A Realist's Guide to Holiday Scheduling

Young woman decorating Christmas tree
Young woman decorating Christmas tree

Every year, Christmas happens on December 25th.

In theory, I know this; yet every year, I am somehow surprised by it.

I start making all these ambitious plans before Thanksgiving, confident that this year will be The Most Perfect Holiday Season Ever. I'll get all my shopping done weeks ahead of time, I vow. I'll wrap everything in beautiful packaging and even take the time to do the curly-ribbon-thing with scissors. I'll budget accordingly -- no surprises. I'll decorate to the nines and invite people over and be a model hostess. I won't eat too much, I won't drink too much, and I will wear brightly-colored lipstick without smearing it, clown-like, all over my face (admittedly, a goal not specifically reserved for the holidays, but rather a year-round pipe dream I've been chasing my entire adult life.)

Does it ever happen like this? Does it ever all go off without a hitch? Do I ever enter the festivities feeling like the Martha Stewart of Christmas?

I think we all know the answer to that.

So this year, I'm calling it like it is -- before it even happens. Behold my official holiday schedule, the way it's really going down.

November 23rd
Start making lists of what to get people for Christmas. Feel really on-the-ball and proactive.

November 28th
Go on all-day shopping excursion to look for gifts. End up buying presents for four people and several things for myself (a pepper mill shaped like a dolphin, a cute notebook, an inappropriate refrigerator magnet and a pair of socks with tiny brontosauruses on them) that I can't resist. Feel really on-the-ball and proactive, so reward myself with three glasses of wine at my favorite bistro. Dismiss the fact that I've spent more money on myself than on anyone else.

November 29th
Decide to throw a wine and cheese party for friends and family on Christmas Eve, as clearly there is adequate time to plan.

December 5th
Halfheartedly surf Amazon for gift ideas for those last few hard-to-buy-for people on list.

December 9th
Decide wine and cheese party also needs a selection of hors d'oeuvres, because I don't want anyone to starve, do I? Attempt to browse web for recipe ideas, but get stuck trying to figure out how to spell hors d'oeuvres and give up.

December 12th
Change search term to "appetizers" and print recipes for beautiful and ambitious dishes like blue cheese and pear tartlets, smoked salmon mousse, and fig and olive tapenade. Guests will be stunned with my culinary prowess. Enjoy self-satisfied feeling.

December 13th
Halfheartedly surf Amazon for gift ideas for those last few hard-to-buy-for people on list.

December 16th
Brag to my friends how on-the-ball and proactive I am, because I got most of my shopping done before December even happened.

December 18th
Halfheartedly surf Amazon for gift ideas for those last few hard-to-buy-for people on list. Get distracted looking at cute serving platters for cheese. Order too many and justify it because - hey! - free shipping.

December 21st
Spend an hour rifling through closet, wondering what I'm going to wear to the wine and cheese party.

December 23rd
Realize that the wine and cheese party is - gasp - tomorrow. Review appetizer recipes, make a list of ridiculously expensive ingredients, do the math to see if I can afford them all, realize I can't, and scrap the fancy-schmancy shit and settle for cocktail weenies and packaged hummus instead. Go to the liquor store with the intention of buying four bottles of wine, but leave with seven. Just in case. Go to the cheese shop with the intention of buying six different kinds of cheese. Leave with eleven. Just in case.

December 24th
Shit, shit, shit, the party is today and Christmas is tomorrow and I don't have anything done, why oh why oh why does this always happen to meeeeee??? Panic!!! Run around in frenzy trying to make house look perfect. Realize still need gifts for those last few hard-to-buy-for people on list, so run to store and buy several Visa gift cards. Return home. Attempt to wrap presents, but realize do not fucking have wrapping paper. Go back to store and buy wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape. Return home and frantically wrap presents. Spill barbecue sauce all over fucking counter while prepping cocktail weenies. Cut finger slicing cheese. Spend far too much fucking time making cute little placards to label the cheeses. Once serving platters are arranged, decide there's too much empty space despite having eleven fucking kinds of cheese, so go back to store to get blackberries, cornichons, olives and prosciutto to artfully arrange in amongst cheeses. Return home just as guests are starting to arrive. Panic because I'm still in my t-shirt and yoga pants and haven't showered or put on my makeup or figured out what the fuck to wear, so throw my boyfriend to the wolves while I make myself presentable. Join party eventually, having forgotten to put on lipstick. Get jolly-drunk and forget all about the ridiculously fucked-up day I've had.

December 25th
Wake up with a hangover. Have a mimosa and wait to feel better. Spend day at family member's house, eating, drinking and distributing gifts. This is more like it.

December 26th
Wake up with a warm, fuzzy, post-Christmas glow, until I balance my bank account and realize I might need to sell a kidney on the black market to pay rent on January 1st. Reality has set in. Perhaps the landlord will understand...

Happy holidays, everyone! May all your carefully-laid-out plans come to fruition.