December is my personal obstacle course, a gauntlet of shopping, decorating, baking, school activities, parties, birthdays, and social obligations. (I am sure it is no different for you.) Church should be thrown in there but since I have not gotten the hang of raising my hands and swaying in praise, this aspect of the Christmas season has been Shanghai ’d. I am singing carols in my heart, though, and looking at baby Jesus in his manger.
Usually, I have a small staff to help me. Ana Maria, my housekeeper in Brazil, had the art of sugar cookie making down to a science, even in hideously hot weather; no matter if the Christmas tree cookies were decorated in pink sprinkles, piles of them would magically appear in the afternoon to be distributed to the guards at the gate, Marcos the jeweler (oh, how I miss him!), and the travel agent. Nilda, the faxineira cum aunt, would haul out the plastic boxes filled with decorations, unwrap the items, and set them on the dining table for me to scatter tastefully throughout the house. She would then return said boxes to their rightful place. Fake garlands would be strung along the banisters by my household posse, the extension cord for the lights found in 5 minutes because Ana Maria knew right where she put it, the same place as the year before. Seamless, the harmony of my little elves.
WOE UNTO ME. Holy Christmas crap! This year I made the mistake of having my family help me. Never again. Next year they can do the tree but that’s it. Mr. Understanding, surprisingly, was the biggest help, setting up our prelit tree purchased last year and plugging it into the transformer. He trimmed most of the tree as well. Thing 3, in pre-birthday melt down, was sent to her room by the end of the evening. Thing 1 fastidiously, painstakingly, decorated the mantle and then sat down to admire her handiwork for the rest of the evening. Thing 2 hauled boxes up and down the stairs, God bless him, but ran out of steam mid-decorating and went to bed. The nerve! Sunday morning saw no advancement in cleanup or decoration. Even I can only crack my whip for so long. It was on to Thing 3’s birthday party instead.
So here I sit Monday morning typing away when I should be creating order out of chaos in my living room, cleaning the kitchen, and calling my parents. Feeling hungover but without benefit of the booze, I am trying to focus on the many tasks at hand. Where to start? My driver, V2, did manage to get pointsettias into my front porch pots for me so I guess that is some consolation. Delegating in Chinglish takes almost as much time as doing it oneself. But would it be asking too much to have him set up the other fake tree in the TV room, to whip up some ganache for a Bouche de Noel, and wrap Thing 3’s birthday gifts?
This post is dedicated to Ana Maria and Nilda, two of the best helpers a girl could have. Next year I will send them tickets to save my sorry, everexpanding, derriere.