The Holiday Hangover

E.O. Schaub

I just love the holidays. It’s just that they’re killing me.

I mean, sure they’ve been over for most of YOU, you normal people, for some time now. Lucky you. However, in my case, we’re still celebrating. And celebrating. Oh yes. You gotta love all this celebrating. And celebrating. And eating. And present-giving. And eating. And more presents. And eating. Did I mention the eating? If I gain any more festive holiday weight I have plans to enter myself as a float in a Mardi Gras parade.

Not to mention that I am so behind on bills and housework that, currently, my house looks like a tornado and a hurricane met and fell in love in my living room. While doing their laundry. In fact, I’m not so worried about the bills being so late, because when the bill-collectors come they’ll never be able to find me in here. You think I’m kidding? At least three separate friends have commented recently, in so many words, how nice it is that my house is a mess, so they don’t feel quite so bad about what a mess their houses are, too. (I can see the commercial now: “Holidays taken over your life? Feel like you will absolutely, positively, NEVER catch up? Come on over to Eve’s house and we guarantee: you’ll feel so much better!”) Glad to help!

Now, you might be wondering why I’m still stuck in holiday limbo when you’ve been back to ordinary life-as-usual for some time now. There are a few reasons. One is my Dad. Specifically, that fact that my Dad prefers to celebrate Christmas in person. And when I say “prefers” I mean that he would rather endure Chinese fingernail torture than open a Christmas present without both the recipient and the giver in attendance. And did I mention that Dad and I don’t get together terribly often? Between winter weather and family dynamics, our Christmas-get-together plans are nearly always foiled… and postponed.

So I have opened Christmas presents along with Valentines. I have opened Christmas presents in April. I have opened Christmas presents while wearing shorts and t-shirts and a sprinkler going for the kids in the backyard. One year I had a bright idea: I tried sending my Dad his presents in the mail, knowing that year that I wouldn’t see him in any month remotely resembling December. I wrote on the box: “Do Not Open Till Xmas!!” Do you know what he did? He saved them, completely unopened, and brought them with him so we could open them together, probably under the shade of beach umbrella. Note to self- never send Dad anything more perishable than a Twinkie. I figure pretty soon we’ll get so behind that we’ll be back to opening Christmas presents in December.

So there’s really no telling how long the holidays could go on with Dad- I just know I pretty much need to have Christmas wrap on hand year-round. However, another factor at work in my own personal never-ending holiday vortex is the fact that my mother has a January birthday. Now, if you know anything about mothers at all you know that you should definitely NOT slight their birthday. Not if you enjoy your existence on this planet.

For years, my mother has told me how completely crappy it is to have a January birthday, and you can see why it would be: everyone is just done with celebrating. People are full, fat and tired, to the point where not celebrating anything, perhaps ever again, actually sounds like a really attractive thing. On top of that, having just gotten you a Christmas present they agonized over, no one has even the slightest idea what to get you for this additional occasion, which, even though they know it is coming, somehow seems to ambush them every year. Some try to weasel out by counting their Christmas present as a birthday present too… Or, still in the throes of their own personal holiday hangovers, others simply forget your birthday altogether. And did we mention that on top of everything else, it’s freaking cold? It sucks. “Whatever you do,” my mother was known to warn me on many an occasion, “don’t have a baby in January.”

This was one of those wise bits of motherly advice- along with “never wear white after labor day” and “never, EVER get any form of permanent body-art” that apparently had absolutely no effect on me. Ask me when our youngest daughter was born. Go on. Ask me. Okay, I’ll tell you: the day after my mother’s birthday. Yep.

Well, what can I say? I had baby fever. If you’ve ever had, or known someone who had baby fever then you know that the prospective mommy-to-be is about as easy to reason with as a rhinoceros on crack. Counting nine months out was not on my radar screen at all until the doctor got out that little Perdue when-will-you-pop-o-meter and told me my due date. Only then did it begin to dawn on me- oh yeah… what was that bit about January birthdays again..?

I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get the memo, though, because I was lucky enough last year to become an Aunt, and I bet you’ll never guess in a million years what month that beautiful little flower wanted to be born in. Go on. Guess. Okay I’ll tell you: four days after my daughter’s birthday (which is, of course, five days after my mom’s). Yep.

Apparently, there is some serious Capricorn Karma at work in my life.

So, the upshot here is we now have in my family not one, but THREE super, duper, Important-with-a-capital- “I”, not-to-be-overlooked-upon-pain-of-feeling-lower-than-dog-poo-on-your-shoe birthdays to celebrate before the confetti has been fully swept from the winos on Times Square. And now that our youngest daughter has gotten to the age where she is not only cognizant of her birthday, but actually has actual expectations for said event, (can Santa come? Can we have a giraffe? Can my cake be made out of Strawberries and Tootsie Rolls?) well, that’s the part where I strongly contemplate tearing my hair out in large celebratory handfuls.

But just listen to me: bitch bitch bitch. I know, somewhere a little tiny violin is playing a song just for me– right?

Despite the state of my house, my checkbook, my waistline, and my generally tenuous hold on the right and salutary order of the universe, I’ve been trying to get a grip and remember what’s really important, and that helps. I mean, I know I’m awfully bloody lucky to have a Dad who cares so much about maintaining certain traditions- no matter how screwy they become, because they are ours. That’s just my Dad. (I mean, I knew I got my obstinance from somewhere, right?) Would I really like it better if he simply sent a box in the mail and wrote on it “Open on Xmas!” like everyone else? I don’t think so. Plus, I’d have to call him and say “Who are you and what have you done with my Dad?”

And having my Mom’s and my daughter’s birthdays- and now my niece’s too- right next to each other is actually a really nifty thing, I realized. It’s something they share, but all the while each still having their own distinct day and- God help me- celebration too. And when they get a little older, they’ll probably commiserate on how it really does suck to have a birthday in January- and then they’ll have that to share too.

In the meantime, I’m hard at work on my latest invention: Merry Birthdantine’s Day wrapping paper. I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

2 thoughts on “The Holiday Hangover

  1. I thought this was so hilarious I had tears running down my cheeks as I read it!

    I’d like to request a different wrapping paper though-Mardi Grasdantine’s Day- those are the next concurrent holidays for which I’m planning, organizing and ordering. Its okay though, I had a week off to rest after my most recent birthday extravaganza-lavishly celebrated with your family and of course the granddaughter who is my birthday apprentice since her birthday is the very next day after mine!! Hope your house recovers by the time you smell lilacs. MOM

  2. Yay! I got Mom to comment!

    I like the idea of a birthday apprentice, as long as Donald Trump has NOTHING to do with it.

    Thanks Mom- and Happy Mardi Grasdantine’s Day.

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