Fruitcake and shame

I used to think I knew holiday stress.  I was wrong.  Turns out all those years of scrambling around to buy presents, decorate the house, and plan the dysfunctional family meal were nothing.  Doing all of that stuff “for the last time” in a house that is being systematically dismantled for a January departure is whole different kettle of egg nog.

We’ve got dueling To-Do lists this year.  Get rid of the furniture vs. host Christmas dinner.  Send Christmas cards vs. send the cat to be inspected by a USDA approved veterinarian.  I could go on.

The one thing that is quite a bit easier, however, is gifts.  We’re being extra generous this year.

“Merry Christmas, here’s a couch!”

“You’re like a step-nephew to me, have an electric guitar.”

“Someday you’re going to grow up and meet the woman who steals your heart the way your mother did mine.  One thing will lead to another and suddenly you’ll need a lawnmower like this one.  Merry Christmas boy!”

As for receiving gifts, that’s simply not possible I’m afraid.  We won’t have room in the Jeep for food processors with 17 bonus attachments.

Suddenly all of those animated television specials about the true meaning of Christmas seem to resonate in ways that they didn’t the first 48 times I watched.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

I promise to write a post about the rents and prices we’ll be paying down in Loreto very soon.  But right now, as you can tell, my mind is on things that aren’t things.  Kids and grandkids who are doing their best to keep their chins up.  Mothers who just want us to be safe.  Friends and co-workers looking on with varying degrees of excitement, envy and concern in their hearts.  You, continuing to provide encouragement and support even as you ponder your own best way to find better days ahead.  Diana, currently asleep at my side, but soon to awaken to another day of worrying about all of the above as only a mother will.  And my Dad, getting ready to leave the country for the first time since fighting in the Korean war.

The Holidays have a way of putting everything under a magnifying glass.  As if what we’re trying to pull off here weren’t already big enough.  Whenever I get truly overwhelmed though, I just think of watching the Super Bowl–hopefully involving the Denver Broncos–over fish tacos and cold Do Equis beer.  It works for a while.

In the meantime Happy Holidays to everyone.  And thanks again for being such great friends and confidantes in 2012.