A Simple Christmas Tale in Several Scattered Parts

Posted by Kathy on Dec 27, 2013 in Uncategorized |

DSC_0149This was the year, if ever there were one, to keep Christmas simple.

In October (a full six months after my usual holiday shopping begins) I started planning, listing, gathering, ordering, and keeping an eye on the budget because when your husband has a brain tumor, life is unexpected and expenses add up. There are extra bandages, various medical supplies, and the mounting need for ice cream, a direct result of the cravings brought on by the medication Ted is on. OK, the ice cream is for me, but the Bible tells us not to judge. And hey, it’s Christmastime (yes, there are still a full eleven days left to celebrate, so bring on the mocha chocolate chip, please.)

I believe the Magi set a fine example for us by 1) taking a journey to see the newborn king, and 2) selflessly bringing gifts. And you can be sure they stopped at a Starbucks along the way. I follow their example.

October: I ask Ted what we should get for his side of the family.

“Nothing,” he says. “We all made a decision long ago not to exchange gifts anymore.”

That’s ridiculous. I make my own list of deserving in-laws and check last year’s notes to see who sent us what. Even the magi had to draw lines somewhere. Simplify. Yeah. That feels good.

November: I tell family and friends we’re keeping things very simple this year. They get it.

At each trip to any store or coffee shop, anywhere, I pick up little things. Best not to wait ‘til the last minute. I check online specials, sign up for free shipping from a huge online conglomerate, and remember to shop small local stores to balance giving in to feeding corporate greed and to relieve my social conscience. I empty my pocketbook (the barrel otherwise known as Mount Vesuvius) weekly of stuffed-in credit card receipts. To keep things simple.

December: I’m in a panic.

“Ted,” I say, “Christmas is early this year. What about stuff for your family?!?”

Ted looks at me and looks back at the TV.

I avoid trying to explain to him why Christmas, still on the 25th, is early, and proceed to shop and gather, check list – um, lists – and re-organize. Simple things. I hunt for piles of stored gifts and buy more nuts and chocolate. Just in case. I plan baking, plan meals, plan – oh, heck. I make more lists and then make new ones for the ones that have vanished, keeping in mind the simple, lovely message of Christmas.

Christmas Eve: Things fall into place. A spontaneous doctor’s visit gets squeezed in. Gifts are wrapped, sleep is a distant memory, we are mostly still vertical, and the refrigerator has that wonderful look of I-Don’t-Need-To-Go-To-The-Store-For-A-Month look, which usually means there will be a power outage.

I somehow get myself and my husband to a packed church mass. Never mind the details. But let’s just say the parking lot feels like Grand Central Station – unfortunately, without the pretzel and pizza vendors.

Christmas: Family arrives: food, laughter, preparations, gift-giving, warmth, games, and more food. Uncle Steve brings a salad, all prepared. The special menu focused on individual food preferences and dietary constraints is a success, with angels looking strikingly like a daughter and a cousin-in-law-turned-sisterfriend, who offer the extra hands and hearts needed for this weary Christmas woman. The frenzy turns to joy, the worries to reassurance, and the cookies to girth.

The phone call later to my other daughter, far away, brings a new perspective.

“Mom,” she says, “Thank you for everything you sent – so much stuff! But I thought you were going to keep things simple this year.”

And then I realize I did. I kept it simple, all right.

Over and over and over again.

8 Comments

Milly Morabito
Dec 27, 2013 at 4:38 am

Thank you for sharing your beautiful family/friends Holliday Special.

I am so thankful to have beautiful memories of years ago from Christmas Eve and Day with family :: extended family and friends. I was luckier than most …….

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Kathy Reply:

Thank you, dear friend!! I don’t know if I saw this comment a while back – but if I neglected it among some other very kind words, chalk it up to retail over-do!!!! xox

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Nancy Burnell McMinn
Dec 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

You have such a great way with words !! Truly enjoyed reading about the preparations and the enjoyment of the Christmas Holiday.
Wishing you a Happy 2014.

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Kathy Reply:

Oh, Nancy – thank you. Here it is March 1st and who knows if I ever replied to this kind comment of yours. Yikes! To-do list: learn to use my own blog!!

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Jerry Zezima
Dec 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Sweet, simple and funny. Thank you, Kathy, for this slightly belated Christmas gift to your many friends and fans, including, of course, yours truly. May you and Ted, and your whole family, enjoy a new year filled, as your years always are, with love and laughter.

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Kathy Reply:

It’s probably a little late to say thank you for this comment – but then again, we could say it’s early for next Christmas. Thanks, Jerry!

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Cathy Turney
Dec 28, 2013 at 4:26 am

You are a gift to everyone who knows you, Kathy!

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Kathy Reply:

A very belated thank you for your comment. After I finish buying stuff, I need to get a tutorial on blog-use! Thanks again, Cathy 🙂

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