I've officially caught the Christmas spirit bug. Truth be told, it's been itching at me for weeks, but only the crazy (or the retail driven) start thinking about Christmas in mid-November.
I wrote this at the end of my last post:
"Coordinating the pageantry of Christmas is like staging a huge glitzy Broadway musical, but harder... because after every minute detail has been tended to, Christmas has to look completely effortless. Will she do it all and still have time to run to her stylist for a cut and color to cover the greys that popped up during her parking lot brawls? Stay tuned..."
Well, so far so good. I'm on schedule, or to use a phrase my 7 year old used the other day that she clearly learned from me, "I'm on task". We pulled out the Christmas dishes to use everyday and the holiday CDs to play until we can't stand it anymore and changed the phone message to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Hello".
All the gifts are purchased; which seems easy enough until you realized that I have 75 people (give or take) to buy for. From family and friends, to teachers and coaches, to service people who make my life easier, they all get a little something (and in some cases, a lot a something). But while the presents are present, they are not wrapped. Which leads us to a photo of "Mommy's Christmas Workshop" (ignore that oatmeal can in the center of the shot - that will eventually become the damsel's tower to our gingerbread castle; what this photo doesn't show is that queen sized bed is covered with stuff as is the floor on the other side - yikes!):
Come Thanksgiving, the guest room is off limits to everyone but Mrs. Claus. The door is shut and posted is a sign that reads "Mommy's Christmas Workshop" DO NOT ENTER! My daughter loves a surprise so she doesn't peek and she knows I won't give her anything she spies. She also respects the Santa rule of naughty and nice and the fact that "he's watching" makes a big impression. Add to that, that she just this week had her 1st Reconciliation (confession) at church and you've got a powerful combination. For now, the fear of Mommy, Santa, and God is far too strong to be tempted by a look see.
So we have presents bought, workshop in place to help sort, wrap, package... hmm, what's next? Christmas cards! All 118 of them (not including the ones that we hand deliver) to be exact went out on Monday so that my very nearest recipients received them on December 1st. Last year, I was late (by a week) in getting them out and you should have heard phone messages: "Bonnie, it's the 3rd and I haven't gotten your card. Is everything alright?" "Bonnie, what's happening? You're card is usually the first one I get. Where is it?" And so on. To avoid a repeat of last year, I made certain to get back to my usual standards... which include writing a message in each card, signing it, and hand addressing. Sorry, any other way is just a waste of a stamp. Just sayin'. A photo of your kid with your names printed on the bottom and a sticker label with my address doesn't really wish me a happy holiday. It says "have a photo of my kid". And don't even get me started on those family newsletters with the print so small you need a magnifying glass. Why are they always written in the 3rd person as if some author penned the year in review memories of the Smith family? If you send one my way, you should know, I usually don't read them.
With cards out, there's decorating to attend to. Truth be told, I could whip this house into a holiday frenzy in a day or two, but now that my daughter wants to be involved, how can I deny her the joy that comes from discovering Christmas treasures that have been packed away for a year and finding the perfect home for each for the next month. So the process is much slower. A bin, a few bags, maybe a box - after a full day of school, homework, on some days an after school activity, she's beat. It may take a week or so to get everything up and out. This weekend, we'll go and pick a tree. That will be the last of the decorating to do. Then we can sit and inhale the pine scent... and I can add vacuuming up pine needles to my daily list of chores.
The calendar is filled. I honestly don't think that we could accept another invitation (neighbor open house, cookie swap), book another Christmas field trip (light shows, holiday concerts) or host another holiday themed event (gingerbread house decorating, Christmas movie night). I could probably squeeze in a quick Starbucks get-together with a friend but I'm trying to be so good - which means exercising every chance I get (I am loving Gilad on FitTV), not drinking high calorie hot beverages (is there any point to a skinny latte?), and avoiding spending any more money on frivolities (on top of Christmas, we are gutting and redoing the kitchen next month - we're broke). But while the calendar is full, I have literally worked in free time where nothing can be booked so we don't forget to slow down and enjoy the best of the season. If I didn't, we'd be running through the holidays.
One more thing to do - there is still tons of baking and crafting ahead. You can't bake cookies and breads and cakes today and expect it to be fresh on the 25th, now can you? So I'm stuck waiting until the week of and then it's non-stop beating and batters and baking and boxing. If I get a bathroom break I'll be lucky. For now though, I can get all the crafting done which could mean decorating grapevine wreaths for friends today and making photo scrapbook calendars for grandparents tomorrow. I used to knit, but I forgot how. I leave all actual artwork to my daughter and my sister, the professional artist, but I find ways to work in a little of my artistic touch. Usually it's in my wrapping. I love to wrap gifts with big satin bows and some kind of decoration on top. I have dreams of having a manse with a gift wrapping room - that's how much I love to wrap. Dreams aside, Mommy's Christmas Workshop serves me well (I'm lucky to have the extra space at all).
So I've nothing really to complain about... so not like me, right? For now, things are going according to plan. I've even managed to find something pretty to wear on Christmas up in NJ, which is always a chore since no designers make clothes for short, fat, fashion conscious people. But if you know me at all, you know that I live at the nexus of yin and yang - if everything is going right, something is about to go very wrong.
Remember that cut and color I mentioned earlier? I'd better get into the salon before my luck changes; green is Christmasy, but not on my head ;-).