I think it was last March when my husband came in from shoveling snow (once again), shed his heavy parka, and said, “I think we should go on vacation for Christmas this year.” While he probably had visions of sitting by the pool with a tropical drink in his hand, my mind immediately went to “The Spreadsheet,” as in, the document that rules my life in November in December, the one in which I keep track of what needs to be bought, wrapped, shipped and crossed off my list. The Spreadsheet gives me the kind of nightmares I used to have in college, when finals week always brought a heart-stopping dream involving a math class I didn’t know I was signed up for.
“Can we go instead of buying presents?” I asked. I had visions of a December where I wouldn’t be running from Costco to Bath and Body works, and the UPS man wouldn’t need a dolly to get to my front door. Obviously, gifts are not my love language. I didn’t want to skip the Jesus part of Christmas, just the ribbons and wrappings, the tinsel and trappings.
Of course, our families are not going with us on this trip, so there are still parents and siblings to buy for. There’s still the cousin gift exchange, and the cousins on the other side, and the courtesy cousins, and therefore still the need for a spreadsheet.
I just got back from Target with half a dozen white elephant gifts for parties we’re attending this weekend, because opting out on the social events makes me feel like a Scrooge.
I’m already thinking up cute sayings (which is so not my forte) to go on the gifts my presidency and I are distributing to the eighty Primary kids in the ward.
My teenager needed to find something for twenty of her nearest and dearest friends, because it would be super embarrassing not to have something to give them if they gave something to her.
Also, it seems kind of shoddy to tell the kids’ teachers that I’m not giving them anything because I’m going on vacay and have therefore opted out of Christmas. So add that one back on the spreadsheet.
And my kids are especially skilled in the art of lobbying.
“It’s not fair for me not to get anything, I would rather sit in the basement and play with the dog than go on a trip.”
“But I get all my winter school clothes for Christmas.”
“What about Santa?”
So we gave in; Santa would come while we’re gone, and bring one thing for each child to open when we got back. Maybe Santa could bring winter school clothes, or coal.
“But what about stockings? Santa also fills our stockings.”
Santa is also filling our stockings.
“My favorite part of Christmas is the cookies you always bake.”
Baking went back on the list. So did our annual trip to The Nutcracker, because it’s my favorite.
“But it will be so sad if we don’t have anything at all to open on Christmas Day. It won’t feel like Christmas at all.”
I tried to negotiate myself out of this one, but seriously, at this point, why not just give in? I’ve come to learn that no matter what John Grisham says, there is really no skipping Christmas. I may even have just bought a tree that is going in our luggage.
Have you ever tried to skip out on Christmas? To beg off Halloween? To eat burgers on Thanksgiving? I’m all for challenging our cultural traditions, but I haven’t been so successful at implementing those challenges, or, really, at saying no to anything at all. I’d love to hear how it worked out for you.
I gotta go, the UPS man just showed up with his dolly.