Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Kim Hornsby: Everything Doesn't Have to be Perfect, Ladies!

December is like running a marathon for women. Over and over. It’s a month-long test of our good cheer, physical endurance and imagination. Christmas is a ton of work for women. And it starts on December 1st and doesn’t let up until after the 31st. That is over four weeks of being crazy-busy while maintaining a semblance of charm and sociability that’s almost impossible. It’s hard.

Anyone out there agree?

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. Some would say I ”lerv” Christmas. In some ways I revert to the little girl of days gone by, and my heart gets all afluttery at the possibilities of Christmas Magic--believing I hear reindeer hooves on the roof, waiting for the jolly man from the North Pole to bring presents directly to the house (better than Amazon and Fed Ex!) and everyone in such a fantastic mood for weeks on end. All of a sudden, the person at the mailbox who never makes eye contact is wishing you a wonderful day. It’s like when I lived on Maui and worked with tourists. Everyone was in such a great mood! You see the best side of people. It’s like calling off war for one night-- a ceasefire. Except we call off the stress of real life to be cheerful for weeks on end. Oh, but wait. Christmas isn’t stress-free. Many of us are working like squirrels on crack to make the month perfect and our smiles are fueled by Starbucks and Chardonnay.

Although I’m approaching the twilight years of mothering with an 18 year-old boy and an almost 13 year-old girl, the month of December is filled with this woman’s maniacal need to make her family happy. Everything must be perfect, and just like I remember from my childhood. If it’s not, I’ll take the blame. But it will be perfect, dammit.

As women, we start the month searching for the perfect presents for everyone, from our own children to the mail delivery person. Then, shipping off boxes to relatives (this week, Ladies!), and then digging out the decorations from the messy garage full of mouse droppings, Halloween decorations, and old carpets. We then organize our family to go out as a group to get the tree and hope we’ll all agree on Norfolk Pine or Douglas Fir without arguments, and that it won’t be pouring rain, and the kids will get out of the car and pose for a picture. We march the young kids off to the mall to line up for an hour and expect them to cheerfully sit on a strange man’s lap to tell him what gifts their selfish little selves want later in the month when he basically breaks in to the family home. If you love sugary treats, do you bake holiday confections that your family remembers fondly every year but eats in less than 14 seconds?  Yup. We set up a wrapping station on the dining room table, we untangle webs of Christmas lights only to find that when we turn on the tree, the lights have one tiny burned out bulb and there is no way of knowing which culprit has prevented the whole tree from lighting up. We play Christmas music during the kids’ carpool, bake for classroom parties, wear wreath pins, put red neckerchiefs on the dog, hide presents in the laundry room that will need extensive assemblage on Christmas Eve, hang decorative stockings, haul out photos of the kids through the ages with Santa, and plan dinner parties, game nights, cocktails with adults, and tobogganing parties. We pop popcorn to string with cranberries for the tree and even buy those thin recipe books at the grocery store touting new appetizer recipes.  

Looking back on eighteen years of this, I think I reached a Christmas feverish frenzy early--when my son was ten and my daughter was five. It was then I started to taper off gradually every year. A little less here and there until finally I’m using pre-made cookie dough, one fake tree (prelit) and one real, less gatherings at our house, fewer garlands on the railings (no lights wound artfully around the garland), bare-necked dogs, no caroling, no mantelpiece Christmas village, throwing the decorations at the tree instead of artful placement, fewer outside lights (love those blowup Santa’s and webbed shrub lights) and letting someone else host Christmas dinner. Driving around the neighborhood to see the beautiful lights now happens on the way home from the grocery store where I buy a big bag of red and green M & M’s and Pillsbury cookie dough. (Try corn flakes, marshmallows, green food coloring and those red cinnamon balls.)

Like Burt Bacharach said so long ago “Make it Easy on Yourself.” Pretty sure he wasn’t talking about Christmas but that’s because he’s a man and they tend to sit back and watch the women turn into whirling dervishes in the first week of December and not slow down until the perfect New Year’s Eve has been had by all. Men have it easy. Women do not. We have to grab our moments between shopping, baking and smiling.

Pace yourselves Ladies. If you find yourself feeling stressed by mid-month, pull back. Retreat. Assess injuries, make a new plan and go in again. Buy that cheese ball instead of milking the cow and making the cheese.

And with that time you’ve saved by not making all the fudge for the School Craft Fair, feel free to dig in to a fun 2 – 3 hour Romance Novella. Be my guest. Curl up with a cozy blanket in front of the fire when the house is quiet and treat yourself to a story. Get lost in someone else’s Christmas for a few hours. You deserve a little something to take you through to the 31st. Like a bubble bath, a wonderful romance story will refresh you for the next few tasks. Don’t forget to treat yourself along the way.

Here’s Something for You: Free Today and Tomorrow, (Dec 3rd and 4th) Christmas in Whistler is the story of a divorced mom of young girls who feels the loneliness of the holidays when the children go to their father’s for Christmas, and she makes a bold move to grab something for herself.

Pick up an e-copy and read a lovely holiday romance, when you get a few moments to yourself. You deserve it. You’re welcome.

Whistler Mountain, Canada

Do you have a time-saving trick you can share with the rest of us? Do share!

Kim Hornsby is an award-winning author, blogger. and former actress and singer. She lives in the Seattle area where she writes novels overlooking a pristine tree-lined lake. When she lived in Whistler, seventeen years ago, she skied almost every day and got to know Whistler Mountain like the back of her hand. She also likes to dress up like a Christmas tree at Halloween parties with friends.


dstoutholcomb said...

I think it starts before Thanksgiving, somewhere around Veterans Day, and it just keeps going through the first week of January. Whew!


Unknown said...

Waiting for the Christmas eagerly!!! Travelteq Bags

Kim Hornsby said...

You're right! Oh my gosh. Now I'm really tired.

Kim Hornsby said...

What's your favorite part Elizabeth?