Monday, 3 December 2012

Holiday Hell: The Family Edition

   **Welcome Seleste deLaney!**
Now, don’t get me wrong based on the title. I love my family. I even like my in-laws from a distance. But right around Thanksgiving every year, this tightening starts to form across my shoulders. A nice massage makes it feel better for a while, but it comes back stronger than ever the next day. And the next.And the next. Depending on when exactly Thanksgiving falls, this works out to somewhere between five and six weeks of building stress.
It disappears on New Year’s Eve, which is when Holiday Hell ends (with the departure of the in-laws).
At the moment (the last week of November), it’s the shopping hell portion of the season. (Also the decorating portion, but as my kids get older, that’s not quite so frustrating—yay!) Other than a couple fill in things to even out their gift numbers, I had my kids done by Thanksgiving weekend. Yep, you read that right—DONE. (Cue jealous/angry grumbles on the other side of the internet.) The thing is, I’ve learned over the last several years that if I don’t get my shopping done, I will only be pummeled with the “well what should we get them” stress. No thank you. I’d rather chew on some C-4. So I shop early and get one thing out of the way. I’m also done with my nephews! Woot! Though I’m currently waiting for someone to tell me I wasn’t supposed to actually buy from their Amazon lists yet. (Too bad. All done. Get over it.)
In theory, this means shopping hell is over. But! Not so fast. No one has determined if we’re doing a gift exchange between the adults or not. (My side of the family stopped years ago, and my parents get cranky if we do anything other than gift cards for restaurants.) So, at the moment, I’m sitting here pondering the next stage while being poked in the back of the skull with the nagging thought of “am I really done?” The short answer is probably not. It will come up shortly that we are indeed exchanging gifts, but we’ll be doing it differently this year. What that means, I have no clue. Only that it will be a change and therefore cannot be prepared for in advance. Surprise! Happy holidays!
So, in the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a baking schedule. Every year I promise to start limiting how many cookies I make. Every year I end up finding new recipes. (Fuck you, Pinterest! *ahem*). On a high note, my daughter ate one of the ingredients for one of the more labor intensive cookies (also my favorite, but I digress) and they are really hard to come by at this time of year. (Honestly, I’ve only ever seen them in stores at Valentine’s Day. Thankfully, they have a long shelf life. Sadly, my shelves are short and my daughter is tricksy.) But on tap for this year are:
Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Chip
Peanut Butter Cookies (half with mini-M&Ms/half without)
Nutella Cookies
Soft Brown Sugar Cookies
…and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Don't forget the Arts & Crafts! This is the wreath the kids & I made after Thanksgiving!
Good thing I like the baking part. It’s what keeps me sane when the card madness rolls around. Every stinking year, I say “I’m not doing cards this year. They’re bad for the environment, a waste of money, and a shit-load of time.” Every stinking year I end up doing some anyway. I have knocked it down from over a hundred to between 40 and 60, so… baby steps. But, that stress will start about the 10th of December when it’s getting to be crunch time for the mail and crunch time for me, and my head will threaten to explode.
Because this will also be when the incessant phone calls and emails will start. Not the awesome “Hey, happy holidays! I missed you!” calls. No, these will be the ill-timed “what are you bringing for hors d’oeuvres” and “who is sleeping where?” and “don’t get us anything special but please have x, y, and z” and “do we need to bring wrapping paper?” These go on until I get to the point where I find myself with hand cramps from making too-tight fists as I threaten to scream “I don’t care and a Merry-fucking-Christmas to you too” into the phone. (I don’t. I just really want to. A lot.)
The thing is holidays never happen as planned. NEVER. This is a fact of life. It can go from the simple (My siblings bought my son this video game for his birthday that he’d been chomping at the bit for for months—he barely blinked at it when he opened the box. Granted he played with the thing non-stop for two months after.) to the extreme (Forgetting to set the timer for dinner and evacuating the house as all the smoke detectors go off.) But something always goes wrong.
So this year, I am once again trying to stave off the drinking part of holiday hell preparation by expecting everything to go wrong. Shopping will happen the day before gift exchange. Half the cookies will burn to a crisp. Cards will be sent without stamps. I will slip and scream at someone on the phone. “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” will get stuck in my head for at least four weeks on auto-repeat. Hopefully I don’t burn the kitchen down, but it might happen.
This attitude, quite honestly, is the only thing keeping me from needing a massage already. Anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?
Of course, if any of you wants to send me a sexy massage therapist to be at my beck and call for the season, I really wouldn’t say no. In fact, I’d probably send you a card. And maybe even some cookies (non-burnt ones). 
Happy Holidays, everyone! I wish you a month of holiday sanity so that your drinking this season maybe by choice and not some desperate grab for peace and goodwill. 
The latest installment in Seleste’sSanta’s Naughty Elves series of short stories (A Few of My Favorite Things) releases today as part of Evernight Publishing’s A Vanilla-Free Christmas anthology. (It’s kink, people, be warned… or excited… or both.)
If elves aren’t your thing, you can find Seleste all over the internet on her website, her blog, Twitter, her Facebook profile, Facebook author page, Pinterest, as well as a few group blogs she contributes to regularly. 


Maureen said...

Husband and I have talked of escaping the holidays and taking a cruise. A nice, long cruise.

Yes, we will do anything to avoid holiday insanity. And we do nothing compared to you!

Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

Cruise! Ditching the holidays and running off would be soooooo nice <3

Faith said...

I do not go out amongst the masses from about two or three days before Thanksgiving until Christmas is over. New Year's isn't too bad in our li'l local hick towns because folks know to buy their booze and eats before Christmas to avoid the mess over in the big towns.

Anyway, my temper is like Greek Fire when I have to deal with crowds and rude people, so I do 99% of my gift shopping online. I recently signed up for PayPal's Bill Me and I got pre-Black Friday prices plus free shipping and an additional 20% off across the Toys R Us cyber store as well as Justice for teen girls. All together I got the kids' gifts for under $300. I'm a happy camper and didn't have to leave the house, LOL!

Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

It's funny because I actually like a lot of the build-up... until other people start getting involved. That's where my headaches come in. If I could just do my own thing and not talk to anyone else between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'd be much happier.

Why can't people just show up and be happy? WHY????