Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grumpiness Explained

(Sniff.) Bia called me a grumpypants in the comments yesterday. Bia, for those among you who are unfortunate enough not to know her yet, is such a warm, motherly, Italian type that her blog practically smells like fresh-baked cookies. In her blog, she talks about such things as family nights, her sainted Nonna, and how to get along in a big Italian family. If I could be anyone else in this life, I would be her. I mean, I would be she. Whichever....

Anyway, Bia was understandably appalled at my un-Christmas-y attitude yesterday. Let me say in my defense that I used to love the holiday season. I would like nothing more than to be the sort of person whose house is decorated, whose cookies are baked, and whose children are all in fresh matching jammies for those Christmas morning pictures by the tree.

In fact, I've spent the past 17 years telling myself that, once there was no longer a baby in the house (like, say, this year), I would be able to pull off the Christmas I'd always dreamed of. Not fancy, of course - but warm, and homey, with lots of baking and festivities. And nobody spitting up on my shoulder.

But I woke up yesterday morning and realized that

1. my Christmas cards weren't done,

2. I had to bake cookies for no less than 3 separate events in the next week (plus make special decorating frosting for the girls' club cookie-making extravaganza),

3. I had not even begun to think about the baked goods for our relatives' Christmas boxes

4. There were no latkes made and stored in my freezer for the Chanukah party that is less than 2 weeks away

5. I had bought gifts for the kids, but I had no idea for which ones nor how many

6. I'm still in charge of all the day-to-day details of the lives of 8 people here (bathing, feeding, clothing, etc), in addition to my holiday duties

There's more, but I think you get the idea. Are some women just born with the Christmas gene, or what? It's not as if I'm aiming high here - we're talking presents, cards, and cookies, folks. That's as basic as it can get.

So, forgive me, Bia, for grumping. I'm just incredibly jealous. And do you do it?

Oh, and if you do come by with those store-bought cookies you offered, could you get them at an Italian bakery? I like those best.


  1. Ahhh don't beat yourself up. I am so with you. WHile I totally love Christmas and every year vow that THIS will be the year I "take it back"? Yeah I just never get the cards done or the cookies done or my life done when I plan - because as you said, life, the 3665 day to day thing is still happening while we're supposed to be cramming in all this extra stuff? yeah. I'm not sure how....

  2. If you let go of the *shoulds* and stick with the want-to-do's life and the holidays are much more fun-er-er... or so the girls say.
    And funny thing is, life goes on and your kids will have much happier memories.
    (At least my kids say once I got the stick out of my azz and let go and didn't try to live up to everybody's expectations, our holidays totally rock and everyone wants to share them with us.
    Except, I am sure, Martha Stewart would pass.) ;)

  3. For me the lower-keyed the Christmas the more it is about the Christ-child. I have been working every year to make it lower and lower keyed!!!!

    Today we did some great preparation for Christmas. We read a story about St. Nicholas and St. Jerome and we opened up our little Advent calendar window. We bought some gifts from Fair Trade so we could help poor people. (that sounds kind of overly pious but really that's what we did today!)

    It was a great day for preparing for Christmas! Just my style. Let other folks bake the cookies and string the lights. For me, though, simple is best. One should not have to feel stressed and like one is a failure to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace! There's just something very wrong with what our society has done to this holy day. I know some people really rejoice in all the trimmings of the season. But not me! So I am on strike! I refuse to go along with the conspiracy! And I am very happy about it!

  4. How do I do it all? Well, let me explain... Oh wait. I don't. You are not alone. It's a crazy, frenzied time of year where you just can't do it all. And that's ok.

  5. Per favore, please...HA! Like I'm all organized. I am a world class procrastinator and it drives my husband, THE ENGINEER, absolutely nuts!

    And we don't even do matching jammies...all my boys sleep in their boxers.

    And I don't think you're as grumpy as you try to be...I just feel you're goodnes..

    And, finally, you totally rock. I have never been linked so much; I've gone from having all of 2 1/2 visits to one hour. Wow. You're really influential!

    Cannoli, pizzelle, pandoro,'s all yours.

  6. I do think it is a little bit genetic--if you enjoy doing this type of stuff, albeit on a smaller scale, you'll enjoy doing it on a large scale at Christmas. If not, the season will not be much fun.

  7. I'm extraordinarily bad at really Christmassy stuff too. So was my mom so I guess I come by it honestly.

  8. I have an inner Martha; I try to sit down and knit until she relaxes.

    I am having a deliberately quiet Christmas. I have four boxes of Christmas stuff that may or may not get unpacked and displayed.

    Last night I put the bag with our [Middlest's and my, but really my, because she doesn't have a stash yet] sock yarn for tonight's gift exchange, and the sugared pecans I am contributing toward all the goodies we will be eating, into the trunk, and then I drove down to a gentrified neighborhood near the chapel and drove around for 15 minutes looking at the lights.

    Inner Martha wanted to come home and drag out all the boxes and start foofing the house. Sensible me, who pays in various ways for inner Martha's exuberance, had a small snack and went to bed.

    I may set out some of the folk art trees this weekend. I do want to find Middlest's stocking and give it to her, and sometime between now and *next* Christmas I want to make BittyBubba's stocking.

    And I still want to find and put up the moostletoe holder. If that's all that happens in the foofy sector this year, I am [finally] fine with that.

  9. Isn't this the reason we had kids? Theo can make latkes, Anna can make cookies, the middle ones would LOVE to decorate the tree for you. ;) Add a couple of poinsettias, and you're done.

    I have sort of the opposite of your problem right now. Every two days or so, The Boy remembers something he wants done. "Mom, where is the mistletoe?" "Mom, when can we put up the outside lights?" "Yayyyy!! Only three days until we put up the tree!!" (I've been holding firm: NO tree until after The Husband's birthday this weekend!)

    On the other hand, The Boy and I have no idea what Aunt Julie wants for Christmas... I think I've decided on:

    Oh, and if you put a few Christmas sprinkles in Rice Crispie treats, everyone just goes wild. Or throw a some mini M&M's on top of a pan of (box mix) brownies. Voila!

    Throw out the Women's Day magazine, and get a grip. :)

  10. Your #5 is my #5. And #1. And the gifts for relatives that should go in the mail today? So not ready (a few, not even thought of yet).
    I dream of baking cookies for and with my children. They either have no time or no interest right now. They usually have interest around say, 3pm on Christmas Eve, 3 hours before the worship service begins.

    I am right there with you.

  11. I don't know how people do it either. The only thing I do around Christmas time is a Chocolate Party, complete with a chocolate fountain. What more does one need? And it's a good excuse to put the kids to bed early and spend the night with *adults*. We visit my family and his family around Chrsitmas, but that only counts for two days worth.

    We haven't even put up the tree yet. It is buried in the shed, and the door to the shed is buried with snow. We'll probably put it up the weekend before Christmas. :)

  12. You should try moving overseas. Everyone's expectations go waaay down, and you slow down and end up enjoying it a whole lot more. Our Christmases are a lot sparser since we moved to Africa, but I think they are even more enjoyable.

    I was reading a book of CS Lewis' collected writings this morning, and he would totally agree with you, btw. So take that, you perfectionist-Martha types ;)

  13. I've bought gifts for the kids and can't remember who I've bought stuff for too. I've also got them hidden in different locations so I can panic on Christmas eve when I can't find something that I know I've bought.
    It's a tradition for me to do that each year. I'm not sure what the holiday would be like without my Christmas eve "can't find the present freak out."

  14. planetnomad - move overseas - got it! I'll tell Larry tonight, I'm sure he won't mind.

  15. I hear you. I love Christmas but since I have gone back to work full time there is little time for all the organized prep work but THIS year I am working very hard not to get stressed about what is not done yet. My son's grade 8 science project has taken over my kitchen, sunroom and living room. There are glue and toothpicks everywhere. So, my decorating has come to a standstill.

    I too, have some baking to do. Some presents are bought - others need to be posted... some cards are written - some are waiting...

    But, it is all as it should be... what gets done .. gets done.

  16. RW - very true, and that is what I've learned other years. I guess I'm just feeling a little disappointed that it can't be different this year. Maybe that's for when I'm a grandmother, though!

  17. You need to find an Italian bakery and scratch the cookie making off your list. Your Christmas cards would be an excellent homeschooling writing project!

  18. Honey, I am right there with ya. If the boat sinks, we'll die together because NOT only am I dealing with Christmas, but also TWO birthdays. one right before Xday and one right after. UGH.
    Read my last post, and you will find that my holiday cheer sounds about as good as yours LOL

  19. No need to explain, I'm totally the same. I adore Christmas, I'm just not up to it any more. and I know it. I just don't have the organizational wherewithal to pull it off and survive real life too. Maybe when I have an empty nest? I posted this week about being middle aged, you might want to read it, it will give you another excuse :).

  20. I so get this. My mom was/is one of those people and I can just hear it in her voice when she says "what do you mean you don't have your tree up yet?" that really she's thinking "hello? who are you? where is MY daughter?" :)
    #5 and 6 on your list- that's me right now! Although I might have to add "forgot where I hid the presents I purchased" to #5!!! :)

  21. Amen to all the grumpiness. I'm right there with you cursing the lengthy to-do list that comes along with this time of year.
    And I gave up the dream of coordinated hot-cocoa guzzling children years ago--they'd just spill on my carpet and stain everything.

  22. Bia and her Nonna can suck it. Xmas is a nightmare and it's not about anything more than outspending your neighbors.


  23. Bia is as good as gold.
    If you've seen some of the pictures of her house...I have a feeling that you would not find any dust bunnies there.