First off, let me set the record straight: I love Christmas and the holidays and all that stuff as much as the next girl. I mean, with a name like Noel, how could I possibly not?

Some people even ask me if I was born on Christmas, with a name like Noel. But I have to tell them, No; I was born on August 15—the same day as my great-grandfather Noel . . . (rhymes with Cole). Apparently, my parentshad been so sure I’d be a boy, they’d promised to name me after him no matter what. Classsic, right? Oh, well . . . I’m just glad they were nice enough to pronounce my name like it’s a girl’s.

But back to Christmas . . . Here’s the thing: No matter how great the holidays usually are, I am positively certain that even if I were Mrs. Claus herself would have had a hard time ho-ho-ho-ing this year. I mean, think about it. What if each and every one of your friends was going somewhere totally awesome for winter break, and feeling possibly compelled to talk about it constantly, while all you had to look forward to was a week and a half cooped up in your house with your parents, your little sister, and—as if that weren’t enough—another one on the way!

Okay, don’t get me wrong. I love babies as much as the next girl—of course. I just prefer it when they’re other people’s babies . . . not my own mother’s. I mean, come on. She’s, like, practically forty-five. Yeah, I know. I know. You’d think a person who wanted three kids would have had them all together—like everyone else’s mother. What was I thinking? you might ask. Seriously. Who knows?!

But that was all just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. It got much worse, let me tell you. Seriously. I don’t mind.