Weeping in my husband’s embrace on December 22nd. Reminds me of last year, but without the embrace–under the pressure of getting ready for Christmas gift giving. Pressure I’m putting on myself–it’s too much, and I need release. Again I have disappointed myself and not got packages mailed in time to my family back east. Not shown them I love them enough to plan better, not shown myself to be a put-together daughter and sister. And too much time taken on all that anyway perhaps with so many family members to think of here. I discover that my gift piles are lopsided and I have more for my older kids than for the younger. The daughter who actually begins getting disappointed before she even sees her presents, to get a head start, and the son who wails at any perceived injustice or sense of personal injury, are undergifted. Will I have time to finish the special school-colors blanket for her? Can I find a decent Lego set for him in the time remaining? Should I add up the totals and give extra money to make things even? Or just give the warning my mom used to give that it might not be everyone’s year this year, so be prepared.
I’m also sad that we have not read any Christmas books or scriptures, sung any songs, made any crafts together. The tree is up, lights hung, nativity scenes in place, but I’ve left it to the others to ask for anything special beyond that, and no one has cared. No advent calendar doors with candy, even. No working at the food bank, helping with Angel Tree, inviting stranded student in for the holidays. Just a few charity checks in the mail. This isn’t Christmas, I moan.
Then there’s the extended family gifts. White elephant and an exchange, which for us adds up to twelve presents. I grumble that it’s too much, and they’re all adults and can each buy their own, while I have to help my kids choose, or at least drive them to stores. Will the bath salts my son bought from a big box store really suffice for a dear grandmother? Will my niece appreciate the earth tone, locally made mugs, or should I switch out for the bath salts? I’m told I made my father-in-law a hat last year, so that plan is shot. My sisters-in-law and their very organized children were done weeks ago, I’m sure.
No pretty plates of cookies or even boxes of chocolates for the neighbors, who have watched my animals, taken in the mail, and shared their salmon catch with us, and I really wanted to show appreciation. Will they be hurt?
My husband leaves his paid hourly work on the computer, listens, holds me, rubs my back and says the equivalent of “There, there; it’s going to be all right.” He doesn’t argue that I’m being unreasonable, or demand that I pull myself together. He offers to find my father-in-law’s gift and our son’s Lego set, take the girls to shop for what they need, asks what else he can do, and pretty much comes to my rescue. Of course I realize I need to pull myself together, and after letting myself receive his comfort, I do. Of course I know I’m being unreasonable, and manage to invite some more sensible thoughts to the forefront of my mind after I calm down. Yes, I’ve probably had too much coffee and too little regular food, so I sit down and eat some leftover rustic chicken pizza I had the sense to pick up the night before. I don’t have to get up early tomorrow, I can stay up and sew, mail the packages tomorrow, and do what needs to be done, which is less than I think it is in my perfectionist frenzy. It’s going to be all right.