So…reading one of Simcha Fisher’s FaceBook posts, I realized that apparently there is an entire world out there of mothers who read mommyblogs and food blogs and God knows what other blogs, and they’re feeling guilty about their holiday preparations. I remember my mother stressing and burning herself out trying to get everything done for Christmas — decorations all over the house, the tree, the nativity set, presents for 4…6…8 children, cookies for the bakesale, costumes for the nativity play, Christmas recitals, homemade chocolates, gingerbread houses, and on, and on, and on.
Every single year, this ended with the great Christmas Eve meltdown, where my mother would freak out at everyone and go cry until my little sisters cajoled her into coming down for Christmas carols. It was an annual tradition.
So, in the interests of preserving the sanity of other mothers around the world, I’ve decided to offer my own Christmas preparation as an example of What You Can Achieve! Or rather, as a baseline that you can use to calm the freak-out a little. You’ll be able to think “Well, my Christmas preparations aren’t everything that I hoped they would be — but I must be okay because I’m way ahead of Melinda!”
So far, I’ve managed to do one hour’s worth of decorating. It involved finding some old stuff in the attic of the garage that was left here by the previous owners, plus a box of mostly burnt out Christmas lights. To fill out the Christmas extravaganza, I went to the local thrift store and dropped a whopping $20 on some fake pine garland with lights, some tinsel, and some nice decorative ribbon with which to refurbish the rather sad advent wreath that I made last year.
So far, the advent wreath has not been lit a single time. There’s a good reason for this, which is that is not equipped with candles. There’s an even better reason for this, which is that my autistic 8 year old *loves* to eat candle wax. Last year, I bought some nice little candles for the wreath, and the next day I had several well-chewed candle stumps. I know that you can get waxless candles — in fact, I have a crate of waxless candle inserts that my husband picked up at a local liquidator. I have vague plans to have my 6 year old make colourful papier-mâché cups for them so that they can be advent wreath coloured, but since it is already Gaudate Sunday and this has not yet happened, I suspect it of being a pipe dream.
The way that I put up my Christmas tree this year is as follows. My eldest daughter came in one morning while I was sleeping in (I’d been up all night with heartburn and contractions) and said “Mom, can I go get a tree today?” I said, “Yes.” A few hours later, the kids called me in to see their tree, which they all adore and which is named Alphonse. Alphonse is a white pine, not especially Christmas-tree shaped and just a little too tall for our living room. He was cut down by my daughter from our property. He is being propped up in a bucket with some rocks, and the bucket is being obscured with a nice wrap of decorative cloth. He looks, as my daughter put it, “Like someone kind of dumped a bucket of Christmas decorations on his head.” But the kids, especially the little ones, are super proud of their tree and he really is delightful.My husband bought a few presents to go under the tree, but we don’t have any wrapping paper. There’s some coming on Thursday, apparently, but my children are leaving on Thursday and they want to see presents before they go. So ours are wrapped in newspaper. I may or may not get around to re-wrapping them before they get opened.
I have not done any Christmas baking. Yesterday, I managed to make some sweet-and-sour meatballs and today I made some nachos. Otherwise my children are scavenging like feral beasts and living on a diet of cereal, bagels, spaghetti and my husband’s cooking. (Actually, my husband is really a good cook, which is very nice because at the moment I find it difficult to reach the stove, especially since all of my stirring spoons have gone missing and stuff has to be stirred with a fork.)
In lieu of Christmas cookies my youngest has invented a recipe which he calls “Stick-em-ups.” They’re made by rolling out leftover pie dough, layering it with either brown sugar or jam, rolling it up and cutting it into slices which are then baked. They’re surprisingly cookie-like. The etymology of the name is obscure.
I did manage to get my children to their dance recital today, with their costumes, and their hair reasonably brushed. I even survived the entire recital, largely by lying on the bleachers at the side of the gym and sleeping through the parts of the program that didn’t involve my kids.
Next week, I’m shipping all of my children off to my mother’s house. There, they will encounter decorations everywhere (my mom has already offered me a box of extra decorations that she doesn’t have room for so I can use them next year), a perfect tree ready to be decorated, piles of impeccably wrapped gifts, mountains of Christmas baking, and naked gingerbread all ready for them to slather with icing and candy. Hopefully, Grandma will be able to handle them without breaking down in tears on Christmas Eve.
Me. I’m going to have a quiet week. A quiet Christmas. With no worries, nothing to decorate, nothing to do. Except, of course, give birth.