I love Christmas, really I do. I have a huge collection of holiday themed earrings to prove it (and I even wear them, when Sabrina isn’t violently ripping them out of my ears). I love all the preparations, bustling around in a frenzy of cheer and adrenaline. But this year seems to have taken a little bit more, shall we say, effort, to get everything done. In fact, I’m not done. There are still cookies to bake (usually they’re almost all eaten at this point), packages to wrap, and yes, there’s still that one final gift I have to buy (hey you – yes, YOU – make it a little easier and give me some hints beyond a gift card, please. How about an Amazon wish list?). I haven’t exactly had a chance to stop and enjoy the merriment yet, much less peace on earth.
Some people (*ahem* husbands *cough* kids) get to revel in the sparkle and festivity from the moment the Thanksgiving tryptophan wears off, but most of the work falls to us moms (excuse me, female heads of household), and that can suck the ho ho ho right out of it. Erica brought up a great point – why is it that as soon as we get married, suddenly we’re in charge of buying every single present for every family member, regardless of side, friend, and anyone in between (not that I ever remember to get something for the postman, but some people do)? There’s the aforementioned baking and wrapping, decorating (OK, I see a lot of guys rigging up the lights outside, Clark Griswold style), card procuring, card signing, card addressing, card stamping (when are e-Christmas cards going to be considered acceptable?), and several more requirements to make the holiday just so. It’s a LOT. From that perspective, I can understand why stores are breaking out the Christmas wares earlier and earlier (not that I’m happy about Thanksgiving getting the shaft). It takes time.
Which is what really frustrates me about the season. We work and work, shop and shop, cook and cook, and who knows what else for a solid month, and then by December 26, poof, it’s done. Heck, I’ve even seen Christmas trees thrown out in front of houses Christmas NIGHT. Stores put merchandise on clearance before the 25th, and it’s all completely picked over buy the holiday shopping looters by 9 AM on the 26th. It’s depressing. And for all the effort we put in, we don’t get the time to enjoy it all. I want more time for my festive, happy, homey holiday, dammit!
I remember in high school French class (yes, I took French instead of Spanish; yes, I was clueless, but I can now make a sweet French Onion soup and readily discuss the merits of Romanesque versus gothic architecture) learning how the French don’t even set up Christmas trees until Christmas Eve, and they celebrate straight through until Candlemass on February 2. I need a little of that. I’m not saying leave the tree up until almost Valentine’s day, but, hey, how about we agree to keep making the merry until we open up that new calendar? Yes, I know New Year’s Eve is a big deal for some folks, but that really a couple hours out of 168. It doesn’t have to be over by 7 o’clock Christmas night. I for one am going to do my level best to savor every moment for as long as I can. By gum, I keep wearing those snowman earrings deep into the new year if I have to. I deserve it, and so do all of us. I’ll say it again: a happy holiday is a lot of work. But it can be so worth it.
(Maybe my best friend’s mom had the right idea. She left her tree up for years on end, changing out seasonal decorations and dusting it with a Swiffer every so often. It certainly takes some of the prep time out of Christmas if the tree is already there, right?)