Like my literature-related pun in the title? No...oh well, off to better reading.
This is the busiest time of the year by far. It's much worse than back to school because I'm shopping and preparing for everyone I know, not just those to whom I've given birth.
There's shopping, wrapping, baking, planning, and explaining to the kid who Santa Claus really is. But more on that later.
The kid's teacher needs yet another mug (everyone always gets the teacher a mug, right? that's the rule, isn't it?), my grandmother needs yet another sweater that she'll never wear, and my cousin needs yet another set of pretty jammies (I know she wear regular clothes, but I've only ever seen her wear the jammies I give her). I managed to find what I think are the most expensive girls panties on the Eastern Seaboard, but though I got a great bargain because they were buy 4, get 2 free. I went to buy the kid a winter coat and instead bought her a faux fur leopard skin jacket. Yeah, because faux fur leopard skin is just the thing to keep you warm in a blizzard...NOT!!! I bought all sorts of cookies, but didn't really have anyone to give them to, and since my mom is the Christmas Cookie Baking Nazi, I really had some nerve BUYING cookies. When she saw what I was buying, she gave me a frumpy look and then marched off to plan my accidental death by way of the Kitchen-Aid mixer.
This year, after all the emotional and financial turmoil, I am really making a point of counting my blessings and getting into the spirit of the season. I listen to beloved Christmas music and remember those magical Christmas moments of my childhood.
Ex and I sat down with the kid last week and explained the story of St. Nicholas and that a jolly man in a red suit is not coming through the patio door with presents (hey, I don't have a chimney, I had to be creative with the architectural design of my house, ok?). She was really bummed, but then told us she figured it out last year. That little stinker!! Ex and I proceeded to tell her that she was now a guardian of the story, that she had to keep her knowledge about who brings the presents to herself and not repeat it under any circumstances. That's when she got the devilish grin on her face.
I'm missing my maternal grandparents. I always do around this time of year. We made a HUGE Italian fish dinner every Christmas Eve and it just hasn't been the same since they passed away. It was the one day of the year that Grandma let Grandpa use her kitchen. They taught me to de-vein shrimp when I was 5 years old and by 8 years old, I was the reigning de-veining queen. Grandma would pour me a cup of coffee and I'd happily clean shrimp for hours.
Then, there was the Christmas I got Terry, my wire fox terrier. He was the greatest Christmas present I ever got, hands down. He cemented in me a love of dogs that is still with me today.
Then there was the first Christmas Ex and I lived together. We got this great tree and I cooked Christmas dinner.
Christmas can also be heart-breaking. My uncle J was killed in a car wreck in November of 1977 and to say that Christmas that year was a little somber is putting it mildly.
The first Christmas after Ex moved out was a little tough too. I had to get rid of the angel tree-topper we bought together and I had to throw out the two turtle doves that Mom gave us for our first Christmas after we got married.
I realize that my job now is to make happy memories for the kid. She's the one that Christmas is all about now.
It's all about making magic...