Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Lists of Christmas

There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
Erma Bombeck

Last night while babysitting my two-year-old granddaughter, I pulled out my old copy of Peter Spier's Christmas!

The colorful graphics depict the chaotic season so well. No words, just pictures of the process -- setting up of lights/trees/, the shopping and wrapping, card/ornament/cookie making, pageants and caroling, food shopping, the big dinner, the opening of gifts, the mess of it all -- the kitchen filled with dishes and the floors draped in wrappings. The exhausted parents. The unchosen Christmas trees lying forlorn at the tree stands.

Then the cleanup, the discarded trees and garbage lining the streets and the reboxing of the decorations and lights. A graphic at the end of the book says only 360 days or so until it all has to be done again.

This morning I listed in my journal all the things I could possibly do today.

Make that last batch of cookies
Sew that smaller blanket for my granddaughter and one for her babydoll
Go downtown and watch the Christmas tuba concert on the capitol's steps
Iron the tablecloth and napkins
Go see the quirky 37th Street lights

I don't feel like doing anything except sit in my bright bedroom and read. I'm tired. As I age, life seems to speed by faster and faster. Christmas arrives sooner and sooner. I swear I did all this stuff only a couple months ago. But, once again:

The decorations are up - inside and out
The gifts purchased, wrapped and mailed or under the tree
Boring Christmas letter written and mailed
Christmas Eve menu planned and ingredients purchased
Cookies made (I've lost my touch -- need to rekindle baking techniques)
Swedish cardamon coffee bread and lefsa made
A host of other little things not remembered at the moment

Pretty fine-looking piece of lefsa, if I do say so myself

But I won't lie. Christmas was definitely more fun when I was a kid. My lists then consisted only of dreams:

A new bike
A new doll
New pajamas
A snowcone machine
A new game

Such anticipation while my mother worked her tail off to make Christmas happen. I had no idea.

In my current life my lists and duties have lessened. I don't have all the children's events to prepare for and attend -- the church pageants and school parties. The guitar recitals and band concerts. My children are off on their own and my parents no longer alive so I don't have three meals a day to prepare for a crowd.

But planning for Christmas Eve is still a huge venture. Detail work.  Lots of detail work. All the little stuff that makes it special. All the little stuff possibly no one notices except me.

Which is probably why today I'm choosing how I want to spend my day before the final crush begins. I do need to dust the house and get the mailman his yearly gift. On Sunday, I'll need to make certain my fresh dill is still fresh and I don't need another visit to the insane grocery. I'll do the prep for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner and make certain everything is ready for when the kids arrive Monday morning and the festivities lasting until midnight begin.

Eggnog and Swedish coffee bread
Gingerbread House creation
Ugly Sweater decorating contest (decorating done at the participant's leisure throughout the day)
FaceTime with youngest son in NYC
Swedish meatball construction
Someone making a sandwich -- and then everyone wanting one
A long walk
Tea and scones
Facetime with youngest son in NYC
Ugly sweater contest judged via text message by extended family throughout the country
Traditional Swedish Dinner
FaceTime with youngest son in NYC
Present sharing

My list for Christmas day is nil. Where I used to make another huge dinner,  I now sleep late, my children off with their other families or headed home. No structure to this day. Leftovers. Rest. The festivities complete. Until it's time to put Christmas away.

Last night my granddaughter undressed the Elf on the Shelf and herself, put the stuffed reindeer to bed in a box, and helped me create a railroad track. I wore a crowned Santa hat and she a rack of antlers.

Had to call her Uncle Jordan to chat.

She doesn't quite understand all this Christmas hoopla yet. I don't think she cares about the manger scene and the presents under the tree. Too many other distractions. Next year might bring more awareness. More of that anticipation in the air, the excitement. A better understanding of a guy in a red suit with a white beard that can fit down a chimney.

I look forward to that and next year her Uncle Jordan will bring his new baby, too. Two grandchildren. Possible pageants and recitals to attend in the future. A new cycle.

As to what I'll do today? Sitting here writing this post has given me time to look out the window. The sun shines on the lawn in places where it didn't when all the leaves were on the trees.  The house is quiet, and peaceful. The buttercream candle offers a pleasant scent, just like the cookies I most likely don't need to bake.

Sitting here I've decided that if some of those details don't get done, it's okay. Because watching the sun filtering on the lawn is more important. Watching and noticing is how I will collect myself after all this preparation. That in this collecting, I will acquire anticipation and gratitude for those who will gather around me on Christmas Eve day. All of us together -- FaceTime or real time -- sharing gifts of time together, laughter, and fun.

Yes, today I will look out the window. And gather.

Merry Christmas everybody. Have a good one.


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