I took the kids to Target with me this morning and before I released them from the car I cranked myself around in my seat and delivered a Stern Maternal Lecture on how I wanted them to behave in the store.

“No running,” I intoned. “No screaming. No touching. Got it?”

“Got it,” said Riley.

“We don’t run and we don’t open the door and that coyote runned off in the woods and that’s enough milk, WIGHT?” said Dylan.

(We call him the Non Sequitur these days.)

The minute I dragged them through the automatic doors (after both of them bonked repeatedly into the closed EXIT doors, like they do every single time), though, it all went to hell. You know the expression “like herding cats,” right? It’s like that, only worse. Take two cats who are basically high on retail fumes and overstimulated by the many colorful displays and siphon out at least 50% of their brain cells so they are utterly oblivious to things like approaching carts, and NOW head ’em up, Rawhide.

They frustrate me to no end in places like Target, but they aren’t exactly misbehaving. They’re overcome with the fun of it, pointing at things and squealing at top volume about the DOGGIE (on the dog food packaging, for god’s sake) and generally being children having a good (loud) time together, but I look around and I never (NEVER!) see other kids acting like this. Other kids are either standing by their mothers or tucked into the top of the cart, not galloping hand in hand through the aisles like deranged caribou.

I shush, I nag, I threaten, I rush through my shopping with a grimly frozen face, and I don’t really know what to do about it. I like that they’re having fun, but I worry that they’re being annoying, and I hate having to constantly push them out of people’s way or hiss “Guys. COME ON!” for the trillionth time when they get distracted by some mesmerizing object like a display of paper towels (Dylan: “HEYYY! WE have DOSE!”).

I’ve always been pretty hyper-aware of not allowing my kids to bug other folks if I can help it, because I never, ever assume that the things I find amusing are also going to be well-received by people who did not birth these hellions. But there I was in line at Target, fairly exhausted from iron-gripping these kids through the store, and the boys suddenly start doing this weird marching thing back and forth while Riley chirps “I-AM-A-CHRIST-MAS-ROB-OT!” (basically exactly like this) and Dylan laughs and laughs because HA HA HA RILEY IS A ROBOT and oh my god, you guys. What is a person even supposed to do in this situation? Who has to say “STOP BEING A CHRISTMAS ROBOT RIGHT NOW” in public?

(I didn’t say a damn thing. I pretended I didn’t know them.)

Do any of you have kids who act like . . . giddy drunken sailors when you’re out and about? What do you do, other than avoid all shopping until they’re surly resentful teenagers?

First: I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you were celebrating.


Second: I’m currently obsessed with making an epically awesome holiday mix of festive ass-kickery. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

No Christmas for Me, Zee Avi • This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday’s, Vol. 1
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Joshua James • Fields & Floods
Winter Song, Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson • The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs
Little Drummer Boy, Pink Martini • Joy to the World
Holy, Holy, Holy, Sufjan Stevens • Songs for Christmas
We Three Kings, The Roches • We Three Kings
Ave Maria + Intro, Chris Cornell & Eleven • A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Mason Jennings • This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday’s, Vol. 1
O Come All Ye Faithful, Weezer • Christmas With Weezer
God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan • A Winter’s Night
Frosty the Snowman, Fiona Apple • The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs
Christmas in Prison (Live), John Prine • A John Prine Christmas
Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters • My Dreams of Christmas – Single
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Over the Rhine • The Darkest Night of the Year
Winter Wonderland (Single Version), The Andrews Sisters • Christmas
Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley • Elvis Christmas
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (Q-Burns Abstract Message Remix), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers • Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remix (Digital Version)
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Ella Fitzgerald • Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
Please Come Home for Christmas, Willie Nelson • A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
A Holly Jolly Christmas, Burl Ives • Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Weezer • Christmas With Weezer
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr Remix), Kay Starr • Christmas Remixed – Holiday Classics Re-Grooved
Christmas Canon, Trans-Siberian Orchestra • The Christmas Attic
We Three Kings, The Reverend Horton Heat • We Three Kings
Calling On Mary, Aimee Mann • One More Drifter In the Snow
Oiche Chiun (Silent Night) Enya • A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3
Gabriel’s Message, Sting • A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1
Carol of the Bells, Mormon Tabernacle Choir • Joy to the World
Wizards In Winter (Instrumental), Trans-Siberian Orchestra • The Lost Christmas Eve

Link to the iMix of all these songs.

Some kind of widget exported by iTunes that may or may not work in your browser:

Aaaaaand a bunch of mostly-crappy YouTube videos of the songs:

“No Christmas For Me” — Zee Avi

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — Joshua James

“Winter Song” — Sara Bareilles/Ingrid Michaelson

“Little Drummer Boy” — Pink Martini

“Holy, Holy, Holy” — Sufjan Stevens

“Ave Maria” — Chris Cornell

“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” — Mason Jennings

“O Come All Ye Faithful” — Weezer

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — Barenaked Ladies

“Frosty the Snowman” — Fiona Apple

“Christmas in Prison” — John Prine

“Hallelujah” — Over the Rhine

“Winter Wonderland” — The Andrews Sisters

“Blue Christmas” — Elvis

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — Ella Fitzgerald

“Please Come Home for Christmas” — Willie Nelson

“Holly Jolly Christmas” — Burl Ives

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” — Kay Starr

“Christmas Canon” — Trans-Siberian Orchestra

“Calling on Mary” — Aimee Mann

“Gabriel’s Message” — Sting

“Carol of the Bells” — Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Hope you enjoy these as much as I have been. Got any additional song suggestions?

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