Christmas Whirlwind

What is it about the holidays? The very time of year that I want to savor – to clear my calendar of most ‘to do’ items, hit the pause button, and just enjoy – instead finds me doing the opposite – rushing around in Energizer bunny fashion and definitely not stopping to smell the mistletoe.

Every year I promise myself that the next one will be different.

And, of course, it isn’t.

So, that this year is no exception is no big surprise. If anything, this year is even worse because the boys’ school break begins tomorrow (well, technically, Saturday but the last day before vacation is always a bit of a vacation, isn’t it?). To compound matters, I belatedly realized – last Friday – that any Christmas celebration would have to happen on that following Saturday.

(At least any Christmas celebration with gifts…we are going to Thailand for the break, and with our limited luggage allowance, every gram needs to be dedicated to shorts, sunscreen, and flip-flops, not PS3 games and Billabong sweaters the kids won’t wear in 80+ degrees).

In other words, after this minor revelation, I had less than 24 hours to shop, wrap, cook, as well as take care of 50 other things that I procrastinated on while I was enjoying my mom’s company in Istanbul.

Even worse? The kids hadn’t asked for anything for Christmas. Nada. Their Christmas lists were a big blank. Which you would think would make things easier on Santa.

(Well, they did express a wish for egg nog and Pop Tarts. I managed the egg nog, but you can’t really put egg nog under a Christmas Tree. As for Pop Tarts, they were a no-go as Turkey appears to be Pop Tart-less. )

Yes, you might think that no Christmas wishes = easy Christmas.

But you would be wrong.

Because, no matter how old a child becomes, they still remember the magical mornings when they awoke to a tree under whose decorated branches were piles of brightly wrapped gifts.

Big gifts.

(Oh, those were the days, when the gifts were big and inexpensive. Now it’s the exact opposite: any gift that might tempt the boys tends to be small and expensive…minus a car, of course, but that’s the advantage of living in countries where the driving age is 18. Unfortunately, the kids hadn’t even asked for something small and expensive.)

So, even though there were no wish lists communicated, there was still the expectation that Santa would work some kind of magic Christmas morning. At least, that was my expectation. I mean, the boys may be teens, but they still want – and deserve – Christmas, for Pete’s sake. Especially since it was our first Christmas in Turkey.

(And, as wonderful as Turkey is, it was still difficult uprooting the boys from the home they had known in Moscow for nine years. I couldn’t have their first Christmas in Turkey be a memory of a Scrooge-y Christmas devoid of gifts.)

A mad dash to the mall allowed me to scrape together enough Christmas gifts to convey some semblance of a visit from Santa. But, come on, “scrape” doesn’t belong in the same sentence with “Christmas.” A Christmas gift should be special, planned carefully over time and lovingly, leisurely picked out. Not done in a mad scramble to cover some bare space under the tree.

(Although, I did the mad scramble very lovingly.)

Which leads me back to the question why this time of year, that is so special and should be embraced and fully appreciated, tends to be fraught with too many things to do and too little time?

Obviously, I need to devise a better holiday season strategy.

A perfect thing to ponder from my lounge chair in Thailand where my only action item will be to do ab-so-lute-ly nothing.

(Which will explain why, depending on just how decadently aimless our days turn out to be, there may be no blog until the new year. So, just in case, warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

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