When I was a child, it took forever for Christmas Eve to arrive. The month from Thanksgiving to December 24 was agony. Decorations everywhere, Christmas music, making my list from the Sears and JCPenny Wish Books, and the preliminary parties at school and with extended family added to the excitement and the suspense. Would Christmas EVER get here?
Now, Christmas music and decorations show up in stores weeks before Halloween. ”Too early,” I complain. Christmas trees in commercials on Halloween. ”Too early.” The radio station goes all Christmas, all the time on November 1. Again, “too early.”
“Too early” is now ingrained in my brain. It’s planted itself in my subconscious, so that when Black Friday is come and gone, my mind is still saying, “too early.” It’s so entrenched that when Christmas Eve is here, I’m sitting in my living room, staring at the Christmas tree, and telling my kids to go to sleep or Santa won’t come, and I’m in shock.
How is today Christmas Eve? I haven’t watched that one Christmas movie yet. I didn’t make baklava. We didn’t go out looking at Christmas lights in our pajamas. What have I been doing for the past month?
The answer isn’t pretty.
I’ve been yelling at my kids. A lot. I’ve been hating my job. I’ve been tired, no, exhausted. I’ve been complaining–my back/feet/neck/head hurts, I’m broke, I’m too busy. It’s TOO EARLY.
And now, it’s too late.
Christmas is over and done. It’s time to take down the meager decorations I put up this year. School and work starts back in less than a week. The wonderful Salvation Army man who sings Christmas carols has packed up his bell and bucket from the grocery store entryway. Worst of all, when I turn on the radio, Burl Ives isn’t singing “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Maroon Five and Christina Aguilera are singing “Moves Like Jagger.” (Gag.)
Christmas is over and I’ve missed it because I was being a Grinch.
I can handle missing some movies, Christmas lights, and baklava but I am guilt-ridden mess for the way I’ve treated my kids. Were they loud? Yes. Did they stay up too late? Yep. Did they argue a lot? Oh yeah. Were they bouncing off the walls and making messes and talking too much and generally annoying the crap out of me? Absolutely.
But so what? They were excited about Christmas. Like I was when I was their age. And, like them, I’m sure I was loud and obnoxious, but I don’t remember my mom yelling at me for it. Who does that? Kids express excitement by doing all those things above. They can’t help it. Me, as Mom, knows that and should cut them some slack. Instead, I ranted and raved at them and about them for most of the Christmas vacation. For shame.
Well, I have exactly 6 more days to make up for that. I’ll be more understanding. I’ll not yell. I’ll gently break up arguments and fights. I’ll find something constructive for them to do when they moan, “I’m booooorrrrred.” Look out, June Cleaver, there’s a new mom in town.
As for next Christmas? As soon as I see Christmas decorations on the store shelves, I’m putting up the Christmas lights, using the house from the movie “Christmas Vacation” (which will be in the Blu-Ray player) as inspiration, and starting the honey sauce for the baklava. Judging from current trends, this might happen in September. If so, maybe everyone will assume I’m celebrating Constitution Week.
Christmas will not sneak up on me next year! In fact, I’m telling the husband that if he hears me utter the words, “too early,” he has permission to hit me upside the head with a roll of Christmas wrapping paper or perhaps a decorative tin full of santa cookies. If he balks at the idea, I’ll just remind him of Christmas 2011. I’ll be seeing stars in no time.