I had one weekend, one, to make it count. I needed to get all the Christmas-y stuff DONE and I had 48 hours in which to do it. Tall order.
I started Friday night with a mini-nervous breakdown. I started day by forgetting that there was NO school. MOM FAIL. Believe it or not, it went downhill from there. Sitting alone at a computer well after everyone else had gone home, I cracked. Big, noisy, ugly tears and all. I cried for forgotten teacher gifts, for lack of christmas spirit, for lack of time. I cried because no one should have to fix 3000 lines of data only to realize that they hand 3000 more to do. I gave up, left my office and made my way home. Still crying. My hubby was at a loss. He looked at me, asked what he could do and then stood there while I gave him the list: buy presents for EVERYONE, send Christmas cards, decorate the house, get the smell out of my car, fix the broken door, clean the garage, solve my data problems, make a Christmas memory, give me an idea for that one-special-gift that makes someone’s day, tuck me in, bake, clean this house, win the lottery, take the picture to put on the cards that I wanted him to send and make Christmas magic happen. This all came out in one-run-on sentence. I only took a breath to hiccup as I cried.
He did what any man would do in this situation. He left. The kids, who were still up despite the late hour, gathered around me and just stared. Even the hellion was quiet. “Mama, you crin-on-in?” she asked at one point. “Ye-Ye-Ye Yes,” I said. Thank goodness she didn’t ask what she could do to help me. I didn’t have to lung capacity for another marathon list.
Husband returns with french fries and a Peppermint/Chocolate shake. That man loves me. He told me points be damned and split the shake in 2 to make me feel less guilty. While kissing my check he slipped some ‘folding money’ into my hand. It might have been a bribe to make sure he didn’t have to go to the mall the Saturday before Christmas. To heck with might have been…it was a bribe and I took it gratefully
Despite it being a Saturday and my emotional hangover I got up early. Put the I-pod on Christmas play list and hit the road. By 10 am my big girl and I were in the mall and on a mission. I have mere hours to get this done and the cash to do it with. I am no Catniss but my in my leggings, tall boats and button down shirt I felt fierce. Canned Christmas carols played, holly wreaths were hung high overhead and there were just enough people to make give that hustle and bustle feeling. By 2p we had packages. By 3p were were scamming to get Nordstrom bags…we couldn’t afford anything in there but they have premo shopping bags. I didn’t think my big girl was ever going to ask for one but then the cheap macy’s bag broke, spilling it’s content all over the highly polished floor. That was enough to do it. “They won’t say no to a kid…go…go…” so she did and they didn’t and BAM 2 minutes later we were out of the store proudly baring 2 Nordstrom bags over our arms.
My girl whipped out her wallet and with her very own money and with no prompting, bought gifts for her brother, her sister, her grandpa and her gramsey. I was quite thrilled. Each one is unique and thoughtful in it’s own special way. It was just the type of gesture to catapult my mood. She urged and cajoled and nagged until I purchased a somewhat random gift that may or may not be of any use. She is excited about it so that alone makes it worth it.
By 4:30 we couldn’t carry anything else. We made way to the car. An hour later, by sheer accident, we stumbled upon a store that made us both salivate. Within moments she was ‘crafting’ and making a handful of thoughtful-special gifts.
By 8p we were munching on home-made pizza and wrapping presents. For reason unbeknownst to me I had my mind set on brown-paper packages tied up with string. Yeah, I was channeling my inner SOUND OF MUSIC. Even now the tune dances in my head. I was intent and so all of our packages are indeed, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with jaunty white ribbons. I love it! It’s perfect under our ugliest tree EVER.
My doubting Thomas 11 year old just can’t let go of the Santa and elf dream. She awoke Sunday morning to some rascal elves of the shelfs who escaped from packages her Aunt sent her. They had busting out of their wrappings and kidnapped the non-elf-on-the-shelf stuffed toys she sleeps with. The new elves kidnapped her old elves and left a ransom note and a picture of the victims ducted taped and hidden. The morning was a scavenger hunt to find the elves. Turns out they were in the backyard…the same yard still painted with large black spray painted letters reading, “KINZ WE ARE REAL”. Yeah. Wonder who is having more fun with these elves?
Sunday, after the elves were found, I laid out 3 recipes and raced to the store to get all the ingredients. We made 2 of them. The idea of baking with my daughter is better than the actual event. Too much togetherness and too much bossiness for one kitchen. We managed to salvage the peppermint bark and the spirit of the day…eventually. My hubby poked his head in and to my oldest baby girl said something like, “One day you’ll be doing this in your own kitchen.” I countered with, “we’d better hope she makes a lot of money ’cause she’s going to have to hire help to clean up after she cooks.” Yep that killed the mood. Eventually I threw in the towel (literally) and escaped to finish my wrapping while she destroyed, uh-hum, I mean puttered in the kitchen. Recipe 3 will have to wait until next year.
For dinner I made my grandmother’s chicken casserole. It was hearty and comforting and made me think of her and holidays at her house. Perfect memories for this time of year.
It’s not a story-book Christmas but it’s sure to be one I remember for a long time. My tree is uglier than home-made sin but it’s memorable and special to me. It’s also a handy weapon. I sent smart-mouth to find a recipe and she yelped and said, “ouch” so often as she was reaching to get it that she forgot to back-talk. Just might have to keep that tree around. My brown paper packages are precious. Next to mind lie my big girl’s hand wrapped boxes. Hers are done in zebra print wrapping paper. They are a little wonky around the corners and each present is held together with 25 pieces of tape but those too are perfect…done to the adorable little yarn bows she tied herself. There aren’t many of them, and they don’t contain grand and elaborate gifts, but those packages are the epitome of this Christmas. Simple and plain. Made special by little touches of whimsy.
And so ends the weekend. I didn’t get the Christmas cards done. I guess I am okay with that although I have started sneaking looks at New Year’s cards. We didn’t get out much of our Christmas finery but my mantle is gorgeous (thanks to my mom) and my homemade stockings are hung. The nutcrackers, the kids favorite part of our decor, are displayed. It’s enough. For gifts that weren’t as special as I would have liked them to be, I took the time to write special notes. Hopefully it really will be the thoughts that count this year.
I have a shirt that reads, “LA DEE FREAKING DAH”. I don’t think I’ll wear it tonight. Tonight feels like MERRY EVERYTHING. So, Merry Christmas. I hope yours is as full of memory’s as mine.