I often write about how I don’t have a wife. I do this for a reason. If you’re married, there’s no way for you to understand how much your spouse helps you. Only when you’re alone again can you understand. I want to help married people count their blessing. Before my divorce, I never thought too much about all my wife did. She did a bunch, especially during the holidays.
Now I do it all on my own. All on my own. And it’s not easy.
And with work and commuting and doctor appointments and shopping and cleaning and taking the car to get the flat tire fixed and the dry cleaning and helping with homework and helping with college applications and driving and driving and all the driving and buying Ed contact lenses and visiting Mom and “quality one-on-one time” and “all this running around” as Tale Impala says in Let It Happen…
All this running around
Trying to cover my shadow
An ocean growing inside
All the others seem shallow
All this running around
Bearing down on my shoulders
I can hear an alarm
Must be morning…
I’VE FORGOTTEN IT’S CHRISTMAS.
IN FIVE DAYS!
So, as I procrastinate, even now as I write this post, I will soon begin, within the hour, the festivities.
Without a wife, I will make the best of this procrastinated Christmas.
Set up the manger, the one I made in 2010. The one with the sticks and pine needles we gathered from North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon, the place we camped every summer for 10 straight years. The one with the wood from old grape crates from when dad used to make wine. The one with the Italian figures that I searched for on eBay, because those were the ones I have the fondest memories growing-up, just a toddler, then an 8 year old, then a 16 year old, and they would mesmerize me, and they will this afternoon.
Lecture them about how, in ancient times, all homes had mangers. The animals stayed in the home, in a separate room. That it wasn’t some random stand-alone stable like today.
“Dad, you tell us this every year!”
Set up the Lionel train—the one I had as a kid, and the transformer thing probably won’t work, again.
Buy the tree. All three kids must come because if we’ve been able to hold to any tradition over the years it’s the one of them playing hide-n-seek in the Home Depot tree lot. And today they still will play, competitively, even though the boys would deny it to their friends.
Heat the Trader Joe’s spicy apple cider and we all drink it out of English tea cups while listening to Vince Geraldi (did I spell that correctly?) while we decorate the tree. Sift through a bunch of very tired and random and insignificant ornaments and tell myself I’m going to get rid of them this year.
“Getting organized” is the single best thing to procrastinate.
Bake. Christmas is better when baking is going on in the house. But it takes a long time.
Insist we all put on pajamas.
Light some candles that smell like cinnamon.
Try for another year to read aloud Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (like I try to every year but all the boys do is make jokes).
Read The Lion The Which And The Wardrobe because it reminds me of Christmas even though it really has nothing to do with Christmas and is much more appropriate for Easter.
Make a beef stew and add a little extra thyme and wonder for another year why stew is made with cheap beef and why you don’t make stew with porterhouse or filet mignon.
Watch It’s A Wonderful Life even though Edison never likes to because he says “it’s too emotional.”
(Every time I watch it I swear my life has such a parallel to George Bailey, primarily the part of feeling stuck in a boring town and wanting to dust this boring town off my skin forever [I would go write somewhere in Greece or Italy or Spain or Tunisia or anywhere along the Mediterranean].)
On a lighter note, to cheer my melancholy self up a bit, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and argue with the kids. When they’re all goofing around during the rehearsal—which is the best dance? (Linus’s is the best. Hands down.)
Keep telling the kids to get off their iPhones while we’re watching (even though it’s, somehow, okay for me to keep checking mine).
Fall asleep with Bree cuddled up next to me and hear “Dad, are you sleeping?” from all three and keep lying to them and telling them that I’m not.
Stumble into bed. Fed. Warm.