There’s something infinitely sad about taking down the Christmas decorations. It’s the ultimate admission that the holiday fun is over. There are no more twinkly lights. No more festive table arrangements made of evergreens and candles. No more stockings hung by the chimney with care—or, in the case of our apartment, the breakfast bar. Putting away the Christmas decorations means you have to face January. And February. Without nary an ornament or swag of holly.
This year, I served as Mistress Christmas for my family. We stopped exchanging gifts years ago and now only buy for the kids and dogs (yes, we treat our dogs as children). The thinking is that, for us adults, focusing on being together is more meaningful than opening up presents. Well, togetherness requires a leader, a Julie McCoy, if you will, to usher the family (sometimes begrudgingly) through one activity and gourmet meal into the next. My sister came up with the Mistress Christmas concept, the person who would serve as the invisible hand, the director of holiday cheer for the days we spent together.
It was my turn this most recent holiday to assume the awesome responsibility that is Mistress Christmas. I planned meals, wrote shopping lists and decided on a slate of activities for each day. I sent out formal invitations detailing the long weekend’s worth of fun. I made homemade chocolate truffles (a holiday ritual). Shortly thereafter, I realized that Mistress Christmas needed a trusted assistant—there was so much to do! So my husband was recruited as Mister Christmas. We purchased games for “game night,” designed and procured team t-shirts for a family football game (Whos vs. Elves) and made a home movie showcasing the year’s most memorable moments of all of us. Having taken lead on all things holiday, I was determined to make this The Best Year Ever.
And then Mistress Christmas got sick. Right along with Mister Christmas.
We managed to drive to Cleveland, with throats that felt like we swallowed glass, fevers that could melt butter and coughs that telegraphed our illness to anyone within a 400-yard radius. One visit to the Urgent Care center in town, two bottles of Nyquil, a package of Advil Cold & Sinus and too many tissues to count later, Christmas took on a distinctly different feel than I had imagined. There was no football game, with two of its starters sitting on the bench. And game night devolved into a coughing/snot fest that, frankly, no one wanted to be party to. Mistress and Mister Christmas felt oddly MIA from the entire holiday extravaganza they had so painstakingly planned.
But there are some things that even Mistress Christmas cannot control, and that’s just a reality I have to accept. I have two years before I am again given the honor of assuming the most prestigious of holiday titles. And let me tell you, 2011 is going to be The Best Year Ever.
For now, I must take down the tree. You know, before it spontaneously combusts.