Christmas will not be cancelled this year; nor will it be postponed. No matter how much I might wish to go to bed tonight, and awaken tomorrow morning to discover that it is January 5th, it's not gonna happen.
But there are several other things that have also not been happening--and are not going to happen--in this household, this year.
Several months ago, several things happened in my life almost simultaneously: I decided it was time to quit smoking; I turned fifty years old; I went off Premarin, thus throwing myself into instant menopause; my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer; my sweet little boy turned, overnight, into a Giant, Attitudinal Hormone. And, somewhere along in all of this mess, I became depressed, and my right leg became worse, and my pain meds became virtually ineffective.
It was at that point that I, a Helicopter Parent [hovering mama] from way back, inadvertently discovered what was, for me, a new style of parenting; I call it Minimalist Mothering, and it is defined as doing just enough. Just enough cleaning to keep the Health Department at bay. Just enough grocery shopping that the Kid can always locate a Toaster Scramble for breakfast, a frozen meal for supper. Just enough laundry that we don't have to go out and buy new underwear once a week. And just enough grounding and discipline and yelling and crying and hugging and loving and cheering that the Kid remembers--occasionally--that there's also a Mom living in his house.
This Christmas, Minimalist Mothering dictates that I will not be driving myself crazy trying to create the warmest, cleanest, most welcoming home in town--you know, the home that always smells of crisp pine needles and freshly baked sugar cookies? I will be happy if I can keep the smell of the senile-old-cat-shit down to a dull roar. And there will be no scent of pine because this year, there is going to be no Christmas tree--and the only cookies you'll find in this house will come from the Publix bakery--if I happen to be passing the bakery counter on my way to the Frozen Meals of Convenience and Neglectful Parenting.
Some traditions will be kept. I will make my annual obscenely large donation to Journey's End, a worthwhile organization for aged, homeless, and disabled former family pets who have been abandoned. [Except for the children, we don't buy gifts in my family; we each donate to the charity of our choice.] And I will purchase for my son a few obscenely expensive electronic gadgets and accessories, about which he will give Not. One. Whit. but which will enable him to brag and look cool in front of his peers.
I will also join with a small portion of my family on Christmas Day, to eat lasagna [provided by the catering department of a local restaurant, and I'd much prefer turkey, myself--and a family who puts a little more 'fun' into 'dysfunctional', but ah well....]] and count our blessings. The way I see it, my family's biggest blessing is that we get to keep my mom for another Christmas--and perhaps many more, as it appears she was surgically cured. And my own biggest blessing is that I made it to age 50 without ever once not having a Christmas tree in a warm, inviting house that had been transformed into a Wonderland for the month of December. Yes, my own Biggest Blessing is that I've never experienced being the child of a Minimalist Mom.
My child deserves more from me this Christmas. More than the latest electronic games, more than the coolest jeans and athletic shoes. My child deserves everything I had when I was his age.
Maybe... just maybe... i could pop an extra pain pill and venture one trip up the stairs? Just to bring down the creche, the candles, a few ornaments... and the Christmas tree?