Women tend to be the keepers of Christmas

Today is the first week of December. Thanksgiving is over.  I’m still tired but last night I couldn’t sleep. The browns and yellows and maroons need to come down. The reds, greens and gold need to go up.

At two o’clock, I got up and ordered two pair of size 6 pajamas’ from Hanna Anderson.

At 3 a.m., I went to the attic and brought down nine red boxes of Possible Dreams Santa’s. Nightgown -clad, I placed them on the fireplace mantle. I arranged the Artist Santa, the Skiing Santa and the Santa roasting s’mores and of course the Santa holding the McDonald’s burger and fries.

At 4 a.m. I pulled out the William Sonoma Christmas cookbook from the top shelf of the side cupboard in the kitchen. I grabbed a pen and paper and plopped down on the couch. I started to browse. It was there my partner found me at 7 a.m.

“I see you got the Santa’s out,” he said.

I groaned and turned away.

He responded with a chuckle, “They look really nice next to the ceramic pumpkin.”

Oh busboy! My mom always said that women are the keepers of Christmas but today I will gladly give it back.

The years of “keeping Christmas” land heavily on those first days of December. There is leftover dressing in the fridge, and Christmas is coming fast. The years of traditions, the quilted table runner, cider ready for guests, donations to the Wells House.

All have to be remembered.

Christmas lists have to be assembled, sizes checked, presents ordered in time.  Gifts to friends must be determined.  Wrapping paper must be found or purchased. Check the scotch tape. Are there enough boxes?

Those first few days nothing is done, but everything that needs to be done is recalled.

Long-established recipes need to be found, new vegan or vegetarian recipes have to be added and menus have to be decided. Foods need to be made ahead. The count is 16 this year.  Breakfasts? Lunch? Dinners? Christmas Day? Christmas Eve? Don’t’ forget the Christmas poppers. Who should say grace? Where is that  abeliskiver pan?

Visions of sugar plums. I don’t have room in my head for those.

Events have to be logged. Parties noted– good friends’ homes, my hiking group, the Nature Study Club. Dates cleared for friends at our home. List made of relatives to call.

Agitated I begin to carry stuff up to the attic.  I carry stuff down. I open the first box and tell myself to  empty one box at a time.  I dust the top shelves in the kitchen and arrange the bean bag Santa, snowman and gingerbread man. Today they just aren’t as cute as I remembered. I carry stuff up. I carry stuff down.  I string green beads around the dining room chandelier. I don’t remember it being so high or me being so short. I lace the colored lights around the Santa’s on the mantle. Only half light up.

I carry empty boxes up, I carry full ones down. I open boxes. On the credenza, I place the wise men, the shepherds, the sheep, Joseph and Mary. Baby Jesus is missing.

I sit at the dining room table and look around. I have managed to open a few boxes in every room. The  ribbons for the not-yet purchased wreaths dot the floor. I cannot I do the trees without help but the decorations are piled waiting. On the floor. I need coffee.

There on the counter is a box of Christmas K- cups.  Hummm Santa’s White Christmas. As I wait for the Keurig to heat up, I wrap the greens around the stair railing. Next the lights. And they work.

I sit and sip in the coffee’s sweet caramel and vanilla. I reach into the box of framed pictures. The first picture is an old black and white one. It’s my husband and his little sister posed in front of the tinsel laden Christmas tree. I laugh out loud at his goofy little boy smile, so proud of his new cowboy hat and boots. Two cap guns released from the new holster are pointing at me. They seem to say “Anita, it’ll get better. Get a grip!”

I pick up the next frame. It’s Santa holding our first three grandchildren, now 19, 23, and 25.

I look at the faces of so many Christmases ago. My Grinch heart is growing. I hold the picture tight and think, this is why I do this. What I do today and the next few weeks, and all the Christmases before this and all the Christmases after this… It matters.

I keep the snowmen lm  the same spot on the window, the teddy bears with bows on the stairs so that they will and their younger cousins and their parents will have strong memories of this special family time together. I keep Christmas for them.

And of course, I keep Christmas for me.

And I really wish I had some help right now.

Comments? Email Anita at anita@anitaalacarte.com.

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