'Tis the Season of Folly



Crappy, uh I mean Happy Holidays!

When it comes to the holidays, I feel as though I’m living my own version of the movie “Groundhog Day”—you remember the one? Bill Murray relives the same dreaded day over and over until he gets it right.

I begin the holiday season with the best of intentions, I swear. An entire bookshelf over my desk is devoted to past holiday issues of Martha Stewart Living and countless cookbooks whose covers are adorned with the faces of the best of the best of TV chefs, all thick with dog-eared pages marking luscious recipes and designer decorations.

Every November begins the same—I grab a stack of sticky notes and begin listing. There’s one for craft supplies, another for groceries and yet another for the garden center. I’ll need fresh greenery, pinecones, and frosted fruit for a fabulous mantle swag. I make a note to check the china cabinet to be sure I have the right dishes for an intimate gathering of our closest family and friends.

Instructions for crafting delicate ornaments to adorn home-baked confections for neighbors and co-workers are jotted on yet another list.

Since I start early, there will be plenty of time to shop leisurely and choose meaningful presents for the many loved ones on my gift list. I’ll spend an evening wrapping everything in colorful foil and silk ribbons. Ah, just thinking about it warms me like a cup of Nana’s rum-spiked eggnog.

Oh, who am I kidding? I stink at the holidays. Not even the plethora of Post-Its, stuck to every surface of my office and car, make me good at it.

Me, crafts? Ha. Imbibing? Most definitely. Crafting? Most definitely NOT. But no worries. There won’t be any baked goodies to tie them to since, in spite of my extensive cookbook library, my ‘baking’ skills are limited to Rice Crispy treats and no-bake cheesecake mixes. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. If I’m feeling especially ambitious, I might turn out a few loaves of pumpkin bread, wrapped in Reynolds Wrap—the mother of all foil, after all.

Do I need to say that there won’t really be a holiday party? I can’t even manage to scoop the dog poop every week. No way I can pull off a swanky soiree.

But worst of all is the whole gift-giving aspect of the holidays. I believe I’m genetically deficient at choosing the perfect gift (if scientists ever devise a test for this abnormality, I’ll be first in line). I can only wonder how many of the gifts I’ve given have ended up the last taker at someone’s office Chinese gift exchange.

And I don’t know about you, but ‘shopping’ and ‘leisurely’ are not two words I generally use in the same sentence.

By mid-December, my gift list will be whittled substantially. Eliminated will be anyone who lives more than one state away. That leaves the in-laws, neighbors and co-workers. I’ll find a buy-one-get-one-free scented candle special. Everyone loves candles. There, that’s not entirely random. Since I won’t be seeing the in-laws until after the actual holidays have past, I’ll take advantage of the day-after sales.

My husband is famous for leaving an elegant Tivol box or something in that unmistakable Tiffany blue under the tree for me. He must have gotten a double dose of the gene that I’m lacking (at least I have the gene that lets me appreciate his extraordinary gift-giving skills), so I quit trying to live up to his thoughtfulness years ago.

I did actually buy him a really awesome gift—once. It was a fully loaded laptop that he had lusted after for ages. I was puffed up with self-satisfaction as I crossed the street to the card store—where the computer was promptly stolen from the back of my car.

After that, I completely gave up. I’ll make a last minute mad dash to Costco for a ‘designer’ sweater and a package of underwear for him.

While every fall I begin the season with Martha in my heart, the real guests of honor at my holiday festivities are Betty, Henry, and Sarah—Betty Crocker, Henry Heinz and Sarah Lee. And after all the stress of choosing the sweater with just the right stripe and deciding between regular boxers and boxer briefs, I’m sure to have a lengthy visit with Jack—Daniels, that is.

In a way, it’s like childbirth—come the following fall, the horrible reality of it all will have long since faded and a warm glow will soften all the memories. Until my darned alarm clock starts buzzing again.