Two weeks from today is Christmas Eve, and I have accomplished exactly “nada” on my mental X-mas-to-do list.
The physical list is even longer.
I can remember (vaguely) this time of year as a kid when my Christmas patience was thinner than the tie my parents forced me to wear every Sunday (it was the ’60s, and we wore all sorts of weird things like stripped bell bottoms and platform shoes).
Now at 54, while still looking forward to the holiday season, it arrives quicker than the latest talking head on Fox News claiming global warming is a hoax because “it’s cold outside!” But don’t get me wrong, I love the next few weeks as much as anyone and each year look forward to it almost as much as the first NFL kickoff in August.
It’s just that each fall, no matter how hard I attempt to focus on Oktoberfest, the first snowfall, and then Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, and then the World Cup races at Beaver Creek and then finally take a good hard look at the calendar and — wham! — it’s only a week or two before Christmas.
How does it get here so fast without me noticing?
Yeah, I know, ignorance is bliss and all that, but I truly find myself caught off guard annually, even with the constant reminders from TV and Internet ads that start around mid-October.
And then there’s the decorations.
Not only does our local Wally World start hawking them before the aspens change, but I have a neighbor who put up their outdoor ornamentations before we left town for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. To make matters worse (and of course to rub it in my face), the silly things were on every night, teasing me with their nocturnal flashes of red, white and green.
Down deep, I know they did it just to annoy me.
My wife and 14 year old couldn’t help themselves either, twisting the knife with their stupid questions, “Oh, those look so pretty at the (name removed for fear of neighborly repercussions) house! When are you going to put ours up?” and “Yeah, Dad, how come ours aren’t up yet? What are you waiting for?”
I’m telling you, I have to be really focused to remain this ignorant.
But I know what will happen, as do most of you. I’ll rush around for the next two weeks, quickly choosing gifts based on dollar amount and size as opposed to needs or wishes.
Practicality be damned, I just want the tree to look good on Christmas morning and everyone to be happy with the sheer volume of wrapping paper used to wrap the totality of gifts under and around the tree.
Quantity over quality, baby, how American can you get?
No, I’m not really that shallow, but you know what I mean. I’ll run about like a headless chicken not knowing where to go or what to buy for whom, and once it’s done everyone will think I spent countless hours carefully choosing each gift, and I’ll be showered with praise and thanks for my thoughtfulness.
Or at least I hope that’s how it works this time.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a weekly column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.