November 28, 2009

Smuggy Smugsgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I SURE DID. I am now going to be SMUG about it, and you will forgive me, because next time I will write about Faily Failsgiving and confess to you all the crap I got wrong.

This year, we had Nana come up. She arrived Thursday, and on Friday morning, Scott had to leave town for 9 days. BOO. I tend to be a Martha. I panic when we have company coming and over-do, make too much of too many things, and cry secretly upstairs at least four times over my epic hostess failures. I stress so much over the turkey that I lose track of the people and the purpose. This year, I am SO thankful I decided NOT to do that. Instead, I called Honeybaked Ham and ordered a turkey breast, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Then I bought Sister Schubert rolls at Publix.

Crazy Farm Box has been rife with sweet potatoes (RIFE I TELL YOU!) so Scott made sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pie, which is like Pumpkin’s smoother, more delightful cousin-pie. I made Amy Go’s World famous Derby Pie, and that was that. The end. It was a lovely meal, as meals go, and the clean up took twenty minutes. I did not stress. I did not fuss. I did not start drinking at 2 pm, and I did not sneak off to cry even ONCE. SMUGTASTIC WIN.

When we went around the table to do our Thankfuls, I think I said something about family. Because my children were present. Role modeling, you know. But in my dark heart, Best Beloveds? I was secretly mostly thankful that I had already finished my Christmas shopping. SMUGTASTIC WIN 2. I usually do it on October but I have been so WRAPPED in this new book I missed October. Halloween appeared and gob-smacked me in the head, whang, and I blinked and said, Nov-em-wha??

I realized I was about to face MALL SHOPPING IN DECEMBER and that was enough to throw me into Christmas Blitz-mode. In two fell-like swoops, I went out and conquered over Christmas. I was able to do so for two reasons. One is that we have really cut back on the gift part of it because that's not actually what it’s about, so I had a shortish list, and the other reason was that I was driven by unadulterated terror.

You know that Target commercial with the evil hyper-cheerful blonde lady with the side ponytail, her cruel, thin lips slathered in redredred lipstick and the glint of maniacal shop-fever in her merciless, serial killer’s gaze? I REALLY believe in her. I believe in her fervently, more strongly than I believe in Santa. More strongly than I believe in FAIRIES, even more than I believe specifically in Tinkerbell at the part of the book where Peter ASKS the reader to believe in fairies and I can’t help but do it.

I think that blonde and about 500 million of her clones sleep upside down in below-ground tunnels with Visa cards clutched in their French-Manicured fingers (do French manicures come in red and green?) and I believe that on Black Friday, in lieu of spreading their chitinous black wings and risking the wing-span blocking their entry into automatic sliding doors, they all clambered and tore their way out of the earth, up up up through the green lawns of a garden home subdivision with pool, clubhouse, and tennis courts, leapt into outsize SUVs that have never poked so much as a rubber toe off suburban asphalt, and headed to Lenox mall, where they were MORE than willing to cut me over a parking place and delighted to de-hand me should I reach toward the last Hair Stylin’ Barbie head.

SO the day after Thanksgiving, while acts of merchandise-driven cannibalism and consumerrific depravity took place at shopping malls across the land, we ate leftovers, worked out, watched the White Collar marathon, played Wii, and went to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox. PS: He IS. And it WAS. I was sad to see there weren’t a lot of people in that theatre. I think they were all watching sparkly vampires.

Even if your kids are too young (Maisy) or too male (Sam) for sparkly vampires, Mr. Fox is competing with the biggerly backed and more mainstream A CHRISTMAS CAROL and PLANET 51, but both of those kinda leave me feeling tired. I have not seen them, mind you, so these aren’t reviews. I’m just saying why we went the Fox Route.

I look at this Christmas Carol and I think HOW MANY TIMES can we go to that well, especially since it has already been done perfectly at least three times, once (obviously) by Dickens, once by Alastair Sim, and once by Patrick Stewart. Four times if you count Patrick Stewart audio-book reading of the original as a separate thing, and I do, because Mr. Stewart’s performance requires it. Also, Bill Murray did Scrooged and I LUF him.

The other looks to be a bad mix of strained humor that offends even as it tries to be so politically correct that I thought the trailer was exhausting. It’s the kind of movie that, should one of the children invest their heart in seeing it, Scott and I do Rock Paper Scissors and the loser has sit through it with the kids. And of course Scott is out of town....being in Texas for ten days crushes rock, loses scissors under the bed, and burns up paper in a fire.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox, on the other hand, is delightfully under-played, visually interesting, and based (looooosely, but still) on a Roald Dahl book. It has George Clooney (win) Meryl Streep (superwin) and Bill Murray (Did I mention that I LUFFFF him?) I enjoyed it as much as the kids did – and that was a lot. Not since UP have I not only NOT SUFFERED during a children’s film, but actually considered my ticket money to be well spent. I highly recommend it, although it might leave the very littlest of littlies cold. The under five crowd, I mean. My seven and twelves were both enchanted from start to finish.

How did YOUR Holiday go? Can you smuggle up with me or do you have to wait for Faily Failsgiving to tell me? Did you see any movies? With Scott out of town I plan to treat myself to a REPULSIVELY estrogen-laden mindless and cheerful making matinee on Monday when the kids are back in school....Should it be Sparkly Vampires or Feel Good About Footballs or something else?

Posted by joshilyn at November 28, 2009 3:20 PM

I always read your blog (and buy and read your books) but never post. However, when you choose your movie, choose The Blind Side. Wonderful!

Posted by: Vivian at November 28, 2009 4:58 PM

I must say I'm glad to hear of one other person who is completely done with Christmas shopping (finished my last, terribly-hard-to-buy-for person a couple weeks ago). Most people look at me as though I were the big blizzard that ate Santa on his way to deliver presents when I tell them that. I just believe in budgeting and budget in Christmas presents February through November. Then I'm done. It helps, though, that my b-day is in December, as is my mom's (mine five days after and hers five days before Christmas), and my husband's is in mid-January. It kind of lights a fire to get things done in the other months.

But, um, we had a fun and nicely uneventful Thanksgiving. *sighs* Yum.

Posted by: jess at November 28, 2009 6:37 PM

Mr. Fox is a super-win. I loved, loved, loved it. I was filled with trepidation because I loathe, loathe, loathe Wes Anderson's other films.

And I love Roald Dahl's books. I truly enjoyed the film and so did all my kids (18,15 and 9) and my parents. Win, all the way around.

Posted by: maybaby at November 28, 2009 6:55 PM

I really enjoyed your vivid description of the Target lady. You must be a writer or something ;). Glad you had a great Thanksgiving!
Oh, and I saw the sparkly vampires, and it was fun, not as bad as the first one (though I'd dearly love to hear your review!) but I still haven't seen the Inspirational Football Movie. I want to, even though I am 99.9% sure it'll make me cry! Sometimes that's a good thing.

Posted by: Heather at November 28, 2009 7:13 PM

Went to see Mr. Fox today because I adore Roald Dahl. Not as much as I adore YOU, obviously. (kiss up alert level orange!)

I very very much enjoyed it. Very much.
Child 1 who is 7 liked it okay.
Child 2 who is 5 fell asleep.

I agree that they needed to be older. not a whole lot. Child 1 probably would have enjoyed it without the influence of squirmy child 2.

So So nice to have well-done animated films, though. Up was wonderful.

Posted by: Wendy at November 28, 2009 7:51 PM

I LUF Scrogged too ... Bill Murray is the bestest! And Carol Kane is also fantabulous!

Posted by: Lynnetta at November 28, 2009 8:47 PM

What?! No Potato Fat Fat or is it Fat Potato Fat? Will have to check out The Fantastic Mr. Fox. We took our 12 year old to Mr. Carrey's Christmas Carol (fabulous) and then just Haley and I saw the sparkly vampire movie.

On to Black Friday--Haley got a call from a friend whose friend was BITTEN by an old lady over a pair of jeans while shopping in Destin. Didn't want to ask what old is to a twelve year old but still...that's just WRONG. So yes, Virginia, those Target types really do exist.

Posted by: Kim at November 28, 2009 10:56 PM

My holiday madlib:
I saw the SPARKLEVAMPIRE movie on BLACKFRIDAY with GAYBESTIE. Totally enjoyable. Methinks best to ogle GOLDENABS while DIGESTING mounds of PECANPIE.

Posted by: Miss Ennui at November 29, 2009 12:07 AM

I work in retail and don't want to talk about Black Friday, kthxbai.

Also, went to see The Road the night before Thanksgiving, and while both my husband and I liked the book, the movie-- well, it left me a weepy, pitiful shred of a human. So...probably not what you're looking for. Gah.

Posted by: ellbee at November 29, 2009 1:55 AM

I am so happy to hear you had a relaxing and happy Thanksgiving! Yay you!! I do want to chime in on the movie conversation about A Christmas Carol to warn folks that they are marketing it to young kids, but it is too dark and scary for little ones. I took my 4 boys to see this wretched excuse for a Christmas movie this evening. My 4 and 7 year olds were terrified, my 14 year old was creeped out by the spirit of Christmas present, and I was appalled by all the dark Halloween type imagery. My family and I absolutely hated this dreadful depressing movie and I feel it will take a week to get back in the holiday spirit after seeing this NIGHTMARE of a film. We even walked out near the end because my little boys were terrified and begging to go home. Just be aware that this is NOT a happy bright Christmas film, and use caution when taking sensitive children.

Posted by: Julie in Austin at November 29, 2009 1:58 AM

Had a smuggie Th. myself. Was geared up to be weepy and pitiful (all the other Americans in the whole city were banding together and leaving just us, the only Americans in the French school, all alone and forlorn and bereft) But one had guilt (HA!) and gave us tins of pumpkin and cranberry, and I made an AWESOME chicken, and kept the kids home from school, and it ended up being a fun and lovely time. Ha!
I don't know about movies, but I hated with a pure white intense hatred the Twilight books. So I'd avoid sparkly vampires like I would the organs that came with my fresh chicken. (I avoided them, let me tell you) On the other hand, here is a moment of amusement for you: You're welcome!

Posted by: edj at November 29, 2009 11:30 AM

The ads for the new Christmas Carol do look lame to me . . but my favorite version is the 1971 animated one, which at 7 years old I thought was awfully creepy and scary. It stuck with me, though! (it can be seen at

Posted by: Brigitte at November 29, 2009 12:11 PM

I vote for Blind Side. And thanks, Julie, for the heads up about Christmas Carol!!

Posted by: Carol at November 29, 2009 5:16 PM

I am finishing my first semester of teacher's college on Dec 4, and I plan to treat myself to a matinee showing of SparklyVampire movie as soon as the last assignment is handed in!

Husband and I tried to go see it last night but there were 150 billion giggly, excited teenage girls there with their equally excited and giggly friends, and only 5 seats left, which meant we couldn't sit together. So, we will try again.

Also, interesting to note that the retailers in Canada are now starting to have Black Friday sales on the American Thanksgiving weekend, even though we had Thanksgiving nearly six weeks ago.

And, I love having my Christmas shopping done by the last weekend in November. Due to aforementioned school, I have about four presents left to buy, and I am having heart palpitations when I think about going to the mall at ANY time in December. Pantpantpantpantpant!

Posted by: Lindsey at November 29, 2009 5:38 PM

Was that Amy Go's Derby Pie I made? It was an enormous hit at my house.

Posted by: Sara at November 29, 2009 7:48 PM

I really recommend the sparkly vampire movie. Saw it with my nieces and my sister and what an experience! You certainly don't go see this movie for Meryl Streep-type acting, but the "call-and-response-like" feeling in the audience is priceless, the scenery gorgeous (and not just the men), and the action is pretty cool.

Posted by: Bernice at November 30, 2009 9:45 AM

I had a smugtastic Thanksgiving as well -- thank you Kroger Deli for turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry relish! My hubby and I made Southern Living sweet potato casserole and green bean bundles (drapped with bacon, not bundled) the night before and then just threw everything in the oven the next morning, and I did not stress one bit! It was lovely.

As for movies, you must see The Blind Side. Lee Anne Tuohy is my new personal hero. Saw the movie Saturday and can't stop thinking about her and Michael. It was just so uplifting and sweet, and yes it had a few cheesey parts, but it was so worth seeing. I'm ready to take my 9-year-old son to see it, with a few words of caution.

BTW, White Collar is my new FAVE show. Smart, funny and plenty of eye-candy, just how I like 'em.

Posted by: Lori B. at November 30, 2009 10:22 AM

Footballs. Unless you saw the first sparkly vampires, and it was baad acting, you prolly dont want to sit through the second. I heard the acting was worse. And that is saying alot.

Posted by: Katie at November 30, 2009 12:32 PM

I was surprised when while "let's just get out of the house for a while" he pulled in to the theatre and we saw sparkly vampires with our just turned 8 son. Parts were pretty loud but it was not a bad movie if you read the books and know what is coming. Sparkly vampire movie 3 poster was up in the lobby with a release date of June 30,2010. I wonder will I be finished reading Backseat Saints by then...

Posted by: Linda j at November 30, 2009 12:44 PM

I can smuggle with you. For the first time, we traveled nowhere, no one came to us. It was just me, my husband and our five-year-old. Smooth Thanksgiving Day, did not shop on Friday, but did go see Fantastic Mr. Fox (but we had to sit on the front row because it was packed!) and loved it still!

Posted by: LaBlues at December 4, 2009 7:05 PM