Am I already behind? Our Thanksgiving place settings aren’t put away yet, but I feel like I’m behind the eight-ball on this Christmas thing. Every year, I tell people that I really don’t care for Christmas and all its trimmings, that I’m kind of a Grinch. Bah humbug and all that. In fact, for most of my married, grown-up life, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree. It wasn’t until I had a baby and my mother showed up at my house with an artificial tree and threatened to put it up for me that I started to decorate at all.
The truth is, I want to like Christmas, I really do. I have great childhood memories of Christmas. My mom and dad always made our house beautiful with decorations. And the presents! Oh the presents! They always made it magical. It used to be my favorite time of the year. But it was easier when I was a child and had no responsibility for it. Now, it feels like a lot of work. And I don’t have the skill, budget or time to make the holidays live up to my totally unrealistic expectations. I blame Martha Stewart and HGTV.
What I want and what I can produce are two different things. I want a Christmas that is slow and lovely. I want to sit by the fire and drink hot cocoa while carols play in the background. I want quiet snow falling in the yard while our silly dog hops around trying to catch the flakes. I want to capture the memory of us, right at that moment, in matching Christmas sweaters and assorted red plaid to put on a gorgeous holiday card. I want grateful hearts and happy memories. I want a lush tree with twinkling lights. I want to see the wonder in my daughter’s eyes as we go on a stroll to see Christmas lights.
What I’ll really get is a Christmas of chaos and over stimulation. Rushing around from store to store trying to find that perfect gift, stumbling around half-blind before it’s over. There’s no fire place in our house, so we’ll just crank up the heat and have the TV blaring in the background. Was our faux tree always that skinny? So much snow and ice it will make our driveway a danger zone and make my husband’s already tired shoulders even more tired. And our Christmas card? Hello, selfie! The only magic I’ve got going for me is when I remember to move the elf to another boring “just sitting there” pose because I’m too tired to be creative.
Hey, so what if Christmas Present doesn’t live up to the expectations of Christmas Past? The noise and the hustle and bustle suit me; in my brain, there is no quiet. No matter what happens, the traditions we create are ours alone. Zoey’s memories will be hers, as imperfect as they may be. Maybe this year, I can do better. I can put a little more effort into it for Zoey’s sake. Maybe we’ll visit Santa or do a holiday craft or even remember to put out cookies for the big guy this year. I’m not making any promises.