Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ahead of the game in holiday angst


Don’t ask me why it is the first week in September and I am dwelling on holiday plans. Blame it on the fact that it will probably be the first time YK comes home since dropping her off at college and I’m already expecting that she will be wishing herself back on campus after one week home (and almost four to go) with her boring old parents. Hopefully having her cat once again take up half the bed during that period will make her happy for at least part of the time.

It so happens that along with the empty nest this year and learning how to negotiate with offspring over long distance comes a refresher on holiday stress. Raise your hand if you've ever had to scoff down breakfast standing in the doorway between the kitchen and living room while Christmas presents are being opened, rush out the door for dinner precisely at noon at the home of Parental Set #1, and run across town (or to another town) to Parental Set #2 in time for one more unwrapping and a huge meal at 5 p.m. The “joyful” holiday season can turn into a competition in which someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt no matter how you try to stretch yourself. This is not a question – this is fact. If you've faced a similar scenario during holidays or birthdays (or anything that encourages families to make you want to clone yourself), I know you get it. I vowed not to do that to our kids. They would not have us dictating what day or time they should be with us on holidays, or even if they are with us on holidays.

I did say that. I meant it.

At the time.

Then OK and The Boy spent last Christmas in Bora Bora with his family (where his dad, a manager for an incredible luxury hotel, was assigned at the time). He set the perfect scene at dusk on the beach, produced a “strategically placed” shell with a diamond ring hidden inside (thank goodness he picked up the right shell), and asked our girl to marry him. It could not have been more perfect.

Naturally, this means one thing. I want this Christmas. So LC (Love Couple – work with me here) has to figure out a way to show up in Maine in the middle of the week (since Christmas happens to fall on a Wednesday this year) without having to use every minute of their vacation time to do so (which I really do not want them to have to do).

It’s not their fault that is that our youngest is happily ensconced at a college she loves with new friends and much more interesting activities than home can possibly offer. I am honestly very thankful she is adjusting well, and that she is well adjusted enough in general to handle the distance. Now here’s the thing about being a mom. I have earned the right to be thankful and still slightly whiney about it. And this does sort of lead me to want us all together for Christmas so that I can get my proper mom fix. Since YK scurrying home for every break is the impossible dream (mine) it is very likely we will go from having dropped her off on campus two weeks ago to not seeing her until Family Weekend the first weekend in November (and thank you so much for the price gouging over that weekend just because you can, Hotels Which Shall Not Be Named or Credited in Any Way).

On the 'up' side of holiday dilemmas, The Fiancé's (occasionally I give The Boy an upgrade) parents are heading to The Dad’s (appropriate, don’t you think?) new post in Atlanta, GA, which means it is likely that - if I get my way.... wait -- wish. I meant wish. Anyway, if I get my wish, they won’t have to leave in the middle of dinner to get to the Other Family. They will be stuck with us. I like it! Let me just say here and now that we love our future son-in-law’s family and my goal is not to take anything away from them. In fact, if the opportunity presents itself I would welcome the idea of celebrating some holidays with them in the future (Yes, I realize it would have been wise of me to figure out how we could have visited them in Bora Bora).

I am also acutely aware that, while this will be YK’s first actual college winter break, it may very well be the last break she will remain home for the whole time (which, having experienced this with OK, may not be the worst thing once she has had a taste of independence). It would not surprise me at all if she either wound up visiting newfound college friends during future breaks or arranged for a study abroad or even a job near the school as part of it.

So there you have it, the reason I am actually ahead of Wal-Mart’s seasonal decorating in my quest to get a grip on the holidays. Oh, and lest we forget, S and I also have family in Connecticut and New Jersey that we hope to spend time with during that period of glad tidings and cheer (or angst and guilt, says the woman who moved three states away). We can work it out, as the Beatles say, and we have plenty of time since I’m jumping on the highway to how-are-we-supposed-to-fit-this-all-in early, so I’m sure it will be just fine with careful planning.

How does a holiday matrix starting the first of November sound?


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