Here's the thing. I love Christmas. I mean, really love it. I consider myself a very creative and thoughtful gift-giver. I never get tired of Christmas music on the radio in December. And I have yet to meet a Christmas cookie that I refused to eat.
But you know what? I suck at Christmas. I mean, really suck at it.
Christmas cards? I printed out my contact list just after Thanksgiving and updated several addresses, most due to new assignments. (When I said "I do" back in '02, I didn't really stop to consider how much time this update process takes for a military family. I had something close to 20 address changes this year.)
The sad reality is that I have yet to purchase cards or write our family update letter, much less take a decent family picture.
Christmas gifts? The little elf inside me was already brainstorming ideas way back when we closed out Christmas '06, bookmarking product pages on websites and in catalogs. I updated my Excel spreadsheet with a new 2007 column and a smattering of initial ideas. I planned to do most of my shopping online, taking advantage of the many coupons and free shipping offers advertised in the 300-plus retail emails I have received this month.
The sad reality is that I have only ordered ONE gift online, and I did it about 15 minutes ago (and $8.95 later to cover expedited shipping).
Christmas decorations? I had sugar plum visions in my head for the magical day that our family would spend choosing and decorating our Christmas tree. We would start the day with a hearty breakfast of homemade Belgian waffles, then bundle up and head out to the tree farm to find our favorite fir. After chopping down and bundling up the tree, we'd sit around the bonfire and enjoy the Ghirardelli hot cocoa that I brought in our thermos. Then we'd go home and set up our tree during the boys' naptime, only to enjoy a Christmas cookie afternoon snack while sharing the fond childhood memories sparked by our favorite family ornaments.
The sad reality is that we crammed the tree farm trip into a late Saturday morning two weekends ago, and only got around to decorating the tree last night while the CDR did a phone survey and I got ready for yoga class. True story.
But you know what? I've come to peace with my Christmas failings. This year, I am going to have myself a selfish, lazy Christmas.
Here's what I won't do: I won't add handwritten notes to my Christmas cards, and I won't feel bad that they don't arrive in mailboxes before 2008. I won't stress about buying all the gifts before Christmas, but will instead take advantage of the post-holiday sales just in time for our family visits to Oregon and Illinois in late December and mid-January, respectively. And I won't worry about the dozens of pine needles that Kel likely shoved into his mouth or the 27 ornaments that Mo hung in one small section of our tree's bottom branches (but I will redistribute a few of them when he's asleep because my passion for equitable ornament distribution is difficult to overcome).
Here's what I will do: I will make batch after batch of Christmas cookies, if only to watch the identical facial expressions on the CDR and Mo as they roll out the dough together. I will take my children to the mall and leave with not one shopping bag, if only to watch the CDR crawling around after Kel in the play area. I will take my family out to as many local holiday events as possible, because there is nothing better than watching live toy soldiers drum out "Jingle Bells" as my toddler dances to the beat, my baby gazes at the twinkling lights overhead, and my husband wraps his arms around me.
We have only 156 days in 2008 to spend together with the CDR, and I'm not willing to waste many of those days away from him. Call it selfish, if you must. Call it lazy, if you dare. But I call it "Christine's Christmas Gift to Herself." And the best part? I don't even have to worry about writing a thank-you card.