By Marcia Cook
I know it's late. So why the delay? It's all the stuff I had to do, so as not to disappoint. Disappoint whom? Me? You? My family? Mostly myself, my own unrealistic expectations. It's Christmas! We all know what it's supposed to mean. The celebration of the miraculous birth, the perfect love, the dazzle-your-socks-off tree, the multitude of flashy gifts, the clean well organized home, the smell of fresh baked goodies, and of course, the opportunity to share with you our bounty, all we’ve accomplished this year. But don't forget the cheery dispositions.
This is what it's like here, right now. The dining room table is cluttered with unwrapped presents and bags half-emptied. On the hutch are opened, partially eaten, boxes and tins of Christmas cookies, candies and nuts. The living room tables are covered with cards, probably yours, with torn out addresses scattered among them, just in case I don't have you in my address book correctly. My son’s stocking is hung in anticipation of his arrival tomorrow night. As usual, there is way too much stuffed in the stocking, and it will soon spill out onto the hearth and he'll probably end up returning a bunch of it. The dogs will go for the chocolate Santas, foil and all, and then a trip to the vets.
The lights are up outside. Shortly thereafter, hubby managed to chew up the extension cord in the snow blower (good for a couple of loud, decidedly unChristian words to the universe). The tree is trimmed and tied to the wall to keep it from tipping over.
Strangely, I haven't gotten around to putting the crèche in place. The new puppy just peed under the piano, as I was cleaning it up, my daughter called. Distracted, I didn't adequately finish the job. Then I let the dogs out, and the loud one wouldn't come in, and I was still on the phone with my distraught daughter, and the dog ended up waking up the neighborhood. I heard the kitchen door open and close; a neighbor brought my dogs inside and slammed the door. We're praying that the bottle of wine left on their doorstep (from “Bad Dog “. . . whose name, ironically, is Angel) will repair relations.
There's leftover gingerbread dough from last Saturday in the refrigerator (hard as a rock, as the granddaughters lost interest, two dozen gingerbread people later). Daughter, granddaughters and I, went to see the 5:30 performance of the Nutcracker. They were sweet and wide-eyed and wonderful, although dinner at 9:30 at Friendly's with a three year old, was a bit problematic. The good news, I can now order off the Senior Menu. Tomorrow I will trek out to see my other daughter in the western part of the state, to deliver some presents and goodies ahead of time, so the kids aren't so overwhelmed when they arrive on Christmas day. We keep telling them, Christmas isn't just about presents, but then what do I do? Of course I overbuy each year, even though I swear I'm going to figure it out, and simplify. Afterall, it's right over my sink in the kitchen, a large wooden sign staring at me throughout the year: "SIMPLIFY". Maybe it needs to fall down and hit me on the head some night when I'm doing the dishes.
Well, I'm headed down to the basement to finally retrieve the baby Jesus, and place him in the crèche, on the fireplace mantel. Amazingly, He understands, and doesn’t hold it against me, that He is last on my to-do list. He is big on forgiveness, and knows, there’s big love under all this hassle.
Here's hoping your Christmas is real, your dogs behave, and you take time to really notice one another. As my favorite Mr. Rogers said, “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.”