Thursday, December 18, 2008

A No-Panic Advent, Part XIV: A Week Before Christmas -- Do You Know Where Your Daughter's Tights Are? - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

One week until Christmas!

What do I still need to make? Buy? Wrap?

Who has a birthday in December that I've completely forgotten? (I'll remember Jesus, of course, but others? Friends? Family? Who needs a birthday card?)

Have I thought about those stockings that will soon hang over the fireplace, and about what will go in them?

Speaking of stockings, when Christmas Mass rolls around will all of my children have tights/socks without holes/hose without runs? Clothes that fit? Shoes that won't send them into last-minute snits? Some mothers might buy festive new clothes each Christmas, but others do a little jig of joy when everything from last year (or in Ramona's case, the most current Christmas hand-me-down) fits. Yes. That'd be me.

And, let's be totally honest here. The problem with writing and running a "No-Panic Advent" series is that at some point any sane, normal, writer-mom will panic.

I did. I have panicked.

"Hi, my name is Karen, and I'm a fake."

Well, not really. I haven't had any cataclysmic meltdowns, haven't taken anyone's head off (well, not completely, and I did tell Anne-with-an-e that I was sorry for being snippy), and I haven't run from the house, ripping my hair out and screeching, "I thought I had more gift bags!" (No, I calmly drove to the store, and merely felt like screeching when the check-out clerk insisted that the "50% off all Christmas wrap" sign directly above the gift bags was not misleading because the bags were not, and have never been, on sale. Okay.)

But I've had my moments. Suddenly, it seems, Christmas is almost here, and there are things I've forgotten, things on which I fell behind, things I haven't gotten around to (and actually, for you sticklers, that should be, "things to which I haven't gotten around," but as Winston Churchill said of preposition placement, "There are some things up with which I will not put.")

Last night, when I went to have coffee with two friends, I practically threw their Christmas gifts at them and said, "Now I can cross you off my list." I was kidding, of course, but there is something to that awful, "Must ... Do ... During ... Advent .... " spell under which we all fall.

Sometimes things providentially pop up, things that help us rearrange our priorities. For example, although we always celebrate St. Lucia Day, this year was different. Some friends were available at the last minute and able to have our kids overnight while Atticus and I ran away for a one-night vacation. We've never left all three of our girls before, so it was the proverbial big deal. We jumped on it and were thrilled we did. We had a great time, and Ramona survived the separation (although, after our reunion she noted, "I did miss you more than I can say. And I love you dearly.") We missed doing our traditional St. Lucia activities (the bread, however, had been consumed and eaten two days prior), but when I felt a pang about that, I reminded myself that "no panic" means accepting what God allows.

Sometimes it's a refreshing one-night vacation.

Other times, it means someone is throwing up on Christmas Eve.

Whatever happens, we can rest assured that He knows about it. And He'll get us through.

So, when I start to panic, I go back to my prayer. It grounds me. It reminds me that Christmas is not about shopping and doing, and not about presents (with the exception of the Ultimate Gift.) Rather, it is about sin and redemption, about panic and apologies.

And, it will come, as the Grinch learned, whether it is surrounded by all our cultural, habitual trappings or not. It will come to our sloppy, imperfect selves, and when it does, I need only ask myself, "Is Jesus pleased with what I've given Him this Advent, and in this Christmas season, or is He wagging His finger at me?"

If I sense any Divine finger-wagging, then I can get a head-start on the next to-do list: spiritual resolutions for the new year.

Because He's all about beginnings, this God of ours.

Now, I'm off to cross "tights" off my shopping list.


Eileen said...

No,Karen. A *true* fake would've just let us all believe that you are calm, cool, collected and utterly untouchable, leaving us feeling hopelessly inferior.

Now we can all just settle into hoplessly ... normal. (Yet so much the better off, because of you!!!)

You are too much!! :) And this entire genius series is priceless. Thank you so much for putting your amazing creative energies into doing this! Definitely one for the permanent file.

Your fan,
Eileen :)

Atticus said...

Did you get my tights?

sarah said...

I have been enjoying this series so much - and this post in particular was hilarious in ways I'm sure it wasn't in real life. Mind you, my favourite thing about you is how you are so real. Gorgeously, wittily, heart-rendingly, honest-to-goodness (and a tiny bit of badness), lovingly real.

Melanie B said...

We've got the tights and hand-me-down dresses that fit. And I've just put in an Amazon order that will take care of the girls' Christmas gifts. For our no frills Christmas I think we're all set. Thanks for helping me to remember: ""no panic" means accepting what God allows."

I hope I'm not throwing up on Christmas Eve; but if I do, He'll understand. It's all part of the extraspecial gift He's given me this year.

I hope Atticus' tights weren't forgotten. :)

Jennifer said...

NO I DON'T HAVE TIGHTS! White tights specifically for a very special outfit on Sunday. Oh my I forgot the tights! What if I continue to forget the tights?
LOL on your prepositional placement - makes me crazy!

Juli said...

I know you may have been joking, but I don't have tights for two of my daughters! In all fairness I have looked for them for my youngest, but they don't seem to carry infant tights in any stores! I didn't actually think of them for my oldest. My middle daughter only wears dress, so she has them (but doesn't like to wear them).

Karen E. said...

Thanks, everyone, for such kind and sweet comments and for reassuring me that I'm not a "true fake." ;-)

Yes, Atticus's tights are accounted for. Whew.

And Juli, I wasn't kidding about the tights issue! In years past, I often forgot about those little details until Christmas Eve. Now, checking on the clothing situation and all its attendant details really HAS become part of my "week before Christmas" routine.

mel said...

Aw, dang it. I went shopping for hours yesterday, trying to get it all done in one last big hurrah, and you just reminded me that I forgot tights. (sigh)