The day after Thanksgiving we created giving books with the younger kids. A whole book filled with all their young ideas of ways we could have a positive impact and then they would journal that memory in these home made books. Two of the girls named their journals "My giving book" and seemed earnestly dedicated to filling the pages with humanitarianism. The youngest named hers "turkey love turkey". (I haven't totally given up on a full ride scholarship for her collegiate future despite the obvious evidence that there is a very slim chance) Charlie and I were off to a great start. We helped my nine year old clean out the pantry and donate all sorts of goodies to a canned food drive. In all honesty it was a lot of cans of crap we don't really like and have no recollection of purchasing. For example cream of mushroom, a very mysterious and very large jar of mayonnaise, stewed tomatoes, etc. But to balance it out we threw in a lot of macaroni and cheese boxes and spaghetti sauce. In hindsight it was less sacrifice and more opportunity, which seems wrong but at the time felt so right. So Christmasy right.
We decorated. We got all sorts of Christmas on this abode. If it was a solid structure we nailed a light to it. We put TWO, that's right TWO Christmas trees up in this house. We hung a wreath on everything. And then stapled lights to those wreaths. We even bought a snow globe and displayed it proudly on the mantel.
And then we were like "kids! you should make a list and send it to Santa!! So much fun. Weeeee!" and the younger kids put pen to paper and their letters were as adorable as they were illegible. And then me and old Christmas spirit Charlie were like "Hey you older kids. You should drop a few hints! wink wink nudge nudge." and the older kids were pretty modest in their Christmas desires which made me proud. Because when your child is so content and so humble that they can't even think of one Christmas wish, you feel like you're doing something right as a parent. It was only later after Charlie and I drifted apart that I realized my older children weren't humble. Those sweet little angels can't think of anything to wish for because THEY ALREADY OWN EVERYTHING!!!
It was around Mid December that I noticed there were "issues" between Charlie and I. We were definitely growing apart. Spending a lot less time together, and the time we did manage to share was not quality. Perhaps we were not as perfect a couple as I had originally believed. I didn't want to accept that Charlie, my Charlie, my Christmas Spirit Charlie, was leaving me. So.....I got really clingy. I gathered the children and we fled to the city to spend a weekend. The hotel had a lobby straight out of 50's era Christmas movies. It was grand and marble and gold and it sparkled and glittered and we stood in the shadow of a giant Christmas tree. We saw all the city holiday displays and lights. We ran around the hotel in our Christmas jammies, we basked in the glory of the elaborately decorated shop windows, we were amazed by a giant ginger bread house prepared by the acclaimed hotel chef. I drank so much hot cocoa by a fire, I started to piss miniature marshmallows. Charlie and I were in love again. Two operating as one. I was in Charlies Christmas spirit embrace as I sung carols. And then we went home.
Then my daughter had her annual Christmas party. (Can I just say completely off topic. Kids smell bad. The more kids you put in to a small space the more amplified that smell becomes. It took me a week to find aromatic balance in the house again.) I noticed Charlie kept disappearing during the party. He was there when we welcomed our guests but disappeared when they decorated cookies. Perhaps Christmas spirit charlie just isn't a fan of sticky fingered kids getting frosting all over the table, the floor, the couch, even the dog. He reappeared for a fun Christmas photo but went missing when those girls with their high pitched squeals were caught jumping on my couch. He was completely MIA during the clean up.
Then the shopping began. I of course brought Charlie along for the drive but once we passed those automatic sliding doors my love for Charlie was no match for my hatred of crowds. I really hate crowds. As soon as there is more than four people in any room, I feel an almost irrational desire to leave. Making any shopping but especially Christmas shopping a heinous chore. But I got out there and I got it done. Because Charlie and I had that goal that was becoming less defined every passing hour but I vaguely remembered it had something to do with having a nice day on the 25th.
I wrapped my gifts and I put them under the tree. But I could still see so much tree skirt. That's when Charlie started pressuring me. He didn't have to try hard. I really wanted to keep Charlie in my life. So I clearly needed to go get more Christmas. And then more Christmas. And then more Christmas, this time "thoughtful Christmas" I really needed to tap in to the souls of my loved ones and fill their voids! And then more Christmas, this time "fun Christmas" because I was being too thoughtful and too serious and I just wanted to make my loved ones smile. And then after the Christmas budget had been depleted Charlie suggested we tap in to my savings he kept screaming "YOLO bitch! Y-O-L-O YOLO!" So I had to get more Christmas. The list kept growing but it didn't feel as glutinous as it sounds. I started with the kids, then my adorable boyfriend, and then my parents, can't forget my sibling, my nieces, my nephews, then the neighbors, co-workers, and the teachers I can't forget the teachers, speaking of teachers what about those outside of school? We've got drum lessons, guitar lessons, bass lessons, voice lessons, musical theater group, jazz, hip-hop. My kids have friends and with 5 kids that's another twenty or so gifts. I don't know what to get any of them! Even my own children. Why have I not gotten to know them better? I found myself asking clerks "Will my son like this? he's 12 and he's a boy and apparently that's all I know about him!" And what about all my planned charity? I still needed to secret toy sub santa for tots!!! I think Charlie left for good when I was contemplating getting the neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and friends a bag of nuts or chapstick. I do not recall why either seemed appropriate but both were on sale. What about my boyfriend? I got him the most amazing gift last year. I peaked. No gift will ever be as sweet and unexpected and now it will just be year after year of total disappointment. He'll open his gift and say thank you but in his eyes I'll see him thinking, "remember that year that you got me something I actually wanted? that was nice"
And then there are those damn elves. Elf on a shelf is as serious as getting a tattoo. Trust me, I have a lot of tattoos and two elves. Its the same. Not just comparable, the same. It's a commitment. A forever commitment. I can't just stop or my youngest will have abandonment issues but it's taken a left turn and spiraling down hill fast. Yesterday she taped a $10 dollar bill to an elf. I asked her why and she said it was so he would tell Santa she was being a good girl. KEEP IN MIND SHE STOLE THAT $10 FROM ME!! These elves have not encouraged her to behave so that Santa gets a good report they have shown her a loophole in the system. She doesn't actually have to behave, the elves just have to say she did and Gwen believes every elf has a price. For the last week instead of brainstorming ideas for staging those two elves in cute and clever ways, I've been brainstorming ideas to make their tragic ending look like an accident. Charlie isn't here to stop me.
There are too many and yet not enough Christmas gatherings to attend. I've got classroom parties, choir performances, dance recitals, family parties, and a work gathering. And here is the great part, 90% ARE ALL ON THE SAME NIGHT. WTF?! I've decided if I ever host a Christmas party it will be on November 2nd and when my invitee's whine "it's not even Christmas yet" I will respond "exactly! That's why this should be fun." Christmas is a week away and I can only assume Charlie is dead. While trying to think of a game for a classroom full of fourth graders the only game I got excited about was a game I call "shut the #@$% up and eat your cookie." I can't play that though or they'll never let me volunteer in the class again. Oh hell. Did you see what just happened? The inevitable consequences just made that game sound more brilliant!
Somehow I have to resurrect Charlie. The way things are going if I continue to Christmas solo I am going to do irreversible psychological and emotional damage to a lot of children. It's officially a crisis. Elves will die. I still haven't bought a single present for my boyfriend. That is going to make Christmas morning sooooo awkward. But I just really don't want to do any more shopping at all and I gotta be honest when I compare the two: Christmas shopping vs no gift for a loved one. The latter seems more tolerable right? Please someone agree with me.
I'm not going to give up. There are seven days left. I am going to enjoy the shit out of all seven of them. I'm going to find that perfect gift for that perfect guy because I still have like $10.00 I think. I'm going to relax and enjoy the moment. I'm going to put the ladder used to nail lights to trees back in the garage before it snows again and I'm going to sit in front of a fire and sip marshmallow pissing quantities of cocoa. Oh wait just a minute! I've been so blind. Wine! Wine is my best friend. I named wine, wine. because I can still say wine after hanging out with wine for long periods of time. I'm going to guzzle marshmallow pissing quantities of wine by a fire. Charlie will probably reanimate just to hang out with us. Because me and wine go together like me and wine. Hallelujah! I think I just saved Christmas!! Sometimes asking yourself "WWJD?" will lead you straight to the answer you've been seeking. Cheers! Jesus and happy birthday.