Tick tock, tick tock. That's the sound of the holiday clock! The week before Thanksgiving through the first of January is really just one big holiday-to-do. And when I say to-do, I mean it in both senses: the extravagant not-to-be-missed events and the obligatory must-be-done checklists.
This Thanksgiving, I enjoyed a very quiet and intimate celebration at home. Even in this scaled down event, I noticed the overwhelming compulsion to do a lot even when it wasn’t required or requested. How many different desserts do you really need for five adults? Do you really need sweet potatoes if only two people like them? Will I be a truly horrible wife if I don't make cranberry chutney for my husband when he’s the only one who eats it? Will someone notice that I didn’t make the pie crust from scratch?
While we sit at the table enjoying the Fall festivities, the rush of shopping is creeping its way in through TV commercials, e-mails, and circulars, and a subconscious shopping list starts being made. You manage to keep it at bay for maybe a few days or a week, but by the time you've gone back to work, holiday planning is in full gear. You’re already trying to figure out presents, baking, seasonal activities, and of course the parties to throw and to go! All of a sudden, people are exhausted, the enthusiasm starts to wane, and this special time becomes a burden.
It's not so much the holiday to-do list, but that there are so many recipes or prescriptions for everything. There's a recipe for holiday dinners, cookies, confectioneries, and fancy treats. There are instructions for decorating, wrapping, ornament-making, and centerpiece-arranging. There are advice columns and articles giving the best plan for coupon-saving and gift-shopping. I’m about to have a baby in two weeks* and actually have felt the same pressure as the holiday season with all the you-have-to-get-done conversations and you-should advice. I have ignored most of it, but still hear an inner advisor in my head telling me what to do. It's the last-minute countdown before my life changes and I become a mother. My personal plan includes: clean the house, de-clutter as much as possible, spend as much private time with my husband as possible, go on a date, visit with friends, create a baby book, organize mementos, check out three museum exhibits before they end, finish Christmas shopping and decorating, see three blockbuster movies, tour the holiday store windows and stand under the Rockefeller tree. Wowsers…
Ummm...maybe I won’t do all that and instead follow this set of holiday instructions...
make a wish
write it down on a piece of paper
fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree
ask your friend to do the same
For more information, go to http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/wish_tree/
*Editor's note: the new baby girl has arrived!