Christmas is approaching and I've not yet recuperated from last year. Truth be known, I've been curled up on the floor of my closet, in a fetal position, unable to face the inevitable. I know it's supposed to be a cheerful time of year. If asked to depict a typical holiday scene, most people would probably describe a smiling family sitting around the dining room table enjoying a festive Christmas dinner. Maybe their vision would include children sitting cross-legged in front of a Christmas tree, or a roaring fire, unwrapping gifts, while Fido struggles to remove an annoying red bow from around his neck.
Unfortunately, I don't see Christmas that way anymore. Rather than face the insanity that the holiday brings, I would opt to be audited by the IRS, in a dentist's chair, during a root canal. Maybe I haven't expressed myself strongly enough: I would rather have George Clooney show up at my door with a box of chocolates, and a bouquet of roses, and find me with cold cream smeared over my face, curlers in my hair and a huge pimple on my nose.
I can hear your hisses and bah humbugs, but I can't help it. I don't know how to take on the added work and stress that holidays bring without becoming flustered, exhausted, emotionally depleted, and teary eyed.
Some people find pleasure in writing gift lists, hunting for parking spaces in crowded malls, and battling crazed shoppers for the toy of the season. I've been told they even enjoy waiting in long lines at the cash register because it energizes them, and puts them in the holiday spirit.
Some people take delight in addressing scores of Christmas card envelopes, planning the holiday menu, cooking, baking, and hunting for decorations. They even like polishing silver, ironing table clothes, creating center pieces, shopping for presents, and decorating their home and the Christmas tree.
Uh uh. Not me.
For me, trying to maintain sanity and a semblance of organization throughout the rest of the year is challenging enough. I stick Post-It Notes on my headboard to remind me to change the sheets. I don't remember to go marketing until I discover there's nothing in my fridge except a container of sour milk and a "fur" covered Jell-O mold I forgot to serve at a party three months earlier. I'm so disorganized I create daily lists of things to do, then lose them. I make life-changing goals before going to bed, and completely forget about them by sunrise. I show up at the doctor's office when I should be at the hair dresser. I arrive one week late for weddings. Add the Christmas holiday bedlam to my dysfunctional, hyperactive, overloaded brain and you're simply asking for more than it can handle.
For years I hosted Chanukah parties. Everyone enjoyed them. Then one of my sons married a Greek Orthodox girl, my daughter married a Spanish Catholic boy, and I found myself a nice Italian Catholic. Suddenly, two holidays had to be recognized. Normal hectic turned into sweaty pandemonium as a slew of new and unfamiliar traditions and responsibilities were added to my life. My tiny eight inch tall Chanukah Menorah sat in the shadow of a sparkling, six foot Christmas tree. I have a Little Dreidel, wedged between White Christmas and Silent Night. Chicken soup with matzo balls preceded an antipasto, and brisket shared the spotlight with a spiral ham. I no longer had three children and five grandchildren to buy gifts for; I had eight children, nineteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
I want to be like my girlfriend, Adrienne. She has a handle on life. She knows how to stand at her kitchen counter tearing Romaine lettuce for a salad, and talk to her guests at the same time, without beads of moisture forming on her forehead. I can never do that. When well meaning guests insist on helping me in the kitchen I have to bite my lip to keep from screaming, "Go away! I can't possibly slice this meatloaf and tell you where I keep plastic wrap at the same time."
This year I'm asking Santa to bring me a new, uncluttered brain. The brain I've been using all these years is stuffed to capacity, and never worked right even when it wasn't. I want one that keeps me tranquil in the throes of chaos, and allows me to find pleasure in the rituals, traditions and insanity of the holiday season.