Here we are. Two days left on the Advent calendar. A couple loops left on the Christmas ring chain C. brought home. Done with school for the year. The cookies have all been made. Christmas day menu planned. Yep, it’s Holiday DEFCON level 1.

All three school programs went well. M. shined as Mistletoe the FBI agent in her grade’s The Christmas Files program a week ago. She had one minor hiccup with a line, but caught herself quickly and powered through. We had worked on her lines with her, but had not heard the duet she had with another of the FBI agents. They did a fine job with that, too. M. got a laugh for a line that was clearly written for her. After the Christmas mystery is unraveled, M. shouts, “I knew it!” Which is sooo M.. She always knows everything.

L. did a fine job as Mary in the Pre-K acting out of the story of the first Christmas. The baby Jesus doll she held was ginormous, though. It looked like a 20 pounder, at least. She had a silly grin on her face the entire time. I asked her after what was going on and she just giggled. I think Joseph may have been cracking jokes or something.

Her’s was our final holiday program at St. E’s after seven years and ten total performances by our girls. We sat by a family that started with us back in the fall of ’07, when M. and their oldest were in the 3’s class. They still have one in the 3’s class and another that will start in the 2’s next fall. We’re pretty sure they’ll have the school record for most kids and most total years when they’re done.1

The first grade handles the annual living nativity at St. P’s, so C.’s class got to close out the school year with that on Friday. She was an angel, a narrator, and played a chime in a seven-angel performance of “The First Noel.” She did a fine job as well. She spoke very clearly and was easy to understand, which wasn’t the case for all the other performers.

There’s been some Elf on the Shelf controversy in our house this year. Completely predictable controversy, of course.

One morning a couple weeks back M. was the first to find Elfie. Given her personality, it was impossible for her not to immediately tell C. and L. that she found him and to point out where he was. They were not pleased.

So, two days later, C. and L. saw him as soon as they came downstairs. They immediately yelled, “There’s Elfie!” and pointed in his general direction. M. absolutely flipped out, screaming that they weren’t supposed to tell her. “It’s not fair! They told me where Elfie is!” She was literally crying. She’s nine-and-a-half years old.

I heard all this from the kitchen and intervened right away.

“M., knock it off! You told them where Elfie was the other day, so you can not complain when they find him first and show you. You can’t have it both ways.”

There may have been some more yelling involved. She and I are both pretty grumpy in the morning.

But she grasped that logic and shut up. I reminded everyone that they were not to tell the other sisters where Elfie was, and if that happened again, I’d send him back to the North Pole until next year. They’ve been good ever since.

“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” has never been one of my favorite Christmas songs. But it’s on a kid’s Christmas CD we have in the van, so I’ve learned to change the chorus to be about the girls. Usually the girl that gets run over hates it, but the other two love it. And I always rotate through each chorus so everyone gets run over and believes at some point.

This year, though, L. really hates it. Any time it comes on, she pipes up from her seat, “Dad, can we skip this song?” Honestly, I don’t mind her request that much. My mom hated that song, so perhaps that’s a little bit of her coming through, too.

Finally, the girls watched the Grinch movie, the one with Jim Carrey, at some point when I was working or running errands or something. While watching, they figured out how to stick their top teeth out and push their noses up to look like the Whos in the movie. Which is kind of funny.

But what’s really funny is C. does it all the time. She’ll be sitting there watching TV, and she has her top lip flattened and her teeth sticking out. Or coloring. Or reading a book. Or taking a bath. It makes me laugh every time, partially because I wonder if she did that at school the last couple weeks. Would she be working on her rocket math or her art project and have her Who-look going as her little concentration tic? It won’t be so funny if she’s still doing it in February, but I like it for now.