Okay-- so, we're down to piles and fudge.
I know that doesn't sound exciting, but "piles" is where we sort all of the presents and see how much stuff our kids actually have. Because when you're throwing it in the cart and trying to keep track of everybody it either A. Feels like way too much and you are afraid you'll get evicted or starve because the kids needed one more useless piece of plastic or B. it feels like you got way too little and the kid will feel as though he or she has failed the world at large and now you are forever responsible for ruining Christmas.
I have fucked up at Christmas once or twice.
Not HUGE amounts of times.
I never blew all the Christmas money on horses or forgot about the kids on Christmas Eve while I went into a bar and got drunk-- nothing that bad.
But one year Big T got all clothes while everybody else got toys. We didn't know what to get him--clothes and Legos were the only things on his list, and Santa is sometimes too overwhelmed for imagination. I don't know what to tell you.
There were a lot of tears.
One year, we forgot stocking stuffers. The kids ended up with stale gummi bears from the gas station--and M&M's, let's not forget those!--because that's all that was open on Christmas Eve. I mean, there were other presents--good ones, even, I think that was the year we got our first game system--but yeah. I failed.
So this year, three days before Christmas, we're at a point where I can eyeball all the presents and see if we slighted anyone or of someone was forgotten or if the stocking stuffers sucked (and yes, that does sound dirty when you say it fast) and we can see if there was something we can fix.
Friday is candy making, Saturday is housecleaning and cooking and A Christmas Story and Sunday is my parents' house.
And the whole time is a terrible fear--a sort of inescapable fear--that somewhere out there, we have failed.
I have to tell you that one of my favorite moments of any Christmas is the actual night of Christmas. We all come home, put on our jammies, and fall asleep in front of Die Hard or Love Actually.
Because for better or worse, for failure or success, by then we know we've done our best and not worry about it anymore.
Until the next day, when we try to make every day of Christmas vacation count.
Kids wonder why parents always seem so tired. I think it's the tightrope act of simultaneous fear and hope that we're not fucking up spectacularly.
Christmas night is when we can relax. Even if we fucked up, we get another year to make things right.