Mishaps and Joy: An Imperfect Christmas

Deathwish AugieChristmas was a day of mishaps.

It began on Christmas Eve. I was going to vacuum the porch (my first mistake). I stepped in, turned my back, and heard a crash. The Christmas tree had lunged at me. In a grand suicide gesture, it fell flat on its face, breaking numerous ornaments.

My husband immediately accused me.

“You really do hate Christmas! You’re trying to kill our tree on Christmas Eve…of all times!”

This is not true. Christmas and I have come to a truce. I do a minimal Christmas. No cards, no baking and no presents. I ignore Christmas and, until the tree incident, I thought we had a truce.

Maybe my mistake was getting a tree. I only agreed to it because we had two of the grandchildren on several Sundays. This was while their mother frantically rushed to complete finals, and their father worked (music director at two churches). Anyway we were casting about trying to figure out what to do with the grandkids.

“A tree, lov…children love to decorate trees.”


It did kill an hour.

And, yes, I did buy gifts for the children. I backslid. I mean, it might keep them busy during the Christmas party. Plus I allowed a White Elephant Yankee Swap.

This was suppose to our “off” year. At one point, our kids had synchronized “our Christmas” with “the in-law Christmas.” One year was ours, the next was their’s. But then the in-laws didn’t follow through. One did a “day after” Christmas, and the others came east and decided to join our party.

“What? We need to cook and clean?”

“We’ll just do a very simple celebration.” my husband declared. “I don’t want us to spend all day in the kitchen, while everyone else plays.”

“We’ll do chili.” he concluded.

“WHAT?…” I yelled again. “Wait. It’s not Cinco de Mayo… Besides, we have TWO turkeys in the freezer.”

We compromised and cooked a turkey the day before. The plan was to setup so anyone could cook a grilled turkey sandwich at anytime and we had a salad, potato chips, fruit salad and desserts – on paper plates.

Meanwhile we were trying to get the kids to commit to a time.

“After naps.” they replied firmly.

“After naps?” my childless cousin replied. “What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“It means that I will text you when they arrive.”

Still, I was calm on Christmas day, despite the tree incident.

“After all” I declared to my husband. “We have all morning and half the afternoon to get ready. We don’t need to panic.”

My husband wasn’t so calm. He just shook his head.

“Your just like Eeyore.” I accused…sitting down to surf the Internet and play FreeCell. “It’s Christmas morning! I need to do me.”

And, even though it was a scramble, everything got done in time.

“Because I did it!” my love protested.

There were more casualties. The Cuisnart and the Slow-cooker both broke during the preparations.

“You broke them, you mean…” my husband accused. “They don’t have anything to do with Christmas. They’re innocent bystanders.”


Our guests staggered in between 2pm and 4:30. The presents, however, were opened at precisely 4. One of our sons was sent on a very successful scavenger hunt that required daylight, and included clues that only the grandchildren could solve. He was like a mother duck with all the ducklings (grandkids) trailing behind him (upstairs, outside, into the basement, back outside). The White Elephant Yankee Swap did not incite violence. The children did not steal all the cookies, and everyone stayed way past their children’s bedtimes.

In fact, the party did not actually break up until Death-wish Augie tried to scale the child-gate at the bottom of the our stairs. He had almost flung himself over the top, when the screws tore out of the wall, and the gate collapsed. Augie was unhurt, and in sight of his objective! Alas, at that very moment that his father scooped the miscreant up and dumped him unceremoniously in his carseat, and bought him home.

I was very sad about the gate. Some things can’t be bought; they just have to added to the bottom of the Honey-Do list. There are items there that date from from 1980.

Still, I think I’ve finally made peace with Christmas. Our celebration was informal, imperfect, and fraught with mishaps. But it was deeply joyous, and clearly a success since no one was willing to leave. I’m profoundly grateful for all my blessings.

Plus today is the day after Christmas!

My husband has already removed the tree, the wrapping paper is hidden in trash bags, and there are no grandchildren trying to steal cookies or scale the stair-gate. Best of all, there 364 days until we have to do it again.

1 comment to Mishaps and Joy: An Imperfect Christmas

  • we gave up on christmas several years ago. Richard has a bunch of friends in the UK who absolutely refuse to give us a return address, or an email address, so we hope that the emails and newsletters got to them. it is just too expensive (postage is over a dollar a letter) to have lavish lists anymore.. gave away all the christmas ornaments, and as we always have had a cat, the tree was banished about 20 years ago!! happy new year

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