy’s, eyes a-gleaming (OK, only my eyes were a-gleaming, David’s eyes were a-rolling, and Primo’s eyes were a-glazed-over). When we entered the store, the guard at the door informed us that the line was about 45 minutes.

“Oh,” I said, looking over at David, “That’s not so terrible.”

“For the elevator to Santaland,” corrected the guard.

“You mean there’s a forty-five minute line to get to the floor where the real line is?” I asked, dumbfounded.


“And how long is the wait up there?”

He gave me a look which said, “I’m a security guard, not the tourist information booth,” but then he offered, “Hour and a half, maybe more.”

We got right back on the subway. Kid was too young for Santa visitation anyway.

But the next year, I was not only seven months pregnant with Seconda, I was smarter, more saavy. I was going to beat the system, because that’s what being a New Yorker means. Let the tourists wait for two and a half hours. I was going to do a walk-through. This is when the Thanksgiving day weekend visit to Santa was born.

On this particular visit, as we boarded the elevator to the Santaland floor, David looked at me and said, “I can’t believe we really do this every year/”

And I said, “I know, but we’ve only got two, three years tops, before you-know-what happens.”

Primo’s always listening and he is starting to get really good at spelling so its forced us to go into deeper code when we speak about the inevitable losing of faith in old Saint Nick.

“Yeah, its true,” he conceded.

“We’re making hay while the sun shines,” I explained, “striking while the iron is hot.”

“You don’t have to pitch it to me,“ David grumbled, “I’m here, aren’t I?”

Veni, vedi, vici . . . Terra Santa.