Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jingle Hell, but...

... how Marissa saved Christmas.

Every year, the Steelers Defensive Coordinator, the great Dick LeBeau, recites The Night Before Christmas from memory for the players.  It's said to be such a revered tradition that former players will come just to hear it.  I am so enthralled with the mental image of fierce characters like James Harrison from the present roster and former Steeler bad-asses like Kevin Greene sitting demurely listening to a children's poem, that I've decided to pen my own tale of Christmas cheer.

It begins with: Christmas sucks.  Surprising beginning for a heartwarming holiday story?  Not for those readers who have known me over the years.  I have long sang the dirge of how I hate the holidays.  Too much to do added on top of all the regular stuff - which doesn't slow down one iota, I might add - too expensive, people expecting certain things (myself included - if I haven't been obvious enough about wanting a Sidney Crosby jersey, it's really not for lack of trying) and being really pissy if they don't get them when that's not really the point of the holiday, now, is it?

That's all on a normal holiday, which this one certainly is not.  I knew when I flew to Pittsburgh to close on our little house that I was flying into the eye of the storm.  I just didn't know how big of a storm was brewing.  Everything seems to be extraordinarily complicated this year.  I've had issues with gifts I've ordered - I've got one sitting here right now that was meant to ship to a young couple at Eglin AFB in Florida. I KNOW I ordered it shipped there because I always have to stop to think if it's Elgin or Eglin.  Yeah, they shipped it here.  And they wanted a pretty penny to fix their mistake, so I told them they were disconcerting and to forget it; I'll have to find the time to mail it myself, and they are off my vendor list forever.  I ordered another gift for a friend in Michigan.  It went to the right address, but I'm pretty sure it was addressed to me - I'm not sure if she got what I ordered yet or not.  But, if she did, it probably had the packing slip with the cost right on it.  Sigh.  Then there's the largest fiasco at all, which is a special gift I'm trying to have made for one of the family.  I've got one week left to get it accomplished with a shop in south - far south - Austin when I have no time off at my job in far north Austin.  The poor guy who got the job of handling me is as frustrated with me as I am with the situation.  He's not exactly rude, but he's holding it together with the slimmest of threads, I can tell (I worked retail too, I know the tone), and it's a saga that began right after Thanksgiving.  I do a lot of online ordering to make my life easier.  I've never had so many issues for as long as I've discovered the power of the Internet, and I've kind of wondered more than once what I did to anger the Karmic powers around me so much to rain this much crap down on me when I'm supposed to be packing and working on getting me and a lot of animals back east.

Then there's work, don't even get me started.  Suffice it to say, rolling out new processes never goes without a hitch, and they've unveiled two major ones lately, and I work at collections in a down economy dealing with people who owe a lot of money at the holidays.  Enough said.  I should be there now actually, trying to use the weekend to actually do some of my own tasks.  But, as Wayne Campbell would say, monkeys might also fly out of my butt.  It's just not happening.

The fact that I'm supposed to be moving in a very short period of time is almost an after thought, except that I'm trying to continue to cull out things I never thought I'd be able to pry myself loose from.  I'm seriously taking requests.  I pulled out a mis-matched series of wine glasses for a young woman at work last night.  I'll be gathering Lord of the Rings toys for someone later on today.  I've taken to trying to leave every morning with a bag/box of random stuff to take to work and just let people rifle through.  It's been pretty effective, but as I look around - dang, I still have a lot of stuff.  And I'm no closer to knowing how I'm going to get it there than I was a month ago.  I know what I'm not doing, but not what I am.  Same with the fence.  First fence bid came in at $7,000.  What'd you do, I wonder, call the moving company and compare notes?!  Do people think because we live in Texas we're related to the Ewings?  Needless to say, that's not going to happen.  And I'm finding it too hard to navigate the bid process from here - my poor Realtor, who is a saint with a license to sell homes, has been keeping an eye on the house like it's her own and even solicited help from the local firehouse around the corner (don't ever tell me Yankees are rude!).  But, it's Christmas time for her too - she's got enough on her plate.  I simply refuse to ask her to do more.

So, struggling with a sense of panic and despair that's almost a physical thing, I keep myself afloat with something Marissa said to me the other day, and then followed up with a message to me on Facebook.  She said the last two Christmases were really good ones.  What?!  How could last Christmas be good?  Our first Christmas without Kelsey?  But she reminded me of how my mom enjoyed herself that day - spending way longer here than I anticipated she could (and was stocked with sanitary supplies for) because she was having so much fun just watching all the activity.   The family stayed together at our house for the greater part of the day, snacking on finger foods and playing board games, and we'd wheel Mother into whatever room the largest activity was going on, and she'd just sort of sit and absorb it.  I felt so bad at the time when we took her back to the nursing home finally, having stewed in her own juices, if you will, for so long, but when she died, I remember thinking, "Thank God I gave her that last Christmas Day."  Marissa reminded me of that.

This is actually from 2006, but I like it a  lot
But then she also reminded me of the year before.  What ended up being Kelsey's last Christmas.  Marissa sent me this that my oldest daughter wrote on LiveJournal right after, "we all know that the weeks preceding the celebration of baby jesus through capitalistic gluttony had not been kind to my super-spazzy, over-worrying head, but this christmas was the most pleasant holiday i have had since i was a child: no drama, lots of love. i smiled, dad gave me looks of love & relief that warmed my heart to the core, and kyle was with me."  It had been a pretty mellow, uneventful affair - unlike the wild drama of the year before that culminated in Mother breaking her arm almost immediately after we dropped her home, and us spending the evening in the emergency room, Mother madder than a wet hen that we dared take her to the hospital.  I had learned from that year, and toned down the expectations and the agenda and things had gone much more smoothly.

So, I guess I managed to pull off giving these important people in my life the best gift I could have, which is a pleasant day on a holiday supposed to be about celebration, hope and family.  And Marissa gave me the best gift of all:  she made sure I knew it.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a good Christmas story.  

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't sure if you even read the message until now since you never responded.. I'm glad I could "save" the season for you.