Random Christmas musings

I have tried to write two posts in the last week, both of which have ended up who knows where. Here is my third attempt. We shall see if it actually happens.

Superwoman is felled by nasty common cold virus.

Sick two days before Christmas with the nastiest cold I have had in a long time. I could barely raise my head from my pillow. There was still a mountain of gifts to be wrapped in the basement, hardly any of the food for the Christmas Eve Party was made, the house was a mess…I was panicking, when I could think straight. Finally, on Christmas Eve morning, I felt like taking a shower and getting dressed, but I knew there was no way I could complete all of the party foods on my extensive menu, so that was my first red pencil act, slashing the new appetizers I had planned to try, and trimming some of the cookie choices (thank goodness I had made some in advance). Then the hard decision of uninviting our friends and former neighbors, and the family who bought our old house. They were very understanding, and made offers of help, which I turned down. I knew I would barely be able to be presentable for my family, much less for anyone else.

I managed to get the pork shoulder browned on the grill and into the Crockpot, and spent the next five hours wrapping gifts, hoping that our son and grandsons didn’t show up too soon. I made it through the pile, and got everything organized for the Eve openings, and the gifts to be opened at home. There was plenty of food, even enough to send home with our son, and to take to my in-laws the next day. David just had a told-you-so look on his face, because he had tried to get me to cut back even before I got sick. My face just said shut your pie hole.

Macs are wonderful until they’re not

We’ve had this MacBook for four years, and had never had a moment’s trouble with it, except having to replace a battery about two months ago. Until last week. Because of my cold, I thought I had better clean the keyboard before handing it over to David on Christmas Eve morning. Forgetting everything I knew (my brain was a little muzzy from the snot buildup), I used a disinfectant wipe on it without turning off the computer. Big NO-NO! David since surmised that it’s possible that all of the errant and random keystrokes must have made it lose its mind. Things were going everywhere. Screens jumping back and forth, losing posts and comments in the middle of writing them, the screen getting larger and smaller all on its own, and other weird happenings. It was impossible to control, so I just gave up and hung my head in shame. It still isn’t quite back to normal. I’ve had a bit of a challenge getting this post written, as it randomly jumps the cursor to a different place in the text while I’m typing, so if you see some random words inserted in places where they shouldn’t be, don’t blame me, blame the Clorox wipe.

Christmas happens whether you’re ready or not

Thankfully, I managed to get the bare minimum done, and stayed on my feet until all the gifts that I spent five hours wrapping were opened in fifteen minutes by six insane kids. Well, the older four did theirs in that time, the two younger ones were overwhelmed and had to be helped. They had plenty of that, because the older ones had nothing to do after they tore through their own piles. By this time the toddler was showing signs of being sick as well. We had to start his asthma breathing treatments, so he wouldn’t end up in the emergency room. By 9:00 p.m., he and I were out like the Christmas lights.

On Christmas morning David and I always go to his parents. They don’t like to travel in winter, and we don’t want them to be alone on Christmas. When we had talked about going a week before, the toddler overheard and started jumping up and down, saying, “Go to Ge-ma’s and Ge-pa’s house! Go in car!” Of course, he thought we were leaving that minute, so it took a bit of convincing that we would take him along when it was time.

So, not having had time to get anything ready in the days before Christmas, we had to pack clothes, food, and gifts (which I didn’t even get wrapped, but they don’t care anyway) into the truck. At the last minute, Kaitlyn decided that she didn’t want to be left at home (a decision that she would later regret), so we had to wait for her to get her things ready, and decide which toys she would take. All the while, Joshie (the toddler) is standing at the door yelling “Ge-ma’s and Ge-pa’s house!” over and over. And it was raining, so David couldn’t even take him outside to run off a little steam.

We finally got on the road, and as usual on Christmas day, there was no traffic. There were also no restaurants open for a three hour trip, except a Pizza Hut Express in a truck stop. I faintly remember the same thing happening the previous year, but not in time to plan accordingly. The pizza was awful—too much cheese that wasn’t baked thoroughly, the sausage was gross, just ugh. We ate enough to keep from starving, and put the rest in the back of the truck to take to the in-laws. They think frozen box pizza is just fine, so…

When we arrived at the in-laws’ house, and after graciously handing them the plastic bag wrapped gifts, I had to immediately throw myself into dinner preparations. My father-in-law wanted lasagna, which was sounding less and less appealing, especially after the “Italian” lunch we had just had, but I soldiered on and finally produced a reasonable facsimile of his beloved lasagna by 6:30. By then, everyone was starving, because they’re used to eating earlier, so it was highly praised, except by David and me (we could barely stand to look at it), and Kaitlyn, who decided plain noodles looked pretty good to her. Joshie just ate some cereal and some of the bread.

David’s cousin George and his wife Linda, one of my best friends, stopped by while we were eating, and stayed for a few hours. I hadn’t seen them in quite a while, so I was happy for their visit, but I wasn’t able to clean up the kitchen, and Joshie had to have his breathing treatment, which makes him wild enough to shoot at. So, after having only a five minute nap in the truck, five minutes before we arrived, he was up, running around like a little banshee, until they left at 9:00 p.m. It took me another hour to get him settled down enough to go to bed. I managed to get a cover on the lasagna pan and get it shoved into the fridge, and get the plates into the dishwasher before I laid down with him. I fell asleep before he did, while he was still chattering away about airplanes and monster trucks and goats and Santy Caus and Let It Go (lay it go in toddler speak.)

Frozen is just another word for mind control

We made the mistake of letting Joshie watch the Disney movie Frozen a few weeks ago. Now it’s all he thinks about. “Watch Lay It Go!” We hear this at least ten times a day. He’s two and he knows a lot of the songs, and sings them, in tune. We have to watch it at least once a day. Aimee took him for his annual well-check on the Monday before Christmas, and his doctor was pleased with how smart he is and how he’s growing, and he cautioned that he should get no more than two hours of screen time a day. He asked if we were sticking to that guideline, and Aimee agreed that we were. At home, she added, “If you don’t count Frozen.”

I understand his fascination. I’m kind of in love with the movie myself. I’ve always loved a good musical, and this one has some very good songs. Memorable songs. The kinds of songs that wake you up at three in the morning with the lyrics running through your brain on a constant loop. Did I mention mind control? And this Disney princess movie is based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen. It doesn’t have just one princess heroine, but TWO, and they’re beautiful. One funny and clumsy, one sad and tragic, but loving and sacrificing for her sister. I have to confess, when it’s on, I sing right along with them, and catch new little nuances every time. The writers and artists were very clever in that.

Really, I’m almost done

So, I survived another Christmas. I’m hoping I can invite my friends over on New Year’s Eve for a few of the things that I wasn’t able to make for Christmas Eve. I’m not inviting them yet, because I don’t want to jinx things. I’m nearly back to normal, whatever normal is, and the toddler is off the treatments, and back to his toddler self. Unfortunately, I think one of us gave Ge-ma our cold. She seemed to be starting symptoms last evening, when David called to let them know we arrived home safely. I feel guilty about that. But then it wouldn’t be Christmas without some kind of guilt floating around me.

Here’s wishing all of you a belated Merry Christmas! And a very happy New Year!

17 thoughts on “Random Christmas musings

  1. Running out of medals here, Susie. What a marathon you ran! Your sense of responsibility and obligation is huge – not sure what I would have done in your place, but chances are it wouldn’t have been half of the effort you put into things. And then you had the energy to write about it all!!!! Gah…. Happy New Year, you remarkable example of womanhood, you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh geez, Deb! I think I deserve the Insane Person of the Year Award for Trying To Do Too Much. Do you really think anyone cares but me? I could do one-tenth of what I do, and I’m pretty sure it would be good enough. I’m the nut case who inflicts all this misery upon myself. I think I need a shrink. Haha! And every year I tell myself afterward that next year my theme song will be “simplify, simplify”. Do I ever listen? Nope! Maybe next year I’ll remember how miserable I was in 2014. 🙂

      But, I do appreciate the kudos. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pierre’s sister does what you do. She came to Brussels from Austria for Xmas and brought, among other things, 5 large boxes of tiny home-made Christmas cookies, a large tree (with decorations), four complete meals for the entire family, including a venison roast, as well as presents. She cooked a huge meal the day she got here (nobody could stop her) despite the fact that she was grey-faced and coughing like mad. I had to wonder if she actually got any pleasure from her efforts, or if it’s just something she expects of herself and having kept the bar high over the years, can’t let it go at all. The other thing is that, when somebody puts in that kind of effort, the others can tend to feel like they’re totally inadequate, or that their appreciation will never be enough. It’s an interesting phenomenon, and one that I escaped, thank god. I would definitely support you in your simplification program!!! 🙂

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    • Oh my goodness! That is extreme! I think you’re right about the “setting the bar” assessment, at least in my case. I think I realized this year that it’s so artificial, and it’s not what makes me happy anymore. Now it just seems like drudgery. I think part of it is because there are certain cookies and candies that I only make at Christmas, which is stupid. Why can’t one make cut-out cookies or fudge or lebkuchen throughout the year instead of saving it all up for one day? It’s ridiculous. I think my new plan will be to make one special cookie or treat each month and spread the cheer around. Everyone was sick of it all, and I ended up giving or throwing away some of it anyway. By golly, I think I have a new life plan! Well, a Christmas plan, for sure. 🙂

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  3. Oh, my goodness. I cannot believe what you’ve gone through. It is so hard to give up on Christmas, isn’t it, even when you’re sick two days before. You’ve been through the wringer. I remember one Christmas when all the kids were sick – snot and poop 24/7.

    Years ago, when H was still working, I used his laptop and plopped coffee on it. What a mess that was. His company replaced it, so it all worked out in the end, but…

    I love what you said about “Christmas happens whether you’re ready or not.” That is so true. You really did soldier through. I hope you get a good rest and that you New Year is better than your Christmas. Glad you’re feeling better.

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    • Bella, what I’ve been realizing over the past few days, is that my expectations of myself aren’t in line with everyone else’s expectations. I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching and have come to the conclusion that I just can’t do it all anymore, and that no one wants me to, but they don’t say anything, because they think this is the way I want it to be. And that was probably true a few years ago, but this year taught me a valuable lesson. Everyone will be just as happy and Christmas-i-fied if there are only two kinds of cookies and one kind of candy. And I think I’m going to stop with all the finger foods array, plus the main course, etc. We don’t need all of that. We all felt halfway sick from eating too much, and none of us likes that feeling.

      I’m pretty sure that my family would prefer to have less food and more of their mom and grandma in a happy mood. Shoot, next year I might even just take everyone out to eat on Christmas Eve. It would probably be less expensive. 🙂

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      • It’s hard to give up the ghost, to give up what we’ve always done. I think part of it is that we want to make those memories… maybe we want to be remembered by what we’ve done for our family. “Remember those cookies Grandma used to make?” It isn’t easy when we finally arrive at the realization that we can no longer do it the way we used to, that we don’t even want to, but once you give up a little of it, you will enjoy it so much more. It’s a relief. I know that I just can’t do what I once did. It’s too hard. Oh, the pressure I used to put on myself. It isn’t that others expect it, it’s that we expect it. You’ll be so much happier if you release some of it. You deserve to have a good time, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so right. I do want to be remembered for those things, and hopefully they will, but if they don’t, then so what? Or, more importantly, maybe they’ll remember more that I read them books from my Christmas book collection and mostly know Twas the Night Before Christmas by heart, or that funny mouse ornament who is dressed like Ben Franklin, but when the kids were little, we mistakenly called him George Mousington, or that we always watch Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story together. Those kinds of memories are more precious than a mountain of cookies, I think.

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  4. The Great Illumination came for me the Christmas after Mom died. I’d spent several years re-creating “Christmas as it used to be” for her, and after she was gone, I nearly was tempted to keep on. Then, I looked at a friend who always had shared Christmas with us and said, “It won’t be the same. Let’s try something new.” We went over to Louisiana and enjoyed the bonfires on the levees, and had crawfish pie and a nice Pinot Grigiot Christmas Eve, and bean soup I’d made before hand at our B&B Christmas night.

    One year, we went to the cabin in the woods. This year, there were relatives in San Antonio — you may have read about that saga at Bella’s. I went for my aunt, and it didn’t bother me one bit, knowing that the two party planners didn’t want me there. Their loss, figures me.

    Christmas night I was alone in a motel room, and it didn’t bother me one bit. Then, it was down to the coast, to spend time with friends at a bay house and eat shriimp etoufee. What’s not to like?

    I learned the Rule of Good Enough from varnishing. No matter what, we’ll never achieve perfection. So, once things are looking good enough, let it be. It’s the greatest Christmas gift you’ll ever give to yourself, I can tell you that!

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    • After agonizing over the fact that I couldn’t get it all done, I let it go, and then realized afterward that it really didn’t matter. The kids all enjoyed their gifts, and the food that we had, and they never even noticed that there was anything missing. And, of course, why would they? They didn’t read my menu. They were just happy that there was food on two tables, and enough cookies and fudge to gorge on.

      I think I need to post the Rule of Good Enough on my white board in the kitchen before every holiday. That just might be the key to happiness, right there. Thank you, Linda. 🙂

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  5. I certainly can feel for you with the whole “being sick” thing — it really does change things up, doesn’t it? And yes, you are spot on when you say Christmas goes on, anyway. I’m right with you on that one!

    But it’s the new year now, so may it be merry and bright! Like, theoretically, Christmas!

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    • Well, sickness during the holidays is certainly nothing new. Everybody has dealt with it at one time or another. But it does help you clarify things and set new priorities. Hopefully ones that I can stick to in the future. 🙂

      Here’s hoping for a merry and bright New Year!

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