Plane tickets: $400.

Hotel room: $200

"Elmo's World" DVD that my kid watched six times in a row on the plane trip: $14.99

Getting back to Philadelphia on New Year's Day AFTER the a few thousand parasol-toting drunk guys in skirts and sequins staggered back home: Priceless.

There are many things I love about living in Philadelphia. The Mummers are not one of them. I appreciate the tradition, the pageantry, the spectacle, the months of sewing the elaborate costumes, the painstaking rehearsals. I think I'd just appreciate it more if my house wasn't on the parade route, and I didn't get the Mummers coming (when they're greeting the New Year trailed by vans packed floor to ceiling with mini-cans of Coors and floats blaring "We Are Family" at top volume at six in the morning) and going (after the parade, when they've drunk up all the beer and are busily mistaking street corners, planters and windowboxes for urinals and scaring the crap out of my dog).

I think at some point I'm going to have to fake Mummer tolerance and take Lucy to the parade. But not yet.

Jen