I feel like every year there's a mad rush right through advent and up to Christmas Day itself. It's the nature of being a teacher - you've got to stay on top of your game and keep your routines and procedures as consistent as possible in the last days leading up to Winter Break (and did I mention we were teaching through this Wednesday?). It's the nature of being an arts teacher - this is the 18th year that I've prepped kids for a concert held during that last week before Winter Break (in that time I've come back the day after my grandmother's funeral to lead my first concert - Christmas '99 - and left right after a concert to go be in my sister's wedding the next day - Christmas '10). And now I know it's the nature of being a cancer wife (is that an actual thing or did I just create a new role?) since both last year and this year John's had chemo treatments book-ending Christmas and New Year's Day.
But I have to say, the place where I feel that rush the most is gift buying, wrapping and giving. I remember growling at my computer screen when a friend posted on Facebook that she already had all of her Christmas shopping finished... AND IT WAS OCTOBER! Seriously? I was trying to finish first quarter electives (and guess what that means? yes, a performance) and hadn't even thought about Christmas. Fast forward to the beginning of December... nope, no gifts purchased, much less planned, yet. But hey, we'd picked our music for our tap dance (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) and started abstracting our movements for the piece Dance Ensemble was creating. Mid-December I managed to have 2 gifts purchased and wrapped, but it was only because they were for the extended family name draw and those gifts were being exchanged on the 18th.
So yes, if you're doing the math that means I've bought and wrapped almost all of my gifts THIS WEEK. But I feel like I'm doing better than last year. This year there are actual gifts. Wrapped. In boxes and paper. Last year we were still trying to get our feet back up under us after John's week in the hospital and diagnosis, so last year was the year of the gift cards. Everyone got gift cards from us - we sent them to his family in Louisiana and Mississippi, my sister and her husband in South Carolina, and took them to my parents in Fayetteville. This year is a fifty-fifty split, because let's face it, gift cards are much easier to mail than packages.
But just in case you're thinking I've completely got things under control I'm sharing the sights to be seen under our tree. From afar it looks lovely - stacks of wrapped gifts, gift bags, etc. It's when you look closely you see that John patched together scraps from 2 different types of wrapping paper on one of my gifts. And that there isn't a bow or ribbon on a single gift. So I'm reminded this year of the words of the late Dr. Seuss in How the Grinch Stole Christmas: