The Advent Calendar hanging on my living room wall is out to get me. My kids walk by it and get all giddy, “ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT!! Whoooo!” When I walk by it grabs me by the neck and tries to strangle me. How did it become less than a week until Christmas? That’s not a rhetorical question… I really want to know how that happened. It was just Halloween, like yesterday. Seriously. Did we even have Thanksgiving? I vaguely remember eating turkey and stuffing at my sister-in-laws, so I guess, yea, we did. But now…now it is already December 20th and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I need to get done before the big day. I don’t even know if it is going to be humanly possible to get all the crap done that I still need to get done. Like, not even possible no matter how hard I try or how little I sleep. The monogrammed sweatshirts certainly won’t be making the cut this year, that goes without saying. Two weeks ago my friend told me to get on that. TWO WEEKS. I was like, “are you insane? I have plenty of time!” But she was right. And I was wrong. I don’t have plenty of time. I have no time. None! I literally haven’t even STARTED shopping for some of the kids yet. And the one that I thought I was done with snuggled up to me so sweetly last night and just before she fell blissfully asleep she murmured in my ear that she couldn’t wait for Santa to get her the Easy Bake Oven. The easy bake WHAT?! My blood ran cold because you know that I didn’t get an Easy Bake Oven for anyone this year. And you know that now I’m going to have to try to remember to get the freaking thing, and they probably won’t have it anywhere except in a completely remote Walmart in the wrong part of a small town that I’ve never even heard of. And my husband and I aren’t the kind of strong level-headed parents who are like “she’ll get over it.” No. We are the saps who will actually drive 3 hours in each direction to buy the only Easy Bake Oven left in the entire state of Massachusetts, and even though the box will be dented and it will look like it’s been opened, tampered with, and re-taped shut we will still fork over our last red cent for it. It’s clear to me now that I should have started my shopping a long time ago. But I didn’t, and so now I find myself, once again, running around Target whipping stuff into the cart and wondering if the giant sized Rice Krispie Treat they sell could count as Joey’s “big gift” this year. (The thing is HUGE, and he seriously loves Rice Krispie Treats. Don’t laugh because I’m still considering it.) And the problem is that every present I buy reminds me of other presents that I have totally forgotten that I still need to buy. There seems to be no end in sight. No light at the end of this tunnel of holiday madness. But then…then I see it. The light that reminds me that this crazy rush will soon be over. Of all places, I see the light at the end of the tunnel in the seasonal aisle at the grocery store. There it is in all it’s heart-shaped pink and red glory. Shelves and shelves of it. Valentine’s Day candy. Seriously.