I don’t love Christmas.
I want to, I really do. I want to rejoice in the warmth of family closeness, the whiff of fresh baked biscuits and the sharp tang of pine needles. I want to snuggle up with hot cocoa and a few rosy cheeked kids while they drip with thanks over the gifts so slavishly lavished on them. In the perfect Christmas picture the snow is gently falling outside the window and the streets are empty while families reflect quietly. It’s straight out of Norman Rockwell, a real time carol being sung by a choir.
But alas, I am more neurotic Scrooge than Tiny Tim. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I usually have lists of all the things that need to get done and minor panic attacks over how much it’s all going to cost.
I loved Christmas as a kid. When all you have to do is wake up and rip open a huge pile of gifts, what’s not to like? My better half loves Christmas. He gets time off from work, gifts are bought, dinner is made, he actually gets to bask in that rosy glow for a bit. But for me, it goes something like this:
October: Start to stress over who gets what. How many of each. Are the gifts equal in value–is one going to feel slighted and the other knighted? Start internet research. Refuse to buy coveted Lego sets because holy crumbs, 600 Danish Kroner is twice what it would cost in the US. Start making mental lists. What can I get for my nephews, and god help me, what am I going to get my lovely father-in-law, he can’t possibly need anymore golf accessories….
November: Can you bake something for the Christmas bake sale? Can you make something for the Christmas craft fair? Book ridiculously expensive plane tickets. Explain to children nightly that yes, Santa knows where you will wake up on Christmas morning, even if it’s in another country. Santa takes great pains to buy gifts that are easily transportable for that very reason. And Santa makes sure he doesn’t wrap them in case his suitcase gets rifled through at customs again. Dither over paying 600 Danish Kroner for coveted Lego set.
December: Shop. Bake. Kick oneself for dithering over paying 600 Danish Kroner for coveted Lego set because now it is out of stock and in order to get it you have to pay 75 GB Pounds, which is three times what it would cost in the US. Can you volunteer for the sixteen field trips that the kids will be going on because it’s a well known fact that it’s impossible to teach a bunch of school children this close to Christmas because they’re jumping out of their skin with excitement? Oh, and don’t forget, even though they have 3 BLEEPING WEEKS off from school, they’re getting out early every other day, so you know all that time you thought you would have to do your Christmas shopping? Forget it.
Late December (usually late December 24): Due to travel, there is a pile of odd shaped packages that need to be wrapped and tagged and arranged with love. It is not uncommon to see gifts patched with odd bits of wrapping and masking tape on Christmas morning.
December 25: Having managed thus far avoid the 3rd circle of hell that seems to be preparing the Christmas dinner, breath is exhaled. No humming along to Silent Night in an apron as much as lots of aggressive banging of spoons and pots and mutterings under one’s breath. The kids are hopping with excitement and mainlining sugar and WHERE IS MY COFFEE? No raindrops on roses and the cat is hiding and the brown paper packages all tied up with string now need to be recycled in the paper container so don’t put them in the trash.
So there you go, I admit it. I am more Grinch than Sally Who down in Who-ville.
But there is watching my children on Christmas morning, faces alight with the magic of it all. And I remember a bit what the spirit of the holiday is really supposed to be all about. And I am grateful and thankful and even wrapped in a little rosy glow myself.
Maybe my heart isn’t 3 sizes too small after all.