The Perfect Holiday Plan
It seemed like a perfect plan. I had a ton of pre-holiday items to attend to last week, and my husband was going to be working extended shifts all week, so we decided to let Grandma and Grandpa have the kids for a few days. Dropping my daughters at my parents’ house on Tuesday, I did some quick shopping while in town, and then headed home.
On Wednesday morning, I awoke abruptly at five a.m. to a shrieking radio alarm clock and my shrieking husband, who was trying to locate and dismember the radio in the dark. I was fully alert by the time my husband’s fist met the off button, but I felt it would be something akin to blasphemy if I didn’t at least try to sleep in on this once-in-a-decade child-free opportunity.
So while my husband headed off to work, I forced myself to remain in bed until nine o’clock, a full hour and a half past the time my daughters would have routed me out with their incessant chattering, giggling, and knocking on the wall that separates their bedrooms. I think they communicate between themselves in a language that is half Gregorian chant and half Morse code. They send cryptic messages that roughly translate like so:
“Whose turn is it to spill the milk this morning?”
“It’s my turn. You did the apple juice last night, remember?”
“Oh, yeah. That really set Mom off. What a coup! Well, what should we ask for for breakfast today?”
“Let’s insist on Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties.”
“We don’t have any more. Dad emptied the last cereal box yesterday.”
“My point exactly.”
“Okay, it’s Oatie-Boaties or bust. Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties…”
Anyway, at nine I arose with a sore back, a throbbing shoulder, and a crick in my neck to show for my efforts at sleeping in. But I was eager to get to the tasks at hand. Let’s see, I needed to take the girls to see Santa, take the girls to find a Christmas tree and help them decorate it, take the girls Christmas shopping, and help the girls bake some holiday goodies.
Only one slight problem here. No girls. They were at Grandpa and Grandma’s house 66 miles away. With the seconds until Christmas ticking off like mad, in the midst of the holiday season when I should be inspiring my children with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, I had instead selfishly shipped them away. I metamorphosed instantly into a Scrooge. A Scrooge with a crick in my neck.
Now, I knew they were having a ball with their grandparents. But what was I supposed to do? I put on a Christmas record and sat down to write greeting cards. Two hours and two cards later, I gave up on that. Bah, humbug.
Okay, at least I could decorate the house while the girls were away. I went into town and bought evergreen boughs, then came home and artistically placed them about the house, interspersed with red and white candles and ornamental balls. Then I stepped back to survey my handiwork. It looked like a Christmas wreath had self-destructed in the middle of our house, spewing holly and cedar and fir boughs everywhere. Not the effect I was shooting for, but I’d settle for that.
When my husband came home from work, we took a drive through town. Everywhere we went, homes were decked out like a General Electric convention. Cars passed with children’s noses pressed to the windows, their eyes agog at the holiday scenes that twinkled and glowed just for them. And why weren’t my children here to see all this splendor? I sank deeper into the car seat and rubbed my sore shoulder.
“Let’s go home,” I mumbled.
On Friday we went to my parents’ house to retrieve the girls. As I expected, they were having so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa that they didn’t want to leave, but I lured them away with a holiday agenda that would tire out even the spriteliest elf.
Our tree is up now and decorated, with most of the ornaments hanging within the three-foot reach of our young daughters. And sitting at the foot of the tree, eyes as twinkling as the brightest Christmas decorations, are the two most precious gifts I ever received: my two beautiful girls.
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