Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm beginning to feel that holiday spirit. It's cool when I go out to get the newspapers and last night I could-have-but-didn't-and-it-didn't-matter-anyway covered my newly planted specimens to protect them from the "temps near freezing" predicted on the news updates during the Colts/Patriots game. I am motivated to collect the old sheets and thin blankets, though, so that when it really does get down in the 30's I am prepared. Because being prepared is what it's all about right now.

The pantry has to be stocked with all the unsweetened chocolate, almond and vanilla extracts, sugar, King Arthur Unbleached Flour (it really does make a difference), light Italian dressing, Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing (not the cubes, the shredded kind), noodles, chicken stock, jello, crackers, taco seasoning packets, and ketchup and mustards (yes, plural) and barbeque sauce --- so that when ever anyone asks for anything I only need the fresh stuff. This is not the time of year to be surprised by the absence of staples in the larder. I need to be prepared for random requests for favorite foods, because that's a big part of what coming home for the holidays entails.

For example: The Little Cuter could hardly wait to get home from the airport so she could leave the house to see her friends when she came in for Thanksgiving from the Big 10 her freshman year. Sure, she was glad to see us, but we were the white bread to her social life, and her friends were the multi-grain.... they were much more interesting, though we'd do in a pinch. She changed her tune when she walked through the door, though. Suddenly she was on the phone, "I'll be a little later than I'd planned. Mom made pot roast."

Planning ahead leads to seduction by smell. I never want to disappoint a Cuter who wants a special treat, and I'm obviously not above abusing the point to get what I want.

Preparation is important for wrapping, packing and shipping, too. I have located all the rolls of wide tape and their dispensers
and I've counted and assessed the pre-printed USPS shipping materials and have evaluated the amount and condition of the bubble-wrap and styrofoam peanuts and brown paper I've accumulated in the corner of the garage. I've ordered more little boxes, and I've found the list I made last January detailing what I needed for 2009 (Hanukah tags, white tissue paper, green and red and blue corded ribbon). My plan is to be fully stocked by December 1st, ready for the first round of gift sending.

The address book is updated, and I've begun to establish who will be where for which holiday. Keeping track of nieces and nephews and the children of friends is becoming more of a logistical nightmare than it was when they were all living under their parents' roofs. I'm not complaining .... well, OK, I am complaining but it's the kind of complaining elves get to do when they are gearing up for the main event and I do believe I have a special dispensation to moan and groan just a little before I get started.

Because once I get started, it's non-stop good smells, pretty paper, "remember this?" moments from now until 2010.

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