Christmas Eve: All the Things I Haven’t Done

It’s 9:33 pm on Christmas Eve, and as I wait for Smoke to fall asleep, I take stock of all the things I haven’t done.

1. I haven’t finished wrapping presents.

2. I haven’t filled stockings because Smoke is still awake, nor have I put any presents under the tree because Stump would have immediately unwrapped them and thrown them across the room.

3. I haven’t bought my partner any kind of gift that would indicate that she’s special to me in any way. I’m hopeful that I’ve chosen enough items to fill her stocking, but it’s going to be filled with underwear, socks, and beef jerky. No fun surprises. (Kellie, if you are reading this: spoiler alert.)

4. I have only mailed one third of my Christmas cards. This is typical, and why I always choose cards that don’t directly mention Christmas. That way, I figure I have until New Years to send my “Season’s Greetings.”

5. I haven’t mailed packages to family members who live far away. I don’t remember making a decision about this. It just kind of occurred to me this morning that tomorrow is Christmas and I haven’t done that.

6. I haven’t assembled thoughtful gifts for my closest friends, even though I have received them. I didn’t make jams, or soaps, or buy a case of expensive wine to dole out to those I love the most, although I fully intended to back in November.

It seems that many of the seasonal things I’ve done, I’ve done haphazardly. I did my Christmas shopping, frantically, in two days. I made cookie dough last week, but didn’t bake or frost the cookies until this morning. It feels like this year Christmas is something that simply happened to me, like a tornado or the flu.

I dream of a future holiday season, one in which I decide which holiday activities are meaningful to me and follow through. Perhaps that would entail beginning in November, not just with intentions but with action. Perhaps it wouldn’t mean doing more or buying more, but it would mean engaging with the season, with the notions of giving and receiving, and breathing my way through rather than closing my eyes and hoping for the best.

Smoke and neighbor Kathy's Christmas cookie art. Please note Smoke's psychedelic Santa, on offering tonight.
Smoke and neighbor Kathy’s Christmas cookie art. Please note Smoke’s psychedelic Santa, on offering tonight.


  1. Had to read this perfectly wonderful post! As of 8:45 I had zero Santa gifts wrapped… For four kids. Including approximately 81 gently used pieces of American Girl Doll paraphernalia friends have given me over the course of the year. Plus my four-year-old has been wandering around holding a bucket saying she might throw up. (And she might. She did two days ago…) Also, no cards mailed yet. You’ve captured it all here so beautifully.
    I think maybe Christmas really does sort of happen to us. Maybe it’s just how graciously we hold up under the pressure that says something about us, as opposed to those homemade lemon-scented body scrubs we never made for our friends.
    Here’s your virtual body scrub. Happy holidays!

    • I accept your virtual lemon-scented body scrub! Here’s a virtual ceramic mug in your favorite color. Hope you and the family have a joy-filled day tomorrow…with minimal eruptions of sibling rivalry, disappointments, etc.!

  2. You’ve been honoring the true Christmas spirit by virtue of your being a wonderful mother, wife, and teacher. How much giving can one person do? x0x0

  3. And as the mother of a 17- and a 19-year-old, those memories of Christmases when I didn’t have the time to do the things I thought I *should* be doing because I was so busy living that constant giving-and-receiving from, and with, my family (even if what I was giving was a bucket and what I was receiving was even worse) are the things I am missing this year. I enjoy my leisurely time cleaning the house and sharing in what we have, but all the same, those are the Christmas memories that I treasure the most – Enjoy!

    • My son is 15, and I completely relate to your assertion that a little tranquility comes at a very dear price.

    • Yes, as my kids get older I can really appreciate how the space of time where they’re young enough to be around and share their enthusiasm will be short indeed. Glad the holidays have passed and I can catch my breath, but it was fun to watch the spirit it brought out in my older son.

  4. The cookie suggests Santa is having a flashback. I love it.
    I was up until 5:00 this morning and I only have one child, a very patient 15 year old. All that matters at this point in your Christmas life is Smoke and, to a lesser extent because of his age, Stump. You can give Kellie a surprising
    New Year’s gift. I hope you are having a great day.
    P.S. I have completely given up on holiday cards. It’s just not in my DNA to make that happen.

  5. Happy New Year. With the built-in hecticness that is the holidays I wonder if anyone out there that doesn’t have lots of assistants can do the season perfectly. Reading your list, you sound like you were way more ahead of the game than I was. 🙂 For years I would buy christmas cards and they would go back in the closet- so nowadays I don’t even buy them. Hopefully, next year… 🙂 Love the cookies, btw.

    • Oh, a holiday assistant would be the best! One of the few things I’d be really excited to take advantage of if I ever became wealthy, like flying first class and buying a new car.

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