Making A List and Checking It Twice (So I Don’t Get Hurt)

November 20th, 2011

Every family has one. A person who, from the months of October through December, goes into hyper holiday shopping mode and immediately drives everyone around them crazy. They’re focused, they’re organized and they’ll do anything they can to “get their shopping done early.” Their goal is to have everything wrapped and ready and under the tree by mid-December at the latest and they won’t let anyone stand in their way. In my family, this organized person is my youngest sister Amy.

And the person usually standing in her way—-is me.

Amy has always been our Johnny On The Spot when it comes to holidays, birthdays and special occasions. She remembers every date and sends the appropriate card at least three days early. Then she’ll take the extra step and call and/or text you on that day for an added personal touch. It’s wonderful. In fact, most years this is the only way Chris and I can even remember our wedding anniversary.  (I’m just kidding. We can simply look at his stomach where I tattooed the date after he forgot it on Year #3.)

But while I love Amy’s thoughtfulness, each October 1st she begins to get into her intense present-buying mode and I honestly get a little scared of her. She starts by sending me a very friendly email, asking for the boys’ Christmas lists. “I’d like to start shopping now!” she’ll say. “So just send the lists when you can!” Of course, I have all intentions of doing so, but then I get distracted by things like the new barista at Starbucks who has three eyebrows, and who I think might secretly be 80′s pop star Falco, and I completely forget about the lists. At my peril.

Because then the flurry of phone calls and follow-up emails begins. “I’m STILL waiting for the lists!” she’ll say. “Send the LISTS. You KNOW I’m getting ready for Black Friday!!” Oh, yeah. Black Friday. Because Amy’s also one of those maniacs who gets up at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving so they can stampede into Target and grab handfuls of $4.99 plasma TVs and Japanese robot dogs. In all honesty, I really worry about her every year because I’m pretty sure that before long, I’ll get a phone call saying she lost an appendage in a 3 a.m. Macy’s Trim-the-Tree riot. (But the good news is, she got all of her shopping done!)

Of course, part of the problem with making the lists is that my boys don’t want as much stuff as they did when they were younger. My 10-year-old Sam always asks for an iPhone 4, even though the only phone numbers he knows are for the personal injury attorneys who advertises on Teen Disney, and says he’d also be very happy with some “major cash money.” And then there’s 7-year-old Jack, who gave me this as his Christmas Wish List:


Yeah, that’s right. My sweet little boy wants a Swiffer Wet-Jet ® for his Christmas present. And I don’t even know what to DO with that shit. I mean…what do I do with that shit? Sure, I’d love to have clean floors, but have I taken a wrong turn somewhere and raised a future custodial engineer? Should I buy some Febreze and Brill-O pads to put in his stocking, too?

Finally, after weeks and weeks of Amy asking for the lists and me trying and failing to get them done, the communication always becomes a bit more threatening. To wit, here’s a text exchange from two days ago:


Do you see what I’m dealing with here? “I’ll hunt you down lady?” And it’s not as if her pretend “Lol” at the end of the message will make me sleep any easier. I grew up with this chick—I saw what she used to do to the Barbie dolls that displeased her. So that’s why after this lovely, little exchange, I put the phone down and immediately called the boys into the kitchen. “Here’s some paper. Hurry and write down what you want for Christmas. AND DO IT FAST,” I told them.

“But, we don’t really know what we want,” they said.

“That doesn’t matter. Because Aunt Amy wants to buy you something for Christmas and for the love of God, we’d better let her do it or it’s not going to be a very merry Christmas for anyone and mommy’s going to have to hire private security. You feel me, boys?”

Twenty minutes later, they handed me their scribbled lists and I quickly emailed them to Amy. And now, the week of Thanksgiving, one full month before Christmas, she has her shopping under control and feels relieved, satisfied and more than ready to fill the world with the joy and happiness of the season.

Just don’t get in her f-in way if you see her at the mall.


I’m thrilled to let you all know that Parents Magazine (yes, THE Parents Magazine that every mother reads from cover to cover) just chose me as their Editors’ Pick Funniest Blog! I know, I don’t know what the hell they were thinking, either! ME!

I’m so flattered and tickled to get their award and thank all of the editors from the bottom of my heart. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I just try to make people laugh with stories about my suburban wanker life, so it’s hugely gratifying to get an honor like this for it. Thank you to all of you for reading and commenting and encouraging me week after week—I don’t say it very often, but I’m truly grateful for all of you. (Oh, shut up. I’m NOT crying.) (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized


Add your own

  • 1. Hope  |  November 20th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Our Amy is my M-I-L. Somehow, by demanding final answers before we’ve even considered the question, she incenses me and fills me with shame simultaneously.

  • 2. Knittergran  |  November 20th, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I shop early but always misplace something. I will find a Christmas gift for someone in a box in a bag in a closet in July. With any luck, I won’t misplace it again before the next Christmas.

  • 3. Knittergran  |  November 20th, 2011 at 9:40 am

    And Congratulations!!!

  • 4. Citizen_stu  |  November 20th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    You do realize if she gets a list with Swiffer Wet-Jet on it she will think you might just be putting things down you want.

    And congratulations on the award :)

  • 5. Elizabeth  |  November 20th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    How I love your boys! If Hannah is half as happy to get a Swiffer, I’ll be thrilled. As it is, empty water bottles and used cell phones are on her list for this year.

    Congrats on being the funniest pick–it’s a well deserved honor!

  • 6. Nancy Davis Kho  |  November 20th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Der Kommissar is in town, and she wants your shopping list. My mother, by the way, has a slight variation on this: “What do the kids want?” I tell her, and there’s dead silence. So then I start riffing on cheaper? easier? more likely to be sold at The Dollar Store? until I name something and she says “YES! That’s what I got her!”

    Needless to say, “temper your expectations” has been a lesson for the children vis a vis Grandma’s gifts, since their earliest days.

  • 7. Melody  |  November 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Way to go on the lists. I used to have one of those in the family – and then through the miracle of divorce NO MORE! The ex and I can be friends as long as it doesn’t involve his family.

    Congratulations on the funniest award. Well deserved.

  • 8. marathonmom  |  November 20th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    She probably does not work outside the home full time, with a husband that travels weekly. She is probably not in the midst of a lice infestation where the nurse has given up on you and is about to call CPS on your 3rd grader. Her mother probably has called her or seen her, even on her bday, more than 4 times this year. She probably did not adopt a 4 year old golden retriever from the rescue org, because her kids were finally ready for a big dog – - and spent $400/month on his vet care for allergies and meds since August.
    So yeah, good for her. Spike her cider well.

  • 9. Andi  |  November 20th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Oh how I hate Amy! Congrats on getting selected!

  • 10. Dena Taylor  |  November 20th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Give her a challenge this list:
    -The Rabbit
    -Rubber pants

    Congrats on PARENTS. I see momentum ;)

  • 11. mommakiss  |  November 21st, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Please tell me the lists you e-mailed her include that swiffer. please.

    parents mag? i’m impressed. nice job.

  • 12. Annie  |  November 21st, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Amy needs to start her own blog with tips on how to coddle, badger and threaten relatives into forking over lists. I have that exact problem with some of mine every year :P (except I don’t care when I get my shopping done, the night before Christmas included)

    Congratulations on your recognition! Well deserved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 13. Unvarnished Mom  |  November 21st, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Congrats on the award! That’s awesome. Even if you (and your sister) are solely responsible for bringing on my premature holiday malaise. Usually I wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to get depressed about Christmas et al. But thanks to you–and Stop & Shop, with their stupid candy CANES appearing the day after the candy CORN disappeared–I am already dreading it!

  • 14. Cheryl  |  November 21st, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I think someone cloned my husband (your 7 year old, not Amy).

    Thankfully we don’t have an Amy. We do, however, have plenty of “Oh, it’s Christmas Eve? I guess I better go shopping” people.

    That award is sooooooooo well deserved. Congratulations & BOOYAH!

  • 15. Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes  |  November 21st, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Your sister = my MIL. Life ain’t no picknick when december dooms up on the calender-horizon

  • 16. Kelley  |  November 21st, 2011 at 7:26 am

    That award is SO well-deserved!! Your blog is one of my very favorites!! I’m still cracking up over the Swiffer Wet Jet. Ha!

  • 17. Diane  |  November 21st, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Congratulations! You are an amazing writer – always an inspiration. Now on to those lists…

  • 18. Jeff  |  November 21st, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Congrats on the award! And on raising a child who wants a Swiffer. He isn’t necessarily a future custodial engineer. My wife got me a Swiffer for Christmas last year. Best present ever.

  • 19. Brittany  |  November 21st, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Oh my gosh, Wendi – I totally thought you were joking about your sister. LOVE the text message!!

    And congrats!! You totally deserve it. :)

  • 20. julie gardner  |  November 21st, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I already sent out my lists for this year.

    And none of them included Falco’s Greatest Hits.


  • 21. Zee  |  November 21st, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I used to love Christmas. Now I get kinda grossed out when I see decorations in CVS in August and as soon as there’s a dent in the Halloween candy I start to hear carols with the words changed to get me to buy my loved ones electric razors and SUVs. I can start to think about Christmas around December 15. Before then, I guess I’m a grinch.

    And a big congrats on the award! Erma would be so proud of you.

  • 22. Krabies  |  November 21st, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Congrats on you award!!

  • 23. Hope  |  November 21st, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Hurray for the recognition and I second (third, fourth, hundredth) the ‘you deserve it’ sentiment.

    As a grandmother, I go into some kind of fugue state when entering the toy/kids’ clothes aisles, returning to consciousness in my living room with shopping bags strewn everywhere. Not a good thing when there are other relatives who also want to indulge.

    For this year, I’ve cleared with all parental units that, since the children are all under 4 y.o., we will contribute to their college funds and step back. The little ones won’t remember anyway and usually being 2000 miles away we are just happy to be close enough to see them more than twice a year.

    And I saw Christmas items at Costco in August. sigh.

  • 24. Shannon  |  November 21st, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I didn’t realize your sister was the the crazy intense Target lady. So sorry…

  • 25. Becky Rice  |  November 21st, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I’m impressed by Jack’s list. Succinct, practical and in better handwriting than mine.

  • 26. ellen  |  November 21st, 2011 at 11:04 am

    So happy for you and the recognition you deserve coming from a significant source — as opposed to all of us grateful but insignificant readers!

    And totally hear you on the insane shopper sister, although I am blessed with the husband who ONLY EVER shops on Christmas Eve. “There’s no traffic! The deals are insane! I don’t have to think about it till then!” ETC.

    Happy Thanksgiving and just take it all at your own pace, anyway!

  • 27. Issa  |  November 21st, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Dude. You just described my MIL. I believe it was October 1st when I got her first email. I haven’t bought a thing yet. I will. Eventually. Probably. ha.

  • 28. dusty earth mother  |  November 21st, 2011 at 11:59 am

    My sister-in-law gave me Christmas gifts for my kids, WRAPPED, IN JULY. I see your Johnny and raise you a Psycho On The Spot. And congratulations again on your award, you marvelous suburban wanker, you deserve it. My voice is not trembling, shut up.

  • 29. Ann  |  November 21st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    So exciting to know all this spying on your neighbors and hiding from the LISTSERV and PTA have finally paid off!

    Congrats on such esteemed recognition, and just don’t buy your kids any bath salts.


  • 30. Candy  |  November 21st, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I have a sister exactly like that! And her name is Amy! Wait…are you and I related? Or maybe the same person? You know, now that I think about it, you and I are never in the same place at the same time. Hmmmmm…..

  • 31. Jaclyn  |  November 21st, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I remember the year my baby sister turned 5. My mom asked what she wanted for Christmas and there was only one thing on her list. A pencil. She wanted a fucking pencil. Your Swiffer story made me think of that and cracked me up.

  • 32. CJ  |  November 21st, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Congratulations on winning the award. You deserve it.

  • 33. Roshni  |  November 21st, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    your boys don’t know what they want for Christmas?!?! Well, bless them!! Congratulations for a well-deserved award!!!

  • 34. Ellen  |  November 21st, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Congrats on winning! You crack me up!!

  • 35. the mama bird diaries  |  November 21st, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I’m scared of Amy and I’ve never met her.

  • 36. No Drama Mama  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Just let him have the wet jet. My two-year-old daughter loves to clean. I have no idea where she gets it from. Maybe living in chaos makes her crave order? She’s pretty fanatical and bossy about it. Dinner plates must be cleared immediately from the table, shoes must never be left out, etc.

  • 37. Alexandra  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    You ARE the funniest mum blogger.

    10 out of 10 Parents know…

  • 38. Michelle  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    LOL…your 7 year old wants a Swiffer Wet Jet, and mine wants an electric vegetable peeler (which her grandmother bought her!!)!! Slip some Mr Clean Magic Erasers in his stocking. Good luck!!

  • 39. What We’re Reading &hellip  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    [...] found interesting to check out.HUMORWhat She Said: A Case Study In Male FutilityWendi Aarons: Making A List And Checking It Twice (So I Don’t Get Hurt)Don’t Speak Whinese via Aiming Low: Mommy Versus Four Year Old: An Epic Language BattleAy [...]

  • 40. BloffieZA  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Well done! I am not even a housewife, let alone a parent (or female for that matter) but I love your blog! You think Texas is hot, come to Cape Town in December! We in Africa know what heat is! You are dealing with Micky Mouse temperatures, here we melt!

  • 41. Plano Mom  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Very, very cool on the magazine thing.

    My sister’s name is Amy too. The similarity stops there though. My sympathies for you.

    Last week I sent her birthday cards from the last three years. Her birthday is in March. I do that on purpose so she knows she’s loved wantonly and without purpose.

  • 42. Cris  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Best present I ever got my kids were whisk brooms and dustpans (from the camping section) Now they can clean up their own messes and not knock me out with the broom handle.

    I found you through the Parents Magazine! Quickly becoming a huge fan! Congrats.

  • 43. SF  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Re: the multi-eyebrowed barista: Falco, sadly, died in 1998, having been predeceased by his career several years earlier. At least, that’s the official story. If he’s pulling an Elvis, your hunch may be correct, and his cover may be about to be blown.

  • 44. SF  |  November 23rd, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Oh yes – and the Vileda SuperMocio kicks the Swiffer WetJet’s ass. So there.

  • 45. Leigh Ann  |  November 24th, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Congrats Wendi! What an honor! I’ll always cherish that hug i made you give me at the beef council.

  • 46. Holly  |  November 24th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I’m just jealous that you have someone who wants to buy stuff for your kids. It’s more than I have. And congrats on the awards – so well deserved.

  • 47. Amber Gallant - Motherhood Etc.  |  November 25th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    My son told me he wants to be Santa when he grows up. What am I supposed to do with THAT shit?! LOL!

  • 48. Kim at Let Me Start By Saying  |  November 26th, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Holy Chiklets on a Stick, I love this.
    This year I am a little Amy-ish, only becaus I am having ass surgery in December which makes me unlikely to be doing things like driving or being in stores where someone might bump into me and I have to murder them because my ass hurts so much. So I need to do it early.
    But I’m not scary. I swear.

  • 49. Jennifer  |  November 26th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Oh I can totally relate! My MIL sends emails about two months before every birthday, holiday, anniversary and requests a wish list. (1. I wish you would stop asking for wish lists…). It goes something like this: May I PLEASE have a wish list for your WONDERFUL children for blah BLAHBLAHBLAH holiday because I want to get them something WONDERFUL because they are so WONDERFUL. For real. I feel your pain. I hope your sister doesn’t ask for a rifle for her birthday.

  • 50. Saturday Six #85 on Sunda&hellip  |  November 27th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    [...] [4]  Humor blogger Wendi Aarons never runs out of ways to make me laugh.  This past week was no different and I found particular joy in the subject matter, holiday gift giving.  Wendi seems to have a sister who is super prepared for the holidays and wants to drag anyone around her kicking and screaming.  I used to be that person. Shopping for the holidays as early as the summer, but then I realized that most (if not all) of the people I was buying for didn’t actually need anything, and that it was just more stuff.   If you have “one of those peeps” you may very much appreciate Wendi’s post: Making A List and Checking It Twice (So I Don’t Get Hurt). [...]

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