Let Nothing you Dismay

Amber commented on my last post that Christmas is a Jekyll/Hyde holiday, which sums it up perfectly. This week-end has been heavy on the heartwarming glowy joy that is Christmas and light on the enormous pain in the ass that is Christmas, thankfully. Most of the presents are wrapped (except for the book I bought for my sister that I had to read first, just to make sure it was good), most of the baking is done (a whole bunch of fantastic shortbread toffee cookies and a whole bunch of failed squares of one type or another, not one of which turned out perfectly), school is done which means no more library books to put away or homework to finish or math bags to organize until January. Tomorrow is for cleaning and packing and Wednesday we leave with my parents for my sister's house. It's good when you get a small space in which to reap the benefits of hard(ish) work.
Yesterday was our annual Christmas party -- a core of four families and whoever else from our wider circle is available. In honour of the occasion, Eve and I wore the pearls Matt bought us the last time he was in Malaysia.

The friend with the biggest house has graciously hosted for the past few years, now that we all have more kids who are bigger.
There was much laughter and merriment, and nobody wore Tony's shoes home by mistake this time, so that was good.
Today we went for a walk in the quintessentially perfect snowy woods...

...and fed some chickadees. I've never seen these particular kids stand so still for so long.

Today I'm basking in comfort and joy.
The number one thing I did this year that made things easier: wrapped all the presents (and wrote down what they were) as soon as I bought them. Every year I have this vision in my head of a festive gift-wrapping session with wine and ribbons and Christmas music. And every year I realize this vision could only take place in a parallel universe where my kids go to bed at seven and I don't sit around drinking with my husband and parents until midnight, and I end up half-strangled with paper and tape at three in the morning wondering why I'm such a moron. This year I was wrapping presents in un-festive November, but now I have a neat, pretty pile of gifts and I can just drink even more wine on Christmas Eve.
The number one thing I am going to try to remember to do next year: get the tree and take out the decorations at the end of November. Every year I think it's just wrong to have Christmas stuff out in November, and I imagine that on the first of December we'll have a magical, auspicious day of ushering in the Christmas season. Then the first of December falls in the middle of the week, and there are Christmas recitals and concerts and birthday parties and the marshy details of life that suck you down daily, and before I know it it's December eighteenth and I'm waist-deep in boxes and searching madly for the Christmas CDs and busting my ass to spread out a bunch of stuff that will have to be put away in a week. I'm not going to start Christmas the day after Halloween, but I'm going to try for a bit of an earlier start. This year, as one of my friends said, Christmas was way far away and then it was driving up our ass with no in-between period.
Deep breath. Back to the comfort and joy. Feeding little birds. Walking in the woods.
I'm going to eat some falling-apart peanut butter chocolate squares.


Rosemary said…
Merry Christmas! Yay! Ever since Holly was born (Dec 10th) I get that tree and decorations out mid November and plan to decorate the weekend before her birthday. Otherwise I enjoy nothing! I run around like a crazy person for most of the month. My schedule this year was to have the tree up by the 1st, presents bought by the 10th and wrapped by the 19th. That way I can actually enjoy my birthday and have a few days to get excited about Christmas. Just cause you get the decorations out and ready doesn't mean they have to go up right away either!

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