Smith Says: Christmas madness
Which will come first, Christmas or my nervous breakdown?
Every year I vow to opt out of the madness, but every Christmas Eve finds me hysterically stirring a pot of smoking fudge, half-dressed for church, surrounded by un-mailed presents that are being stalked by a ticked-off terrier in a Santa suit.
Speaking of NickyÖ last week we were in a hurry and dumped a cache of unwrapped gifts in a corner of the living room. I forgot about the small box of Godiva chocolates, and Nickyís abiding obsession with food.
We found the remains: shredded gold foil and the empty, mangled box. Exactly when she ate them is unclear. Weíre just amazed she didnít croak or at least have running fits. (She still looks cute in her Santa suit. She hates it, but without opposable thumbs she canít take it off until Mommy gets tired of taking pictures.)
Anyway, I get so verklempt with Christmas. Normally Iím a cool-headed list-makerócrisp, productive and organized to a fault. I write a daily schedule on the kitchen dryboard. What I eat is determined by what expires next. Newspapers get exactly 24 hours in my house before theyíre recycled. You get the point: Iím in control. Except for Christmas.
I start wringing my hands at the end of November, which is when I sit down to map out a plan for baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, mailing gifts, sending cards and going to parties.
It doesnít work.
I havenít been to a Christmas party since 2005, because Iím too mired down in baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, mailing gifts and sending cards.
There are 20 people on my Santa list; most of them know me well and donít expect a whole lot of creativity.
I was going to buy Widdle Baby a gas grill, but he canít decide which one he wants. Then I thought Iíd surprise him with an air compressor, but he surprised me and bought one his own self.
My brotherís children are nine; I havenít seen them in three years and have no idea what a nine-year-old thinks is cool. (Neither does my brother, which is some small comfort.) My other nephew is a 16-year-old math whiz; if anyone knows what they like, please email me the answer.
Then thereís my other nephew, the 28-year-old hipster dad of twins. He loves Jesus and tattoos, and is so up on the latest trends that anything I buy him will be outdated by at least two years.
At this point, it would be easier for me to round up eight maids a-milking or four calling birds, whatever they are.
According to Pinterest and about 2,593,834 blogs, homemade treats (gaily wrapped!) are a wonderful gift. And thatís a swell idea, because I love to bake and make candy. The only problem is that during the holidays I completely forget how to do it. When your fudge bursts into flames and you leave flour out of the cookies, itís time for Plan B, which is buying out the entire Christmas bakery section in Publix.
As for decorating, the boxes are still in the attic. We do have several fake poinsettias on the dining room table and a slightly ratty fake cedar garland draped on the porch railing. Thereís no tree, because every year I swear weíre going to buy a beautiful artificial, pre-lit tree for $25 the day after Christmas, and we never do.
Simply put, when it comes to the holidays I donít finish, I just quit. So, from our crazy, chaotic, so-not-ready house to yours: Merry Christmas, yíall!
Julie R. Smith, who fears fruitcake, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.