The Monday after Thanksgiving, as the world around me had clearly shifted into full-on holiday mode, I sat in our orthodontist’s waiting room with my two sons. The office, of course, was strung with garland and lights. While my older son was in the back being treated, my five year old played Wii tennis in the office’s play room. On the television, the early morning talk show hosts were showcasing gift ideas, but I couldn’t hear them over the Christmas music being played on an office radio.
Despite my deep love of Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” the song was making me break out in a cold sweat. As my youngest swung an imaginary racquet around his head, grunting like John McEnroe, I tried to swat away the panic that was starting to set in. I felt shopping days ticking away. Thanksgiving was a week ago and I don’t have my Christmas tree up yet. I haven’t even bought a wreath.
And what was I doing? Sitting. Waiting.
This week has been chock-full of appointments, some scheduled (orthodontist, teacher conferences, high school visit), some surprises (hello, sinus infection that knocked out two family members). So, I’ve done a lot of rushing to get places, then a lot of waiting once I’ve arrived.
I’d like to say that this accounts for my lack of Christmas fervor and holiday inaction. Or, that my aloofness regarding all-things-tinseled is part of some cool strategy — like, I’m taking a needed breath between holidays before fully committing to the holiday frenzy. But, no, that would be untruthful.
I’m just not ready.
Really, my hesitation is typical. I am a late bloomer — always the last to buy into the hype. I only just started listening to podcasts and haven’t stopped talking about it to friends and family. Did you know that there are podcasts of the New York Times column “Modern Love”? That actors read these beautiful and awkward short memoir pieces? That listening to someone read aloud can rip your heart out or make you belly laugh, all while you’re walking through the park or folding laundry? Of course you did. Everybody knew. Now I do too.
Call it a procrastinator’s vindication, but I’ve found that being the last on the bandwagon doesn’t diminish my excitement (though, occasionally, it does make me awkward at small talk).
The weeks before Christmas are about waiting, which is something that mothers deeply understand. Waiting for a baby to sleep the night, a toddler to walk, laundry to dry, a practice to end, waiting for a child to finally read, mature, find a friend, waiting to have a conversation, to make a decision, to hear from colleges. And, yes, waiting to embrace the next season and list of to-dos.
While I waited for my son to finish with the orthodontist, I started to feel that slow nag creeping up — that inner voice that tells me I should be doing something different, more productive. What was I doing? Still waiting.
Mariah had hit her high note, and the radio transitioned to the slow, guttural sound of Clarence Clemons’ sax building into “Merry Christmas, Baby.” I felt my first flash of Christmas spirit — and remembered that this wasn’t the first time Bruce has reminded me some things are worth the wait. Maybe I will download my first audiobook and listen to his memoir to get me through the holiday season. Did you know he reads it himself, with that raspy Jersey drawl? Of course you did. Everybody knows.
I will have to start carrying earbuds to get through it in the next few weeks. If I’m going to spend so much time waiting, I may as well enjoy it.