Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays! I'm Not Ready Yet!

As I write this I am trying very hard to NOT grab all the cookies off the cookie plate, crawl under the Christmas tree and chug the gallon of eggnog in the fridge in a massive rogue Holiday Panic Attack. But I can't. Because I have yet to purchase any eggnog. And there are no cookies.

I had my traditional Holiday Panic Attack the first week of December when I realized that my work schedule did not allow for my annual Holiday Prep Weekend. The annual HPW consists of me taking a couple extra days off around a weekend to allow for decorating, shopping, card writing and cookie baking.

Traditionally I succeed in getting some decorations up and a few gifts purchased. Oh, and I have a nice lunch by myself at a fancy mall restaurant, usually The Cheesecake Factory although California Pizza Kitchen lured me in last year with it's stuffed pablano pepper. I come away feeling well rested, a little pampered and slightly smug even though I have only checked off two or three things from my list of things to do.

I talked myself down by telling myself that decorating is really a family event and my daughter loves to bake. But then I counter with 'you haven't sent out a single Christmas Card.' And then the voice in my head laughs. I haven't sent out a Christmas card since 2001. Well, that's not entirely true. I send out reciprocal cards to those who send first. This causes me great guilt so I end up writing out cards to anyone over sixty years old or more than one hundred miles away. Naturally, these never arrive in time for December 25. But really, the season extends through New Years so the term Christmas Card is really too confining. I live to push the boundaries of social convention.

And there are cookies. My Mom made her famous French Cookies:
Theses are fried two at a time on a tiny waffle iron. Thanks Mom!
And I baked two batches myself, because the weekend I experienced my first Holiday Panic Attack rolled into my Holiday Exhilaration Festival. This would be the period in which I feel anything is possible. Make two wine cork wreaths? Pour me another glass and get the glue gun! Hand embroider tiny dancing elves on sweaters for everyone to wear Christmas Eve? Sure! Do you want them waltzing or doing the macarena? It helps that we had a beautiful snow fall which lasted most of the day. I baked a batch of Spritz cookies and then, as they only use the egg yolks...I baked a batch of Meringues.

I wrapped packages that day as Love Actually played on the television.
Please note, the cat is not a gift. He is a threat.
  Including the package which needed to be sent to my neice and nephew in Germany. Which usually doesn't get mailed until December 20th , causing the lady at the post office to reprimand my tardiness and my niece and nephew to call me "die Tante, der nicht Eigentümer einen Kalender oder zu verstehen, wie lange es dauert, um die Dinge nach Deutschland versenden“. I am pretty sure that translates into 'the Aunt who is beautiful and our favorite'.

I love wrapping packages. I crease the paper so no raw edges showed. I use ribbon that coordinates with the paper. I hand make my bows. My packages have pretty paper and shiny ribbon strung horizontally and vertically with a lovely bow adorning the intersection. Yup. Packages one through five look beautiful. The remaining gifts slowly devolve until the last few look as if I wrapped them with my toes. While drunk. And with my eyes closed.

I managed to get my kitchen tree up.

My Dad gave me this tree 30 years ago when I was away at school. It is the first decoration to go up and the last to come down.
 And our family tree was decorated in shifts, and while it doesn't look like something off the HGNetwork, it looks beautiful. (I am ignoring the pile of storage boxes which remain in the family room downstairs. At this point it would be crazy to put them back in the store room.)

Apparently I was still drunk from wrapping packages when I took this one.

Wow, I could so start freaking out again.

But that annoying voice in my head, who sounds a little like Mary Tyler Moore unless she is singing in which case she sounds like Roseanne Barr, reminds me: It's not about the gifts or the tree or the cards. This season is about remembering to believe in something you can not see. It's about holding tight to the people and memories that are most dear, remembering the ones who have slipped away and planting that seed of wonder, amazement and hope for those who may be having trouble finding it.

It is also about letting this scary-ass Santa head see the light of day for another year.

You better believe he sees you!  

Happy Holidays to All from the Coast of Illinois!


  1. You've got some gorgeous decorations.

    This year, for me, decorating and everything else pretty much flew out the window. But I have found, for myself, I have to consciously downsize my holiday goals every few years. When I found myself sobbing because I did not have time to bake batches of cookies for the UPS and mail carrier that delivered to my WORK, I realized I had gotten Christmas mission creep. Just do everything I did the year before, and ONE more thing - after a few years, it adds up to undo-able, and the season isn't supposed to be about stress, right?

    i love Love, Actually - am detouring to invest in my own copy so I, too, can watch it (maybe next year) as I wrap gifts.

    1. Thank you Beverly - our decorations are an amalgamation of 30 years of kids and college and I love every mismatched one of them. I completely understand about adding new traditions until things spin wildly out of control. I had a melt down many years ago, lying in bed crying "I can't keep doing this!" When my husband figured out I was talking about Christmas prep and not our marriage - lol - he gave me the best advice. "Then don't." I try to use that as my guide and just do the things I enjoy - my problem this year was just time spinning too quickly and some surprise things popping up. But nothing like you have been dealing with. Hoping you a much calmer New Year!

  2. I am not ready yet either, Laura. I will be writing about what happened to me on Thursday. But, I know what is important will get done. I might be up really late on Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas!

  3. I think it all comes together on the day - some people have it all in place and others fly by the seat of their pants, but it still works out and there is all that Christmas love to go around. Have a great Christmas time and enjoy the family - that's what really counts x

  4. Years past, I've had panic attacks and felt guilty if I didn't do everything perfectly. WON'T be doing that anymore! I do what I enjoy and don't put pressure on myself to do things I don't like doing i.e. wrapping. I delegate more duties to the kids now that they're older and it's time for this mama to relax and enjoy the holidays! Of course, with a glass (bottle) of wine. Hehe Merry Christmas Laura!


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