Until the last five or so years (coinciding with husband's departure), my house was the Christmas gathering point beginning with Christmas Eve where every child under 18 received their Christmas Eve Bag full of goodies, continuing through a highly-family-traditionalized Christmas breakfast, ending with a Christmas evening dinner with friends. This concentration of holiday festivities demanded lots of planning. I would begin in the summer grabbing sale items off the end caps of big-box stores for gifts. By Christmas week, all presents were wrapped and ready because I would have to turn my attention to food.
Since I have been single, however, things have conspired to dwindle my Christmas activities down to almost nothing. First, following my husband's abandonment of me and his entire family, I went into a shock state that prohibited exact replication of past celebrations, although we went through the motions. In more recent years, there have been other factors, not the least of which is the aging and marrying of family "children," who now have the nerve to start their own traditions. I have surprised myself at how little I have minded the passing of this torch. It is as if all involved knew it was time, and it actually felt good to watch the activities unfold elsewhere, taking part exactly when and where I wanted to do so.
This year we are even one less, with the passing of my mother in May.
So, while my Christmas has been pared down considerably, there are still things to be done--and this year they have been put off, sadly, to the very last moment.
Realizing that this weekend was the last one before Christmas (!!!) I determined to get up at the crack of dawn and leave the house by 6:30 a.m. to be at Sam's Club when they opened at 7:00 a.m. This is the only time I will go there at any time--especially holidays--as the waiting in lines tends to be unreasonable at that store. I knew it would be the best place to buy our special rib roast for Christmas evening and to peruse for a few gifts I would need to pick up. So, this year the term "shopping early" took a slightly different meaning.
Now, I am an early riser and pride myself that I never require an alarm clock. Because of this cocky attitude, Hubris did its usual thing and let me oversleep. I opened my eyes at 6:30 a.m.
Realizing I was in deep, deep trouble, I jumped out of bed, washed my face/brushed teeth, threw on the first pair of jeans and shirt I ran across and ran out the door, again smug in the knowledge that none of my acquaintances would be crazy enough to be out that early.
I got to Sam's just as the doors opened. As I stumbled through the door and grabbed a complimentary styro-cup of weak coffee, I heard a loud and very nearby "Ho-Ho-Ho." I turned to look one of my lawyer colleagues squarely in the eye and shrank backwards at the thought of how rough I must look.
"John" had certainly had taken time to put his makeup on. He always sports a full, white beard and on this early holiday morning he had taken great pains with his appearance. He had on a Christmas-red jacket with (unbelievably) white trim, was wearing one of those floppy red Christmas hats with a big white fluffy ball on its point. He looked for all the world like St. Nick.
And he was jolly, which irritated me almost as much as getting caught in such a sloppy condition.
Furthermore he did not have the good graces to just leave me the Hell alone...oh, no! He had to engage, clearly happy in his Santa success (I could only hope that Hubris later got him, too...) It took me good five minutes (eternity) to disengage.
I managed to locate a beautiful rib roast, picked up a few incidentals and beat a hasty retreat to the seclusion of my car by 7:45 a.m.
Realizing that I needed a few grocery items (and knowing that I had already had my ego-shattering for the morning and, therefore, had immunity from any further such attack on my pride), I stopped in at Walmart next door to get milk, bread, yadayadayada. As I pushed my way into the produce isle, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned to see yet another lawyer greeting me. He, too, looked showered and refreshed. He, too, was holiday-happy to see me, which meant an actual conversation while I died knowing that I looked like Hell...a feeling I had only just begun to get over.
I disengaged, virtually ran through WalMart and fled home.
I'm done. The item or two I have yet to purchase will be picked up during my work days this week (only two), after which I will happily begin to plan and prepare our Christmas feasting, smaller though it may be. No more risking getting caught looking like a homeless bag lady by those on whom I normally need to make a power impression...at least this holiday season.
Son, MIL and I will enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. My brother and
Here's hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas, too.
--C, slinking off with only a shred of former pride...