Tuesday, December 24, 2019
I've hit peak Grinch this week. It happens this time every year, when expectations about how this holiday season should unfold collide with reality. The song "I hate Christmas" from the musical Scrooge runs through my mind on repeat, and I wish that Christmas could come at a quieter time of year, like February, or come but once every other year.
Each day, it seems, brings reminders of one more Secret Santa or Yankee swap gift I need to buy, one more dish I need to make for one more party. I obsessively watch the progress of the package I needed to arrive byTuesday as it ping-pongs back and forth between Massachusetts and Connecticut for five days. We haven't finished decorating the house, but it's already succumbed to entropy after all the careful pre-tree cleaning. I haven't baked a single cookie, and the handmade gifts, though few, may not be done till Valentine's Day.
I have, however, finally achieved my lifelong goal of reining in spending, gift-giving, and contributing to the too much stuff-ness of this holiday, though not through willpower or mindfulness, but rather because I don't get my first paycheck until Christmas Eve. Despite buying less, I'm having as hard a time as ever finding those very particular gifts I want to get.
Meanwhile, holidays with teenagers lack the magic of holidays with little kids that makes all of the headaches worthwhile. They don't ooh and ahh over lights. They sleep in late on a snow day rather than running outside in their pajamas to play in it. They're over all the holiday movies. They don't eve want to hang their own ornaments on the tree. I suppose I'll look back on these teenage holidays--when all they want is a ski pass, "soft, fluffy clothes," or a pair of black ripped-knee skinny jeans--with nostalgia in 20 years, when I'm mailing them gift cards for snow tires and a night out from their kids.
Don't worry about me--my heart will grow three sizes in five days, when all of the parties have been had, the gifts opened, the wrapping paper swept away, and the guests gone home. We'll crowd together on the one couch that remains in the living room after the other was evicted to make room for the tree, nibbling on cookies and candy and watching Scrooge, or perhaps all of the Friends Christmas episodes. Another holiday will have passed, pleasantly if imperfectly (what is perfect anyway?), and we'll enjoy the waning days of yet another year.
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