Tick. Tick. Tick. If you haven’t noticed, there are exactly three weeks until Christmas. I have trouble hearing carols above the ticking away of the annoying clock against which I work fiercely to accomplish the self-imposed and society-imposed holiday chores.
I’ve become a Grinch about nearly every holiday of the year, mostly because self and society collude cruelly to impose unrealistic expectations and impossible deadlines.
I typically don’t get a lot of sympathy when I complain about the holiday stress because about 85 percent of it is self-imposed. I send out 260 cards and hand address each one. The .001 percent lineage I have to Emily Post won’t allow me to print labels. This year, my dreaded holiday newsletter came back from the printer with a typo that wasn’t in the original, so off it went for a reprint, because Word Nymph can’t send a typo to 260 people.
The upheaval caused by our central air installation, which no doubt by now you are sick of reading, stands in the way of most other tasks—from wrapping and shipping to putting up the tree. Hence, the last-minute scramble will be all the more intense.
By this time in the season, I start to go a little crazy. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” sends me over the edge, and one playing too many of Mannheim Steamroller’s version of “Carol of the Bells” (one is one too many) has me fighting the urge to crash my car into a Jersey wall at 60 miles per hour.
This year, as an experiment, I’ve decided to pick one society-imposed chore and do away with it altogether. If that works, maybe I’ll pick another in 2011. This one wasn’t a hard choice because my family asked me to nix it.
I won’t be doing any baking. The problem is, I like the idea of baking cookies. I like how tingly Martha Stewart looks when she does it. My friends bake exquisite decorated sugar cookies, reaping great joy. The ritual just seems so appealing.
The sad truth is, I am a terrible baker with a faulty oven. Last year’s attempt at my grandmother’s delicate ginger thins could have doubled as equipment for the NHL. I dream about attempting a Bûche de Noël, but fear it would be seized as a weapon of mass destruction.
Instead I’ll dream of Nancy’s chocolate thumb prints, Mary Lee’s angels, Roxanne’s painted ginger snow queens and the Grady family’s fourth generation cookie ritual, while I head to the store for boxed Walker’s shortbread. Sigh.