Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Preparation Suggestions for Aspiring Santas

It is only 8 (now 6) days before Christmas and my holiday sales are over—well, almost, except for finishing an order of “two French hens and a…” cozy comforter for my sister started by my mother and I ten years ago. Truly if this is sung to the 12 days of Christmas it seems almost festive!  The comforter will not be done until after Christmas now as it seems that I forgot to double check her bed size. At the time we started it she had a queen-sized bed and she now has a king-sized bed instead.  Details! Fortunately the backing was designed to create a very wide border that was to come up and over the top, and will instead be part of the back and extra borders will be added to the front to make the comforter bigger.  This is not ideal, but what is these days, especially in the middle of the Christmas Season?

Creativity, I learned years ago is about getting in the middle of a project and then having to re-design it due to lack of material or fore-thought, or whatever other reason my brain computations didn't work right! Covering mistakes has often lead to my unusual designs!

I thought I learned a few years ago to “let go of the commercialism” and focus on the spiritual side of Christmas, putting Christ back into the season, besides which isn't simpler better? This remains my goal! I have found that this change of focus is easier said than done however. My children are now young adults and I have let them know that the Advent Elf that I created over thirty years ago has now retired.  No more balloons, candy and pre-Christmas stories to teach small children the meaning of Christmas as well as help them wait out the long days of Advent!  With our home-made Advent Calendar, The Elf would write rhymes in shaky left-handed writing that would delight and give clues as to where their advent package would be hidden.

I must caution new parents not to take on this tradition as these gifts ultimately became one more thing to remember in a season that is too busy already, and the number of small gifts needed grew exponentially with each child.  We could have saved enough to put at least one of our girls through college with what was spent on their twenty-four little meaningful gifts before Christmas.  As with raising any child, you don’t see the damage until it is done and the Advent Elf, like Santa lives in their hearts, never to be forgotten!!

This year, my eldest daughter, sensing a diminishing Christmas spirit in her too-quickly-aged and worn-out mother, alias Mrs. Claus, and the past few years, alias Mrs. Grinch instead, announced that she would take on the “fun” role of being Miss Santa for 2012.  This was an offer I couldn't refuse.  It would likely save me from tumbling down the slippery “over-the-hill” slope even faster and perhaps avert us going over our own personal fiscal cliff as well.

This daughter knew that I really meant what I said about sticking to a budget, and it seems that she had a wind-fall job that would afford a lavish Christmas for us all!  I became like a child and started creating a Christmas wish list!  Meanwhile I would indeed be spiritual and thank God for such a wonderful adult child!

For anyone with Alien Adult Children (AACs), these signs of assuming adult roles are so welcome, that it is easy to experience a temporary euphoria.  Be cautious however in giving up your role as parent, Advent Elf, Santa, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy lest the following happen to you!!

Before I expound on this role-reversal experiment, I must first tell you that as a wife and mother, I have not been perfect!  It seems that my body wasn't cut out for the rigors of maintaining these roles and working too, and so much has been compromised when it comes to keeping a well-organized, clean house and disciplined children.  I am not sure what broke down, BUT I did find that through much experience I did perfect my ability to plan ahead by hours, days, weeks and even months and it isn't easy to train a replacement for Mrs. Claus, though I am noting that replacing Mrs. Grinch isn't so difficult!

I learned long ago that my suggestions, instructions and even commandments fell on deaf ears after my children turned two, and so I simply didn't make a list of suggestions as to how to create a successful Christmas.  My AAC’s constantly remind me that they aren't stupid and of course they already know what I am about to tell them.  I see now, however, that there are some details that should be imparted to those aspiring to be Santa.  Perhaps this list will help you, my readers, as well?

Christmas Preparation Suggestions for Aspiring Santas
1) Overseas packages need to be light-weight, inexpensive to ship ($46 to mail bargain-priced, but coffee table books is entirely too much!).  These gifts need to be purchased or made first and mailed a month before Christmas.
2) Christmas trees must be well-secured to car roof tops lest they blow off and get run over by a truck following close behind you, and down-sizing the tree at both ends!  Yes, this really happened, but was not allowed to be written into my yearly Christmas letter—and so I will merely blog about it instead! Taking the long way home and driving slowly versus speeding down the highway is definitely a suggestion to be heeded!  Decorating “middle of trees” might become a new trend if this suggestion is not followed but would eliminate the need for tree-top angels.
3) Dusting and washing “ordinary house decorations” and safely packing them away for the holiday season needs to be done before Christmas decorations are put out lest the house be doubly decorated—not at all attractive!
4) Tasteful decorating doesn't include displaying all the too-carefully-saved Christmas decorations given AACs by the Advent Elf, so that each child by age twenty will have enough decorations to decorate their own mansions.  Our tastefully decorated home is not, in the end, to resemble a Christmas Tree Shop!
5) No room shall include more than one tree, no matter how pretty they are, unless, of course, you are decorating your own mansion and not your parent's tiny home.
6) Aging parents (APs) need more room to turn around and function in their homes without clumsily knocking off decorations that are too close to their elbows.  You don’t want them to takes cruises every Christmas for the rest of their lives to avoid the holiday season, do you, or send you, their AACs off on a cruise so that they can enjoy a simple holiday season without you?
7) When AACs are buying gifts for their parents, it is important to consider what room is left in their house.  Consumables for those that hate to cook are always a safe bet.  Hide-a-keys are also invaluable and take but a small space attached to bumpers of their cars and outside of their houses, especially nice for the busy holiday season when forgetting seems to be on the rise among seniors and others with half a brain!
8) Decorating schedules cannot be squeezed into an evening already cluttered with other activities or after a long work day.  Decorating is, after all, a big job and this is why it needs to be simplified to include, but not surpass: wreaths on the doors, candles in windows, a tree, a crèche or two, and a few special music boxes if you own a collection.  Anything beyond this needs to be done the previous summer.
9) Nothing should be put up, that you, AAC Santas are not available to help take down and properly store for the next year.
10) As parents age they want the joy of family around them, the music of the season, to celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas Eve Mass with the family, and have a nice dinner on Christmas Day. More than that and all sanity might be lost, tensions increased and the spirit of peace fly right out of the season!

I am sure that I am forgetting other “suggestions” for aspiring Santas and will be eager to hear from my readers as to what they might add.

Last, but not least, I want to bless my eldest daughter who had the courage to take on being Santa of 2012.  It is a role that is second only to being God and only done well with small children who can “be programmed” to make their list for Santa to match what has already been purchased at bargain prices and even then some kids will have a great Christmas and some will be disappointed as fantasies often exceed realities.

Whatever happened to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sort of Christmas where a candy stick, a tiny gift and delicious mashed potatoes NOT made from instant flakes created a wonderful Christmas Day? Did such Christmases really exist, or were they merely a figment of the author’s imagination?