It’s getting down to the wire, people. Now in the past, I’ve been totally prepared for Christmas at this point. The gifts have been purchased, wrapped and neatly boxed; the cookies, if not completely baked, are almost done; the cards mailed have been a couple days after Thanksgiving, and I am kicking back with eggnog and a good book and watching the tree lights twinkle.
Don’t you totally hate past-me? I do. I want to punch her in the smug, overly-prepared neck.
This year, I am FLYING BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS. There are a few reasons for this. The main one being, I didn’t have the extra cash to buy the presents early. I got the rest of it today, so tonight I finish the shopping. Also start. Also START the shopping. No, wait, that’s not true. I bought some books and toys a few weeks ago. They’ve been sitting in their boxes waiting for wrapping. The cats like that, because that means BOXES WE CAN PLAY IN MOM MOM MOM! So, sorry people who are getting cat-fur-covered books. I’ll blow them off before I wrap them, how’s that suit you.
We’re having one of those White Elephant gift exchanges here at work tomorrow so I have to buy something for that. Last year, my gift was champagne flutes. Because you KNOW how often I’m sitting around sipping champers with my girls, getting our nails did and gabbing about the last time we were in the Hamptons. I should wrap those bitches back up and re-White-Elephant them.
Then there are the cookies. I have seven batches of cookies to make. I’d like to have them made by Tuesday so I can get them in the mail by Wednesday at latest. YES I know that means they’re going to be late getting to my Christmas people. My Christmas people haven’t gotten a gift on time for the holidays from me in a decade, I think they might keel over in shock if anything I sent arrived on time. I think they’ll be fine. SEVEN BATCHES SERIOUSLY. I know, you’re all, what the hell? Who makes seven batches of cookies? Me. I do. Why? Because I rock cookies. I am very, very good at cookies. People ASK for my cookies. My cookies are JOYFUL. How could I not make cookies every year? I can’t be the one who ruined Christmas because I didn’t make cookies. What kind of asshole would do that?
I also have handmade things to make for three people which I’m not going to talk about because two of the three read this regularly and the third I don’t think does but sometimes he pretends he does because he’s nice like that and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings and I appreciate the gesture and I don’t want to ruin Christmas by saying what I’m making. So I won’t. MAKE ALL THE THINGS.
I’m a little frazzled. Can you tell? Just a little. But, in better news, I got all but two of my Christmas cards in the mail today. So that’s something. Why not two? I don’t have two people’s addresses. I could put them in the mail without the addresses, I suppose. But I don’t think they’d go very far.
Anyway, so enough about what I have to do. It’s a lot, in summation. A lot, a lot. And it’s kind of giving me that little weird throbby hurty place right behind my right eye when I think about it too hard. It’s the pain I got pretty much all through Dubya’s presidency, when I thought about that too hard. So let’s talk about something more cheerful. THE END RESULT.
Christmas at Chez Amy!
Well, to be clear, it’s not Christmas at Chez Amy. Christmas at Chez Amy would be people standing around like sardines in a can because Chez Amy is, as mentioned, about the size of a storage shed.
So, next week, I will head to the Great White North for the holidays. Yes, that does mean that you will not see me round these parts for a few days. Because guess what? I get no phone coverage up there. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. My phone coverage area doesn’t reach where my parents live, because my parents live IN THE PAST. Dun dun dunnnnn. (No, seriously, they kind of do, there are a bunch of Mennonite families living on their road so you turn there and there are all kinds of horses and buggies and farms and women in bonnets and you think, “Huh, here I am, yep, yay, progress?”) Also, they do have internet, but it’s – and this hurts, so I’m just going to say it fast – DIALUP. I know. I KNOW. When I went home for a visit this summer, I tried to get onto Twitter, and it took half an hour to load the page, and an additional ten minutes to post the tweet. Which was, “My parents’ dialup sucks so hard right now” or something. So probably posting a blog entry would be the most painful, longest process ever. It also, as it’s dialup, ties up the phone line, and what if all the people are trying to call? (They aren’t, but my father always thinks they might be.)
Packing for said trip home involves many, many lists. One year, I forgot to take my medication with me. Which was totally the most awesome, because two of those pills, I kind of need to live and/or function. So I had to do some major Christmas Day finagling to get an emergency prescription that involved a trip to the emergency room. On Christmas Day. My parents still have not let me forget this ONE TIME I forgot a major thing. “So, you packed your pills, right?” they’ll ask. Then again. Then one last time as I’m about to get in the car. It’s not in the least bit annoying. And then I drive home, belting out showtunes the whole way because they keep me awake and they are awesome. (Alternately, choices that are acceptable are the Dr. Horrible soundtrack, Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes album, and a handful of mix CDs I’ve made for driving over the years. Mostly things I know all of the words to, and can sing along to. Badly. Because no one’s the car with me. I promise, if someone WAS in the car with me, there would be no singing. That would be cruel and unusual punishment.)
Here is how Christmas weekend 2011 will probably go in Amy-land.
Get home at some point. Convince father to help unload the car. He complains about too many bags and boxes and gifts being purchased, until he sees that there are packages with his name on them. He also sees the cookies I baked and gets excited eyes. I tell him he can have some as soon as he gets the things in the house.
Look longingly at phone, then turn it off and bury it in the bottom of my purse because it’s kind of useless as anything but a paperweight at this point. And it’s not heavy enough to weigh down much paper. And who even uses paperweights in this day and age? We’re living in digital times, baby. GOODBYE MINIONS I MISS YOU ALREADY.
Family visit time! Some of the family I’m visiting are dead. Sorry to be a buzzkill. I’m putting in some cemetery time this year. I know, I’m the merriest right now, right?
Convince my father it’s a better move to change the channel from FOX News to something more festive, like Toddlers in Tiaras. Watch him go into FOX News withdrawal. Giggle. Enjoy this for hours.
If all goes well, see THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW. Not that I’m at all excited about that. Nope, nope.
Go to bed at like 10pm. Because seriously, what else is a person supposed to do, there’s no internet.
Get up at 5am because I went to bed at 10pm like a farmer. Drink coffee even though I never do because it’s made for me. If someone makes something for you, you might as well drink it.
Finish last-minute things like bringing all the gifts to my grandmother’s house. Chat with my grandmother about people who died a really long time ago and I never met them but she thinks I know who they are so the conversation goes something like “and it was just like the time The Old Guy fell off the tractor after he had the shock, but he married That Floozy with the red dress and the hat” and I don’t know who The Old Guy OR The Floozy are, but it’s obviously the best soap opera ever so I’m hooked. By the way, my grandmother? BEST STORYTELLER EVER. You have never heard a story until you hear one from her. There are floozies and cusses and old sayings and scandals of days gone by and of people long since dead. It’s the best.
Play with my brother’s dog for a while. Because she loves life and all things and is possibly the most stupid, but also the most adorable.
THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW (ok, I have no idea what The Nephew’s plans are for the holiday weekend, but it’s pretty obvious I want him surgically attached to my hip like a Siamese twin for 3 days or so.)
Enjoy the fact that I don’t have to plan, prepare, or cook for myself the entire time I’m home. It’s like magic. Mom-magic. I am hungry! There is a three-course meal! On the table! And I am in my mid-thirties! Magic I tell you MAGIC.
Everyone leaves for church except for me and my brother. Because we are hell-bound. We watch It’s a Wonderful Life and bitch and moan about all the things and also drink. It is lovely.
Go to bed at 11pm. LIVING ON THE WILD SIDE BABY.
(Christmas Eve, years ago, used to be a wild rumpus of awesome. We used to go to my other grandmother’s house. No one loved Christmas like she did. The entire extended family would come and we would eat and party and open presents and it was, looking back, the epitome of Christmas for me. She passed away when I was in grad school and it hasn’t been the same since. Christmas Eve is very quiet now. I think that would make her sad. She loved how loud a houseful of excited family members would get. She was feisty and fun and wickedly intelligent and I miss her terribly.)
Awake at 5am because there is a LOT OF BANGING happening downstairs. It is my father, who is like a child when Christmas is here, stomping around. “Oh, did I WAKE you?” he asks. Presents! He wants to get to the opening of them! And the tree has piles of presents under it, which have appeared like magic, and my mother and I have sleepy, sleepy eyes and want coffee now, please. Oh, also, the house is freezing because there’s no central heat, just a woodstove. And it’s winter. So, yeah, there’s no reliable internet, horse and buggies outside, and a woodstove. I’m Christmas-ing in 1807. Maybe I’ll get an orange in my stocking! Or a horehound sucking stick!
We call my brother and tell him it’s time to wake up. He is not pleased. He grumps that he will come soon. We sit and wait and wait and look at the presents with greedy eyes. I take this opportunity to try to do something with my hair because someone always thinks it’s a good idea to take a photo of present-unwrapping and I look like a homeless mental patient in pajamas.
My brother shows up. He is grumpy. “COFFEE,” he grumps.
We open presents! My father is Santa, because he is the best at it. Also he has a beard. All the presents from my parents say “From Santa Claus” on them. My brother and I are in our mid-to-late thirties. We are not fooled. We wait in-between every gift to watch each other open them, but we also keep things moving at a good clip because there is a very definite timetable to Christmas day.
Everyone then eats all the homemade cinnamon rolls. I eat cereal, because I can’t eat homemade cinnamon rolls without needing a trip to the emergency room. This only makes me want to stab someone a little, as it’s Christmas, and Christmas is about LOVE. Not STABBING.
We all dress up pretty and nice and go to my grandmother’s house and have ANOTHER Christmas. This is where I get to be insane, and that’s awesome. They are all very nice and very calm people and I’m the “crazy” one. You know, every family has one? Yep. I’m that one. I’m the character. That’s fine, I’m down with being charactery.
When it’s handing out the presents time, I get to be Santa. Because who better to be Santa than the person who is BEST at it, I ask you? No one. No one better. So I put on a Santa hat, and I pass out the gifts. And there are RULES. Like, you can’t give someone two gifts in row. That’s rude. You have to try to make sure everyone has a gift before you give someone another gift. Except my grandmother. She gets as many as she wants. She’s the matriarch. And she takes a long time to open them. So I load her up, because I want her to know how much she is loved. And she’s all, “Too much! Too much!” and Santa says “You’ve been a very good girl this year! Ho ho ho!” and everyone laughs because OH AMY WHAT A CUT UP but that wasn’t even that funny. I don’t even have to waste my best material on Christmas day. Everyone’s in a super-good mood. Also, the whole house smells like turkey and ham and baked beans and potatoes but NO NO NO EATING UNTIL AFTER GIFTS. And I pretend I’m not going to give any gifts to my cousins, because they are children and enjoy when I’m wacky, and then give them their gifts like “WHAT IS THIS I HAVE FOUND FOR YOU?” and that’s fun. Yeah, I’m totally the best Santa. You probably want me to be your Santa, but I won’t. I’m Santa for my grandmother’s house and that’s IT. Oh, and once when I worked at the Humane Society I had to be Santa for pet portraits. I had to have dogs sit on my lap and have my photo taken as part of a fundraiser we were doing. It was a little odd, because Santa had boobs, but whatever, I rocked it. I like dogs.
Then we eat all the food, and listen, those people can all cook, let me tell you. And THE NEPHEW will be there. And I pretty much can’t take my eyes off him because he is the best thing in a long line of best things. He is funny and lively and excited about life and amazing.
Then we clean up and go home and it’s The Nephew and his mom’s Christmas. Which will, no doubt, be the highlight of the entire day.
So, for those of you keeping track, that’s three Christmases for one person. Christmas day is kind of insane.
After all of those Christmases, we all kind of go into a Christmas coma and put on A Christmas Story and watch that while my dad snores like a buzzsaw and once in a while wakes up and says things like “that lamp is frag-eee-lay” or “that stupid kid’s going to put his tongue on that frozen pole again” and then falls back to sleep. While this happens, I consolidate all of my gifts into the smallest possible piles. I do this because I am Gollum and a hoarder. No, honestly, I have no idea why I do this, it’s this weird OCD trait I have, and I’ve always done it, but I am very, very good at taking a large pile of things and making it very, very small and cramming it all into other things so your huge pile of run-amuck ill-begotten booty is manageable. I know. It’s strange. If that’s the strangest thing about me, I guess I got off lucky.
Bedtime is probably 9pm or something. I plan on eating a LOT of ham.
I’m probably coming back home on Monday, even though my mother wants us to go day-after-Christmas shopping. I have a lot of things to do, and I have Tuesday off, and it sounds SO NICE to have a day and a half off to do nothing, all alone. Also, without fail, a huge snowstorm hits home every year over the Christmas holiday, so I’m sure it will happen one of these days, making travel nigh-on impossible.
The drive home will be: driving driving driving NODDING OFF WHAT THE HELL driving driving driving I AM SO TIRED THIS IS STUPID driving driving driving PULL OFF AT THE REST STOP AND GET SOME AIR WEIRDO driving driving driving THANK GOODNESS I AM FINALLY HOME. Then I turn on the phone and it starts loading up all the tweets and emails I’ve missed and I smile and smile because this is ALSO Christmas. Fahoo Foray.
See, I totally have a plan! Christmas! The end is in sight! Now I just have to shop and bake and wrap and package and plot and scheme and list-make and fret and I WILL BE FINE I CAN DO THIS.
If any of you would like to COME HERE AND DO ALL OF THIS FOR ME I would be the most appreciative thanks. You can have some of the ham. Also cookies. You’re stellar! Smooches!