Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Stress, Part I

I'm a cliche -- the too-busy person who has procrastinated on every aspect of holiday preparations -- shopping, decorating, wrapping, sending cards. I'm going to a holiday party for my husband's office tonight, and I have no dress and my hair looks like it was styled by a four-year-old on a Christmas cookie high. Plus I have the little matter of several work projects I need to get done before Christmas, car problems I have to deal with, AND I'm going to be out of town part of next week. All of which means I'm too busy to write this post, which of course is why I'm doing it anyway.

But despite all of that, I'm not feeling completely stressed. Partly because I just sent my husband an email dumping all my angst on him, and partly because I've got a lot of experience with being in this position. And it all works out. Well, Christmas cards often (okay pretty much always) don't, and the decorating is definitely not Martha Stewart-approved, but I know there will be gifts, wrapped (or at least stuffed in gift bags) and under the tree on Christmas morning. And more importantly, there will be the good feelings of family together or at least catching up on the phone, and the joys of all our silly little traditions like arguing over who gets to hang the ceramic pig ornament this year, Christmas Eve dinner of fondue and wine with just my husband in front of the fire, and of course, the reading of our four standard Christmas favorites. Which I'm going to list for you here (and next post I'll add some of my personal favorites that I sometimes force my teens to listen to even though they've long outgrown them):

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (maybe). We usually read my husband's childhood copy, a Golden Book illustrated by Corinne Malvern. I always have to snigger, because this version alters the text to read, "Had just settled down for a long winter's nap," when of course the correct line is "Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap" (emphases added). I prefer my childhood version, breathtakingly illustrated by Arthur Rackham (well, gorgeous except for the creepy picture of Santa just opening his pack, with all the toys kind of leering at you, and long dark shadows -yikes!). But some people are philistines, and can't help their taste.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess. When my daughter was "not more than two," she looked exactly like Cindy-Lou Who, which has only added to my enjoyment of this classic. She, on the other hand, hates when we call her that, so of course we have to call her that all the time (especially in front of her friends). (Incidentally, the animated version of this, perfectly narrated by Boris Karloff is one of the few book adaptations I love.)

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg. I love this book and the way it makes me feel. I know I still hear the sleigh bells on Christmas Eve, and I swear I always will.

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh. This is the most recent addition to our Christmas Eve arsenal, and it's the Christmas book I give most frequently. I love Olive, and I love Santa and the other reindeer for giving her a chance to be one of the gang.