My older daughter offered the suggestion that I take a temporary break from my daily clump to reflect upon my holiday challenge. It was the “No-Sweat November for a Stress-Free December: Operation Enjoy Christmas Challenge.” (As my son pointed out, a title with the bombastic tone of a segment on The Colbert Report.)
In short, challenging myself to start on the Christmas to-do list earlier than usual helped me a great deal. But I was overly optimistic in my visions of a sugar-plum-laden December. I imagined visiting Longwood Gardens (pictured below) for all their festive holiday events. Didn’t happen once. Plays, shows, The Nutcracker Ballet? Nope.
I did manage a few small victories, which would have been unthinkable in previous years. I hosted a holiday get together for the neighborhood ladies. I snuck off to see It’s A Wonderful Life, in a theater, which was, indeed, wonderful. I took advantage of “Cyber Monday” and got some good deals with free shipping. I was finally able to order one gift that, for so many years, had eluded my grasp because I would always remember it too late: a plaque with a picture of my father-in-law and some inspiring words my husband wrote on the occasion of his death. For the first time ever (?) friends and family received our Christmas cards before Christmas.
I even had time to have a tee-shirt made for all our Christmas morning revelers. It was a design we fell in love with this summer in Portland, Maine. The tee-shirt maker, Ferdinand, made up the sizes I needed, just right for our musical gang.
But Christmas morning was, again, a time of bone-crushing exhaustion. In sad, cynical opposition to the heart-warming coda to How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the exhaustion came even with starting early … it came with wrapping presents in November … it came with getting the cards ordered and written before the 24th …
Yesterday my husband had me watch the season three finale of Louie, the dark comedy by the brilliant comedian, Louis C.K. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s a surreal depiction of a parent’s quest to provide the perfect Christmas, and the dreamlike aftermath.
Here is a clip, the doll scene, in which he releases a sob that I experienced viscerally.
And now, just like Louie, all I want to do is sleep.