We try to hang them early, on a nice day, but in the end we’re trying to change tiny fuses with numb fingers and runny noses. It defies logic, risking one’s neck on a crazy tall ladder in the cold just to hang lights from the gutters, but who needs logic when your eaves sparkle?
2. Painful school Christmas programs:
It’s the dead of winter and I’m sweating like I just ran the Boston Marathon. Parents, grandparents, and assorted siblings are packed in the gymnasium like gherkins in a pickle jar, waiting for their chance to take a blurry picture of their little one picking their nose to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock. Averting my eyes from the bench full of plumber’s crack in front of me, I pass the time watching toddlers in the audience cry and climb people as if they were human jungle gyms. It’s worth it all, though, to catch my son’s eye and see him smile and wave at me mid-song.
3. Editing my life for my Christmas cards:
Christmas cards are a great way to update friends and relatives on our lives – I mean, sure, there’s Facebook, but thanks to their algorithms, only a precious few see any given post. So I like to sum things up for people in my Christmas cards. I do my best to trim a year’s worth of memories down to a half a dozen sentences. I find that when I delete the minutia of laundry, dishes, and report cards from my life, it sounds pretty great.
4. Dysfunctional tree-trimming:
Once the tree is up (a process which, in and of itself, often brings with it the topic of divorce), it’s time to trim the tree. My husband sets the box of ornaments down and mayhem ensues. My boys have the ornaments unwrapped and are throwing them on the tree at lightning speed while I make futile attempts to get them to hang the ornaments evenly and stay off the ladder. Five minutes later, the ornaments are on the tree and I spend the next hour rearranging them and cleaning up the packing material, thankful to have avoided a trip to the ER and divorce attorney.
5. Panic shopping:
I try to plan ahead – I really do. But inevitably I end up at the store with no time to shop and no idea what to buy. This year I realized at the last minute that I had spent six months picking out presents for the wrong niece. You see, my extended family draws names for Christmas, and I got the names mixed up in my head. I had done such a good job picking thoughtful, personal gifts – I couldn’t just change the name on the packages. So in the middle of a wind storm, I found myself in the aisles of the local department store, contemplating giving a 19 year old a set of Pajaminals for Christmas. Thankfully they didn't have her size.
The holidays are a hassle, in some ways, but if they were easy, they wouldn’t be special. Last year we had to forgo many of our holiday traditions due to my son’s illness and believe me, this year I’m enjoying every painstaking, frostbitten, panicked minute. I hope you do too! Happy Holidays!