My holidays used to consist of homemade baked goods, singing carols at the piano, and a Christmas dinner created entirely from scratch. And by “entirely from scratch,” I mean drying my own bread for the stuffing and steaming my own pumpkin for the pie!
Things are a little different these days.
Since going back to work full-time, my Martha Stewart aspirations have dwindled down to store-bought cookies and online shopping. That’s fine by me, though it has taken me years to reach this point. I can no longer pull off what I used to accomplish, and that’s okay. Christmas is still Christmas, even if I have to keep it simple to save my sanity.
For instance, I love getting Christmas cards with family photos and handwritten notes. I have a gold Christmas tree in my dining room for the express purpose of displaying them. I’m glad some people still take the time to send personal Christmas cards. I’m just not one of them.
I start out pretty organized in November, which is in keeping with my basic nature, but by December 20th, I find myself scrambling to buy the ham, make at least a couple dozen cookies, fill the stockings, wrap the last few presents . . . and on and on and on. The final week before Christmas usually passes by in a chaotic frenzy of activity enhanced by a shameful consumption of carbs and sugar.
The other day, a last-minute gift was delivered later in the evening. I had just stepped outside in my socks to pick up one of the lighted Christmas trees that keeps falling over in my front yard. As I fumbled around in the dark to find the yard stake to secure my little electric tree, the UPS man walked up on my porch and dumped off a large box. And I mean dumped. Then he rushed back to his truck and sped off without a word.
Not exactly a merry little elf. I think his Christmas spirit is being pushed to the limits in these last few days of guaranteed holiday delivery.
I was so excited this particular gift had been delivered that I ran inside to hide it from the kids right away. Unfortunately, two of the kids were sitting in the living room right inside the front door as I hauled it inside. I threw my body over it as if it were a live grenade and started yelling, “Go upstairs! Go upstairs!”
Of course, they lingered to see what I was hiding. My excitement fed their excitement, and we were all laughing by the time they finally left the room so I could properly stow the package away in one of the forgotten regions of our home’s storage areas. (I hope it doesn’t smell like dog food by Christmas!)
That evening is pretty indicative of the chaos surrounding my current holiday situation. A fallen tree, a harried UPS driver, and a package stashed behind the pet supplies. Things go wrong and things go right, but weaving it all together is an undercurrent of anticipation for something extraordinary.
But that is a good thing. As long as I set boundaries and do not let the chaos consume me, the craziness can be a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing.
It is a good thing to have presents to buy, cookies to bake, and parties to attend.
It is a good thing to stir the world with the crazy notion of peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
After all, that’s how this whole thing got started.