As Christmas gets closer, I look forward to it less. I know that, like Clark, I "set standards that no family activity can live up to." So by the 23rd of December, I've kind of had enough of it all already.
I'm anticipating what I know will be difficult moments. I've got 3 days of family festivities coming up: Christmas Eve with my husband's huge extended family, Christmas Day at home, just us and my mother-in-law, and Christmas: The Day After with my family in the Great White North.
There will be people with whom I've never really gotten along well, and we'll have to make nice.
There will be people who've hurt me, and I'll have to pretend I've let it go.
There will be people who like to give me "career advice" because my kids are "too old" for me to still stay at home with them.
There will be an extremely shaggy dog that sets off my asthma, and I'll have to be extra careful about that, because I have to sing at church on Christmas Day and I don't want to sound like Bonnie Tyler in "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
It's not going to be a picture-perfect three days by any stretch of the imagination. To be honest, I'm dreading them. That shot in the arm of Christmas spirit I got from our Festival of Lessons & Carols? It's pretty much worn off. I feel less and less like celebrating, and more and more like I've got to just grit my teeth and get through it.
(It's for the kids, after all. And I think one of them still believes.)
All of that does nothing to shake that feeling I've got right now, that "we're standing at the threshold of Hell." The feeling that this one, as bad as I am expecting it to be, is going to be better than the one next year. It's all downhill from here, for various reasons, and I'm not feeling up for it.
Like Clark, I want it perfect. It's never going to live up to that dream, and I know it. Let's face it: the very first Christmas sure didn't live up to Mary's dreams. Maybe that's what Christmas is all about...