The Countdown Begins


Today is December 1st. That means only 19 more days until I’m on a plane headed back East for the holidays!

While I CAN’T WAIT to see my family and have the Muffin spend time with her Nonnie and Grumpy and Grandma and aunts and uncles, I confess there are things about the season that stress me out and I wish I could avoid. The holiday stress begins long before Christmas with our own special version of He Said, She Said. It goes something like this:

HE said: We need to start getting lists. What does everyone want for Christmas? We have to place orders.
SHE said: But it’s not even Thanksgiving.
(His shopping is almost done; mine is barely started)

HE said: We can take the Christmas card photo ourselves; I’ll just Photoshop in whatever we need.
SHE said: Why don’t we just get Muffin’s picture professionally taken.
(We took it ourselves and three photo shoots and no less than 267 photos later, we finally got a decent shot — sans the dog, but you can’t have it all!)

HE said: I’m getting all the Christmas boxes out of the garage.
SHE said: Maybe we should skip putting up the tree this year. We will be away for the holidays, and with the Muffin getting into all sorts of things as it is…
(We started putting up the tree this weekend, and as HE reminds me, I say this every year, but after the work of putting up the tree and the decorations, I am always happy we did)

HE said: What’s our itinerary for Jersey? I talked to John and Allyson, and they will be around, so we can see them that first week. When do you have plans with Lisa? I’m going to email Mark, so when can I tell him we can go out? Will George and Laurie be in town? Will you be making plans with Pam? We have to make the vet appointment for the dog, oh yeah, and get to Petco to buy the food dish for the travel crate…
SHE said: Uh huh (eyes glazed over, head hurting…)

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Well, except for the part about my eyes glazing over and my head hurting. Greg likes to plan. I can appreciate that. And it’s a good thing he likes to because I just get overwhelmed by the whole damn thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays. Christmas Eve is my FAVORITE day of the year because it’s the one day of the year that, barring any special circumstances (like my being too pregnant to travel last Christmas), I know I will be with the people I love the most. It’s steeped in tradition and familial chaos, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just the getting to that day that makes me a bit crazy.

Trips “home” are wonderful, but they are also stressful. First, there’s the shopping and trying to figure out what to get everyone. While we try to keep it simple, it is what it is, and gifts there will be, so gifts we must buy.

Then, there’s the trip itself. Greg always prefers the red-eye flight, but who really sleeps well on a plane? I hate the red-eye but with a baby, it’s probably best. We’ve always taken the dog, and that’s a to-do in itself. And this will be the first time flying with both dog and baby. Yikes! Someone get me the minivan and the ibuprofen.

Then, once we get there, since Christmastime is almost the only time that Greg and I are both back East together, I always feel pulled in many directions. So many friends to see and family to spend time with, and a finite amount of time to do it in. Every trip I worry about pissing somebody off for not logging in enough time with someone. All I really want to do is hang with my family and get in some quality time with my friend, Lisa, and a few visits with others.

So I am counting down the days because I love my family. I’ll trudge through the malls, and trade emails to set some dates, and pack, and just accept the fact that my baby’s “schedule” (um, yeah) will be shot to hell and that my restless leg will kick in around hour three of the plane ride.

Come Christmas Eve, as I’m surrounded by family feasting on shell fish and pasta, and playing our card game, and watching my neice roll her eyes and laugh, and listening to my uncle tell goofy jokes, and my brother-in-law poke fun at, well, most everyone, and my father say, “I don’t know. Nobody tells me anything. I just work here,” and my sister insist, “it wasn’t the left eye!” while my other sister chalks up the dead duck story to revisionist history, well… it will all be worth it.

19 more days!


  1. Minimeltdown says:

    Wow. That made my head hurt, too. I can totally empathize with all of this. However, I would suggest not taking the red eye if that is all up for discussion/you haven’t already bought the ticket. I think it’s better to get it over with on a morning flight and by nighttime baby is ready to sleep soundly in an actual bed. Especially now that she’s mobile and will undoubtedly not sleep during the night which will then make her cranky and crazy. At least if she doesn’t sleep on a morning flight, she can still get a good sleep once you land. Also, I started several years ago only seeing family when I was home. I put my foot down and if my husband, who feels more like he needs/wants to go visit every single friend of his, we split up so he can do that. I had to let go of trying to please everyone in order to save my own sanity. Just my two cents.

  2. trogdor says:

    This post made me want to dash into the deepest corner of a closet with a king-sized comforter and hide–too much stress for me. It’s lucky you’re married to a planner and that your good nature allows you to recognize and remember the worthwhile results of such good planning. I liked this post–it’s hard to vent without sounding like you’re ungrateful, but you succeeded in being able to vent AND be thankful at the same time–impressive.

  3. Kelly says:

    Yes, Redhead, tickets have been purchased, and the last two times we’ve flown with Charlie, it’ been the red-eye and she slept, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

    And over the years, the trip has gotten better. We realize we just can’t see everyone, but now that we have the baby, and folks want to see her, it’s reverting back. Maybe we just ought to move back there? :-)

  4. Minimeltdown says:

    Sounds like a great idea to me! (speaking from experience, of course.)

  5. LeeAnn says:

    That seems like a really great idea. Of course I might be a bit bias! :)