Once again the holiday season is here, and once again it puts me in a seriously crabby mood. I guess I did not make a successful transition from the childhood giddy thrill of consuming massive amounts of food and gifts to the adult leaden weight of thankless cooking tasks and paying for and wrapping endless plastic lead-infused toys from China. I could easily skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and miss it not one bit. The only thing I would really miss is gravy. Damn, I love gravy. But even gravy isn’t worth all the bother. It’s all thoroughly played out for yours truly, Batty Cracker.

But I am a parent, and my kids of course love the holidays because all they have to do is show up and try remember to say thank you as they rip apart shiny wrapping and try not to fight over the last piece of pumpkin pie. Sigh. Mr11 just finished a unit at his school about the Pilgrims, and today his class held a feast, parents invited. They were instructed to dress in an approximation of Pilgrimy clothes, to eat off wooden plates with spoons, and to try not to die of the plague (or whatever Pilgrims died of) during their lunch hour. We parents got to hear about their colonies while nomming on some reasonably Pilgrimy food.

After the feast, it was Kids vs. Parents in Pilgrim Trivia. It was a tough battle, and the kids won by one point. I believe one of the boys pointed at the losing adults and said “IN YOUR FACE! WOOO!” which I find not to be proper Pilgrim-speak at all, but then again, I cannot say for sure. After all, they rebelled against the Church Of England; they’ve got some ‘nads, those Separatist bastids.

I loaded up my leftover sweet potatoes and then decided to do what I often do when I am crabby and have a couple hours to burn: go shopping. Sadly, the calming sweet magic that is usually TJ Maxx for me did not occur, because the relentlessly cheery piped-in Christmas music irritated me further. MAKE IT STOP. SOMEONE. God. I didn’t even have the heart to buy a nice pair of dusty blue cords or that cool brown hat I liked that was still there. I did buy a very stylish firetruck red Miss Sixty hoodie that was 50% off, because I thought it was the right thing to do. It will replace the wooly hoodie I bought last year; that thing is itchy and hot in this damp weather. I found a soft brown track suit for my mom. I predict that she will say it is the softest thing she has ever felt. She’s one of those people who speaks in ever-grander superlatives. I’ve tried to call her on it, but she makes a pretty convincing counter-argument that she actually believes what she is currently saying. Go Mom.

More time to blow before I have to pick up the kids from school; might as well make the annual trek to Cost Plus. Parents know that Cost Plus is a great place to go for stocking stuffers. They have all kinds of weird little toys. MissSeven will be getting three tiny Guatemalan dolls in a little wooden box. It strikes me only now that it seems kind of coffin-ish. Well, she’d probably enjoy that. Mr11 will get a small blue plastic voice-changer megaphone, Couch Teen some odd imported foods like mushroom pate and lime-chili chocolate and some lemon candies packaged like peed-on snow crystals. It was a good haul.

Last stop was Barnes & Noble. I always like to give books for presents because Reading Is Fundamental and there are so many lovely ones to enjoy. As I am adding to my heavy green basket, my eye spies a big coffee table book on the ‘60s British Invasion, with a garish Union Jack cover, so I peruse it. Bah. It’s got crappy photo reproduction, weird artwork, and the only picture of the Kinks is of their first American LP cover. BAH. FAIL. I don’t buy it. My family instead will be getting funny books (The Onion’s “Our Dumb World,” the funniest book ever written, is marked down to $6.98, hardcover!), books with useless facts, books about cars, books about sports, and a pretty blue-and-green pop art looking journal for MissSeven with a cool sparkly pen to go with it. After I check out, I go to the in-house Starbucks and get my one annual Peppermint Mocha latte. The woman taking my order writes my name correctly on the cup, a small holiday miracle, but I only drink half of it. It’s too sweet for me now.

I pick up the kids, drive home, and MissSeven promptly presents me with a drawing she calls “El Turkey:”

I find some Christmas music I like (NSFW), and note that I will be eating leftover Pilgrim sweet potatoes for days.