The best laid plans…

The holiday season is a time of the year when we set our expectations kind of high.  Aren’t we all supposed to have this month filled with family harmony and the holiday spirit?  Aren’t the gifts we buy supposed to be the perfect ones for the recipients?  Aren’t the cookies we bake supposed to come out of the oven looking as if they came right off the front cover of a food magazine?

Well, that’s not always the case. Sometimes reality creeps in and plays the Grinch to your season.  Just a few years ago, our minivan was stolen from in front of the city library on December 21, and we spent the entire week from Christmas through the New Year dealing with towing companies, body shops and the ever-present insurance adjusters. The officer who took our stolen vehicle report even told us, “This never happens in front of this library.  What a bummer for the season!”

This year, I had set my goals very high.  In October, I promised myself that I would slow down and try to enjoy every minute possible with my wife and my boys who seem to be growing and maturing faster than I can keep track of.

That’s when reality reared its ugly head.  What had started as building a few Christmas gifts for a few relatives became a marathon production session to build nine wine racks in time to hit the shipping deadlines.

Then we had to make a decision on our dated kitchen counter tops.  They were quickly becoming an eyesore, with gaps opening between the tile top and the wood edging.  Something had to be done, and the Thanksgiving weekend sales at Home Depot were just too good to pass up. Now, we have a beautiful counter top that just needs a little trim work and a tile back splash to come to completion.

Why tell you my tales of woe?  Well, with time ticking away until Santa makes his visit, I am going to have to admit to myself that I’m not going to get the cradle to donate done in time for Christmas.  When I found myself this Saturday bouncing between the cradle and trimming out the kitchen during a six hour shop session –  and not getting either one of them done as nicely as I needed them to be – my wife came into the shop to have a heart-to-heart.

Without realizing it, I was becoming a holiday grump.  The kids were waiting for me to call it a day in the shop so we could look at the tree and the presents that were piling up underneath.  They had also set up the Monopoly game board for a family showdown.

I had to make an executive decision.  And, that is that I’m going to have to get the kitchen in order for our big Italian fish dinner on Christmas Eve and spend the next few days enjoying the season with my boys.

Since I am taking the week between Christmas and New Years off from work, I will be able to easily finish the cradle during that off time.  And, it’s not as if the need for this cradle at the pregnancy crisis center is going to disappear because Christmas has come and gone.

I just have to remember that I’m not the world’s fastest or best woodworker… and there’s only one of me.  And that one of me still wants to ditch the stress, enjoy my family, marvel at the joy of the season and do my best on the project that I’ll be donating.

4 thoughts on “The best laid plans…”

  1. You’ve had some good thoughts, and honestly, we all need this kind of honesty. We all have many callings in life (e.g. parent, employee, volunteer, law-abiding citizen, woodworker, etc), and in each of those callings we have responsibilities. And the reality is–if you’re like me, after nodding off in a Lee Valley catalog–you’re going to fall asleep each night with buckets of unfulfilled responsibilities. Its prioritizing them that’s key; something I bet all of us struggle with. I really appreciate you making your gut-check public–thank God for wives! I’m suddenly thinking monopoly is a great idea.

  2. The kids are only young once, Tom. I think you made the right decision. It’s like they say on the plane. When the oxygen masks fall, put yours on before you help anyone else, or you may never be able to help anyone.

  3. Trying to get everything done this time of year is hard.
    Family first, then line the rest up in order.

    You & the shop monkey are OK in my book.

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