Monday, December 13, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas

I love how Brynna is taking direction and Maren seems to be
saying, "Oh no, this is my last bite of cookie! What shall I do?"

Have you noticed the obsession with this concept this year? It seems everywhere I turn, I'm being inundated with a veritable countdown via Christmas movies, dessert recipes, crochet patterns and game bonuses. It's not that I mind, it's more like for the first time ever, this has totally snuck up on me. I'm vaguely aware that it is December, and therefore the Christmas season. My tree is up, we've gone to see Santa and most of my shopping is done, it's just, I'm not quite ready.

My first big family celebration is this weekend and I still haven't decided what to bring. At this point, I'm leaning toward chips and salsa to reduce my stress level (ever so slightly). I am still not totally done Christmas shopping, haven't figured out what Brynna's class is doing (if anything) and I haven't got my Christmas-time to do finalized.

I know that this seems like I am overcomplicating something fairly simple. And perhaps if I don't do these things, if I do take chips and salsa and I wrap most of my gifts on Christmas Eve and I finish up my shopping on my way home on the 23rd, and we don't do all of our holiday traditions, I'll still have a perfectly merry Christmas. I could believe that. I do tend to make things harder than they have to be.

I spent the weekend sick in bed, moving as little as possible, because almost all movement hurt. Also, despite the fact that I never seemed to run a fever, I took turns burning up and freezing to death. I spent most of that time alternately wrapped and unwrapped in blankets watching Christmas movies on TV. I love Christmas movies, even the really cheesy ones. I love how just putting Christmas in the title allows you to discount good acting, script writing and effects, as long as there is some schmaltzy ending where everything works out and everyone learns a lesson about the "true" meaning of Christmas. I put that in quotes because nearly all the movies disagree about the "true" meaning of Christmas.

In any case, one of these movies was the very formulaic plot of woman wishes for a new life, woman gets new life, woman wishes she hadn't wished for new life and has to jump through a bunch of crazy hoops to get real life back. I turned it off before the end because my kids came home and I wanted to pretend to feel better and talk to them, so maybe she ended up being stuck in her new life, miserable and without her husband and kids. Who knows?

In any case, the beginning has a voice over where she talks about how much she used to love Christmas and how she now hates it. She hates it because women, who are already supposed to be superheroes, managing home, kids and career while our husbands (many times, but not always) are lovable goofballs who need our constant direction. (And even when that's not the case, it's kind of assumed to be the case, isn't it? When was the last time you heard someone say, "Wow, their house is a mess, what is that man thinking, letting it get like that?" or "I can't believe they didn't bring anything for the bake sale. Doesn't he know how important this is for our school?") I've gone off on a tangent, but her point was that during Christmas, that intensifies. The volunteer commitments double, the kid commitments triple, and the family commitments quadruple. All the while, we're getting no slack at work, the house is still a mess and there are no groceries. (Or maybe that last part is just me.)

I found myself, even in my can't-stand-to-get-out-of-bed misery nodding sympathetically. I've never wished for a new life and I wouldn't wish away a single solitary holiday commitment. I am one of those crazy masochists that starts listening to Christmas music in November and looks forward to this time of year, starting in January. I love the extra time with family, the cute kid plays and recitals, the extra cookies and the constant smell of baking. It's worth it, it really is.

There is always a piece of me that wishes that my kids could possibly have a holiday memory of me where I'm not losing my mind, running around like a chicken with a disconnected spinal cord and fussing at every little thing left in the floor. (Not to mention the dirty footprints on my tree skirt. Seriously people, who is standing on my tree skirt at all, let alone in their shoes? This is why we never put out the good one anymore, because I don't trust you!) I try to relax, I really do, but I've got that to do list ticking away in my head, tick, tick, tick - what kind of cookies are you making for Santa? Tick, tick, tick - have we done the annual watching of It's a Wonderful Life? Tick, tick, tick - did we get presents for the teachers? Oh no, I don't think we got presents for the teachers? Oh crap, what can I get the teachers?!?

I'd like to promise to do better, but I won't. I will stress this stuff until I die, I know I will and I'll be the queen of Christmas at our house, until I'm the only one left in my house. And for the most part, I will enjoy every minute of it. But every year, there will be one day, like today, where I'll wonder what the hell I'm doing and why I'm doing it.


Mrs. Allroro said...

I am with you on the looking forward to Christmas since January thing. Not lately--not sure why--but definitely as a kid, and probably all the way through college. I think it ended when I found out I was the only person who actually threw up every Christmas Eve from excitement. Really. When I found out I was alone in that, Christmas lost its magic for me. I still love it, but now it's a much more sacred kind of love, and a less nauseous kind. :-)

Anyway, I have an awesome teacher gift idea. (You didn't ask. I know.) I saw it in a Publix ad. They suggested you buy several grocery gift cards, for those occasions when somebody extra stops by or when you realize you don't have a teacher gift yet. And then, if after Christmas is over you haven't used them all, you can just use them to buy your own groceries. Isn't that clever? I've received grocery gift cards, too, and I have loved getting them, and so have other teachers. (Teachers don't get paid all that well, you know, and get a lot of not-so-practical gifts, to boot.)

Jessi said...

Mrs. A - That's a good idea. I always struggle with teacher gifts. I want to get something that says I truly appreciate what they do, but I don't want to spend too much (because I don't always have it to spend) and I don't want to buy them something they already have 70 of (like anything with a freakin' apple on it). I honestly never thought of any kind of gift card. Which is sad and speaks to my level of panic, but whatever. Thanks for the idea.