(If you haven't read the first chapter of my Fudgy Advent Calendar, scroll down and start there. C'mon, what else do you have to do? Fold the laundry? Well, now you've been spared. You're welcome.)
Today was one of those shopping days when you left the house announcing that if those dishes weren't done when you got back, you swear, you'd give all the kids' presents to homeless people, you meant it, that kitchen better SHINE, you'd better be able to EAT off those dishes. However, upon returning home six exhausted hours later you discovered that every dish in the house had been used as a candle holder on account of the girls thinking what the house really needed was a little Christmas ambience, and of course they had to borrow dishes from the neighbors to eat their mac n' cheese off of because all YOUR dishes were inexplicably covered in wax. And when you shrieked (mouth full of fudge) that you wanted the kitchen CLEAN, you're pretty sure you made that CLEAR, they said with perfectly straight faces and just a touch of wounded bewliderment, "We didn't know you wanted it done now..." Better have truckloads of fudge on hand, because this will happen more than once during the season.
Today was your gift exchange with your Visiting Teaching companion. However, while she presented you with a miniature replica of the Nutcracker Ballet - dancers, giant tree, the works - all made from scratch in gingerbread and that impossible stained glass candy, and bearing a beautiful, hand-crafted card that said, "To my dear companion, for whom I gladly burned off all my fingertips to create this masterpiece of Christmas Wonder and Joy", YOU handed HER a gift certificate for five free Junior Frostys from Wendy's. Fudge works magic on guilt.
You've had it with Christmas carols that require the singers to make instrument noises. In all your days you've never heard a drum that sounded even remotely like 'rum-pa-pum-pum', and singing it just makes the choir members look silly. Choir members who rebel and blow raspberries with their lips instead get extra fudge. ("Come, they told me bbbbrrrrrrrrrpppppp - aaahhh...")
Your teen-ager submitted her Christmas list today, which consists entirely of items identified by numbers and initials (DVD, CD, MP3). These gifts, while assulting your bank account to the tune of a couple of house payments, will nonetheless be so small in their digital marvelousness that the kid's entire haul can be displayed inside a snow globe, batteries included. After today's shopping trauma, you'll need as much fudge as you can get your hands on. Unfortunately, you can't afford it now.
This morning you overheard this same teen-ager whining into her new $300 cell phone that she's "hardly getting anything this year". Fudge does wonders on those phones, especially when the hot marshmallow mixture is poured directly onto the keypad. ("Can you hear me now??" )
You're weathering another Las Vegas winter, which is as environmentally unimaginative as a Las Vegas summer, minus the tanning opportunities (although heaven knows those Minnesota tourists will try anyway). As you dress in your flannel shirt and flip-flops, grab a piece of fudge and wash it down with a Diet Coke to complete the picture of holiday irony.
Today, the bishop's counselor in charge of December meetings called you, the ward music chairman, wondering if perhaps "we ought to have a Christmas program this Sunday." You get an extra piece of fudge if your program narrator does not announce that lunch will be provided following said bishopric member's burial.
You've resisted valiantly, but today you accepted the inevitable: You're going to have to shop in a store with a name ending in "Mart". Keep the fudge in the glove compartment for immediate consumption following check-out. I'm serious about this.
Another day of insane shopping. Another day of returning home to find FEMA assessing the damage to your kitchen. Another day of Fudgy Salvation.
The ward choir presented its Christmas program today, in much the same way that a ruptured appendix 'presents' itself. You get extra fudge if you didn't pray for a meteor to hurtle in from space and take out the one soprano who is so convinced the choir could not survive without her she sings everyone else's parts, loudly and viciously enough to alert animal control, and in the key of "teeth grinding major".
The slothful home teacher showed up tonight, bearing a plate of 'goodies' his wife prepared while fuming because he waited until the last minute to ask her to do it, so if the sugar cookies are so burnt they apparently came out of an oven in ancient Pompeii, 'TOUGH, that's what you get, mister, next time use a calendar for crying out loud'. Re-gift the cookies to the president of the Homeowners' Association, and feast on fudge.
Shopping. Messy kitchen. Wax on the dishes. Surprised children. Fudge.
It's Christmas Eve! And you're practically finished with the preparations! Hooray! All that remains is the early morning "dry run", when you lock the bedroom door and lay everything out to check for balance and accuracy. You're going to need to take the fudge AND the Diet Coke and maybe even the Pompeii cookies with you for this one, because 'minutes before zero hour' (another "Christmas Story" line) you'll realize that three of your kids' piles look like you staged raids on Fort Knox, Tiffany's, and Apple headquarters, and the fourth kid's pile consists of a partially opened package of Hanes tube socks and a DVD you discovered yesterday he already owns. I'm so very, very sorry. You're going to have to return to one of those "Mart" stores. Take the fudge with you (and maybe your Ronco "Pocket Taser", as seen on T.V.)
Christmas Day! Weeks of work, worry, and fudge consumption have finally paid off! The hours spent listing, shopping, wrapping, taping, re-wrapping because you forgot to wrap the batteries, carefully positioning under the tree, cooking, scraping wax off your plates -- in short, all the time and energy involved in making this day one to remember can now be savored and enjoyed all day lon---whoops! It's over. Well, this year you managed to stretch the celebration to nearly 12 minutes. That's a good four minutes longer than last year. The kids are growing up, I guess. Grab what's left of the fudge, find a good novel and a wrapper-free corner of the house, and pin a "Closed Until December 26" sign to your bathrobe. Tomorrow, you'll pull out the leaf blower to deal with the detritus, dredge up all 1,500 sales receipts needed to return pretty much everything you've spent the last six weeks searching for, and head out into the post-binge melee. But today is yours. You've survived, everyone's happy, and there's a long winter's nap in your immediate future.
But first, why not have another piece of fudge.