The whiteboard calendar in my mudroom meant to organize us says October, and it’s blank. There aren’t even numbers for the days—just the month “October” in black Sharpie at the top. No joke.
This weekend, post-Thanksgiving, I ate dessert for breakfast, dessert for snack, post-lunch dessert, and then pie. A brick of Gouda mashed potatoes remains in the fridge, and it will probably stick around for at least another week.
These days, on the westernmost side of the Mountain time zone, it’s as dark and cold as midnight at 5:00 am, and it takes me three-quarters of every workout just to break a sweat, which is negated almost immediately with a fistful of Goldfish while stuffing kid lunches.
My commute home from work is a death trap. Just last evening I had to open my driver’s side door at the end of an off-ramp and yell and wave at the woman behind me who had been blazing down the freeway in pitch black without headlights, nothing more than a shiny shadow switching lanes.
She finally got the message as we turned left onto 700 E, and she nearly swerved her burgundy KIA into my car just to give me the ‘thank you’ thumbs up. True story. Eyes on the road, people, lights ON.
But the holidays have arrived, friends, and are here to save us from the winter doldrums, right?
Earlier this week, on ‘Cyber Monday’, I spent the better part of an hour trying to find THE fleece jacket. By the way, who says ‘cyber’ anymore? Maybe the better question is, did anyone ever?
It seems that every year, about mid-November, I welcome the season with bad decisions and an uptick in irritability. Self-care goes from sweating and sleeping to shopping and sipping. My kids have faucet noses and low-grade kennel cough and ten thousand complaints about scratchy throats and bunchy socks.
Could someone please someone tell me the age when kids stop narrating every minor physical discomfort? Are anyone else’s children hypochondriacs? I’ve literally searched canker sore enough times that Google images autofills the search bar.
What is it about the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that makes me feel insane? It’s not magical; it’s clinical. Cray cray. All aboard the Polar Express to Crazytown. Choo choo!
I have some questions:
- Was holiday time always so hectic?
- Did I always get so many kid toy catalogs?
- Who in god’s name thought the world needed a robot dog, or a snowman sized egg with 14 minuscule plastic treasures that go through the wash and prick your instep in the middle of the night?
- And why do kids movies keep getting longer? I watched Incredibles 2 to with my kids and it was like Gone with the Wind. There should have been an intermission!
And how about the sheer volume of emails either marketing or requesting donations. Isn’t it clear to anyone other than my husband that I’m over-budget already?
On that note, wasn’t email supposed to make correspondence less of a pain in the ass? That’s an epic fail if ever there was one. Imagine for just a second that you receive as many letters as emails. We’d all live like a family of tax attorneys on Hoarders, skyscraper stacks floor to ceiling.
I’m strongly considering a digital Christmas card this year. Sorry, Mom, Aunt Kay, Kath, and almost no one else.
Okay, back to the holidays, and back in time for a second. Humor me.
Remember when you were dropped at the mall with a penciled list on wide-ruled paper with each of your relatives names on it and $10 in your pocket for each one? You parked in the frostbite section of the lot, hightailed it to Macy’s, bought some off-brand perfume, some blue plaid slippers, and then stopped at William-Sonoma for dish towels for your mom a tin of Mulled Cider for your teacher. Each check-off felt like triumph, and was really just means to an end, when you could link back up with your parents at the food court for Sbarro’s before a movie.
God, those were simpler times. Either the store had what you wanted or it didn’t, and you settled for something else. It wasn’t the gauntlet-throwing of today’s online shopping, which goads you not to take no for an answer. After all, ANYTHING CAN BE FOUND with the right amount of effort. Google taunts me: How good are you, really? And down the Amazon rabbit hole I go.
Now it’s all about the Perfect Gift—which must be high-quality, thoughtful, rare, and unexpected. And of course it’s got to be at the Best Price, which means it needs to be monitored and triple-checked, investigated, and cross-referenced in terms of reviews, secret web coupons, and whether or not free shipping can really get it there on time. I think at some point Monday on the fleece crusade I had 17 tabs open, while simultaneously texting a friend for a personal recommendation. See what I mean about the crazy?
This Quest for the Best pushes all of my perfectionist buttons. In my doggedness to find the Greatest Gift of All Time for each person on my list, it’s far too easy for me to miss the point, and to value the presents over presence.
Even so, in this crazy run-up to the Christmas chaos, I’m going to take a deep breath and give myself the benefit of the doubt. I love to find the perfect gift, and there’s no shame in that game. I love to see the joy in other’s faces when they fall in love with something they never knew they wanted.
And come January, I will dig myself out of a little debt, take a break from the wine, carbs, and sugar, and feel a wave of relief as the Polar Express slides back into the depot ‘til next year.
A Plea for Content
I’ve been told by some that I’m good with advice—that they come to me, specifically, for advice.
Who knows? Maybe I’ve just effed up enough to have some solid stories to save people from similar mishaps. Or maybe it’s the sheer amount of self-help podcasts I’ve consumed.
Or maybe I’m just an extraordinarily wise and evolved human being who’s figured it all out. Ha. See post above, or all other posts for that matter.
I think it’s more likely that I have a surplus of empathy and a mind full of sage quotes I’ve gathered. Regardless, I’m here to help, and I’d like to try my hand at being ‘Dear Abby.’
Here a few examples of my expertise, via
The Beth List
- My house is gross.
- My body is giving out before 40.
- My marriage is the best and the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
- I’m not sure I like my kids.
- I’m in the wrong job. Must I have a job?
- Will my atheism make my children soulless?
- Why do I keep watching steamy Outlander montages on YouTube late into the night?
Do you have something or someone you’re working on or through? Hit me up at email@example.com!