Merry Christmas to all

Carpenters Star quilt. Photo by Charity Banks.

By Kristen Banks

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. It can also be the most stressful time of the year.

If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time throughout the year planning for one month. The month of December is usually filled with friends, fun, festivities, and stress. It’s amazing how one little month can hold so much anticipation and trepidation in it.

First, there are the gifts. If you’re making your own, like so many quilters do, you probably started preparing your projects months ago, at the first of the year, in January. Because Girl, if you don’t, half of the family is going to get an amazing rag quilt, except for your brother-in-law David, Cousin Sarah’s little boy Jimmie, and Great Aunt Bertie who you’ll be rushing around Wal-Mart at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 trying to get a Snuggie for.

Auntie Bertie may be 97, but she WILL know the difference, and this faux pas could come back to haunt you.

Then there’s the food. I always spend a great deal of time trying to plan the perfect dish. Everyone made over that jalapeno corn casserole you brought to Christmas Eve last year, which should be simple enough to duplicate this year right?

But it isn’t.

You didn’t put in enough cheese this time, you overcooked it while you were on the phone fighting with the store that shipped the instant pot you ordered for your mother to Durant, Iowa instead of Durant, Oklahoma, and you accidentally dumped half a jar of jalapeños in by accident while the kids were fighting over a free sample of gum. You tried to spoon out most of the fiery green devil disks, but you couldn’t get all of the juice. Uncle Bill had to spend most of the evening in the lavatory right next to the kitchen. Now everyone is unhappy, you are solely to blame, and you are reminded by your second cousin on your Dad’s side with the big hair that “cooking just might not be your thing.”

There are also all of the parties, concerts, and plays. Whose event makes the cut? Who gets bumped this year?

Sure, you’ll take care of your own first, but your sister was a trooper and sat through three hours of grade school fiddlers trying to play “Boil them cabbage down” just to watch your little angel start, then stop, then start again sawing through the same song as the last 24 kids last spring. She swears she had a headache for two days after that concert. You owe her big; you are going to have to sit through yet another subpar prepubescent performance of the nutcracker. Just make sure your phone is charged up, and pack a snack, it’s going to be a long night.

By the evening of Dec. 25, as you collapse in a heap into a sea of cardboard and wrapping paper scraps on the floor in the middle of your brightly covered living room as the tree blinks through a succession of colored then white lights, while your children dance around you yelling like victorious warriors, waving empty wrapping paper tubes like sabers, you’ll feel more like a human sacrifice or a hobo trying to take a nap on the Vegas strip than a person who has just experienced the most wonderful time of the year

You’ll wonder why you put so much time, money, and effort into this one day. You’ll wonder if it was all really worth it, and vow to live a simpler life next year – but you won’t.

Come Dec. 26, you’ll hit a great sale at Penney’s and you’ll put that sweater back for next Christmas, because after all it should just fit little Tommie by then, and this shade of blue would really bring out the color in his eyes for next year’s family portrait. And the cycle continues.

What is the moral of this story? Don’t stress out about the holiday this year. Because, despite your best efforts things will go as planned, or they won’t. At the end of the day there will be food, friends, family, and probably some packages.

I think the best thing about the holidays is that we get to be here at all, stressing about them together. Maybe if we all agree to make the best of whatever situation gets thrown our way this year, and to cut each other a little slack when we don’t measure up to par, we can all just sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy this chaos we call Christmas and life.

“I know I sure will!” she said covered in string, hair frazzled, sipping her sixth cup of coffee, burning the midnight oil, trying to get this column written, as she stares at the stack of un-quilted lumps piled up in the corner needing to go out by Dec. 24.

And to all a good night.

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