Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Martha-free Christmas

Warning, the following will expose the truth about me. I am just into food and not actually a Domestic Goddess. It's all about the food, the hell with matching placemats.

I have to admit that I am suffering Christmas guilt. This comes from years of being raised by a woman who makes Martha Stewart look laid back. Each of the first day-after-Thanksgivings meant a complete makeover of the entire house right down to color-coordinated hand towels, soap and candles in each bathroom. The packages were matching with perfect hand-made bows, the Christmas tree had its own theme, the stockings weren’t just hung by the chimney with care, they were most likely dry-cleaned and pressed as well. In short, The Perfect Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the formal dinner was served using the 150-year-old china and eggshell-thin crystal. After serving, waiting-on and clearing the table for our guests (family), it was time to handwash heirlooms for a couple hours. I'd had more relaxing evenings working as a banquet server at country club.

This is not a tradition that has slowed with time, either. Only now, as my sister and I have homes and families of our own, it has just spread. Last weekend, we decorated cookies at my sister’s house. While my child was pouring all the sprinkles out onto the table and randomly licking every third finished cookie, my sister and her entire family whipped out individual pastry bags to precisely decorate each cookie (even the ones that my child licked). Upstairs in the “wrapping area” was laid out matching paper, cloth ribbon, coordinated jingle bells, and a hot glue gun — not tape — for assembly. Yet, my sister is the least artistic of the group.

Sadly, I used to rank right up in the Holiday Domestic Goddess realm. I had a grouping of three Christmas trees. My stocking hangers matched my tree ornaments. I created lavish bows. One year, I even had color copies made of family photos to use as gift tags, each a special memory. And the food, oh the food. I spent an entire week preparing New Year’s appetizers.

But all that is no more.

While I hear “Martha’s” voice in my head chastising me, “WHAT?! You’re tree is not up yet? I am coming over NOW!” my poor tree sits outside, unassembled and undecorated. Yeah, I think, I'll be sure to get right on that decorating thing in my 15-minutes of free time each day before I keel over exhausted.

Our gifts will be wrapped in unmatched paper; skiing Santas, sledding snowmen, or dogs and cats dressed in elf suits. IF I have an extra moment, there is non-coordinating "curly ribbon" or a pre-made bow from Target to slap on top.

My husband put green flood lights on the garage as the extent of our outdoor extravaganza. An attempt so pitiful, our neighbors and friends snuck over to put lights on our front bushes. We have a mass of friends coming over, and the house is still bare. I am a Fa-La-La-La-Failure.

I wonder, as I sit here, recovering from the stomach flu and a cold, how I am going to handle full-time work, full-time mom, and full-time Domestic Goddess status in the less than a week left. And then, I realized. It doesn’t matter. Come this holiday, the soup will be on, the door will be open. I will worry about whether there is enough good food and good wine, if we get my child’s gift put together on time, and keeping her off a sprinkle-induced sugar rush. Beyond that, I will just enjoy my family and friends being happy, well and together.

That’s really all that matters, isn’t it? Although, that hot glue gun looked like a good time ...

No comments: