It is 5:30am as I type this, and it is my least favourite time of day to be writing anything. I most certainly a night owl, and I think that (planes excepted) if I’ve been up at 5:30 in the morning it’s almost always been because I’m at it from the other side. (We pause here to remember the bleak years when I had toddler who loved to get up early and I’d stagger through those coffee laced early mornings wondering about the cruelty of landing someone who loved to get up before dawn on a mother who loved to stay up until then.) I have neither a toddler nor a plane today, and this early morning is brought to you courtesy of the nasty virus I’ve been down (or up) with for a few days. I’ve been sitting here typing for a while and just deleted absolutely everything because being sick always makes me so miserable that it was really just a whole page of whinging about it. It’s out of my system now, I think.
The last several days I have got absolutely nothing done, barring a whatever I could knit while lying on the chesterfield or in bed buried under a mountain of blankets and tissues. Today- except for the cough that’s got me awake, I think I’m recovering and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel loads better as the day goes on. Knitters, my sweets, I have never, ever been more grateful for the Christmas Spreadsheet System™. (It is not actually trademarked but after this week I’m considering it.)
(Photo from Vancouver Island last week – the sun doesn’t get very high in Canada in the winter, I took that picture at about 2:30 in the afternoon.)
I started organizing the crap out of Christmas several years ago, and it’s made me so much happier and more relaxed through the holidays that I can’t even tell you. Every couple of years I make a spectacular error that makes me unhappy and not relaxed, and I make a change to the way I do this thing. For example, a few years ago I agreed to go on a family trip right before Christmas, and that trip was a crazy error. We got home on the 21st of December, which during the planning phase had seemed really reasonable but the lived experience of the thing was me crying on the 24th while trying to figure out where the (*&^% the wrapping paper was and making cookies at 2am. Uncool.
This year, when Joe (who has an odd love of taking trips right before Christmas, something I can’t relate to and suspect is related to our relative levels of Holiday Responsibility) suggested a trip that would take us out of town to see his west coast family from the 16th to the 20th (technically the 21st because he inexplicably booked us a flight that got in at 2am) I said… well. I said no, but with a lot more words and emphasis. He convinced me though, and so I made a change to the spreadsheet. For this to work, everything had to be done by the 16th. All of it, except for the knitting. (Note to self: may adjust this next year.) Even Joe’s stuff had to be done, because one of the absolutely horrible things about the first year we went away was that I had a lot done, but Joe didn’t and he was driving around trying to finish his old list while I was trying to give him the emergent list. He was useless to me and the whole thing degraded into me bitterly shopping for groceries (which is totally his job) and trying to find 5×7 frames and fresh sage while rethinking the permanence of our union.
So, this year, if he wanted to go away, things had to be different, and it was. We busted a move and got it all done (except for the knitting) and a few stocking stuffers and all the wrapping was done (except for the knitting.) We had a lovely trip, and all was well until I got the plague.
(PS I got the cookies done too.)
Let me tell you this – if I didn’t have that spreadsheet, this holiday would be a screaming dumpster fire right now. Instead, the worst thing that has happened is that I missed a family event and had to cancel our solstice party, and I am now officially behind on the knitting, since I slept through a bunch of my intended knitting time. (I am not so worried about this. I have missed knitting deadlines before and despite how it felt, it wasn’t actually fatal to anyone.) I was horizontal for three days (and I am not so sure I am up now) and I didn’t have to compound how crappy I felt by feeling terrible about the things that weren’t getting done, and if it really needed doing and I couldn’t do it, it was easy to give other people jobs off the spreadsheet.
(Almost everything in that picture is done now. Sort of.)
Sure, the house isn’t as tidy as it was (and it is sort of sticky in spots) and I’ve scaled back a couple of missions that I thought would be fun, and now we’re celebrating the solstice in the new year, but this thing is still going to go off. Joe has his grocery list (from the spreadsheet) there are a few tasks left (I have to wrap knitting) and there’s tons of cooking yet to do, but my girls will all be here soon, and from there many hands will make for light work.
In a lot of ways I am glad I got sick this year. (That is an absolutely reeking lie but I am trying to look on the bright side.) It reaffirmed my love and purpose for my Christmas Spreadsheet System™, made dumping paint down the stairs not seem like a huge problem after all, and further clarified for me what’s important to me about the holidays. I am not sad about the tasks that didn’t get done (or that the stairs didn’t get a second coat of paint) but I am sad about the time I missed with my family – and it’s going to make being with them over the next few days even nicer.
From us to you, a the happiest of holidays, and I hope you don’t get the flu, but if you do, I hope you have a spreadsheet. See you on the other side.