By Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register
How is your Christmas season coming along? So far, I’ve done about one nanosecond of all the things I need to get done.
If this were a marathon, I would have finished the first 10 feet, before stopping to pant and look around for cookies.
The biggest unfinished project or chore, depending on your outlook, is the ritual purchase of the tree.
I have grudgingly decided to get a real tree this year, after a comment from a faithful reader that was too true: That my kids soon will be grown and won’t care a whit what I do, because they’ll be lying on the beach in Hawaii with their spouses for Christmas while I’ll be sitting at home with the dog, watching the Pope give midnight mass in Rome.
So I guess I’ll give them what they want now, while they actually care, and then when they’re blowing off Dear Old Mom at Christmas to go to the Caribbean, I can get a fake one. Or maybe head to the Bahamas myself.
I’m hoping the rain will hold off long enough to make the trek to the cheap Christmas tree lot. I’m planning to give my kids some Prozac so they won’t bicker for an hour over which of 987 identical trees to pick.
It’s already becoming clear there will be no nicely wrapped plates of Christmas cookies delivered to the neighbors this year, at least none emanating from our house.
I actually never do this, you understand, but I always feel guilty that I don’t. One year, I bought adorable holiday cookie cutters, but after we made the cookies, we ate them all the same day. Then the cookie cutters got put away, never to be seen again. If you find them, let me know.
Then there’s the gift list to finish. Shopping for teens and tweens isn’t as much fun as when they were little, when you got to satisfy your own inner child.
One of the best things about having kids is that you get to relive your own childhood and make it come out the way you wanted back then.
You didn’t get a life-sized robotic stuffed pony when you were little, but you can give one to your kid now.
You didn’t get a giant Barbie dream house with real lights and actual swimming pool with weekly gardener, but your precious princess can get one now, thanks to slave labor in China.
The problem with shopping for older kids is that nothing they want was even invented when I was their age.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were no iPods or video games, no cellphones, no digital cameras, basically nothing that kids want these days. This makes my own personal wish fulfillment for my teens harder to come by.
And it is all about me, after all.
At least they had bicycles and scooters, so you might be able to guess what Santa is bringing to our house this year.
I have this quixotic goal of actually mailing my presents to loved ones far away before I have to pay for two-day airfreight. Every year, this is my Impossible Dream. And every year, I end up shelling out as much for shipping as I do for the gifts themselves.
My brother has just given up and started sending us all gift cards, which the kids love because they get to pick out their own presents. I do like getting gift cards, but I’m still firmly in the camp of sending real gifts, though at some point I might just abandon that and join the club.
Since I became a single mom, I have abandoned all my craft projects I used to do this time of year.
Now it’s just a race to complete a set of necessary tasks by Dec. 25, and try to have some fun along the way.
The craziest day is always Dec. 24, don’t you think?
Usually, I work all day, then madly wrap a few remaining gifts, bellow at the kids to hurry up and get ready, dash over to the church for the annual Christmas pageant and service, get home and fix dinner, bake cookies for Santa and put some carrots out for his reindeer, make the kids go to bed and then wait for them to go to sleep, before Santa can come and put out all their presents under the tree.
Santa doesn’t wrap the presents he leaves for them. My daughter Curly Girl was inquiring about this one year, but I explained that Santa gets tired.
I enjoy crawling into my bed on Christmas Eve, and I even like being awakened three hours later by kids who want to inform me that Santa has come, though I make them go back to bed until 6 a.m. When I was a child, my younger brother would always make me go in to wake up our parents, on the theory that our dad was less likely to whack me than him.
I’ve been warned by friends that this will be over soon, that teenagers sleep in on Christmas morning. That hasn’t happened yet, but I don’t know whether it will be good or bad.
What do you think?
Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-marla-jo-fisher/.