‘Tis the season. Again. How has your season gone so far? If it’s anything like mine, it’s gone kind of like this:
First the shopping. Because I never think to pick up little gifts as I run across them during the year, I’m at the total mercy of the mall merchants in December. I stumble into their elaborately decorated webs with unfocused eyes and no sense of direction. I have too many names on my list. I can’t find the right sizes. The good stuff is too expensive and the stuff in my price range is ugly. I mumble to a total stranger, "What should I get for my sixteen year old nephew?” My feet hurt. ‘Tis the season.
Next comes decorating. The Christmas tree I brought home is dropping needles like dandruff and has a bald spot in the middle. After hacking at the trunk with a dull kitchen knife I manage to wedge the tree into the stand, but it’s leaning at a precarious angle. This year I bought a "variety pack” of lights on sale. Some blink. Some travel. Some don’t. It gives me a headache to look at it. ‘Tis the season.
Holiday cooking has been a marathon of last-minute requests, "Lee Ann, remember you signed up (in August!) to bring a main dish salad to the condo association holiday potluck dinner” and "Hon, would you mind making some kind of hors d’oeuvre for me to take up to the office luncheon on Friday?” I spent three hours baking individual chocolate pies with real meringue in homemade tart shells for the ladies in my Bible study group. They fell apart. (The tarts, I mean. Not the ladies.) ‘Tis the season.
I waited in line to buy tickets to the "Nutcracker”. To buy stamps at the Post Office. To pick up my Christmas card photos. To eat a "quick” lunch at Chick Fil-a. To check out at Macy’s. To return green candles at Target. And at every single traffic light in Miami. ‘Tis the season.
I’ve got too much to do. There’s my Bible study group brunch (you know them as the ladies who didn’t fall apart) and my husband’s office party. My Christmas letter has morphed into a full-fledged comic book that requires hours and hours of drawing, before I even get to the printing, trimming, folding, gluing, stuffing and addressing part. Not only does every single gift I purchase have to be wrapped, it also has to be wrapped for shipping and then mailed. I lost a full week traveling with my husband to New York for a conference that always takes place this time of year, and no fewer than five members of my family have the nerve to celebrate birthdays in December! ‘Tis the season.
All this "’tis the season” stuff is starting to get to me. But maybe it’s because I’ve been using the wrong word. Here’s what I mean:
While shopping last week, a teenage girl chased me halfway through the mall to hand me my billfold I’d left on a counter. She could have stolen it instead. ‘Tis the moment.
I opened an old box of Christmas decorations this year, and found a letter to Santa Claus that my married daughter had written when she was four. ‘Tis the moment.
At a neighborhood luncheon, my friend Janice brought "Christmas apples” (apples dipped in boiling water with sugar and red hots). I hadn’t tasted those since my grandmother died twenty years ago! ‘Tis the moment.
Beginning in early October Christmas carols have been piped into the department stores, into elevators, into the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, and into the phone while I’m on hold. I’ve literally become tune-deaf to them. Then yesterday, as I rushed into the bank lobby to cash a check, a little nine-year-old boy – part of a neighborhood elementary school choir – was singing a solo, "What Can I Give Him?” in a voice as pure and clear as an angel. I stopped in my tracks. I listened to the song. And I cried. ‘Tis the moment.
Oh sure, ‘tis the season again, all right. The season for shopping and for decorating. For cooking, and for waiting in lines, and for crowded calendars.
Unfortunately for me, when I try to cope with this great big season, I only end up frustrated and anxious and rushed and disappointed. So starting right now, ‘tisn’t the season I’m going to enjoy. ‘Tis the moment.