Christmas in July (or August)

It’s been hotter then ever in Houston this summer and by now even those who love the high temperatures (which isn’t me!) are begging for relief! Since I’m from upstate New York originally, I do my fair share of complaining about the weather and lack of seasons down south. But I’ve found ways to get me through July and August and one of them is to start thinking of Christmas.

I LOVE Christmas and the fall/winter season in general. I want to put on a cardigan, a roast in the oven and address Christmas cards right now! But it’s 103 degrees. Literally. So instead I decided to do a little shopping (in my sundress and flip flops) for my kids online.

A tradition I started many years ago is to give them a new Christmas ornament on St. Nicholas’ Day. This is about when we put up the tree, so it’s a perfect pre-holiday treat and they get to deck the halls with it right away. I try to make the ornament meaningful and give them one that reflects their current interests. This summer they both started music lessons. Annie is taking piano and Jackson is taking guitar lessons.

I found the coolest online ornament company, Christmasornaments.com. This company has over a thousand different ornaments to choose from in categories like vacationmilitary, activities and hobbies, fish and sports (to name just a few) you can find almost anything you can imagine. They also carry a variety of snowglobes and other present alternatives. 

I searched within the music and instruments category and found almost the exact guitar and keyboard that my kids have in ornament form! They are going to be so surprised and happy to see them. And someday, sniff, when they get older and have a tree of their own – they’ll have it to remember the summer they learned to love music!

I feel great having two gifts already purchased and tucked away. Last year I went out just a day before St. Nicholas Day and searched frantically for the perfect ornament and settled on a couple that “worked”. The ornaments I have this year are PERFECT! I love that they are affordable and if you buy five or more the shipping is free!

So what are your holiday traditions?

I received an ornament from christmasornaments.com to review but I loved it so much I bought another one! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I came, I saw, I conquered – Black Friday

Ah, Thanksgiving…turkey cooking in the oven. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. The kids fighting in the family room. And mom – pouring over the Black Friday Ads in search of the ultimate deal.
Really – the pouring has been going on for days….just on the Internet. Pretty much all the ads were released online ahead of time and I already had my game plan. Which included….you guessed it – Zhu Zhu pets.

Toys R Us, which opened at midnight, promised the first 100 people a Zhu Zhu pet. I thought I’d get over to the closest one by 10 ish and be there in plenty of time to make the cut. My friend, Julie, and I were riding together and meeting our other friend, Marci and her sister, Liz. We were in it to win it.

My family and I went to the Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony from 5:00 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. ish. We had a great time and as the time crept along I became more and more giddy about the purchase I was about to make.

We got home at about 8:30 ish. Believing I had at least an hour to get ready – I puttered about thinking of things to bring…a book maybe, a chair definitely – the paper? Probably. And the phone rang. It was Marci.

“Liz and I are already here and there’s about 30 people ahead of us – get down here NOW.”

Shit!

I went into panic mode. I tried to reach Julie at home and on her cell. No answer. After multiple attempts I had to make a do or die decision. I would have to leave without her.

“I gotta go!” I screamed to my husband.

“I thought you weren’t leav….”

“Plans changed…line long….no time,” I panted as I ran around the house like that kid in Home Alone with my arms flying above my head.

“Calm down,” Ed said. “It’s just a Zh…..”

The look I gave him was enough to stop even Santa Claus in his tracks. It was the mother of all don’t go there looks and he heard me loud and clear.

“I’ll get a lawn chair – grab a couple blankets,” he said. It was good to have him on board.

I didn’t have time to grab food, drinks or anything to do. Heck – I don’t think I even kissed the kids good-bye.

I was able to reach Julie on the phone on my way there. She was still at a family member’s house and worse yet – wasn’t feeling well. She was out.

“We lost a good man tonight,” I said to Marci after I hung up with Julie. “Let’s win this one for her. By the way – where am I going? Where the heck is the store?” Good information to have BEFORE you start driving.

I skidded into the parking lot and came running towards the line with blankets, my purse and a stadium chair flying out of my hands. “I’m here!” I shouted. “I made it. I made it.” I muttered as I dropped everything at my feet and embraced Marci as if she had just donated me her kidney. “Thank YOU.” I whispered as we hugged.

Then we waited. For 2 1/2 hours. In the cold. On the pavement. In the dark.
Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. We made friends with the people ahead of us and found out that some were actually there for something other than the Zhu Zhu pet – an IPOD touch, video games, etc.

As time dragged on, the line lengthened. By about 11:30 p.m….the crowd had wrapped around the entire building. We could see the end of the line ahead of us at the other end of the store. The store manager came through and made futile attempts to keep the peace. “Anyone who puts someone else at risk will be removed from the property.” I thought it was a little unnecessary until people started trying to cut in front of us in line, then I understood the need. It was not this store manager’s first rodeo and I was beginning to get a little nervous.Right before midnight they passed out vouchers for the most desired items. We grasped our Zhu Zhu pet voucher as if it were one of the 5 Willy Wonka golden tickets….there were only 100. I could almost hear the tears of the mommy who was 101 in line.

Two teenagers ahead of us didn’t want one. Because there was a limit of one per household, we were only allowed to purchase so we made deals of who would get the extra ones. I gave one of the teenagers $10 and my cell phone number. We would rendezvous after we made it through check-out for the “exchange”. I felt very naughty. I was breakin‘ the rules and I gotta tell you….it felt pretty good!

Until the mad rush at midnight to get into the store. Marci was ahead of me and we were running towards the Zhu Zhu pet ACCESSORIES aisle and she was stopping to put random items into her cart.
“Move it, Marci,” I screamed. “No one cares about Pixos!”
We were all disappointed to find hardly any accessories available but we did have other deals to take advantage of. I made it into the electronics department to get a video game, night vision goggles and a camera when all of sudden I sensed I was not alone. I looked around and wall to wall people had crammed into every inch of the store…carts slamming into each other and a line to check out that went around the entire store that seemed to have formed in a matter of minutes.
I felt my cheeks go flush and I knew it was time to cash in my chips.
Just 45 minutes later I left I made it through the line, receipt and Zhu Zhus in hand (along with a few other items). And besides the panic attack at the end – you know, I had fun. I think I’ll be back again next year.
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