I hate to mention this, Moms of the World, though it is a truth that you already know.
Christmas is drawing near. We are all running out of time. And because we are moms, and there is always so much around the holidays—even if our shopping is done and our wrapping is complete, even if we have vowed to Keep It Simple this year—most of us still have a Lot to Do.
I really hate say this part, too, as it is not in my best interest, but if you are anything like me, you probably do not really have time to be reading this. I certainly do not have time to be writing it.
But it is week 30, and so I join in the weary battle cry of holiday moms everywhere in saying softly to ourselves, while doing what we alone know must be done: I have to. I promised.
Biblical scholars will tell you that the first Christmas didn’t really happen in winter at all, but in spring, on account of the shepherds being in the fields with their flocks. That the Nativity was eventually, after years of being celebrated in springtime, placed on the December month of the Gregorian calendar to replace the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, the sun born of a virgin, just as the Son would be. Where it could best take on the symbolism of a light in the darkness, an invincible light.
I might not have all the details exactly right on that, but we both know I don’t have time to look it up. I mention it only to point out the cruel irony that some single guy in the fourth century who probably never had to shop for anybody thought it would be a good idea to throw the celebration of Christmas upon the Moms of the World right around the shortest day of the year.
I’m just saying.
Further, now— now! when all the cards are out, and the shopping done, the presents wrapped, the piles evened, the holiday meals planned, the groceries bought—now I learn that unnamed people in my family, some of whom I may or may not have given birth to, are asking — lo! at this late date!—what I might like for Christmas.
All I can think of are those ubiquitous jewelry-store commercials for the Jane Seymour Open Hearts collection, baubles which suggests that what I would really love for Christmas is a necklace reminding me that if I “keep my heart open, love will always find its way in”.
I can assure you that I do not want this for Christmas.
I am thinking about it because it always strikes me as ridiculous; there is not a mom on the planet who needs this necklace-reminder. The Moms of the World are the Flying Wallendas of open hearts, generations of their clan elevating this skill to heroic heights, to an art form. It is our ever-open hearts, after all, that take us to and from places we never thought we’d go, mostly in pursuit and retrieval of our children, and that inspire us to hack out a way back, for them and for ourselves.
It is worth mentioning that it is these same open hearts which allow us to overlook that gift-idea-for-mom texts sent in early December have gone unread, text-requests for upcoming arrival and departure details unanswered. That keep us moving and momming and murmuring I promised as we move through lists that are long on days that are far too short.
And when my husband of 31 years, whom I generally adore, begins to get on my nerves a little —undoubtedly only because those nerves are a bit shot at the moment— I think again of Jane, gorgeously reminding me to keep my heart open, to let love find a way in. I happen to know that Jane has been married and divorced four times.
I am just saying.
What I really want for Christmas is something more practical than what Jane is selling, something more pedestrian. Something from the Beth Thompson I Can’t Even collection.
I would like someone to figure out how to program my garage doors, which were installed in April, and which apparently can be programmed to work with your car if you read the instruction manual. Which I apparently cannot.
I want someone to take to the recycling dump all the boxes which I saved in the basement “in case we need them at Christmastime”, forgetting that all the stuff we now buy “at Christmastime” arrives in Amazon boxes that will then reproduce in the basement.
I would love a car wash—not a gift card for the car wash, which might suggest that it is the cost that makes me drive by the AutoSpa five times a day without stopping— but an actual turn-key and delivered car wash, complete with the trip over, the long wait in line, the inside-outside treatment and maybe even the tire shine, all while I write a blog post, or take a nap, or something.
I would like someone else to consider having wrapping paper and boxes on hand. To not use my fabric scissors for paper and to not use the “good” paper I was saving. To clean up the little pieces of scrap wrap that fall to the ground and remain.
I would like my dog to not become confused, or perhaps it is perturbed, every year about the irregularity of a pine tree indoors and think she is—ahem—outdoors, doing outdoor things when she is most definitely not. I would like my family to remember that just because I happen to be a mom and a nurse does not mean that I ought not be the default cleaner-upper of such enormously unfortunate dog behavior.
I would like someone to take my stuff to Goodwill.
I would like more time, more light, more peace, more stillness. More seasonal holiday cheer.
I know I sound a little Grinchy; I’m sorry. I am just venting. It is only here, in secret, that I can admit to feeling this way, as the Moms of the World can be counted on to understand that I love my family, that I love all of it, that I am just a tad short on time and daylight and blog posts and cheer and long on promises and errands and boxes and Goodwill stuff and dog poop in the goddamn house.
I know that this Grinchy-ness, too, both predictable and fleeting, is soon to be extinguished by the warmth of an invincible light, by a celebration of an event that was far from perfect. I like to believe that the days leading up to the original Nativity, in real time, must have included some frazzled nerves and I Can’t Even: how is it that we have no reservations, better directions, a decent place to stay?Maybe on that donkey there was even a little eyerolling on the sly.
I am just saying.
It occurs to me that the story that led us all here is one largely about a mom, who must have been frazzled, must have worried that time was running short. Who alone knew what had to be done. Who was doing her best to keep murmured promises. Who ultimately was the one who had to do all the work to make it happen in the big picture, to see that the larger promise was fulfilled. And who knew enough to just hang in there through the hard part, knowing that soon, all would be calm; all would be bright.
Can you imagine? I can’t even.