Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Insanity: Something's Gotta Give!

Thank goodness I'm unemployed. I could never even try to achieve my long list of things to do before Christmas if I had to -- GASP! -- work!

I laid in bed this morning, pondering my "to-do" list and I decided that something's gotta give. I can't do it all. I'm open to feedback and recommendations. Which of the following should I blow off?

1.) Preparing for our trip to Hawaii. From December 13th until the 22nd (including two red-eye flights), all seven of us will be in Maui. I'm feeling terribly guilty about this trip -- which was organized last January, when I made the flight reservations with frequent flier miles (yup -- between my work travel and our Visa miles, we had enough to get seven of us to Hawaii and back... that shows you how "active" our dang credit card is, dammit!) Tom is completely and totally obsessed with Hawaii, so he's looking forward to this like a five-year-old. I, however, am the one taking care of every single logistic, from condo reservations to pet/house-sitting to airport shuttle rides. Needless to say, I'll need the vacation (and a little pampering) once I get there!

Tom and I went to Maui alone in 2002 (when I took this picture) and he fell in love with it. And now I'm not sure this trip could ever live up to his built-up expectations!

2.) Decorating the house -- and a tree -- for the holidays. This takes many days to accomplish -- and by the last day I am always the only one left doing it! First, we'd have to buy a tree, which is preferably done as a family... which means when none of us are working (I'm the only one of the seven of us without a job... ha ha!). The excitement level at this point is usually sufficiently high. Then we need to take all ten holiday bins from the under-the-steps storage space, bring them upstairs, and unpack them. Still usually accompanied by a nice level of interest among all... ("Oh, I made this ornament when I was a Brownie/Cub Scout!"). Next, we play some Christmas music, put some cider (and/or gluehwein!) on the stove, and start decorating. Excitement is high until everyone realizes that the lights need to be strung... and who does that? Me! And how long does it take? Forever! While I string lights, we lose everyone to friends' houses, jobs, even homework. And that's usually it. I'll beg everyone to help put up the decorations they were so excited about, and they'll appease me by putting one or two on the tree... but I usually end up decorating the tree alone.

Truth be told, it breaks my heart every year, and I've come to dread it.

This year, since we'll be gone for most of the season, I'm fine with buying a small tree and putting up a few strands of lights and our favorite 50 decorations. But my suggestion will probably be met by, "Noooooooo.... we NEED a big tree -- it's tra-di-tion!" Uh-huh.

3.) For 23 years, I have sent out Christmas cards with a photo of the kids and a silly poem (to the meter of The Night Before Christmas, of course) about the year's events. It takes a LOT of work to do this, but I enjoy it because of the feedback I get every year. But this year I kinda want to take our Christmas picture on the beach in Hawaii (all of us donning Santa hats!) and sending them out, sans poem, mostly via e-mail. I know -- do we have to digitize Christmas? Well, when it's hundreds of dollars cheaper and many hours' less work to do so, I will be heartless and non-traditionalis enough to say... YES.

4.) Making gifts. I have already made gifts for my brothers and sisters-in-law and their families... and I'd love to post photos of them, but since I have a feeling at least a few of them might pop onto my blog from time to time, I can't. I can, however, post the very, very beginnings of my biggest project this year -- a scrapbook for my mother-in-law. Why? Because she is scared to death of mice (yeah, the digital kind) and won't go near one -- even though she has a PC (set up by my brother-in-law) that my kids would die for! The earrings and jewelry are for various other people whose names won't be mentioned here!

5.) Buying gifts. This would apply to my immediate family, who really (really!) don't want a dumb scrapbook or decorated photo or pair of earrings made by mommy/wifey! Instead, I think they all want iPods -- and as a recent owner of one, I must say that I can see why. But the expense causes sleepless nights! I swear, I'll start piling those Visa miles right back on the minute we return from hawaii!

6.) Looking for a job. I'm a finalist for the Gates Foundation job and will hear about that later next week. Salary was on the job posting, but has never been discussed. I guess they assume that anyone who applies for the job is fine with the salary. But I'm not. It's significantly less than I made at Microsoft (the agency for which called yesterday, asking if I was interested in another contract position there.... pffffft!) -- though I'm sure I'd enjoy the Foundation job significantly more. But still -- I'd kick myself if I didn't initiate that conversation, given the opportunity! Anyway, knowing the all-eggs-in-one-basket risk, I really do need to continue to look for something else!

7.) Blogging. Heeellllllooooooo? Giving THIS up ain't gonna happen! Discussion over!

So what should I blow off? I can't do them all -- though my family absolutely expects me to -- so which should I give up? My family would say give up the blogging, I think. What do my blogging buddies (all six of you) think?

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blackcrag said...

Right... it's 2. IF they insist on a big tree, then they can decorate the big tree.

My mother long ago gave all tree decoration responsibilities on us kids - which then quickly devolved to just me. Mum can't stand the mess involved with decorating, and it drives her buggy. She likes the tree when it's up, but she doesn't like the putting up or the taking down.

So. If the kids want it, they must work for it. Also (and this may be sacriliedge, considering your German heritage), buy an artifical tree. That way, you always have a tree, whenever you are ready to start decorating.

If you do buy an artifical tree, I know it will be temting, but don't buy a prelit tree. They simply aren't nice, and the untangling of the lights is part of the Christmas tradition.

christina said...

I think I need to go take a nap before I comment. Whew! You are one busy lady!

Maria said...

I say blow off the tree. When I was younger, my mom didn't have time between her two jobs to decorate the tree, so often times my sister and I would surprise her and put it up while she was at work. Point is-- if the kids want it badly enough, they'll get it together and do it themselves.

Second on my list-- the cards. Electronic or even a canned card one year out of what? 23 years? will be a small blip on the radar.

c said...

Okay... The way I see it, this is an aloha Christmas for you. A relaxed Hawaiian style noel for a change. Minimize the decoration. I actually bring in a potted redwood tree that's 4' tall and we put mini ornaments on it. If you refuse to do the work and the family really really wants the traditional deco to go up, they're perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Don't let them guilt you into doing the work instead of them. After all, you're taking them to Hawaii for heaven's sake.
The card should be simpler and a photo of you all in Hawaii would be great and instead of the poem just write some Hawaiian phrase which translates to 'take it easy, be happy' or something like that.

Presents... Sounds like you've done the important ones... I don't know about iPods for everybody since they cost so much but maybe you could just treat them to something in Hawaii... like a Luau for everybody which is an expensive gift in itself.

I'd say put off the looking for a job until the new year except for what you've already got in process. This time of year everybody starts to go on holiday and they're probably not hiring anyway.

And that's my long 2 cents!

Carol said...

Thanks, all, for the great suggestions!

And the tree it is. The family has agreed to get a smaller tree this year and put up just a starnd or two of lights and only our favorite ornaments!

Your suggestions and support made a big difference! Thanks.


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