It should be noted that my resume for things like “over-the-top holidays” and “ridiculous crafting projects” is long; very, very long, and probably covered with strings from my hot glue gun. In fact, I once glued a red glitter candlestick motif so horrible (in both conception and execution), that 4 addresses later, I’m still finding red glitter stuck to random things around my house. Most of my crafting endeavors turn out beautifully, but not those conceived on Christmas Eve, one hour before hosting 18 people for a formal dinner. “The Red Glitter Christmas” shall go down in infamy at our house.
Those candlesticks notwithstanding, I’m the girl you go to for holiday advice. Your Grandma’s pie recipe didn’t turn out as planned? Call Lori. You thought you’d teach yourself how to properly melt chocolate the night before the class Christmas party? Call Lori. Your child has been assigned the role of the Mallard Duck in the Nativity play (where ARE they finding these scripts)? Call Lori. I love overhearing Lori tall-tales: “I once heard she chopped her finger off while hanging twinkly lights at the school Santa shop, so she pulled a travel sewing kit out of her purse, reattached it, and then invited the Cub Scouts to check her work so they could earn a patch.” Part of that story is true. I am great at hanging the twinkly lights, and I should never be trusted with sharp things while standing on tall ladders.
Despite the “4 address” move with my family this year (I am never, ever, ever moving again), I was sure I’d go into this holiday season with both glue guns blazing. At the first snowfall, I placed 2 fully-lit topiary trees at my front door and welcomed the season with open arms. I marched into the Santa Shop and hung the lights in record time, but as I climbed down from my ladder, I noticed my throat was sore. Better get it checked quickly, because December is aka “Mommy’s Busy Season”. We DO NOT FALL DOWN in December.
But alas, fall down I did. For all of my plans this month, the flu had far bigger ones. I missed the entire Santa Shop, my first one missed in 7 years. I missed committee meetings and field trips. I missed the start of the holiday baking season, and in a feverish haze, I typed a random zip code on our Christmas card. The error might have been just a funny blip had those cards not also served as our change of address notifications. No matter, I don’t have enough energy to shower, let alone mail out 200 Christmas cards.
Standing (or sleeping as the case may be) perfectly still for 2 weeks has taught me something I’ve missed in holidays past. No, I’m not going to tell you to get out of the crowds and enjoy hot cocoa. I’m not going to ask you to hurry less, and marvel more. In fact, if this flu had taken me down for good, I would have asked my husband to carve the words “more is more” on my gravestone. I love the chaos and mayhem of December…it reminds me of…me. But I did see something more important this year: I saw YOU.
Shayla’s Elf-on-the-Shelf knitted its own SCARF last night! I wait all day just to see what Zipper Jingles is going to do next. I look forward to friends updating pictures of their Christmas trees. I’d love to pretend I’m super casual-cool, and not bothered that my husband and daughters did the tree without my input, but let’s face it: it’s a wreck. Literally. The heavy ornaments weren’t spaced properly, and the whole tree is just a tall, dangerous THING, taunting me from the corner of my living room. But some of you have some mad decorating skills, this much I’ve learned. Many of my family members love Hallmark movies, and this season, I had time to watch a few. A) They require very little concentration, which is a great combination if you are on Hot Toddy #2 (or #3, but let’s not judge the sick girl) B) They don’t actually suck. Well, no…they do suck, but in a perfectly awful way. I have a theory that some things are so awful, they are perfect. Examples: Channing Tatum in “Magic Mike”, Christmas sweaters, the unexplainable re-emergence of “fringe” as a fashion statement, and now…Hallmark Christmas movies. And THIS holiday season, I’m sure to get extra conversation points at the Christmas dinner table: “How DO you think they trained that cat in “The Nine Lives of Christmas?”
To the friends who have their presents already wrapped in coordinating papers and ribbons? BRAVO! I’m a little jealous, but seriously, bravo. I’ve loved seeing the pictures of your children in the Nutcracker, and hearing about the marathon family cooking sessions. I could smell the caramel from here. You’ve looked so amazing in your gorgeous holiday dresses (not you Michael, take that dress off, but I thank you sincerely for the laugh). There have been trips to see the trains, babies crying on Santa’s lap, and kids writing their lists to Santa (and yes, Brook does get extra points for making her own envelope).
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m also feeling a little sorry for myself, but mostly, I’m sorry I’ve missed you all these years. I’ve been so buried in upping my own efforts, and trying to outdo my antics from the year before, that I failed to SEE YOU. YOU were out there, being so awesome and full of holiday spirit. I saw you before, but only in passing. While on my way to buy more ribbon. Over the frantic and hurried phone calls as we stood in line at the Container Store. HOW DO THEY MAKE CONTAINING THINGS SO SEXY?!
This year, you’ve taken me along for the ride, and I want to say “thank you”. You’re amazing at creating holiday magic for your loved ones at Christmas. No, don’t qualify that compliment…don’t turn it down. YOU ARE SO GREAT. 4 years ago I redecorated my entire dining room for a holiday dinner while the guests were on their way over, so trust me, I’m qualified to make this judgement: YOU are spectacular.
Last year, as I rolled through the hallways at school with my cart of handmade goodness, a fellow parent stopped me and said, “Seriously, you’ve got to stop. You’re making the rest of us feel bad.” It had never occurred to me I was competing against anyone. I was not trying to be the Christmas Champion, until this year, when I felt like the Olympian on crutches at the Opening Ceremony. It made me sad. All these years, people actually thought I was trying to win Christmas. I had grown comfortable being everyone’s horrible warning, and suddenly I realized I was being mistaken for a good example. How dare anyone accuse ME of being a good example? I’m covered in red glitter, for heaven’s sakes!
Wisdom does come suddenly, doesn’t it?
So this year, I have fully and completely STOPPED. Even my Mother-in-law announcing “Lori is giving IOU’s this year!” wasn’t enough of a war-cry to rally me from my bed. Just the mere mention of the word “IOU” should have been enough to make me start personalized sweaters for everyone in the family…and on the block. And every teacher at school? What? I don’t know how to knit, you say? Those are problems for MORTALS, not MOTHERS. But no. Enough.
Worried I was missing too much of the fun, my youngest daughter “made” and wrapped a present for me last night. I received a pink lock-box, the world’s longest rainbow loom necklace, one purple die, a stapler, and a dirty pair of socks that just so happened to be mine. I had to strain my eyes to see the bottom of the box, because I could feel something grainy? What is that…? OH. RED GLITTER. Of course.
Godspeed everyone. And Merry Christmas. Now if you’ll excuse me, my humidifier is empty, I’m out of whiskey, and Shayla’s Elf is surely about to do something INSANE…