On the First Day of Christmas, you will ask your twentysomething children to take an active role in planning to visit their grandparents 100 miles away in the next state. You give them a three-day window. You actually entertain high hopes that your children will step up and participate this year.
On the Second Day of Christmas, you will cry while watching the video of Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas is You” with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots.
On the Third Day of Christmas, you will create separate Excel spreadsheets to manage the purchase and distribution of presents and Christmas cards. You will begin to feel like you have gained control over the holiday. Somewhere deep in the pits of hell, Lucifer issues forth a belly laugh.
On the Fourth Day of Christmas, you will go to the local mall to window shop and take in the tidings of the season. You will start to understand that the “War on Christmas” is real, but is actually being organized by everyone who stands to make a buck on the birth of Jesus Christ.
On the Fifth Day of Christmas, you will start spending money on Amazon because you gotta get this stuff done. You will begin to understand why your local mall is dying and what all the fuss is over the word “frictionless.”
On the Sixth Day of Christmas, you will start writing your annual Christmas letter to “Friends, Family, and Others.” The first draft devotes 90 percent of the verbiage to your kids and 10 percent to trying to prove that your ex-wife was wrong about ______ (fill in the blank).
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, you lie down after dinner, intending to surrender to the inevitability of fatigue, but somehow you summon the will and energy to leave the house to go buy wrapping paper at Five Below.
On the Eighth Day of Christmas, you buy Christmas cards at Big Lots over lunch and then spend another $100 on things like kitchen sponges, bath towels, picture frames, laundry detergent, and generic Nutella. That is $100 you had intended to spend on a gift for the woman you met on an online dating website.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas, you will finish editing your annual Christmas letter, managing to balance out the you v. kids verbiage ratio and jettisoning any mention of or allusion to your ex-wife. You also manage to convey a funny story about online dating. Seriously, it really is funny.
On the Tenth Day of Christmas, you will wrap the Christmas presents with the same efficiency and economy of movement for which you have become renowned. Which is why your ex-wife used to handle all the gift wrapping. “Fuck it,” you tell yourself. “Everyone is just going to rip the paper off anyway.”
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, you will mail and FedEx your Christmas presents and Christmas cards to their intended recipients. For the briefest of moments, you will experience the true peace of Christmas: when every line item on your two spreadsheets has been labeled “done.” This, you realize, is how wars end.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, you realize that your children are not so “adult” and that they have totally dropped the ball on helping organize the trip to visit their grandparents 100 miles away in the next state. You experience disappointment on the existential level.
On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas – because, really, are you ordering your life around a stupid song about the so-called “12 Days” of Christmas? — your kids (finally manage to) squeeze you into their busy holiday schedule. You all drive separate cars to their grandparents’ home in the next state because you all have to drive to separate destinations the following day. Existential disappointment disappears.