December 12, 2000
Holiday Grunt Work


I sat in bed on Sunday morning and decorated our Christmas tree.

"Look!" I said to David in glee. "I'm sitting in BED, decorating our CHRISTMAS TREE!"

How amazing is that?!

He agreed with me that yes, this was a pretty darned amazing thing for me to be doing, no question about it. Of course our "tree" is only eighteen inches tall and made out of some sort of stretchy/bendy/synthetic fiber stuff I've never been able to identify. (Sort of like Gumby with branches.)  And our "ornaments" are all about the size of Grandma's clip-on earrings, and they attach to the "branches" with floral wire. It took me all of about eleven minutes to trim the whole thing, top to bottom. But it was the idea of decorating a Christmas tree in bed -- in my pajamas, while David lay next to me strumming the Rickenbacker -- that I found thrilling.

And strange. And decidely nontraditional. But thrilling.

Later that same morning David found me sitting in front of the computer, still in my p.j.'s. "What are you doing now?" he asked, and I told him that I was doing my Christmas shopping.

"Today is the last day to order from and get free shipping," I explained. Not that shipping costs are a huge issue with me, mind you. Personally, I feel that seven or eight bucks is a small price to pay for the incomparable luxury of not having to set foot in a fudking MALL at Christmastime. But then again, seven or eight bucks is seven or eight bucks. That's two and a half Tobler Chocolate Oranges, for instance. Or a couple of tins of Penguins. Or most of a jumbo box of Aplets & Cotlets.

I told him that in the past hour alone I'd managed to knock four more people off my shopping list. "Plus I sent a gift basket to your parents, I donated electronically to charity and I registered us to win a free Miata," I said proudly.

"You're pretty much doing all of your Christmas stuff in your pajamas this year, aren't you?" he marvelled.

You know what? He's absolutely right.

I ampretty much doing all of my Christmas stuff in my pajamas this year!  Why, I'm the Hugh Hefner of *Holiday Season 2000,* practically! (Except I'm not a magazine publisher. And I don't live in Southern California. And I don't wear a toupee, or smoke a pipe, or have a Viagara prescription. And I generally prefer my blonds to possess testicles. But otherwise the analogy works pretty well, don't you think?) As far as possible this Christmas season, I am taking the easy way out. I'm taking as many shortcuts and detours as possible. I'm waiting for downloads instead of parking spaces ... I'm dealing with secure servers instead of insecure sales clerks ... I'm collecting e-mail confirmations instead of paper receipts. And I'm doing it in as much comfort -- and 100% polycotton flannel -- as possible.

Here is how *I* see it.

I may never be able to completely recapture that sense of wonder and sleepless excitement and magic and stuff I felt as a kid, every year during the holidays. That disappeared right about the time I woke up with my first Christmas morning hangover.

And I may never again find as much pleasure in decorating and baking and shopping and wrapping gifts and taping 43,897,621 old Christmas cards to the walls and feverishly creating festive centerpieces out of Cheerios and pinecones and glitter at 2 a.m., as I did as a young mother/homemaker/Good Housekeeping devotee. That evaporated right about the time I popped that AOL 2.0 installation disk into the PS1 Consultant.

But I sure as hell can make sure I don't screw up Christmas 2000 for anybody else ... especially the people I love. And I don't know about you, but I think that avoiding a nervous breakdown seems like one good way to not screw things up.

So if that means streamlining and shortcutting and delegating and detouring and downsizing my personal expectations like crazy ... and yes, if it means doing as much of the *holiday grunt work* in my pajamas as possible, if that's what it takes to keep my *stress molecules* at a manageable level ... then that's what I'm going to do.

And I'm gonna look damn cute while I'm doing it.

repaying a little more of that karmic debt

one year ago: shortcuts
[basically i'm writing about the EXACT SAME THING, one year ago!]

throw a rock