I Dread the Holidays, I Love the HolidaysDecember 31, 2009 by Rita Messina
Here I am again. That week between Christmas and New Years. The week where you can almost let out a huge sigh of relief and your shoulders lower from around your ears back to where they belong. But it’s the week, too, where you look at last week and think “Was that the best Christmas ever?” And yes it was, it really was.
In October I started to get that niggling feeling that Christmas was coming up and I should start getting busy. But who am I kidding? I can’t think that I’ve ever bought a Christmas present before the middle of December in my entire life. I start complaining that the stores have no right to put out anything to do with Christmas before Halloween is over. But then I have friends who by this time have purchased all of their gifts. That's not bad enough, they are even wrapped. What is that about? The mystery in my life is why would you wrap something when there are perfectly good bags that come in every size?
Unfortunately I have a daughter that has the "gene". The "Everything has to be perfect and beautiful and wrapped and decorated and matched" gene. Kate inherited this from my Mother, and my two sisters. The three of them make Martha Stewart look like a bag lady. My sister, Carol, even makes her own plate chargers to match her holiday theme. I honestly don't get that. Why buy or as in Carol's case, make, a plate to put a plate on? Sounds like more dishes to me and I am so against more dirty dishes.
My other sister Patty is also the queen of the "La Decorators". She actually took round and square Tupperware containers and wrapped them in colored cellophane. She then strung them around her office Christmas tree so it looked like wrapped candy. I would have walked in and thought I had hit the mother lode and tried to eat all that plastic.
But not me. I didn't get that gene. I do buffets. I actually use holiday paper plates (I do try to get the napkins to match or my Katie would never let forget it). I don't have a theme to my tree yet each year I think it is the most beautiful tree I've ever seen. It has little felt frames with Katie's face in it, and there is the popsicle stick Santa that Lisa made me. I always love watching Carol when she arrives. There is always this faint shudder. And even at this ripe old age, I get a giggle out of bugging my big sister. My inner brat has risen again.
Then Thanksgiving comes around and I start thinking I’d better get out to the garage and start digging for decorations and the tree. But this year I didn’t have to dig. I spent two full days in August cleaning out the garage and my daughter and I put all the decorations in bins and labeled everything. I knew exactly where everything was and it was going to make it all so easy this year. Score round one for me!
Then it’s December 10th. This is my oldest daughters birthday. I made a vow when she was born that I would never mix her birthday and Christmas and I don’t think I ever have. Then the next day is December 11 and I normally turn into the Tasmanian devil. But this year I didn’t. The decorations and tree were put up Katie. I did put the ornaments on the tree as my contribution. And I pay the housekeeper. Score round two for me!
Then it’s the 20th of December and I’m starting to get a little anxious. Just a little bit because I’m really not buying a whole lot. A couple of stores later and I am done. Because checks make great presents and that’s what most everybody wanted this year. Score round three for me!
Now comes the toughy. I volunteer my house for Christmas Eve. And I knew this year was going to be a biggy. And it was. Twenty-seven people for dinner. Set up a bar, throw in an 18 lb prime rib, twenty lbs of baked potatoes, tell all attendees what to bring and voila! Done. Again, I paid the housekeeper to come clean.
Everybody shows up and the merriment begins. Drinking and snacks roll right into a lovely dinner. Soon our little gift exchange is done and everybody is feeling quite pleasant. Ah ha! I then pounce on everybody and hand out the words to every Christmas carol ever written. This is when I head to the bar. It’s finally my turn to play a little catch-up. And since my drinking is pretty minimal it only takes one martini and I am there along with the rest of the singers, loud and out of tune! But we have the best of times. Or that is what the martini’s are leading me to believe. And I sing better after imbibing a couple of martini’s. That, too, is the martini's fault.
Next day is two Excedrins, French toast and bacon with daughters, son-in-law and his parents. This has become a lovely tradition for us and allows everybody to do and go and be whatever they want for the afternoon. I usually want to be on the couch watching a movie that has been put into my stocking.
Since I brought my niece, Jessie, out from Pittsburgh for the holidays, it’s agreed we’ll go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a ham dinner. Some of the family have also showed up so we just sit around, eat, talk and I just keep wishing I could take a nap. This Christmas is a bit hard. Dad has just been diagnosed with cancer and it seems to be spreading rapidly. At 93, what are you going to do? And Mom is just getting smaller and frailer. This could be the last Christmas with both of them.
Finally, it’s all over except for the after Christmas sales that the girls and I hit with a vengeance. We mix it up with a little sushi and a movie and it’s been one of the best days ever. I am with my best friend, Joanie, daughter Kate, niece, Jessie and all is pretty darn wonderful.
Tomorrow night is New Years Eve. I’m sitting here thinking back over the last week and all I can do is smile. It really has been great. As far as I know there were no big fights, the left side of the family didn’t deck the right side of the family. Little brother started to make a comment and I just pointed my finger at him, glared and said “No”. I think a little fear is healthy.
Tomorrow night I will be attending the Moisture Festival in old Ballard. I have not a clue what I am getting myself into. I know it will be loud and colorful and probably weird and magical but I’m always willing to try new things. I need to go dig out my body glitter – that’s the kind of ball this will be.
Then nephew Bob comes in Thursday with his beautiful wife, Jeanne, and we have another party at my house for the whole family to see him on Saturday night. After all of the rich holiday food we have been eating, I will order pizza and make a salad. I will thenJess to the airport so she can fly home to Pittsburgh. I’m gonna miss my Baby Girl.
So as much as I dread the holidays they have a wonderful way of surprising me. They become so loving, so sweet and once again, they become a magical memory of Christmas Past.