I am eating a frosted sugar cookie and coming up for air.
Three end of the year performances. One parade. Three feasts. One Christmas tree. 43 Santas (inherited). Six Poinsettias. 4 strings of garland. 2 strings of lights. 2 fake deer and 6 fake candy canes installed in front yard. 36 loaves of fruitbread. 27 presents wrapped then opened. 4 stockings stuffed. 40 Christmas cards sent – if I missed you I’m sorry! One dog to emergency vet. Two really nasty colds.
I am simultaneously in awe of what happens during the month of December and BONE TIRED.
My mother used to go all out for Christmas. She transformed her house into a holiday paradise. When she was poor, she would go so far as to take a loan out to buy presents. She hosted on Christmas Day – a feast of feasts, turkey, cranberries, potatoes, stuffing, pecan pies, cheesecake. Piles of gifts under a nine-foot tree decorated with antique bubble lights.
I never really offered to help clean up.
I have mixed feelings about the month of December.
I want to make it magical for my own children (and I do).
But I hate pretending there is a Santa Claus.
I love the meditative act of wrapping presents.
Yet I hate the plastic and the junk and the consumerism.
I love that my kids still wake up every morning excited to search for a stuffed elf.
Still I hate having to remember to hide said stuffed elf each night.
I am grateful to have the means, the health, the loved ones that allow us to do all that we do each season.
And I resent being the one who is expected to oversee it all.
This post could be about the invisible labor we women put in year after year after year.
I could say something about boundaries. How everything is a choice. I can choose what I say yes to and what I say no to. Even during the holidays. Especially during the holidays.
It could be about gratitude. How each year my kids get another year older and someday I will wish for help with frosted cookies and someone cute to search for a stuffed elf.
It could be about consumerism and the earth and how we as a culture and me as accomplice teach the future to consume past the point of sustainability.
It could be a post about white privilege and first world problems and environmental justice.
And there is so much here that could be said about my parenting choices.
It could be about all of the above and more…
I am a touch neurotic. In that at times I fall into fits of anger wherein I raise my fists and complain loudly and theatrically about the injustices set upon me. I talk about exhaustion and feeling like a servant and point out that I am the only one – the only one!!!! – who remembers to feed the damn dog and I just asked FIVE times for you to bring me your plate!!!!
Smack in the middle of my December, the mailman left a notice on our door. Our mailbox does not pass code, he says. We need to buy a new one and install it within the week or there will be no mail, he says.
Where the sam hell am I going to find a mailbox? And someone to install it? Within the week???? With my husband out of town (even though who am I kidding? That man does not install things…)!!!???
A few days before the mailbox deadline, my husband returned home. He found me on the bed, a pile of bills on my lap. I set eyes upon him and launched into a lecture about the Roto Rooter bill and why hadn’t he paid it??? And I’m fucking trying to pay the electric bill but it says the bill is on autopay but I can’t log into the damn City of Ashland website. Then I hold up the notice from the mailman with a diagram of our mailbox that doesn’t latch properly.
After that I just lost it. I found it all so fucking funny. I laughed. Hysterically. And then he laughed.
And I knew that this…this laughter… was better than any other feeling. Better than resentment, anxiety, exhaustion, righteous indignation, guilt or shame.
In the mix of all those mixed emotions there is joy, love, gratitude, appreciation and there is humor if you can remember to dig for it. So much humor.
Like the six batches of sugar cookies I baked so the kids could frost them. And the three they each ate and the two they each frosted and the rest left for me to frost and the container of silver candy balls that scattered far and wide across the wood floor when one of my children and then the other inevitably knocked it over. I will be finding tiny candy balls for decades.
Like the testosterone cream I started last month to balance my hormones that has been making me so horny, against my will, and in the middle of all this holiday prep!!! And now, having put it out there for public consumption, it will be the only thing you remember about this post.
Like the Christmas jello salad that I insist on making every Christmas Eve because the taste, even though I don’t like it much, transports me back to the days of Grandma Alice. The Christmas jello salad that is not really a salad at all that nobody ever eats that takes a full day of prep and consists of three layers of jello, one of which is filled with a suspect combo of mayo, creme cheese, marshmallows, crushed pineapple and pineapple juice.
I could keep going…
I posted a note on Craigslist for help around the house – laundry, meal prep and driving. Because doing something is better than doing nothing and losing one’s shit about it.
We had to cancel our New Year’s trip to SoCal where we were to ride rides at Magic Mountain and Universal Studios which I didn’t really want to do but it’s for the kids (and my husband) because the dog got sick and the husband got sick. So we planned an epic staycation in which Joy had the idea of renting a limo to the Family Fun Center and we would all wear sunglasses so people would think we were famous.
Happy New Year.
Good job getting through December. And try not to forget as we forge ahead into 2020 that digging for the funny is always an option.
I love your post! I hear you having 5 kids 5 animals and all it takes to sail through the holidays with peace and grace. A big bow to all mothers!!
Oh lordy. You’ve got me beat. I’m at 3 and 3. Peace to you mama!
Wonderful!! Holy horse shit funny in all your glorious living full out!! Writing helps me find the essential meaning in all of it, too!!
Happy 2020, and thank you for you, Amy!!
Yes! Keep on writing Michelle!
Just awesome, Amy. You (and family) are an inspiration for living full out amidst the glory and the shit of every day life!