December 17, 2009 at 5:53 pm , by Louise Sloan
That’s the refrain I’ve been caroling at my mom’s house over the holidays each year for the last decade at least. Not sure if my mom ever hears me. She’s too busy frantically sticking fresh-cut greens into circles of soaked peat moss to make handmade wreaths (“they last longer”), shopping for, wrapping and delivering presents to the doorsteps of her close friends, and tackling major housecleaning projects that could have, just this once, been left to professionals (“it’s a waste of money; they never do it right”).
She’s right, of course. Wreaths do last longer when the greenery is fresh and stems are kept moist. It sure is nice to get beautifully wrapped, hand-delivered presents from your close friends. And no, housekeeping services rarely do as careful a job as you would if you had the time.
But… time. That’s exactly what I miss, as Mom stresses her way toward a perfect Christmas. Time for a cup of hot cocoa and a board game. Time to enjoy each other’s company, the way we’re able to do when we get together outside of the holidays. She does make Christmas special in a lot of ways. But, truth be told, my favorite part of the holiday is late afternoon on the 25th, after church, presents, and feasting, when we can all hang out in our comfy clothes in front of a fire and just be. Together.
I’ve tried to remember that this month. Between work, holiday events and various crises, I realized that I hadn’t made more than one or two home-cooked meals since… well, probably since Thanksgiving. If you don’t count the 5 dozen oatmeal lace cookies I made for my son’s school’s cookie-exchange party. I was feeling pretty bad the other night, as I microwaving up yet another Amy’s frozen entrée. I love to cook! And what about the stockings I was going to hand-sew, then decorate with my son? What about making gingerbread ornaments for the tree? Or homemade, Christmas-tree-shaped pizza? (Check out the cute photo above and the recipe, here.) I struggle not to feel like I’m failing.
And yet, frozen, store-bought pizza gave me the time to spend with my son, decorating the Christmas tree, calmly, with Christmas music and, yes, hot cocoa. Canned soup for lunch gave us time to make those oatmeal cookies together, which is probably more his speed than decorated gingerbread men, anyhow. The other night we had leftover pasta… and we roasted chestnuts and sang holiday songs. And instead of me sewing those stockings on a rainy Sunday while he played alone, we had a rousing game of Nerf baseball. So we have drugstore stockings this year. It’s what’s in ’em that counts.
Part of me really hates to downsize my holiday plans and expectations. There have been many years when I’ve had the time and energy to go all out, Martha Stewart-style, and throw big parties, the works. I hope to do it again. But I don’t want to have to wait until after the holidays to truly enjoy them. When push comes to shove, I hope I continue to choose time over tinsel.
Do you have any favorite holiday shortcuts or substitutions to share? Does online shopping give you more time for sledding? Share your ideas below and help all of us have happier holidays!
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