Monday, November 7, 2011

Ready Or Not....Here I Come!

When I was a kid, I absolutely, positively LOVED the holiday season! On Thanksgiving I would eat until I was miserable. One time I thought I may have actually caused myself bodily harm. I ate so much I seriously feared my stomach would explode. Then it was four weeks of thumbing through the Service Merchandise catalog to decide what I wanted for Christmas! I always had a list of record albums I wanted. Wasn't it fun to see a record album wrapped under the tree? No brainer on that gift! I can remember laying on my back for hours under the Christmas tree, watching the colored lights blink on and off, listening to Charlie Brown Christmas or some other wonderful Christmas show on the big console television. I had all the gifts memorized. The shape, the feel, the sound they made when you shook them. Yes, I loved the holidays.

I'm not really sure what changed, but for me the magic of that season is now gone. Maybe it's because I now spend a day and a half actually preparing the Thanksgiving dinner. The half day beginning on Wednesday evening after a full day at work. And I now know those pretty gifts don't just magically appear under the tree, which doesn't magically become decorated with those pretty lights! Someone has to risk their life to actually drive about town, spending hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars to buy and wrap the gifts, then an entire day decorating the 9' Christmas tree to place them under. Stuff has to be packed away in boxes to make room for all the decorations we must set out. There are Christmas cards to address. And I always feel obligated to write a nice note to those I don't see often. And I feel I should include a photo of the family; at least the kids. Last year I got so overwhelmed I just gave up on the cards. Oh and for the record...if you ever send me one of those mass produced Christmas letters written to update everyone on all the events of the year....please know that people (myself included) don't like those, and often make fun of them later. If you've never seen the episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where they write the Christmas letter, you're missing out.

Up until maybe five years ago, my parents' living room was overflowing with packages on Christmas Eve. Especially after my two kids came along. We would carry in armloads of gifts from our car. So would my sister, and so would her daughter. Add all that with the things my Mom bought, and it took two hours to open everything. We always opened them one at a time so we didn't miss anything. Mom would buy everyone in the family underwear. She called them "Santa Helpers". The label would always say "To Mary From Santa". I didn't have to buy underwear until I was in my 40's! But the past few years it became a gift card exchange. Everyone gets Christmas cards with gift cards inside. No one even needs to be in charge of the trash bag because there isn't any discarded wrapping paper. My kids no longer believe in Santa Claus and are starting to ask for money for birthdays and Christmas. Last year was the first year in my entire life that I didn't spend Christmas Eve at my parents' house. My sister wasn't able to make it in town and neither was her daughter and their family. So it was just us and my Dad. He came to our house and we had an awkward new tradition. I felt like crying more than once that night.

I know gifts and lights and turkey aren't the "reason for the season". I get that. But the enchantment I felt for Christmas as a child is gone. I'm not ashamed to say I dread it this year. I dread cooking, I dread making out Christmas cards, shopping, and mostly...putting up the tree and decorating the house. I don't really even do the decorating anymore; my husband does most of it. I still dread it.

But like it or not, Christmas is just a few weeks away. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. So fasten your seat belts cause here we go!

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