Saturday, November 30, 2013

Making Memories Is Like Oatmeal, Or In My Case, Like A Porcupine

Pressure Busting Tip #21
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.  I know I did. If you shared it with your extended family, more than a few stories were likely shared.  Probably several were precious, adorable, and embarrassing, the latter featuring you as the main character.  My mother especially loves to tell her entire repertoire of Hapless Nance stories as often as possible to as wide an audience as she can.  She doesn't do this to Patti* of course, nor Bobby, nor Susan.  And it would be at least a Venial Sin to do this to (!gasp!) a Grandchild. (*favourite child of all)

One of her All-Time Favourites is Christmas-themed.  According to St. Patsy:  "Nance is sitting there with her nose in a book, as usual, while everyone else is busy doing something, when all of a sudden, she starts hollering to me in the kitchen to come quick.  'Mom!  Mom!  Hurry up!'  Now, I have no idea what's going on.  I'm in the kitchen; I don't remember what exactly I was doing, but I was busy.  Maybe I was doing the dishes or making dinner or something like that.  Anyway, I probably stopped to wipe my hands on a dishtowel.  She screamed one more time, 'Mom!', and then I hear a whoosh and a crash and the sound of things breaking.  I run in there, and there's Nance, standing by the TV, and the entire Christmas tree, lights lit and all, lying on the floor.  Here the thing had been tipping over, falling, and instead of catching it, she just got out of the way!  Just scooped up her book and ran out of the way.  I asked her, 'Why didn't you catch it?'   And she said, 'Mom!  I'm not gonna catch that big tree!'  So she just let it fall.  What a mess!"  And here she keeps shaking her head, remembering the mess of it all, while chuckling at the same time.

All I can remember is a bigass, fully decorated, seven-foot balsam tree leaning and going, and my mother seeming unconcerned as I hollered for her to come quick.  I was, at the time, probably ten years old.  Maybe eleven. There was no way in Hell that I was going to intervene between gravity and, say, fifty thousand sharp little evergreen needles that were in various stages of dryness.  Plus, that tree had at least two feet and more than a couple pounds on me.  Back in those days, we used the large, old-fashioned lights, and those things got hot.  Did that woman honestly think I was going to catch what amounted to a burning hot, seven-feet tall porcupine in drag?  Exactly who is the crazy one?  But it was funny, just the same.  (Since I'm alive to talk about it.)

This brings me to my final Pressure Busting Tip, #21. ( I had hoped to have 30 of them, remember?  My original plan was to post one every day of November, but that didn't happen.  Oh well; I still did a pretty good job.  No one is perfect.  It's impossible.)   Stop striving for The Perfect Christmas.  It's Impossible.  Stuff happens.  But the Stuff is what makes memories.  Families are like oatmeal--lumpy, sticky, and a little bit messy.  That means anything connected with them will be the same.  If you look back at your memories, your pictures, your Life--it's the little imperfections that have made it interesting.  And, remember, Christmas comes every single year.  You can always try again.



  1. I'm sure I would've done just as you did - self preservation wins every time!

    We had a crazy Christmas two years ago. School let out for us at noon on Friday, Dec 23. Our plan was to head down the highway on the 24th to spend the holidays with my side of the family. Sadly, by 7pm on the 23rd my youngest (10 yrs at the time) started throwing up, and continued to do so every half hour until 2am. I will never, ever forget his sweet face and him crying "I'm so sorry!! I'm ruining Christmas" over and over. I did my best to assure him he wasn't!

    Anyway, we didn't get into the car the next morning, we stayed home. We faced no small amount of pressure to come anyway, but I'm so glad we didn't as the virus was quickly passed around to all of us at home.

    AND... although we missed being there, in some ways it was the best Christmas ever because it was just the four of us. THere is something very special about the memory of sitting in front of the fire on Christmas Eve, having a few goodies and just having the opportunity to just BE. It was wonderful. The bonus for me is that my husband and boys look back on it the same way I do.

  2. Nance, I just shared this same sentiment in my Thanksgiving post the other day. We really do remember the imperfect moments and enjoy them far more than those "perfect" moments. I think you did the right thing jumping out of the way of that tree. As you pointed out, there would have been so many inherent dangers in doing that. I definitely remember those large hot lights--yikes!

    You've done a really terrific job with these posts. I know we've all appreciated them!


  3. If that tree had killed you, or even blinded you, you wouldn't be here writing for us, so I am grateful that you got the heck out of the way. Trees are unwieldy.

    I talk far more about my grandmother's horrid dried out turkeys than I ever have about the delicious juicy ones I've had since then. Not that I want to go back and eat a dried out turkey, mind you, but it does prove your point.

  4. J@jj--It's so true. The oddball stuff makes the best stories. We all tire of people who yammer away endlessly about their Perfect Children and their Perfect Lives. We love our friends whose tales of tribulations are like our own, and it's not so much because "misery loves company." I think it's largely because we treasure the humanness of each other. And we all love to laugh.

    Thank you for your compliment. November has proven to me that I don't need to be so lazy in the Writing Department. I will try to write far more often here.

    Shirley--Thank you! RE: being on the same wavelength. I wonder if our quest for perfection around the holidays is because of media pressure, childhood perceptions, or pressure because as women, we are the Holiday Bringers? Maybe it is a deadly combo of all three.

    Rox--Hey, there you are! Nice to see you here again. Getting sick for Christmas is something I think all families go through with alarming regularity at one point. My sister Patti had a bad run of it for a while.

    You're right, though. It can be a blessing in disguise. Forced to lie low, you really have to have a low-key Christmas, and it is like a revelation. Yours sounds so cozy and nice, once the voms were done with. Your narration almost sounds...wistful. Time to "get sick" again?

  5. I think I was older than you were when I knocked over our Christmas tree. Certainly old enough to know better! I was crawling around trying to read the name tag on the giant present in the very back (& if you recall, my mom wasn't happy unless there was a Lake 'O Presents surrounding the tree). Apparently I wiggled when I should have waggled & that sucker went right over, with me just sitting stupefied on the floor. I don't even remember whose present that was. Ha!

  6. Anonymous11:05 AM

    Thank you for all of these posts. They have been wonderful. We put up our tree right around our anniversary every year, if not right on the day. So that's tomorrow. My co-worker is shocked that we have waited SO LONG. There's only 21 days left, you know. So I just threw at him~ Christmas is a journey, not a race. Glad I'm not alone in feeling this way!

  7. Bug--I know I answered this comment already, but hell if I know where it went! Anyway, I wonder if you learned your lesson, or if you continued snooping at your own peril. At least I was just sitting there, reading!

    Jennifer--Bless your heart! Thank you! Honestly, I'm very surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response this series has received. But I'm so very glad. Your co-worker can spare the outrage--our tree, although bought and ready in its bucket of water, is in the garage, waiting for this weekend! Happy Anniversary to you and E! Much love to you both.

  8. I actually think I DID learn my lesson :)


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