At some point you realize where everything comes from. That pecan pie. And that golden basted turkey. And the whatnots brimming from the stockings. And all those voluminous glittering bows on packages. No fairies or elves around here. Just mommas. And daddies.
There’s a certain age at which you realize there’s a curtain and an actual human behind it and there is no Oz. It’s a troubling moment. But you move on. Accept that all that magic in your life happens at the hands of a regular ole human of flesh and blood. And then you wake up bleary-eyed with paper cuts and a wad of tape on your leg on Christmas morning and realize you’re on the other side of the curtain. You are Oz. You are Santa. And the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.
It was one of those years for me.
It takes a village to make Christmas happen for my family. And by village I mean my mom, myself and my two sisters. There’s a steady stream in text messages of, “You going to Walmart? Grab more cream cheese. Need more butter! Who’s hitting Bath and Body? I need more lotion for mom! Hey, I’m at Toys R Us and there’s one train set left! Need me to get it for you to give Wilder and pay me back? Can you stop and get some more cheese and Karo syrup. And butter! Yes, we ran out again.”
This year even my husband was recruited and sent to New York and Company with a screen shot of a velour track suit with my mother’s size and color options. In fact homeboy knocked out most of my list using a series of screen shots I then put directions on in the Over app.
Christmas kind of got away from me more than ever. My sister had a baby a week before and it trumped all else. As it should.
The matching pajama thing didn’t happen for the first time since ... Ever. We had a brisket instead of a turkey. (It nearly killed my mother. Literally.) We planned a more low key holiday but still baked four batches of homemade cookies and had a round of sugar cookie decorating.
Things were touch and go staying at my sister’s house in Arkansas with her brand new baby. Then she got mastitis. Then my other sister who is by all accounts part elf and runs on equal parts Starbucks and merriment fell ill. She was swiftly quarantined to a camper in the driveway and our propensity toward being a bit Griswold became quite literal. She found out a day later it was bad chicken. Never have so many people cheered upon hearing their sister had salmonella. At some point Wilder developed a double ear infection.
Our crazy Christmas — I wouldn't have it any other way
And yet, I’ve no doubt we made memories that will last the rest of our lives. The elf sister made a rebound in full form — fuzzy boots and all. New momma was spotted making homemade icing for the sugar cookies and cut my kid’s shaggy hair (the woman is a machine). My mom whipped up a pecan pie. And Santa delivered in a big way.
We were up past midnight wrapping and stocking stuffing. And when Christmas morning came it was more than worth it and I wished I’d done more in some ways. And yet, there are some things I would and will do less. Like cook. We have a tendency to cook. A lot. We are cookers. The older I get the more I realize what matters and I think it’s far more important I spend hours on the floor playing with the kids and doing silly crafts than cooking. It’s a tough balance. I treasure our tradition of cooking. I always loved those baked treats made just for the holidays and my Grandma Wanda’s buttermilk cake. And I’m not eschewing all those traditions. But it’s time for an amended version for this season.
I was in the kitchen this week beating or sifting or similar when I heard my 3-year-old niece’s clear, determined voice in the living room belting out "Let it Snow". Per usual she amended the lyrics and in that sweet voice delivers her own version of the beloved lines: LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO.
I hear ya, girl.