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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

Christmas Dreaming

December 15, 1993

Just eight more shopping days til Christmas.  I'm only too aware of that and I wanted to share.  Besides, the house looks like a disaster area and I wanted to share that, as well.

The tree is up.  Sort of.  Boxes of decorations have spontaneously opened and regurgitated their contents all over my freshly-cleaned rugs.  The ironing is still in a huge pile and I am up to my teakettle in high-caloric baking.  I've been at my list of chores for two weeks and have barely scratched the surface.

Isn't it funny how we never learn?  Year after year, it's the same darn thing: there never seem to be enough hours left to accomplish all the things scheduled for that last short week.  Why is it, do you suppose, that we feel it absolutely essential that the furthest recesses of the hall closet be emptied of a year's accumulation and its corners cleaned with a Q-tip dipped in hydrogen peroxide, just because it's Christmas?  Do we really believe that our fond friends and family are going to get down on their hands and knees to check out the dust levels under the fridge? 

What on earth prompts us to make up that three page list that includes baking 24 dozen cookies and l7 fruitcakes, sanitizing and deoderiz- ing every square inch of wall space and then add things like "paint all door mouldings"  and "clean dust jackets on books in office with artgum eraser." 

And then, of course, there's always that final cryptic little notation that tells us we must "Rmv Pl.p's. to Grn'hs."

Now, I know that should I be stricken with galloping gastroenteritis for the entire week just prior to December 24, Christmas would happen just as if I had scrubbed and waxed a mile of floors on my hands and knees and licked clean the pantry shelves with my tongue.  I know it!  But I just refuse to take responsibility for what will happen to Christmas this year if I can't figure out what I meant by "Rmv Pl.p's to Grn'hs."

On a more hopeful note, however, I just know that you will all be relieved and delighted to hear that I made it home safely after my shopping spree this past weekend. 

Of course, the "safely" is relative.  Navigating a tricky course along the north side of Main Street, I ran afoul of a slickery patch and measured my rather imposing length and breadth on the pavement. The resultant jolt caused some consternation among mearby shopkeepers and registered an astonishing 4.5 on the open-ended Richter scale.  No visible scars adorn my person but the damage to my dignity was both grievous and enduring.

Other than that, however, I think I can consider my foray into the over-wrought world of Christmas commerce a success. 

It was fun, bobbing and weaving through the jostling crowds, playing tug-of-war over that last nice white wool scarf (a bargain at l2.98 and perfect for a unisex last minute present) and coaxing the over- worked, under-briefed salesperson into helping me find the hand lotion which had been moved to make room for the big, expensive bath salts display.

And it was pretty, too, with all the foil and tinsel and lights and glitter, and the carols, insinuating themselves into the subconscious so that I hummed up to the cash register, which in turn, jingled musically as I poured three weeks earnings into its smiling jaw, rum-pum-pum-pum..... 

The store shelves seem to have a greater variety of nice things than ever and for me, the hardest part of shopping this year was trying to decide which method of payment to use. 

Remember when it took money to buy things and if you didn't have it, you didn't buy?  (Or maybe you don't; it's starting to seem that there aren't many of us left who can remember that far back.)  Now, we can go with cash, cheque, credit card, or Interac.  We can attend Don't Pay a Cent events.  We can lay away or we can buy now and pay later.  We can even take it home on approval and after we've tried it, bring it back, no questions asked about the sweat stains under the arm or the faint aura of perfume and cigarette smoke that still clings  in spite of the tumble we gave it in the old drier.

But it was easier to fill all the stockings this year - the Cabbage Patch doll just leaped off the shelf into my basket, exactly the right gift for Ma appeared as if by magic in my hand, and son-in- law Nick, happened by just in time to prevent an error in selection for our youngest grandson.  My list was made up, checked twice and crossed off with comparative dispatch and I even saw a few things I'd like to have for myself, just in case anyone's asking. 

Like that gorgeous red Dodge Stealth RT Turbo at Metro Chrysler. I'll bet if Santa asked nicely, they'd give him a good deal on my little grey old-lady crate, with 0 percent financing and no payment until Easter.  Or that pink satin negligee in Chilkoot Woman; a bargain at twice the price and just what I've always wanted to be my style. 

Santa probably already has my kitchen gadget and a nice warm flan- nelette nightie so it doesn't really matter.  But if he was looking for a few extras, because I've been so good all year, there are a couple of other things....

I'd like to know exactly the right things to say, and when to say them.  I'd like to know how to fix a heartache and how to make things better.  I'd like to be able to smooth a troubled forehead and leap tall buildings at a single bound if it became necessary that I do so.

I'd like to lose 20 more pounds; learn how diskcopy perfectly; balance my Saturday till in the Bookroom at Mac's.  I want my hair to be thicker; my waist, thinner; my chins, fewer; and if something could be done about the width of my hips, I'd appreciate that as well.

I want the energy to finish that damn cook book; canoe the Yukon River; try my hand at oil painting.  I'd like to remember the punch line to the Garden of Eden joke.

I'd settle for being perfect......

Enough, my friends, I've got to go and decipher that "Rmv Pl.p's to Grn'hs" thing.  May your Christmas be warm and bright with love and joy; your New Year filled with happiness and all the good things.

Love and kisses, Ellen

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