It had been one of those years when Christmas just sneaks up on you, like a tinsel-covered ninja. Before I knew it, we were a week away from the big day and I was about a month behind. I still had a list as long as my arm of gifts to buy, Christmas cards that were half addressed waiting to be sent out, and an optimistic assortment of baked good waiting to be created. The stockings were not exactly hung by the chimney with care, and not only was I stirring, frankly, I was freaking out.
Because this was just the second year we lived in our house, I made the rookie mistake of using suction cup holders to afix the wreaths to all our windows. Basically, every time I pulled into our driveway, one of the seven wreaths across the front of our house had fallen off into the shrubbery below. My daily routine was to throw the car in park, grab the ladder from the garage, rustle around in the bushes, pluck out the wreath and try with all my might to stick that sucker back into place where it belonged. And did I mention that the garland framing our front door completely refused to stay up? If the right side was in place, the left side would droop and fall, or vice versa. No, no, no: this was not the picture of perfection I envisioned for household holiday splendor.
After a particularly miserable day in my little gray cubicle at work, I came home and, for the millionth time, surveyed the wreath chaos which had unfolded during the day. A girl can only fight the suction cup battle for so long before something snaps. And I suppose it did. In a fit of what some might call rage, but I prefer to label intense holiday cheer, I stormed inside looking for super glue. Mercifully, in my seeing red, spitting nails, smoke out of my ears state, I couldn't locate any, but I did find a heavy duty glue stick that was roughly the size of a can of tennis balls and went to work. By this time, my husband had arrived home, and he watched with a combination of curiosity and horror as I zealously glued each wreath to the window on which it belonged. I can't imagine that Elmer's has ever brought anyone such satisfaction.
When I finished my glue work, I stormed to the garage and returned with a hammer and some roughly two-inch long nails--a fistful of them. I climbed our eight foot ladder and used every ounce of noel I had in me to nail the entire length of garland into place. Yes, you read that right: I nailed our garland to the side of our house, using about a dozen nails, and it felt darn good. I'm pretty sure I came inside and had a good cry at that point, but I can tell you without hesitation that our decorations stayed put for the rest of the season until I was good and ready to pry them down.
It's easy for me to look back on all of it and laugh now. I've finally realized that Christmas is coming whether you're ready or not, and that it doesn't have to be perfect to be perfectly enjoyable. No one is going to notice if your garland takes a tumble or if those cookies don't get baked, or if you use gift bags instead of spending hours crafting perfect bows for all your presents (and if they do, send them back to Grinchtown where they belong).
The fact of the matter is that it really is the most wonderful time of the year, but if you don't stop and make yourself be in the moment, Christmas will pass you by. So enjoy the lights and decorations. Wear an ugly sweater. Revel in the fact that calories don't exist at Christmas. Give yourself a break and watch Clark and the Griswolds enjoy some quality family time, or feel for Ralphie as he pines away for his Red Rider BB gun, or join Buddy the Elf as he connects with his dad--who is (gasp!) on the naughty list. Put your feet up, take a big swig of eggnog, and savor it. And no matter how great the temptation may be, don't glue the wreaths to the windows. It kind of freaks out the neighbors.