‘Twas the Night before Christmas

Christmas catering officially ended at noon Friday with a 12-pound pan of lasagna and 7.5 pounds of pulled pork, along with orders for chicken, chicken tenders and potato wedges to be reheated and served as Christmas dinners.  Soon after, we cleaned up and called it a day; joining the rest of Michiganders who are putting activities on pause for a blizzard warning.  I see that they even closed the casino and it will remain closed until Christmas Day. 

While I’ve been gone working/cooking over the last two weeks, Scott has spent most of his time sleeping.  Day and night.  He’s had all kinds of tests and everything is checking out ok so it’s either some type of unverifiable virus or his body working and repairing itself, making him tired. His numbers are still improving so that’s encouraging.  Unfortunately, his back pain has returned.  Ex-rays yesterday appear to confirm the doctor’s suspicion that it was due to arthritis.  Now it sounds like accelerated arthritis is a common side effect of chemo therapy.  Great.

Holding to my core beliefs, our tree didn’t go up until after Thanksgiving. Since a real tree is on the list of restrictions this year, we needed to find an alternative.  Rather than going with the obvious artificial tree, I went to Pinterest to browse the alternatives; landing on the ladder tree.  I’m pretty happy with the final results.  I chose to keep most of our breakable ornaments in the box this year as I didn’t have room for them all and I am afraid without the branches of prickly yet soft needles to cushion the fall, we run the risk of items being broken.

Our ladder tree and Scott’s gift from family – Santa came early!

I’ve always been a decorator; not as in someone that is talented or gets paid for their decorating expertise but more like a person who collects a lot of mostly useless items for the purpose of displaying for a short period of time.  I have a large collection of village items that now extends to the store.  I have a Santa collection for pre-Christmas time and a snowman collection that surfaces when Santa is shipped back to the North Pole.  All of these items were transported up from the basement to their places the weekend after Thanksgiving. 

Over the past few weeks, I have randomly remembered that the most important decoration of all was still in the box in the basement.  That being a beautiful white ceramic nativity set that I got as a wedding present from my mother’s best friend back in 1983.  For nearly 40 years this has been on display in my home at Christmas, yet this year it was still in the box on December 23rd.  Each time I thought about it I remarked to myself that we were being cursed with bad luck because I was not displaying the nativity.  Scott’s progress hit a wall and he’s had about 10 days of setback.  I’ve got a messed up middle finger that needs medical attention and I chipped my front tooth.  The check engine light is on in my 2019 Traverse and sickness is running rampid among my staff during the most stressful two weeks of the year.  This afternoon I went to the basement and retrieved the box.  Year after year I unwrap each piece and think about all that has happened since I last saw them.  As I unpacked the pieces this year, I was slightly shaken when I couldn’t find the baby in the manger.  Eventually I found him tucked in among the packing peanuts. Much like I have approached the season; like most of us, putting Him on the back burner to Santa and all the gift giving involved in Christmas.  No preaching or lectures; just food for thought for me and maybe you too. 

My cherished nativity – and a famous old movie on the television….name that movie.

When I last wrote, I shared my feelings of despair as Day 100 came and went and Scott was not yet “cured”.  In expressing our concerns at our last appointment, we were told that perhaps too much emphasis was placed on the first 100 days in the literature as in reality many, if not most, people take up to a full year to feel recovered.  The first reaction is to be upset that this information wasn’t shared sooner, but ultimately; I don’t know that either of us could have handled that information earlier in the process.  Some things are just better in smaller doses.   

Shortly after publishing my public whine, friends offered me some cheese.  I ended up meeting with a couple of my girlfriends for a night at the Amway Grand for some R and R.  We had great plans to see the city in the night lights and go for a nice dinner.  Ellen had arranged for me to get a message at 3:00 p.m.  I was greeted by a young strapping man who asked me to undress; well, ok not exactly in that way.  Romance novels will never be my forte’ lol.  Anyway, after a long and relaxing yet painful hour of soft music and a strong work-over I was released.  This was followed by hot tub time, thankfully void of strange children splashing water in my face while I tried enjoy this long-fought-for day of rest and relaxation.  Next came a good long hot shower and my pajamas; all by 5:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night.  Pure joy! 

The third of our trio arrived soon after and it wasn’t long before a consensus was reached and our plans for a night out on the town were scrapped for cocktails and pizza delivery to the room in our pajamas.  We had an amazing night of relaxation, great conversation and lots of rest.  Exactly the recharge I needed to return and hit catering season head on. 

Since Thanksgiving we have had to pass on five Christmas parties including the one planned for our house with our kids on the 16th.  After shopping for the store on Friday the 15th, I began to concentrate on my Christmas shopping for the next night.  Not exactly star mother/grandmother material I’ll admit.  Even less care goes into my wrapping and presentation; I’m lucky if the wrapping covers the entire box or hasn’t needed to be taped because the paper ripped while wrapping it.  My packages are noticeably the ones with no bows or ribbons and may have the to and from written right on the package with a magic marker.  I’m afraid my distaste for gift giving and wrapping comes from many years of stressing out over how long it would take me to pay off all the gifts my then husband felt were necessary.  My ex loved Christmas and gift giving so my children grew up being very blessed at Christmas.  I think every relationship goes through that stage of working through how much money is spent on Christmas.  After the first few years with Scott, I converted to his level of gifting and now we typically share such luxurious gifts as bird feeders, fishing tackle and boxes of crackers.  We tend to think of our annual February vacations as our Christmas gifts to ourselves.  If I want anything else, I just buy it when I do my Christmas shopping.  I never know what I want until I see it and by then the wish lists have been made and distributed. 

Marlena had Scott’s gift shipped – I told her I would wrap it…..

Back to the 15th, I was just leaving my second store when I got the dreaded call.  It was my daughter-in-law calling to say that our grand-daughter was projectile vomiting.  The nail in the already closing coffin on our family get together.  Scott had done nothing but sleep for a week but was feeling somewhat better.  I was keeping a cold at bay with Zicam; but notification of vomiting was a line we couldn’t cross.  Three strikes and you’re out – party cancelled.  It was great to have more time to shop and place a few more Amazon orders but now the trick is rescheduling.  After all my decorating, it would be nice if someone came to see it before I have to haul it all back to the basement.    

Now with all the predictions of more than a foot of snow, temperatures hovering near zero and wind gusts of up to 40 mph, people are hunkering down.  The fear-mongering media has everyone clearing the grocery shelfs and canceling all their activities.  Like this is the first snow event to happen in Michigan.  Will it be the storm they predict or just a couple inches of snow and cold temperatures?   Either way, I’ll go with it.  It’s the closest thing to time standing still that I’ve had in a long time.  A couple days with nothing on the schedule, my house all decorated, Christmas movies on demand and lots of ideas for yummy foods while we are hibernating.  The first year ever that Scott won’t be working on Christmas.  How can I complain?

Just some of my Santa Claus figurines – along with our customized stockings – waiting for Santa to come and fill them.
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