Here’s how I’m staying sane at Christmas.
- Made my peace with last-minute-ness. The deadline is Christmas morning, is it not? If you complete non-family jobs in advance of a deadline you miss critical trends. Shouldn’t the same apply to holidays?
- Called my sisters. Oh, my brother has kept me sane on many occasions, but it’s been to do with the big 3 – job, marriage, child-rearing. Sisterly expertise extends to stuff and etiquette. (If I wanted to talk stuff with my brother it’d be gadgets, and if I wanted to talk etiquette, well, he’s a psychoanalyst and he believes in truth.)
Seriously. Last year, in the thick of work, I made every single purchase online. Two years ago we returned from Hawaii, decided we needed Christmas anyway, and bought a tree on Christmas Eve. This made a great story to retell, but yikes. It’s been a pleasure this year to take my time with preparations. To wit.
- No forcing tradition down anyone’s throats. Take the tree. We bought ours a week ago. I strung the lights myself, because everyone else hates the task. I always wind up doing most of the work anyway, mad at the people who are just sitting on the sofa. And I still haven’t hung any ornaments. I’ll probably do a few, then leave the good ones for my 10-year old niece to hang Christmas Eve. Because she thinks it’s fun.
- I’m decorating one piece of greenery at a time. Bought the wreath at one place, garland another. Like a random walk down Christmas street.
- If I forget to pick up green tissue paper when I go to the hardware store for an outdoor extension cord, no big deal. I can do it another day. So much less under-the-breath cursing.
- I got paper at Paper Source (fancy! tasteful!) and gift tags at Costco (gaudy! ironic!). I have time to envision, and enjoy all the wrapping. (Although a tradition of Christmas Eve backaches from hunching over a floor covered in wrapping paper can be sweet in remembrance.)
So here’s a thought. I know the Europeans swear by August “en vacances,” but in America might we prefer 30 days from mid-December to mid-January?
- Just imagine a leisurely Christmas. The entire nation cursing less.
- Those who don’t celebrate the holiday could focus on New Year’s Eve. More parties! Public kissing! Sequins!
- Those who celebrate neither Christmas nor the western New Year could still use a winter month off to frolic in snow, or warm up in Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean. Month-long vacations take away the pressure for perfect; we can tolerate a little bad weather or the occasional family snit.
But I suppose, in the America of almost-2014, we’re probably not headed towards more institutionalized vacation. Drat. So how about this? To all of you organizing Christmas for a family, especially while working at a not-family job, I raise a joyous huzzah. With jingle bell chorus, eggnog, and someone else to string your lights. This might also help – Paper Source has hedgehog goods.