Merry Christmas! How was your holiday? Oh, I am so happy that you had a great time. How was my holiday you ask? Well…ummm… Do you want the “correct” answer or the honest one? If you want to know the truth, my Christmas was 45% life is a bowl of peppermint sticks and elves shit mocha and 55% holy crap, can this get any worse?
As a domestically challenged homemaker, Christmas presents many hurdles. I never feel that I have it all together and during Christmas, whatever I did manage to get together falls apart. What makes Christmas extra difficult is the barrage of pictures of perfect families enjoying traditional Christmas pastimes that we all receive. They serve as a constant reminder of my own inadequacies. You know what I’m talking about, those Christmas cards and Facebook shots of angelic children baking cookies, decorating Christmas trees, sitting on Santa’s lap and their moms and dads posting things like “a perfect Christmas moment” and “Cards are out. Tree is decorated. Just one more batch to add to my already 108 perfect batches of Christmas cookies and we’re ready for Santa.” I have to admit that I have plenty of beautiful pictures of my kids doing adorably Christmassy things. But for each smiling shot I have about three other shots of a crying child. I don’t know about you, but all those Facebook posts and Christmas cards just serve to magnify my already glaring shortcomings. My messy home and crying child stand in stark contrast to the images of smiling faces and perfect houses I see everywhere. And you know what really sucks? I try really, really hard to have everything in order and happy for Christmas. I guess this homemaking thing is just not my bag.
That said, each year the Nanni’s host Christmas Eve, and we always manage to pull it off in the nick of time, despite the fact that Giorgio works that afternoon and usually doesn’t arrive home until around 5:00 or 6:00. This year, however, was exceptionally chaotic. Let me just say that at 4:30 pm Christmas Eve I raced into the neighborhood liquor store to pick up the ingredients we needed to create the snowball martinis that were going to dazzle our guests with that evening. As I stepped into the store and said hello to my buddy behind the counter, I began to giggle. Not a happy giggle. The other kind. The nervous one that I can’t control. And as I was giggling I asked “Do you think I can get home, clean my house, have the kids gifts wrapped and be ready for guests to arrive by 6:30?” The problem is that as I was giggling, my eyes began to well up. Shit. I could feel the tears coming, and I knew. I knew that any second I would begin the simultaneous laugh and cry. Now that is a very poor indication of my mental well being and it only happens during the most high stress situations. Somehow, someway, I swallowed the tears, but continued to giggle. My friend assured me that I would in fact make it and what I needed was a cocktail…or ten. Ironically, given my aversion to Christmas Facebook posts (I really have a love hate relationship with FB) and my limited time, as soon as I pulled into my driveway and before I entered the house, I was compelled to post the following on FB:
I’m in the weeds!!! Okay, can’t have a heart attack on Christmas eve. That would really suck for the kids. I’ll make it. Right??? Wait, Christmas shouldn’t be like this. LOL (perhaps though I should be crying).
Why ever did I post that? I don’t know. Perhaps it was cathartic. Perhaps I wanted support. Perhaps I wanted someone else to say, “yep, I’m in shit too.” I don’t know. I do know that a few kindhearted people actually responded with assurances that all would be well, and those comments helped. The big question, however, is how does one find herself in such a state on Christmas eve?
There are three factors the contributed to my Christmas chaos. One, I teach college English, which means that during December I am swamped with portfolios to grade and final grades to be submitted, Two, my husband is a chef and December is the busiest time of year, so he practically lives at work during the Christmas season. Three, my son has sensory issues. If you are familiar with SPD, you know how Christmas can be very trying for anyone who struggles with it. This year these three factors converged to create the perfect holiday storm. Oh yeah, I forgot to add the fourth and most obvious factor which you already know…I am clinically diagnosed as being domestically challenged.
So this is how Christmas played out. Giorgio was supposed to arrive home at 5:00 Christmas Eve but didn’t walk into the door until 6:45. Thank God I had the wherewithal to call the guests and ask them to come at 7 instead of 6:30. We pulled it together. The evening was fun. We laughed, ate, drank. Good times. The guests departed at 11:30 and Giorgio and I cleaned until 12:00. I managed to get my little one to sleep, but my son has sleep issues and didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 am at which time my husband and I proceeded to wrap gifts for three hours. At 5:00 we made our way to bed. Unfortunately, we managed to wake our son up on our way, and he never went back to sleep. Needless to say, Giorgio and I didn’t sleep at all. With everyone, aside from Allegra, suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, Christmas day, without boring you with the details, was challenging. Before I passed out that night I surfed the internet for blogs on special needs children and the challenges Christmas presents. I just didn’t want to feel alone. I wanted some confirmation that it wasn’t just my lack of domestic homemaking prowess that led to our less than blissful holiday. And you know what? I did find some comforting stories shared by parents who are far more generous with sharing information than I am. For that I was very grateful. And, on a truly positive note, Allegra had a great time for herself. She enjoyed all the preparations leading up to the big day (cookie baking, gingerbread house making, Nutcracker Suite watching, tree decorating and Santa visiting) and Christmas day itself.
So will this domestically challenged wretch of a woman do anything different next year? Maybe some things, but not all . I am an eternal optimist. I have hope that next year will go more smoothly. I hope that our lives will be more peaceful, less chaotic. All I know is that despite all the insanity of the holiday, we are okay. Christmas night Giorgio and I tucked our children into bed and kissed them and told them we loved them and really, that’s all that matters. They are here. We are here together. The four of us. I know I often end my posts this way, but it is how I feel. I complain about my shit, but I am a lucky woman ( a wreck yes, but a lucky person none the less). Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy new year!
Whew, I’m tired just reading about your Christmas Eve. In spite of how hectic it was, it seems the kids had a good time. I am a total domestic optimist too and though my kids are a little older than yours and so I’ve had time to ease into our traditions, I still find myself trying to add in some new ideas at the last hour. I seriously contemplated starting new homemade projects at about 11 pm Christmas Eve. Anyway, Happy New Year! I hope you’re relaxing!
Hi Dee! Happy New Year! Okay, starting projects at 11 pm Christmas Eve is never a good idea! LOL. I hope you had a great holiday season! Here’s to a peaceful and happy 2014. Hope you’re enjoying some nice weather! We’re buried in snow and it’s 8 degrees. Yikes!!!
I completely understand you!! I knew how you felt through your words. We aren’t alone,May we find comfort in each other’s lives. I am glad I am not the only one who has a not so normal life. Thanks for sharing your story!
Hi Angela! For the longest time I felt like I was the only mother experiencing these struggles. Thank you for being so generous and candid through your blog. Wishing you and your family peaceful New Year! Oh, one more thing. Yesterday, I took Jack for a horseback riding lesson. It was amazing to see how much he enjoyed it! I haven’t seen him so happy in ages. They do say that children on the spectrum benefit from riding. I’m so tired of trying things (doctors, specialists, classes…) that I wasn’t even going to give riding a shot, but I’m so glad I did. I know your son is younger than Jack, but he might enjoy it as well! It’s just nice to see them smile!