Visiting Christmases Past

This post originally ran December 2009. I loved the picture of our cat, John, under the tree, as well as the essay, so I thought I would run it again today.
At this time of celebrating winter Holidays, I want to wish everyone the happiest of times with family and friends, and all the best for the New Year. I celebrate Christmas, and our cat, John, has decided he wants to be a Christmas present. Either that, or he is waiting to see what Santa is bringing him.
The following is an excerpt from my humorous memoir A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. Please accept it as a small gift to you.
The Christmas Season was always a source of great excitement at our house. It was also a time of great panic. Every year I found the Christmas Season closing in fast with me panting to cross the finish line before Santa Claus.
I’d immediately start my “Holiday Hustle” working non-stop for three weeks to get everything done. There were gifts to send out of state, and cards to mail. Since I didn’t start early enough on that task, I had to decide if I would write one let­ter and copy it for all our friends, or try to find the time to write individual letters. This was before the birth of The Holiday Letter, which has now become a standard way for friends to stay in touch. Some people don’t like them, but, you know, if the alternative means not keeping up with friends, I’m all for it.
Maybe instead of getting angry at the stores that were putting out their Christmas stuff before Halloween, I should have taken their reminder seriously. Then I wouldn’t have let Thanksgiving slip by without a thought of the next holiday.
My basic problem was, and still is, the fact that I don’t get in the Christmas spirit until a couple of weeks before “The Day” , and then the frantic juggling act begins. If I could just bring myself to think about Christmas in October I wouldn’t be faced with the necessity of regimenting my time down to the last second to get everything done — structure and discipline being the closest thing to medieval torture I can think of.
However, I knew that I must have some structure, so sometimes I made a calendar with Things to Do. Monday was slotted for shopping. No giving in to the urge to sing carols with the kids or start making decorations. Friday was slotted for singing, and decorating would start the following week. Tuesday was the day to finish the Christmas cards. No fair claiming writer’s cramp as an excuse to quit for a while and play with the dog.
Wednesday of that week started out easy. That was the day to write my newspaper column, and I didn’t have to stress over what I would write about as I had all this great material to work from. But the strangest thing happened as I wrote about all the things I hadn’t done yet. I had to fight the urge to quit working and dash out to the store when I thought of the perfect gift to get Uncle Barney. Not to mention all the other things I’d forgotten on Monday.
While fighting down that urge, another distraction popped up. The Girl Scout caroling party. I still hadn’t called the leader to tell her what songs I’d planned for the girls.
Then I remembered someone else I should have mailed a card to.
Then I remembered I was supposed to get soda for a neighborhood holiday party.
I don’t even remember the rest of that week.

3 thoughts on “Visiting Christmases Past”

  1. Starting Christmas only after Thanksgiving is over, that’s my rule. But I do love the preparation. I love the presents all wrapped and waiting under he tree. The beautiful lights, and traveling the neighborhood to see what everyone else is doing. Blue lights are my favorite. But I’m always a little sad that day after, if only we had something similar (something that brought the same world wide joy) every quarter, at least! 🙂

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

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