A Lost Claus

Ahhh….do you hear that? That is the sound of elves giggling as they recount the tale of my near annual Holiday Meltdown that occurred on Friday. Those ornery elves really should be working on my gifts, not sitting around sipping their cocoa lattes and regaling in my awful antics. I mean, really, the day started out perfectly fine! Here…I will show you! This is what I thought I looked like when I started my day.

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Happy, right? All dressed in my holiday finery ready to tackle my Christmas errands. I even donned a white fluffy muff to be properly accessorized for the season. (mind you, it’s Arizona and even though it’s 75 degrees out, we will not waste an opportunity to don winter apparel once those temps go below 80.)

Apparently this is what everyone else thought I looked like….

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To be fair to my loving family, they may have had this impression because my Grinch-like tone was clearly not matching my fabulous festive outfit. This may have been caused by my inability to locate my car keys as well as my bladder’s constant plea for a powder room visit fifty times before leaving the house. For whatever reason, my family and I were not in agreement about my demeanor for the day. I could tell by their worried glances and whispering that they were gauging the chances of my annual Holiday Meltdown coming around for a visit that day. (A little background on my annual Holiday Meltdowns…they are so famous that my children have given them names…one of the most famous ones is the “Shrek Baby 2009” Meltdown. I imagine someday one of my children will write a bestseller about this and how they survived to become awesome parents, but I digress.)

Moving on…I happily (stop smirking, family) ventured out with a mission to locate an artificial tree so that our S’more ornaments could have a proper home this season. We now have what Connor has deemed our “S’more Army” and a 3 ft tree no longer fits their needs. I’m also on the lookout for an adorable Christmas sweater for the Tween so she can rock some holiday style at the Polar Express carnival that evening. Fast forward to mid-day…absolutely NO LUCK finding either item. Every store I go to does not have stock or the right size for the TWO items on my list. BAH HUMBUG. I feel the madness of a meltdown creeping toward me. It doesn’t help that while I’m driving from place to place, my mind is going over the bazillion items on my Holiday To-Do List and Gift List. I start calculating the time and money that it will take to make this Christmas the way my creative Pinterest loving mind is playing it out and realizing that unless I strike oil in my backyard or a money tree starts growing there, I’m not going to make it happen. What to do to stop this meltdown in its tracks? I’ll tell you what to do! You go to Target, that’s what!

I head into Target (aka the place where I can hide in Starbucks and pretend I’m doing something important on my phone when I’m really just playing a game of Bubble Witch 2 and sucking down a venti frappe of holiday goodness while I remember why the heck I came here in the first place.) I immediately head to the holiday apparel aisle. Suddenly, I realize that instead of being surrounded by festive holiday sweaters, I am standing in the Monster High aisle looking at dolls that we don’t have in our collection. (yes, you heard that right…I said “we” because I’m one of those moms who buys toys that I want under the guise that my children love them…I have no shame.) I quickly come back to reality and scurry out of that aisle because Catherine no longer plays with toys. (insert emotionally wounded mommy sobbing here please.) What was I thinking? Clearly I continued more of this brain fog because I now find myself checking out Legos for Connor…who is 18 and hasn’t played with Legos in nearly a decade….uh oh….I’m on Christmas Scope Out Auto-pilot. It dawns on me that for nearly 2 decades I have done this “scoping” exercise of finding items for Santa to bring my kiddos every time I’m out shopping. It also dawns on me that this is the first Christmas that there are no toys on Catherine’s wish list. I went through this with my son years ago, but always held on to the happy thoughts that Cat was still immersed in the magic of Santa and his toy building elves. (what’s that smell? It’s the smell of burning gingerbread and melting candy canes. What’s with that racket of sleigh bells ringing? Those, my friends are the sounds and smells of Holiday Meltdown 2014 about to commence…grab your sleigh and head for cover…it’s about to get as ugly as an Ugly Sweater Christmas party up in here…)

I feel tiny tears forming in the corner of my eyes. I wander over to the holiday sweater area only to find that yet again, nothing in my Tween’s size is left. I go back to my car and promptly call my British beau who always cheers me up. I begin whining to him about how I’m a holiday concierge failure and he immediately responds with “take heart, my love…it will all work out in the end.” (and when you add that awesome accent of his, even the North Pole starts to melt…sigh…) I blubber on for a minute as I’m waiting at a traffic light when suddenly I see who I think is Mr. Tumnus from Narnia crossing the street. This chap is sporting antlers, a Tumnus style beard, a brown top, brown cargo shorts (very muscular legs) and knee high brown fur boots. Oh, wait! It’s not Mr. Tumnus! Smack my bottom and call me Rudolph! It’s a Man-deer! Mr. Man-deer jogs through the crosswalk and turns in front of my car and gives me a wave! Ha! I am giving British beau the Man-deer play by play. He clearly thinks I’ve had a little too much Starbucks frappe cheer and very kindly eases his way out of more conversing with me. A spark of Christmas spirit thanks to Man-deer has caused the HM 2014 to do a quick retreat. Whew! That was close. I promptly head to another Target for one last attempt at successfully locating the TWO items on my list. I’m still feeling a little sad about the fact that my little babies are now tween and young adult aged and that there will be no toys to wrap up this Christmas. I’m also still annoyed that I have spent the better part of my Friday on a mission to nowhere. But I’m going to believe in miracles and hope that one more stop will yield success. On the sweater front it does, but still no home for the S’more Army.  Time to go home.

I return home still feeling a little down in the dumps. To soothe my weary soul, I grab a bowl of pita chips and hummus and promptly continue my whine fest with British beau, Hugh. He listens kindly while stealing my chips and scoops of hummus. I shove another hummus covered pita chip in my mouth and am rewarded with what Hugh refers to as a “hummus-ide” since the corner of the chip stabs me firmly in my gum line. That is the last tiny thread of my sanity to break. There we go…my emotional sled is on a downhill sprint to Holiday Meltdown 2014. I feel the ghosts of Christmas past begin to haunt me, the ghost of Christmas future showing me that my son will be off at college and then creating a family of his own…of course, his perfect wife will want to celebrate at their home without me…and my Scrooge inspired breakdown has begun.

I realize that for the sake of my family (and so that Hugh won’t go running back across the pond) I have to do something. I go to my holiday safety playbook and immediately pull out my “What Would Mrs. Claus Do?” file. I’ll tell you what she would do. She would grab a thermos of hot cocoa, a handful of candy canes and turn on some holiday tunes. I’m all in. The first song that plays on Pandora is “Shake Up Christmas” by Train. (one of my favorites!) I begin singing along to Train while popping candy canes and begin looking at old Christmas photos for a holiday project. Catherine comes in and says, “Mommy, remember when I was three and gave you that awesome present?” Oh by gosh, by golly! It was like George Bailey and Clarence the Angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life” just appeared in my office. That was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment to end the Meltdown. In fact, I did remember that “awesome” present. It was one of the best presents I had ever been given. (I kid you not…truly the best.) That was the year that Cat had been suffering from the flu. She was an exhausted mess, but determined to celebrate Christmas. She walked over to me looking fifty shades of every plague known to man and said, “Mommy, I have a present for you” and then proceeded to vomit all over me and my Christmas jammies. It’s true…it’s even on videotape. She then laid down in front of me and said, “I hope you like it.” Why, oh why would that be one of my favorite gifts? Because in that moment, I realized that my tiny girl knew that I would love her so much that she could even toss her cookies on me and I would do everything in my power to make her feel better. Her gift to me was that in her eyes, I was a good mommy who would always take care of her. And of course, it makes for a hilarious holiday story every year 😉

I gave Cat a big hug and thanked her for reminding me about that. I remembered right then that our holiday memories aren’t about the toys, but about the time we spend together. We may not spend our Christmas morning playing with toys this year, but we will spend it together and I could not ask for more. Instead of playing with toys, Connor will strum some tunes on his guitar while Cat is creating something delicious in the kitchen with Nana. We will let the day unfold in peace, harmony and laughter. So, thank you Man-deer for your letting your holiday spirit shine and making me giggle. Thank you, Hugh for listening to me when I sounded like a blubbering idiot. Thank you, Connor for finally giving me your wish list. Thank you, Mrs. Clause for tossing down your candy cane ladder and pulling me out of the depths of despair. Thank you, Catherine for bringing back the Christmas spirit with your “happy” memory. And thanks to all of you for reading my holiday ramblings!  May your days be merry and bright!

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