Have you heard the pop of the starting gun? Can you feel the race, in full swing? Halloween is over. Now it’s a full sprint to Christmas. Parent teacher conferences, minimum days, Thanksgiving and then Winter Break. The line-up is a little overwhelming, and to be honest, I’m feeling a little exhausted just thinking about it.
The euphoria of putting the kids back in school is long gone. The schedule has become brutal and all of us are petering out. Even some of my kids’ teachers have been hoping to fast forward the rest of fall. “Mom, can you sign my Science Fair entry?” Olivia asked me the other day. Science Fair? Panic sets in. That isn’t supposed to be squeezed into the fall packed schedule? “It’s after break, they just want us to start thinking about it.” And that’s when I know the ship has hit some rocky waters, one more wave and we may all go overboard.
“I just scheduled our family Christmas card photo,” another parent told me while we volunteered at the class Halloween party together a couple weeks back. “I have been combing through Pinterest looking for ideas. I really want something different, more creative this year. What are you going to do?” she asked me. Ummm. I think maybe I’ll point, shoot, pray and then print.
“So, the day after Thanksgiving, you guys are coming to LA, right?” my brother-in-law called me to wish me happy birthday and inevitably started talking about holiday plans. I had attempted to keep things simple, host Thanksgiving at our house. (I flirted briefly with the Thanksgivukkah route as the first night of Hanukkah is also Thanksgiving but the turkey menorah project was too much.) Half of the family will be in LA. Instead of holding my ground, I waffled. My dream of staying home for four glorious days has turned into a nightmare: we now will share dinner with ten people at our house then pile in the car the next day, face the holiday traffic and do it again with twenty. At least it will keep me out of the Black Friday mania.
“What are we doing for the boys' birthday?” I got an email from my sister-in-law who lives back East. She is always a planner; every year I get the email right after trick or treating about the boys’ December birthday. She wants to coordinate their gifts. Then Jackson starts in. He is dying to have a beach party with every person he considers remotely to be his friend, "Mom I have to invite all these guys,” he told me with an alarmingly deeper voice, “I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and they're all sic."
“It might rain Jax, not sure a beach party is the right route,” I tell him, wondering why they were all sick.
“Then maybe I’ll just have a campout in the backyard.”
And the kid is graduating from elementary school this year? I picture it -ten eleven year boys hanging in our little house trying to roast hotdogs in our fireplace while it’s pouring outside. I’ll do my best to get them not to knock over the Christmas tree.
Finally, I start seeing the commercials with hot chocolate, Santa and pure joy and wonder why I am so Scrooged? Over the years, the holidays have beaten me down. Alpha, hates the materialism, encouraging me to not buy in. But then, like clockwork, when his grandmother calls to wish us “Merry Christmas”, he mouths, “What did we get her?” I have learned, and I am becoming more of a planner. Systematically tackling my holiday to-dos with the precision of an army Ranger taking down an al-Qaeda operative.
We have just under two months to squeeze it all in. I want to wish all those parents out there good luck. And may the one with the most endurance win. The thing is though, I’m not sure there is ever a winner until December 26.