Gone are the days of yore when I used to coordinate 150 angels, sheep, and shepherds in the church nativity pageant on Christmas Eve, come home and serve 15 people Christmas Eve dinner, do my Santa thing, and turn around the next day and have 25 seated for Christmas Dinner. I honestly don't know how I did it! (Remind me one day to tell you the story about the year my husband "forgot" to get out the Santa gifts. . . he was waiting for Santa to do it!) And though my sisters have taken over most of the feeding of the Christmas herd in the recent past, there has always been a lingering sense of Christmas dread.
Yes, my holiday entertaining came to a screeching halt on Christmas morning three years ago as I screamed at everything and everybody in sight to hurry up and open their gifts so I could vacuum up behind them. That little domestic scene was quickly followed by my three darling teenage daughters fighting each other over which one was to help me set the table while their father took his annual Christmas snooze . . . I can't help her. You help her!. . . But I don't even know where the forks go!. . . Mom, you're not telling me. . . You mean each person gets a napkin?. . . I have to straighten my hair, you know. . . and you wouldn't buy me anything to wear, so I probably will have to eat naked. . . . After which the evening was topped off watching my husband from my kitchen window - me washing the dishes, and he - outside on our deck with his brothers-in-law using a blow torch to light the annual Christmas night shots.
When you take this one day, perhaps it doesn't seem so bad - but combine it with a full-time job as coordinator of a church (where my days leading up to it were swimming in pointsettias, schedules, collections, and turkey give-aways) I don't think you would blame me if I told you that I went to bed that night and didn't get out of bed for a week. (And yes, it did have something to do with the family of stress-induced fever blisters that descended on me on Christmas night as I was drying the last of the Waterford wine glasses and never went away until the New Year was safely rung in.)
So now Santa's not the only one with a list at Christmas time. . . . I have my own. And I think I have successfully removed every Christmas stressor from my life - one naughty item at a time.
Take a gander at my Christmas "no-no's"
- Picking the Tree - Went to Home Depot last year to purchase an artificial one. This way my daughters and I get to watch the progression . . . first night we had a Chanukah bush, then the next night a stumpy tree, and the third night we had a full-fledged tree all lit up! Still haven't decorated it yet, but we have plenty of time for that. . .
- Christmas Cards - gave this one up long ago. First I went to the every-other-year method, then moved to the every-third. Now, I don't send them at all. If anyone wants to know what I've been up to they can read my blog!!!
- Christmas Presents - I'll still buy for my parents and our family "Secret Santa", but all of the other gift-giving has been bought out with cash. The oldest has requested some pricey airfare for a service trip to Guatemala, and the other two would never trust me to purchase clothing for them, so some nice Christmas "Greenery" will do. As for my husband, he's never met a present he hasn't returned, and so we have made a pact to resort to the next item on the list. . .
- Stocking Stuffers - Let's see. . . one of my daughters is getting a verizon phone bill and the other two are getting E.R. and Ambulance bills from a certain concert this past summer - all rolled and tied up in a nice red bow. Beats coal, doesn't it??? As for my hubbie, a nice bottle of single-malt scotch should fit quite nicely.
- Christmas Company - It's just not happening. As a matter of fact, I will be fulfilling a life-long dream of dining in our jeans with my little family on Christmas day. Thankfully, I have a large, extended family who we can mooch off of throughout the eleven-or-so other days of Christmas.
- Church Christmas Pageant - I finally passed the baton to a younger parish employee who does have children young enough to qualify as "angels". Just didn't feel right to me anymore.
So Ho, Ho, Ho!!! . . . Deck the Halls! . . . and Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!!!
I'm ready for the Christmas of a lifetime. Are you????