Odd Thoughts: Perfect Christmas not easy to plan

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” And so it was this Christmas.

Although, the outcome was not nearly as disturbing as that of the incident that prompted Robbie Burns to apologize to the mouse he had turned up with his plough 230 years ago.

For the first time in years, Donna and I had the time and circumstance to plan a perfect Christmas with the immediate family. Kids and grandkids would all be here.

With my retirement having unburdened me of the ceaseless deadlines that piled up and threatened to overwhelm me through the approach of Christmas each year, we would have the time and energy to provide a perfect Christmas with all the iconic Christmas meals, from breakfast through dinner perfectly planned and laid out.

The outdoor lights went up in time to turn them on Dec. 1 – a feat I had dreamed of in years past, but had never accomplished.

And Donna notes I managed it with fewer than three dozen swear words – a feat that shattered the previous record.

The tree and accompanying indoor decor went up a day behind schedule. But that wasn’t bad, especially considering that only some of the lighting and none of the air was blue by the time I was done.

And it was still weeks to Christmas, so our version of Robbie’s mouse was not put out in the least.

Gifts were all purchased with weeks to spare, instead of days… or hours (or sometimes only minutes).

It was while hunting the turkey that we got our first real hint of what was to come. I went out to our preferred hunting ground on the designated Turkey Day and… there was only one left! And it was on the edge of not big enough. Arrgghhhhh!

I potted the sucker anyway.

The old stress started to creep in, masking the fact that we still had a good week and a half left to bag a more suitable candidate for the Christmas oven.

And of course, we found another. A perfect bird, indeed. Which left us with a spare – and still no apologies for the mouse.

’Twas three nights before Christmas when all through our home, an ominous sound arrived through our phone. The Lad had pulled an all-nighter programming computers, and had caught “whatever is going around.” He was still going to try to make it for dinner, but…

Then on Christmas Eve, with a visit to extended family looming on the agenda, one of the dogs wouldn’t stop puking all over the house. His uncharacteristically quiet demeanour, coupled with his refusal to eat – and he had refused liquid sustenance for two full days now – meant a trip (an unscheduled trip!) to the vet.

And the kids, flying back from Mexico to join us for Christmas, reported they were snowed-in in Calgary.

Our scheduled oysters-and-kippers breakfast turned to brunch, and eventually became a catch-as-catch-can afternoon snack, an oyster here, a kipper here, as the clan slowly – but inexorably – gathered. Other than everyone’s healthy albeit haphazard arrival, not a single plan panned out in the end. And wouldn’t you know it? It was the best Christmas ever!

Chaos is just a natural part of Christmas at our house. No amount of “best laid schemes” will get us around that.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.The mouse be damned.

The only really scary part is… New Year’s is usually even worse!



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