Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year, and I blame the retailers for rushing things so they can make big profits. But, I was thinking this morning, maybe we do need the extra time to prepare for the holiday because people’s lives are getting more hectic and busier every year. If we aren’t working, running errands, shoveling snow, and all the rest, then we are getting sick with super bugs that turn a normal seven day cold into a three week bronchitis or even a longer pneumonia. Then we are stressed out because we are falling behind on all the things we have to do and we find ourselves rushing around until the last minute to get it all done…even though Christmas started back in October, with Halloween!
Everything that goes into celebrating Christmas we do with love. There’s a long list, from big things to the tiniest things, that go into making this day special for those you care about. There’s the shopping for just the right wrapping paper. I like to have all the Christmas colors and symbols on my paper like red, green, blue, white and snowmen, reindeer, trees and of course Santa. Some of us have to get two different sets of wrapping paper for our wiseass kids who notice that “Santa’s Paper” and our paper happen to be the same. And after you get paper, you need bows and ribbon. And all of these things would serve no purpose without scotch tape…do you get the clear tape or the one that claims to be invisible, but never is? Is there enough tape for the whole family to use? You can’t run out of tape because the stores will be out of it at midnight on December 24th! And then you realize that just as important as the tape are the gift tags! Should we get the ones that peel and stick…they are so much easier than the other kind which will make us use up even more tape! When the girls were little, I signed all the gift tags with “Love, Santa,” and maybe a couple from us. Of course, when they realized the handwriting was the same, I had to start disguising my handwriting. I am doing this all out of love, I really am. When they put out the cookies and milk…we eat them and drink the milk and leave freaking crumbs as evidence. And yet, I could not quell the skepticism that there was no Santa! So I added a large, chocolate thumb print to the note Santa left, thanking them for the cookies. But that’s not enough…no. My older daughter wants to leave an apple for the reindeer. Where the hell did she get that Idea? Who knows? So they leave and apple. I have to take a few bites of the apple and leave a half eaten apple on my end table for them to find in the morning and examine. I go to bed with indigestion, but I am doing this out of love for my children and to keep their innocence alive.
Then there are the decorations! The outdoor decorations, the indoor decorations the decorations for the tree! Oh we have to get just the right tree. If it’s a real tree, you might even want to go cut one down yourself. If it’s a fake tree, you have to bring it up from the basement or down from the attic, a job everyone hates. If you put it up too early, your decorations get dusty. If you put it up too late, there’s bound to be a light that doesn’t work that throws all the others off and you have to find it even if it takes hours. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I love my girls and, although we had a fake tree every year, one year I decided I wanted them to experience a real tree and the delightful pine smell permeating the house. We go to pick one out together. I need a special tree stand so we can water it. We set it up in the corner. My older daughter says she doesn’t like the smell. Who the hell doesn’t like the smell of fresh pine? My younger daughter, who never complains, starts getting congested after a couple of days. I think it’s a cold, but nope…she is allergic to the tree! So much for making new Christmas memories! So it’s time to put up the tree and you have to find just the right place for it. If your house is crowded, you might have to move some furniture so it’s tucked away in a corner and not in a spot that interferes with your daily living. And then you unwrap each ornament with love as you try to find the perfect place to hang it. Our ornaments are mostly all counted cross stitch, handmade by me for my daughters, for each Christmas they’ve had; and the others are from places we have vacationed as a family. To take some of the magic away from the tree decorating experience, which my older daughter finds annoying, she suggests a new tradition. She will put “her” ornaments on one side of the tree and her sister can hang hers on the other side. Why you wonder? Genius that my daughter is, she discovered it makes taking the tree down so much easier and faster when you know where your ornaments are. I give up.
Now to shop for gifts. When the girls were little I just had to go to Toys R Us in October and get just about everything all at once. I even got presents for my in laws and my brother to give them, so these kids were beyond spoiled. However, they got older, and there went my nice routine. No longer could I go to Toys R Us and satisfy their every wish. Now I had to actually think of what to get and their lists never came early. When they do make a list, it comes with instructions. Like the time my daughter wanted the DVDs of a season of The Office…make sure you don’t get the series made in Great Britain, I want the one starring Steve Carell! And I can’t get them any clothes. If I like something, it’s almost guaranteed they will hate it. I am against gift certificates. What am I supposed to do? Wrap up tiny cards and put them under the tree? So I start thinking in October and interrogating them and end up begging for a list so I can “surprise” them for Christmas…because I love them. And I love Amazon too. Every time they mention something I add it to my cart. When I have a dozen things in there I hit the order button and everything comes straight to my door…no shipping, no lines, no wasting gas, no bad weather to go out in. My brother is also impossible. He doesn’t need anything, but I want him to enjoy Christmas too. So every year we go out and get him nice clothes. Sweaters, jeans, shirts, socks, underwear, winter coat, members jacket, pajamas etc etc etc. I never see these clothes that were bought with love…they are in his closet with the tags still on, waiting for a special occasion to wear them. Eventually though, we end up with enough gifts for a decent Christmas and everyone seems happy.
Then there is the Christmas dinner. I love turkey and I like to have it on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But I made the mistake of asking my loved ones what should we have for Christmas dinner? Lasagna, says my younger daughter. Pot roast, says my older daughter. I say I want to have turkey. “But we just had that,” they say in unison. Oy vey. It doesn’t matter that I am the one to shop for the food, prepare and cook the food, serve the food, I get out voted! But I love my girls and live to make them happy. So yesterday I made a huge pot of sauce and bought my lasagna noodles and cheeses so I can make lots of lasagna for tomorrow night’s dinner. A pre-Christmas dinner whose leftovers will make my life easier as I prepare the real Christmas dinner…turkey! But, if you are wondering about the pot roast, don’t worry. I am going to make that the following week for New Year’s day!
Uh oh…there is just one little problem that’s still haunting me…no stocking stuffers! So today, I am off to Kohl’s on my final mission to find something to put into their homemade, cross stitch stockings that are hanging in our new home, flat as pancakes. If I don’t find anything today I will fill them both with love and tissue paper…oh no, did I remember to get tissue paper? Damn it!