Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Countdown to Christmas Has Begun

Justin and I kicked off the holidays last night by watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  That has got to be one of the all time funniest movies on earth and John Candy and Steve Martin are hysterical in it.  Jamie watched it with us and I was happy to have something of a "family moment," although I was open mouthed with astonishment at one point during the movie.  Steve Martin is trying to call home and the hotel room has a rotary dial phone with a lock on it.  Jamie asked, "How would he know which number would go through?" or something along those lines.  In other words, he had no idea what a rotary phone was.  How old am I?

We started the tradition of collecting Christmas and holiday movies way back in 1987, the Christmas before we got married, with the movie A Christmas Story.  Originally collected on VHS tapes, these were eventually replaced with the newer DVD's, which I assume will eventually be replaced with something newer and "better."  We have added approximately one new movie each year and have a rather impressive collection that we start playing sometime around Thanksgiving and usually end with It's a Wonderful Life on New Year's Eve.  I still need to replace my beloved Charlie Brown holiday classics, but I was lucky enough to catch the Thanksgiving special on ABC last week.

I love our holiday tradition of movie watching...most years.  No, that's not right.  I love it every year.  But last night, a very humbling and panicky feeling hit home as I watched that first movie.  I haven't started shopping yet!!! 

I'm the original planner (usually having started my shopping in August and finished by Thanksgiving) and I'm the one that always takes care of getting the family's Christmas wish list together every year, decides when to get the decorations out, and does the gift shopping and wrapping.  I have been hampered in my OCD'ness this year on several fronts:  I am not physically where I need to be to handle the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we have an almost six month old puppy who presents a real hazard to the tree and my preciously collected ornaments, I have gotten lists from no one with gift requests, and I lost my job last month, leaving me somewhat, well, depressed and definitely poorer.  Did I mention Ben's tuition for next semester is due December 8th?

Losing my job makes me sad on so many fronts.  That's not what this post is about, but I think I would be remiss in leaving that part of my feelings out of this, because there are so many reasons I wanted that job to work out, the financial part of it being a large (but by no means the only) portion.  With a child in college, cars breaking down, wisdom teeth needing to be pulled and extracted, and the holidays upon us, it is a huge blow to my self-esteem to realize that I am just not as employable as I wish I was.  I feel that I have let my family down, which does not lead to great feelings about myself.  The fact that I am probably not currently physically able to work does little to help me feel better - in fact, it probably makes me feel worse emotionally, because not only am I an emotional wreck about not being employed and bringing in that extra cash, I find myself having difficulty physically getting out of the house to even make it to my doctor's appointments, let alone do all the things that need to be done to get ready for the holidays.  Christmas is now just over a month away and I have bought exactly three gifts.

Yesterday, we did manage to locate a baby gate online that won't break the bank and that will keep Jackson out of the dining room, where we have decided to put the tree this year.  I have planned ahead far enough to decide that the gifts (assuming I ever actually buy any gifts) will not be put out until right before the actual feverish ripping of wrapping paper, just in case Jackson finds a way around my man-made doggie protection system.  Justin is planning the Thanksgiving menu and I am hopeful that the paint on the finished shelves in the family room will be dry enough to replace the stacks of books which are currently occupying the dining room table before dinner is served next Thursday night. 

Justin reassured me this morning that if I can force lists out of the kids, most, if not all, of the shopping can be done from my computer while I am comfortably on my couch in about an hour.  We're scaling back, for obvious reasons, and will lean more on tradition and less on a flashy show of materialism this year.  My plan, at the moment, is to get through the physical discomfort with as little complaining as possible (and a good heating pad), enjoy the fact that I have more time to spend with my husband and boys this year than I did last year, and that my family is intact, healthy, and thriving.  It's the time of year to remember what you have and remember those less fortunate.  It helps a lot to know that regardless of the fact that I am no longer working, I have much to be grateful for.  If I can find the rest of the holiday movies in the messy piles in my family room, maybe tonight would be a good night to pick another one to watch.  Maybe the kids will even join us.

I think Jamie is going to get a rotary phone for Christmas.

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