Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Manger or the Mall

So maybe I happened upon a reflection on Advent that had a title similar to this one.

And maybe I rolled my eyes at it.

And maybe I didn't even read the thoughtful, uplifting words the author offered because, darn it!, there was shopping to do!

We have two kinds of Christmases around here: There's At Home Christmas, and there's Go To Michigan Christmas.

This year is At Home and, though I dearly, dearly love my family, I am so, so, so happy that I am not engaged in the madness that invariably precedes any road trip --  inventorying mittens, wringing my hands over the mountain of luggage and gifts that must somehow fit into our a mini-van, eyeing the forecast along I-77 and I-75, fielding phone calls from my Dad who has been eyeing the forecast along I-77 and I-75.

For many years, friends and I attended an appreciation dinner that typically fell on around December 14th. My good friend Anna once quipped, "Can't they appreciate me in February?"

Well said.

I love my family. I can love them next July, too.

At Home Christmas means no weather worries, no random thoughts about swapping the mini-van for a Suburban, no checking caller I.D. to see if my Dad is phoning in an updated forecast.

There is, of course, a downside. Crunch time comes early because everything that would normally go North in our well-worn van goes U.S. Mail instead.

I  have nine  eleven packages to ship.

Nine Eleven.

That's nearly ten twelve, and it's a whole lot of shopping and wrapping and hunting for things I put in some very good storage spot that, you guessed it!, I can no longer pinpoint. I lost a whole bag of gifts briefly the other day.

Yes, crunch time comes early, and early meant last Tuesday at about 2:00 when I realized a few things had to get done and get done fast.

We are thrilled that Dave's parents are coming down for the holidays. We have never had guests for Christmas. One of the reasons we redid Tim's room was to accommodate guests. But house guests -- even easy house guests -- summon my inner Martha Stewart, and I dream up all manner of preposterous household projects to do. What's more, I usually accomplish quite a few of them. I get more done in the seventy-two hours before guests arrive than I do all year. Piles I have wrangled with for months suddenly vanish; trim gets a fresh coat of paint; mismatched lampshades coordinate.

If I had house guests once per month, no job would tarry long.

I'm forever eye-balling the bathroom ceilings which are long overdue for spackle, sand, and paint. For about sixty seconds I pondered painting the kitchen cabinets. I even have the paint. As arrival time approaches, I typically do a slash and burn job on my overly-ambitious To Do List. Bathrooms make the cut, but big jobs like curtains and cabinets? Nope. With a long list 'o projects, I start off wholly optimistic ( A girl can dream, right?), move to realistic (Ceilings? Hah!), and descend into cynicism (Cabinets? Was the hope drunk wherein she dressed herself?).

Somehow the critical jobs get done. Every time.

Ainsley, meanwhile has concerns all her own. For starters she was shocked to hear the disturbing rumor that her little friend across the street had wound up on The Naughty List. "They don't have a naughty list at my school," Ainsley told me with palpable relief. "Besides, I be good at school."

And then there's the issue of the fireplace

"How will Santa get down our chimney," she asked Tim the other day.

"Ah, yes," he replied philosophically, "that is the perennial question."

He launched into a long-winded explanation that involved Mom and Dad cranking up the heat really high, and I don't know what else, but it's easy to placate a four-year-old who's convinced she's escaped The Naughty List.

May the last few days of Advent find you at peace!


yugioh123 said...

Ainsley needs to watch Big Bird's Christmas Eve wherein Bird Bird ponders the question of how Santa delivers all those presents? It was a Christmas time staple in my house for years and one of the reasons all of the kids wanted to sleep in the living room near the stockings hung with care.

Kris said...

We are "At Home" for the first time in 4 years, and while I had to break down and decorate the dreaded Christmas tree, I can't tell you how happy I am to be home, with NO guests arriving. Seriously. And mailing? I thank the gift gods every year for that lovely thing called Amazon Prime.

christinelaennec said...

We mailed 16 parcels this year, but have received at least as many in return so that makes it less of a chore!

Kelly I haven't had much time to comment on your blog recently, but I have been keeping you and your parents in my prayers, and I wish you and your beautiful family a most relaxing and fun Christmas. I'm sure your house will shine with the one thing that no Martha Stewart type can manufacture and that is real love, acceptance and a focus on the things that are true and eternal. Merry Christmas! x