How to Survive the Pre-Christmas Rush

This is Miles' stocking, about 50 percent done. I need to mail it to my mother by Monday so she can sew it together. Will I make it? It'll be a nail biter.

This is Miles’ stocking, about 50 percent done. I need to mail it to my mother by Monday so she can sew it together. Will I make it? It’ll be a nail biter.

I write that headline as if I am going to give you any advice on how to do this. Ha! Truth is, it’s a cry for help from someone who needs to figure out how to make that happen. Here’s my evidence:

Christmas is in less than two weeks and I, mother, wife, business owner, writing peon and editorial slave, I have yet to do any of the following things:

– Grocery shop for all the cookie baskets I dreamed I’d be making.

– Bake said cookies.

– Buy a single present for anyone I gave birth to.

– Source or write four articles that are due next week.

– Clean my house in advance of a visit from my mother- and father-in-law. (Did I say clean? I meant disinfect to a white-glove sparkle.)

– Finish the Christmas stocking I promised my son I would make for him, oh, two years ago.

– Mail out Christmas cards.

– Many other things but I will stop now in hopes of heading off a full-blown panic attack.

Why do I do this to myself every stinking year? My sister, God bless her annoyingly organized soul, had her kids’ wish lists done around Halloween, did most all of her shopping by Black Friday and has the foresight to order adorable treats and crafts that Elf on the Shelf can surprise her blessed children with. My kids get leftover M&Ms scavenged from their Halloween baskets and a fistful of coins. I can tell Mira, my 9-year-old who is still clinging on to the world of magical thinking, is not impressed.

Sigh. This lack of forward thinking is a chronic problem for me. I remember as a child coming home from school on Fridays, overjoyed by the idea of an afternoon free of homework and full of TV binging. My sister, however, dutifully opened her schoolbooks. As I stuffed Skittles in my mouth and caught up on General Hospital, she kept her nose in her books until she was done. I scoffed at her. Until, of course, Sunday night, when I was scrambling to get everything done while she was able to laze around, hang out with my parents and be, what is the word? Relaxed.

Crisis, scrambling… I seem addicted to the adrenaline. When my daughter asks, “When are we going to (bake cookies, buy a gift, finish a project)” I tell her reassuredly, “Don’t worry! Mommy is Queen of the Last Minute!”

And admittedly, I do have an amazing aptitude for pulling stuff out of my tuckus at the very last minute. I generally am placing the last hors d’oeuvre on the tray seconds before our first party guest arrives, my home version of “Cupcake Wars.” I pull up to dance class with 30 seconds to go before ballet starts. I lounge in bed until the very last possible moment, sucking up what few moments of repose I can get before playing drillmaster to a troop of sleepy, hungry, whiny recruits.

It’s exhausting, but at the same time I don’t see this old dog learning new tricks. Having a deadline and racing to meet it brings excitement to the mundane. My husband and I will likely Christmas shop on Friday. I’ll bake cookies all day Saturday. We’ll wrap gifts on Christmas Eve while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a family tradition for my husband and I.

And while it stinks having so many items on my to-do list, there is a wonderful feeling that comes from age and experience: Yes, it’s a lot to do. But I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. And when it’s all done, I will collapse into a heap of “I did it!-ness.” And my sojourn will be well-deserved and feel more so than if I had my act together on a daily basis.

Am I warped? Probably. But we all are in our own ways, right? I’ve just figured out how to work my warpedness into a usable skill.


What do you think?

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