Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Christmas Outside the Box -- The Year of No Wrapping Paper

Hello!  Long time, no see! I have a number of things on the slate to write about, but first, a run down of the holidays.

This was certainly the most unconventional Christmas we've ever had. I had a ton of plans of things to do over the time Zack was out of school. I DID manage to get the tree decorated at Thanksgiving, thanks to Rick putting it up, Zack decorating it with gold ornaments, and Zack and I both making a ginormous paper chain garland out of decorative origami paper. Above is just a glimpse.

So, score is mom 1, Stuff That Happens, 0.

I was also smart enough to have made all my purchases starting back in October, so I had boxes of things stacked in the bedroom waiting to be wrapped. No worries at all about having to go out or rush ship.

Score is now mom 2, Stuff That Happens, 0.

OK, this is the only photo I own of boxes. But you get the idea, yes?

The Thursday before the end of school, Rick volunteered to transport kids to their community service project. He came home and shook his head and said, "I had five boys in the car, and four of them were coughing." He then told me there were 44 absences out of a school of less than 300. 

Guess who's coming to dinner?  Sir Flu, I do believe.

That night, Zack staggered into our bedroom at 3am and said, "I don't feel right." After taking his temperature, we agreed that he most assuredly was NOT feeling right, and dosed him up with Motrin. Rick was getting ready for work, looked at the two of us with concern, and then made what could have been considered a critical error.

"Do you want to get into bed with mommy?"

"Yes, please," and in pops my little boy, coughing like a seal circus. Immediately Rick realized what he'd done - put Typhoid Mary into bed with She Who Has No Immune System.

Back in healthier days. He's a great snuggle bunny.

I looked back at Rick and just shrugged. I was going to get the flu anyway, of this I was certain, and I can't turn my kidlet away, no matter what. No how, no way. He immediately went back to sleep, and I immediately went back to trying to deal with (woo hoo!) passing a kidney stone. I do not recommend doing that with the flu. 

From December 16th to Christmas Eve, I don't remember much. I remember coughing until I bruised ribs. I remember all three of us walking around like bad-tempered zombies. I remember staring at the ceiling for hours. But I do NOT remember any of the plans I'd made -- playing games, driving around to see Christmas lights, baking a pie, knitting -- nope. Cough. Sleep. Fever. Repeat as often as it takes to get to 3am, Christmas morning.

Zack rebounded first, followed partially by Rick (who caught bronchitis after the flu and is still not 100%), but I was still on "is that pneumonia" watch. The doctor gave me a clear bill of health on the pneumonia, but a definite positive on the flu, and there's just nothing you can do but wait it out. But at another 3am, here we were again, but this time, looking at those boxes, none of which were wrapped. 

Not a one.

Score Mom -5,246, and Stuff That Happens for the win.

Rick was in pretty much as bad of shape as I was, but with Herculean effort got a brisket in the smoker for our dinner with the boys and daughter-in-law, collapsing back in bed as I'm staring at boxes. We looked at each other with glazed eyes, and we had to face it -- neither of us could do it. Nope. No way. And since I banned that evil little Elf on the Shelf, he wasn't around to help, either.

Creepy little dude.

Luckily, Zack believes in Santa. I had told him the night before to come to our bedroom, not the Christmas tree, because Santa was going to make a very quick fly-by, and since he didn't want to catch the flu, he was just going to zap presents onto our bed. I found a decorative Santa sack, put Zack's unwrapped presents in it, and Rick and I fell back asleep, me in tears, but ... flu.

Here's the thing -- Zack didn't care about wrapping paper. Zack actually seemed to have fun with this literal out of the box Christmas. He was truly startled by some of his presents (startled as in the good kind, as in the OH WOW, REALLY? kind), and he also got a bit of a kick out of our digging through the big boxes I'd been chucking purchases into over three months. Since I couldn't remember half of what I'd purchased, it was still a surprise.

The Element of Surprise of an Out of the Box Christmas

I still worried, though, about how this would look to the other boys and DIL, when we just dragged a few banker's boxes into the living room to exchange more gifts. And again, no one seemed to care. We were all together, regardless of the flu, and everyone seemed truly happy just to be there. Presents were a bonus, and I think I nailed it on a few of them. In fact, one of the kids said this was so much easier than dealing with wrapping paper, losing things in it, having to find huge garbage bags to shove it into. This way, it was basically flatten some boxes and pitch in the recycling bin and enjoy the present sooner.

We're still healing, but my tears were for naught. I shouldn't have worried. I should have put less pressure on myself. I was fortunate I'd even managed to get the presents into the house, so anything else was a bonus. I enjoyed Christmas dinner (although I sat way across the room so I wouldn't infect the healthy people) and while I didn't get to do what I'd planned, I could lie in bed and hear the others having fun with the presents they got outside of the box (like the LEGO Cafe below).

Sometimes it's better not to plan and just let things happen.

A Christmas tradition is a new building for the LEGO village. Click the photo to see more detail of the cafe. 

So now it's January, and I'm taking this out-of-the-box approach to 2015. No resolutions, so no stress. I know that I won't heal from these past two years of illness without some degree of forgiveness and acceptance from myself, and stressing over the things I can't do yet is taking energy away from what I CAN do. 

Happy New Year to all.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing. 


  1. Santa doesn't wait to catch the flu--brilliant. And you had the best part of Christmas, happy time with family, despite the illness. Mom-Major Win, Stuff That Happens--defeated!

  2. Jackie Locantore9:16 PM

    Lori, Love this! "It's the thought that counts" sounds like a hackney cliche, but it's SO TRUE! I put my grandkids "stocking stuffers" in a bag from Michael's, and you know what? They could care less about the outside cause they had so much with the inside! Lesson learned.

  3. Sorry you were sick but you will remember this Christmas as one of the best. Happy stress less new year Lori.

  4. I am so sorry you ALL got that nasty flu!!!! But see, the true meaning of Christmas was revealed to you, and that makes it special! This sounds like a Christmas you will remember for all the right reasons!

    The flu hit me on Christmas day, and my Mom, who lives with me, got it 2 days later. Seems like no one has been spared!

    Wishing you and yours a much healthier 2015!

  5. What a lovely Christmas story, so glad it went well for you. Happy New Year to you too!

  6. Glad you made it through and still got to have Christmas. Feel better!

  7. Even totally healthy I feel like wrapping presents is kind of Herculean task. Good for you for not stressing about it!

    Over the last few years, I've sewn gift bags that we re-use. Sometimes we still have to wrap, because we don't have a bag the right size, but in general we've come to love them --you just slip the gift inside, tie a ribbon around the outside, and you're done. Plus, no paper waster :-)

    I'm so glad you and the family are finishing up the flu. It was a bad one this year, but here's to a healthy start to the new year!

  8. Dear Lori;
    I'm sorry that you and the boys had such a bad bout of flu but glad to hear you're all on the mend. Your christmas sounds lovely. I'm sure Zack will have memories of this as one of the best just because it was different and you were all so close. ( even if you were all in bed!)

  9. Anonymous10:39 PM

    sure sounds like you were able to make the best out of a really bad deal. We were lucky enough to avoid the flu for Christmas but all got it for New Years. Zack is such a cool kid, I'm sure he will remember this Christmas not for the bad time but for the closeness even in suffering.

  10. Thanx for sharing your Christmas story with us. See everything works out in the end even if it is not what you planned. I am glad to hear that all of you are on the mend. Good for you for not stressing about what you can't do yet. I hope that 2015 is better for you than the last 2 years.

  11. The fact you had things purchased and ready in advance, then thought to have Santa do a quick fly-by so he big man in red wouldn't catch the flu... brilliant! I'd call this a major win!
    And you know what the Grinch learned, according to Dr. Suess: Christmas comes without boxes or bags or wrappings.
    Glad to hear you are on the mend, and in years to come, this will be a treasured Christmas memory -- except for the flu.

  12. I'm going to your house for Christmas! ;)


  13. Quite the Christmas you had there. I'm glad everyone is on the mend and a good time had by all.

    I have to ask though - what's with all the tags hanging from the food boxes? Are they hiding other things in them? Your tags won't work much longer once Zack clues in...

    Happy 2015 to all of you

  14. Sioux Gems Joy, we were in an antique store, and that display caught my eye.

  15. Stupid auto correct. BIJOUX. sorry.


I appreciate comments! Thank you for contributing to the conversation.