One month of madness, one day of joy

"Is it Christmas yet?" is a question I field every single night that the girls come home and see presents stacked underneath the Christmas tree.

I expected that. It actually started with the first snow when 6-year-old Katie said, "Now it's Christmas time."

Five-year-old Nikki asks most often. And each time I tell her "not yet," she looks at me imploringly and says, "I want it to be Christmas."

There are times when my plan to establish myself as the all-knowing, all-powerful "mom" turn right around and bite me.

"I can't make it Christmas," I tell Nikki.

This is our new nighttime ritual. It generally follows a ride home, during which Katie is singing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" while Nikki bellows a mixed-up version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

Yes, at the same time.

I remember thinking how pleased my bus driver must have been to hear a bus load of children singing Christmas carols on that long ride home from school.

Now I wonder what trick she used to maintain her sanity.

Sixteen days until Christ--mas.

I'm not sure I can take it.

I thought it was bad when there were Christmas trees standing next to the Halloween costumes at the store, although I was grateful that the holiday advertisements gave a tiny bit of relief between campaign commercials.

It's said that Christmas is for children. That they are the ones who make the holiday so sweet.

Like everything involving children, there are highs and lows. They can make you smile while pulling your hair out.

There is so much that their smiles and enthusiasm make up for.

At 7 a.m. Dec. 25, I'll forget all of the tinsel I had to pull from my pant legs when I arrived at work. I'll forget the high credit card and low bank account balances that preceded this day.

I'll forget nights of begging and the fact that I swore I'd melt the "Ruldolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" DVD if I had to hear Burl Ives sing "Silver and Gold" one more time.

On Christmas morning, there will only be joy and laughter and love.

Only 16 more days of madness before it all dissolves ... into madness.

There's got to be some balance in this equation that I've yet to find.

Until then, Santa's got some shopping to do.

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