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ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Surviving the Christmas race


The rush of the holidays can get the best of us, but hopefully there’s time to relax and enjoy. - 123RF
The rush of the holidays can get the best of us, but hopefully there’s time to relax and enjoy. - 123RF

The next two weeks are the most frantic of our lives. It suddenly occurs to us that Christmas is almost here. How did that happen? We had such a great summer and the leaves in October were glorious. So, how can it be that another year is almost over? What happened to all our plans for 2018? Another year disappearing into the annals of time. Another decade gone without our bucket list complete.

But we’ll have to weep about our lost dreams another time because right now we have to pick up Christmas wrapping paper or at least slog through the basement and find the rolls that didn’t get used last year. If you haven’t sent Christmas cards by now, you might as well forget them, which was our plan all along, if we’re honest.

Trips to Sobeys are endless now, for poultry seasoning and cranberry jelly, as well as Eagle Brand milk and graham cracker crumbs. You spend hours on the internet trying to find recipes for the vegetarians and vegans in the family. Bad enough you have to roast a turkey, but now you’re elbow deep in chickpea, turmeric and coconut milk recipes.

Christmas baking is in full swing, which is a chore for some and a joy for others. I have a foot in each camp. I love the idea of making my families favourite cookies, but it’s the trying not to eat them that’s the hard part. I tend to put a lot of cookies in the freezer, but as everyone knows, there’s nothing better than a frozen cookie with a hot cup of tea. My kids hate when I put tins in the freezer, but how else do you keep things fresh through the holiday season?

I love using my grandmother’s shortbread cookie cutter. It’s the highlight of December for me. My sentimentality is growing by leaps and bounds as I get older. I cry now decorating the Christmas tree with the same ornaments we’ve had all our lives, but that’s the point. These things have been a witness to every Christmas we’ve had as a family and now that one of our children can’t come home this year, I’ll be bawling as I hang up the reindeer ornament she made for us in Grade 2.

Hopefully by now you’ll have a few gifts bought and wrapped. If I shop too early I can’t remember what I bought, so it’s never a good idea for me to shop in November. Everyone keeps talking about buying on-line, but I can’t seem to get in the Christmas spirit, without joining the hoards at the mall and standing in line-ups. It feels like I’m cheating when I click buttons on the computer.

Of course, hubby complains if I say maybe I’ll get the kids some gift cards.

“That’s not a Christmas gift!”

“They like getting them.”

“A piece of plastic. Bah humbug.”

“A piece of plastic worth $100.”

“Why can’t they rip open a pair of boring wool socks like we did? Why does everything have to be sleek, thin and convenient?”

“OK, you go out and buy them Christmas gifts.”

“Fine. They both need more tools. I’ll go to Canadian Tire.”

“Well, you have the boring part down pat.”

Decorating the inside and outside of the house is now top priority during these two final weeks and a sense of urgency makes your temples throb. Your best bet is to not look at decorating magazines at store check-out counters. They will only depress you. Trying to find white or clear light bulbs now is a lost cause. Grumbling under your breath at your spouse, as you hang up ropes of lights around the fir tree out front, is now a time-honoured tradition.

Where is the padded table liner? Where is the red tablecloth? Or the green tablecloth for that matter? Where are the Christmas linen napkins? Where are the sliver napkin rings? Where’s your mother’s wooden chest with all the silverware encased inside in red velvet slots? You use these things once a year and every year you forget where you put them for safekeeping.

Every year, I put up an old handmade Advent Calendar the kids have had since they were little, and every year I promise myself that I’ll fix it, but every year I end up sticking the felt ornaments back on with scotch tape instead of gluing pieces of Velcro to the back of them, so they’ll stop hanging by a thread every time someone opens the hallway door. Last year, Santa Claus had four pieces of folded-over Scotch-Tape hanging off the back of his jacket.

It’s the same steeple-chase every year, but isn’t it lovely to be able to do it?

Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and two fat cats who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is being released this fall.

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