I’ve been thinking, lately — a dangerous habit, I know — about how my husband Garth (not his real name) and I have started to downsize our family celebrations.
Not that they were HUGE, to begin with — if you have kids, then you know — but, our children enjoy spending time with both sets of their grandparents and have looked forward to their birthday dinners out, wherever they choose.
Christmastime, however, is a bear.
Besides the typical preparations that go along with celebrating a holiday supposedly meant as a time for family and friends — after finding out who is going to be around and wherever that will be, at the time — it always turns out to be a balancing act.
As you know, I am NOT very graceful.
This year, exactly 3 days, 9 hours and 15 minutes after Christmas, my colicky, sleep deprived and extremely gastrointestinally-challenged baby girl will turn 13-years-old (yeah, I’ll have 2 teenagers running around our house, I know!) and my parents have been dealing with some pretty serious health issues.
My mother is scheduled to go back into the hospital on December 10th and Thing Two is having surgery on December 15th (it’s complicated and the girl is going to be out of commission for quite a while) needless to say, life is causing severe damage on my Christmas Mojo.
I’m just not feeling it, y’all.
Which, of course, means that I have been desperately trying to NOT have my children pick up on the fact that I, obviously, put the desperate into housewife…since, like, 1993.
"Are you coming on Sunday?"
Shhhh.[balancing act in progress]
"No, actually, I’m taking the kids out and hoping to let your daughter try to, you know, catch up with herself."
I love Garth (not his real name) — bless his squishy heart — but, it’s times like this when I wonder.
"How long do you need?"
Will it ever be enough and, you know, WHEN?
"About three weeks should do it, thanks!"
Actually, all I need is to wrap, cook, bake, shop and…um…get’er all done …within the next two weeks…so, I can free my hands up for the real icky stuff…uh…there’s something I’m forgetting, I know…give me a minute and perhaps it’ll come to me.
"Can we go to the Christmas House?"
Ah, yes, the Chirstmas House is amazing — there are 8.4 miles of lights on the property and 79 Christmas trees outside the house; 16 Christmas trees adorn the inside of the house and the electricity bill is about $3,500 for the seven weeks the lights are on.
How did we find it?
“Well, I guess we can do a quick drive by, this weekend.”
On the way to my parents’ house, of course.
Some may perhaps argue that the use of so many brightly colored lights — not to mention, the energy used to fire them up — and the owner’s efforts at spreading holiday cheer isn’t very, you know, green.
"Can I have some money?!?!"
I kept staring up at all the pretty lights and tried not to add to my growing impatience with Mini-me this past month.
"There is absolutely NOTHING you need to buy here, Sweetie."
She pointed at the box at the end of the walk — which asks for donations for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Diabetes Fund — and this message:
"It’s not a Christmas well – it’s a magical Christmas box. Drop in some love and hope. Lets make the children well."
My eyes fogged up.
"No, I want to drop it in there!"
No, it’s not easy being happy — especially, when the world is surrounded in such misery — but, I didn’t have to dig very deep to find my Christmas Mojo and all it took was a simple drop in the well.
I mean, box.
Thank you, Mr. Steinke — the owner of the Christmas House — for interrupting your Christmas party to come out and greet us, and wish total strangers well.
"I do it for my kids, your kids and making some people a little happier is what Christmas is all about; don’t ya’ think?"
You know, I guess, maybe I do (think, I mean) and I wish you could see it — the Griswolds ain’t got nothin’ on Mr. Steinke — but, you can’t.
“Hey, where are ALL the lights?”
We drove by the Christmas House, coming home from my parents’ house, this weekend and were sad to learn that Mr. Steinke and his family moved out, this year.
“Ahhhh, man, that stinks!”
“But, if you close your eyes, I bet you can still remember how pretty it was!”
Thing Two has this great calming way about her and is pretty good at explaining things to her younger siblings, until they question her reasoning and, you know, start stepping all over her Christmas Mojo.
“Oh, just pretend you’re looking at ALL the pretty lights and be quiet!”
Did I mention, she’s turning 13?[yawn]
If anyone needs me, I’ll be upstairs counting my blessings — 4 of whom are probably STILL awake — and trying (real hard) to remember the Christmas House.
“Oh, just get outside, look at ALL the pretty lights and be quiet!”
Bless your squishy little hearts!