I’m running on empty this week in conjunction with some family business I am attending to. So, as usual, in times like these , I fall back on my good friend Donna Cavanagh to fill the void. She does such a great job. Here she has some humorous but sound advice for us all this Christmas season.
At this time of year, many people stop and reflect on life. They think about their family Christmas traditions and the important role they play in their lives. I do that too, but I reflect from a different perspective. I look at the Christmas traditions that have been, and for good reason, will never be again.
Having a Christmas Baby:
Okay, I knew this kid in high school whose birthday was Christmas. Everyone said how cool it was that her birthday was on that day. I believed it to be cool as well until I went into labor on Christmas Eve a few years later. This is the deal with Christmas labor: First, the hospital makes a point of telling you that they have only a skeleton crew on duty. Why a hospital insists on using the term skeleton crew is beyond me. It just conjures up images of death and fear and nothing good. Second, and as I found out the hard way, the skeleton crew does not include an anesthesiologist which means… NO DRUGS.
Luckily for my husband, I do not moan – well in labor anyway. I am a silent pain person. But, the nursing staff took my silence to mean that I was comfortable enough to enjoy a visit from Santa Claus. The only thing I wanted to do to that Santa Claus, who came Ho, Ho, Ho-ing into the labor room on that blessed Christmas, was to take his reindeer antlers and stick them up his chimney.
The nice thing about that Christmas labor and delivery was that they stuck a pink Santa hat on my daughter’s head when she did finally come out on the 26th. See, I went through all that and she didn’t make an appearance until the day after. In hindsight, the 26th does fit her well. She is a gifted shopper, and as such she appreciates the after Christmas sales the stores launch just for her birthday!
To avoid the Christmas baby tradition, I will abstain from all frivolity from March 1st through March 31st until menopause kicks in. Yes, at one point in time, Saint Patty’s Day was a great time, but now I know that a fun St. Patty’s Day leads only to trouble.
Cutting Down our Own Christmas Tree:
A few years ago, friends insisted we go with them to this Christmas tree farm to get a tree. I thought it sounded picturesque and a nice way to have some holiday fun. What our friends failed to communicate to me was that we would not be just picking out our tree. No, we would be cutting down our tree. Now, I know a lot of people get into this activity, but I am not one of them.
At this Christmas tree farm, we were expected to traipse through mud and fields to find a tree that would be perfect for our house. It took our friends three hours to find their perfect tree. I was ready to take home the first one I saw. It seems my lack of enthusiasm might have perturbed the female half of the couple who we used to refer to as friends.
“You do not seem to appreciate the meaning behind this tradition.”
To which I said,
“We don’t live in freaking Little House on the Prairie days. On every street corner some guy has trees for sale and every one of those trees looks like the ones still planted in the stupid tree forest. I don’t see the point of using a chainsaw and risk losing a finger when someone has already done that job for me!”
Of course, we were sports and cut down a tree. Then the tree farm elf tied it to our roof rack. I guess the elf was not an expert at knots because we lost that tree on the Pennsylvania Turnpike right around the Reading exit. Our friends never invited us again and that is fine by me.
Now, we have our own tradition. We wake up and put on our winter coats and hats and head to Home Depot where my husband holds up three trees that are already tied up. Within a few minutes, (60 seconds is our best family record), we have picked out a tree and have shoved it into the back of my Escape. Yes, it’s difficult driving with pine branches in front of my eyes, but at least the tree is still with me when I get home.
Christmas Caroling with the Neighbors:
This started as a fun activity. We would get together and sing and bring holiday cheer to the neighborhood. When the singing was over, we would go to one family’s house and relax with some wine or brandy. Unbeknownst to me, because I am always out of the neighborhood gossip loop, two of the couples sort of switched spouses, and I have to say, that situation can really put a whole new meaning to the “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake” lyrics.
Anyway, by Valentine’s Day, the situation got ugly, and then, of course, the caroling club all got deposed for the divorce proceedings, and by next Christmas no one in the neighborhood dared to suggest caroling again. I guess that turned out to be a good thing.
Donna’s work has been published in More.com, SOP.org, Divine Caroline and First magazine and local and national newspapers as well. This year, her first two humor books were published. Life On the Off Ramp is a collection of her earlier humor columns and Reality: Fantasy’s Evil Twin is a look at the contrast between how we imagine relationships to be and how they truly are.