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No Sugar Added: Christmas in July

Opinion

No Sugar Added: Christmas in July

July 25 reminds me of the “Christmas in July” tradition.

I always thought this ridiculousness was a retail marketing ploy, but after further investigation, this is what I discovered: “Christmas in July imitates the festivities of the actual Christmas and signifies our yearning for the coolness of winter amid the scorching summer months.”

Apparently, people everywhere are sipping frosty cold eggnog and caroling together in front of the glow of an air conditioner. I had no idea.

My limited experience with “Christmas in July” is this: five years ago, I watched as a handful of compactly built men, speaking in a Slavic tongue, put the contents of my life into a moving van pointed north, toward Maine. I remember hearing Christmas carols emanating from the tiny radio in the now barren kitchen, as they packed up the last of the good china.

At first I thought I was hallucinating, but as Jose Feliciano belted out “Feliz Navidad,” I realized it was July 25. Christmas in July. And there we were, moving out of the house where my husband had died, over two years before, on the morning after Christmas. It was comfortingly disturbing. I wrote a story about it. But I’ll save that for another day.

So, the whole Christmas thing was lodged in my brain the other day, as I was driving home from a seaside vacation with my three wonderful children. Let’s call them Ophelia, Harold and Charles. They are all in the midst of (or on the cusp of) hormonal mutiny, so life is extra fun these days. Thankfully, I am not menopausal, or I’d have to hire a nanny for all of us.

On day four of vacation, as we drove to procure lunch, I witnessed the following loving, conversational exchange:

Harold: “When am I going to get a tan?”

Ophelia: “Maybe if you’d stop wearing sweatpants to the beach you’d have one by now, turd-lord.”

“Turd-lord.” How endearing. How very – quotable. I have written down things my kids have said since they learned to talk. The problem is, I have these words of wonder scribbled in a hundred and one different places. A more organized mother would have purchased a cute journal with a sunshiny yellow ducky on the front when her kids starting mumbling profundities, and kept it all under one roof.

Not me. I have quotes scribbled on calendars, in leather-bound journals and cheap spiral notebooks, on bank statements and post-it notes that long ago lost their ability to adhere to any surface. I write them down for posterity. And so that on days when I’m not liking my children very much, I can read something witty, sweet or brilliant they have uttered, and remember why I generally do adore them.

Some parents take these quotes from their kids very seriously.

One family sent us a holiday card each year, featuring a profound quotation from one of their prodigies. It would usually be something like, “God talks to us in ladybugs” or, “Life is like a box of Lucky Charms: share the marshmallows or inner peace will elude you.” We’d already be gagging. Then we’d open the card and be assaulted by the dreaded holiday brag-a-thon-letter.

So I thought in honor of “Christmas in July,” perhaps I’d make a card, featuring a quote from one of my own cherubs. In addition to the “turd-lord” gem, there are others that warm the cockles of my maternal heart. There’s the time Harold said, “Money makes the world go round.” To which his sister replied, “That’s love, you idiot.” Then there was the time Charles lovingly declared, “Most people aren’t very bright.” Or last winter, when I was all excited about sending out a fun holiday photo card, and Ophelia pleaded, “It’s bad enough that we have to live with you – do we really have to send a Christmas card, too?!”

Ahhh, yes. Out of the mouths of babes.

Merry Christmas in July.