Dear Everyone On My Christmas/Holiday Card List,
I’m sorry. I really am. I’m sitting here eating Valentine’s Day candy and there is just nothing I can do other than apologize.
But the fact of the matter remains: you will be receiving your Christmas cards from us this year in February.
I am fully aware how ridiculous this is.
I am fully aware that nobody does this.
I am also more than fully aware that many people have more on their plates than I do who still manage to get their cards out in a reasonable timeframe.
I can assure you with every fiber of my being: I am aware.
But, again, it doesn’t change the fact that you will be receiving a lovely holiday card with the words “Merry Christmas” on it and our lovely faces plastered all over over the front with a nice little family update printed on the back. In February.
“But why?” You say. “Couldn’t you just not send them instead?”
Well, sure. Yes. Technically, that is an option. But they’re here. They’re printed. They’re gorgeous. I spent time on them. And, more to the point: I spent money on them.
So you’re getting your Christmas cards in February.
How did this happen? Well, I can actually explain that, too.
When I got the Christmas cards I was so excited, I finished the return labels, sealed them up, and had them ready to go. Only then I realized I didn’t have stamps.
Then, thinking I had plenty of time I procrastinated getting stamps. This was the fatal error. Obviously I should have just gone to the post office one day while Connor was at school and gotten the damn stamps. Probably like the day the cards arrived. Again, I am aware.
All of a sudden Christmas started coming really fast. Like, really, really fast. I was ill-prepared and found myself scrambling between OB appointments and shopping and decorating and family coming in that, well, it just kept getting pushed off.
During this time we also rearranged our house a bit for Baby Daphne’s impending arrival. Because Wee Connor started crawling out of his crib (remember this, as it becomes important later!) we put him in a big-boy bed (which I believe used to be just known as a “bed”, but modern vernacular now dictates it be called a “big-boy bed”, apparently). Then due to the layout of our house, we moved our bedroom into the front living room (in a somewhat common Chicago layout, our condo has a front living room and a back living room) that is also next to the nursery and put Connor into our bedroom.
We also made a large-scale “KonMari clean out our crap” effort during this time in order to make room for this rearranging nonsense. It’s still a work in progress but it truly is freeing. I emptied out two closets’ worth of stuff we had been dragging from house to house to house. But this all took a lot of our holiday time while we had family babysitters available and in town. This was made more exhausting by the fact that I was starting to go from, “Eh, I’m pregnant, I guess” to, “Oh, no, 6 months pregnant is actually legitimately pregnant now.”
No worries, I kept telling myself, I’ll just send the cards out around New Year’s. That’s still in the limits.
Then we found out that our dog Brinkley’s cancer was back much sooner than expected, and it was spreading everywhere. We gave him one last treatment as a palliative measure hoping his last few months would be good, instead of having him slowly decline. However, we knew at most he would only have a few more months and this cast a shadow on my entire existence.
And then Connor stopped sleeping.
A quick elaboration before I go on. This “stopped sleeping” thing was not a cutesy, “Oh, he’s going through a regression, he’ll be back to normal soon,” kind of thing. It was a, “he literally comes out to come get us 15 times in 2 hours in the middle of the night” kind of thing. It was a, “he will not sleep until one of us is lying down with him, and toddlers do not care if they sleep perpendicular to the direction of the bed” thing. It was a, “how can such a tiny human being take up so much space in a bed?!” thing. And remember that whole bit I told you before about how he was now in a big-boy bed? Well, turns out that kids who can climb out of their cribs before they’re ready to understand how to stay in their rooms have trouble staying in their rooms. Chris and I started taking turns cramming our gigantic adult bodies into Connor’s twin bed with him just to get a few hours’ rest each night. It was, quite literally, worse than having a newborn. Also, he wouldn’t take naps.
There was no joy in Mudville.
It was mid-January at this point. The cards still weren’t sent. Chris and I were, to be frank, unraveling.
We hired a “sleep consultant” because it’s 2017, we live in a large city in America where sleep consultants are widely available, and there was no way we could possibly handle another minute of Connor not sleeping, let alone have him be so unable to sleep when the new baby came in April. She put us on a strict sleeping regimen to help Connor learn how to fall asleep on his own and for him to learn to stay in his room until he was allowed to come out again. This took about 10-12 days total.
Then our world fully came down around us.
We started realizing Brinkley’s palliative treatment had little effect on him. We could tell our time with him wouldn’t be the two months we had hoped for, but more a matter of weeks. His body started shutting down. The cancer ate his insides more and more. He could no longer control his bodily functions well, and he was in such pain he started getting periodically aggressive with us.
We gave him steak dinners. We took him to the park for some tennis ball chasing. We didn’t get angry if he got into the trash, or went to the bathroom inside. Sending out the cards dropped off my priority to-do list completely.
And then it was time. We had to let him go.
I still can’t talk about it without sobbing uncontrollably. Truth be told, I still can’t even really talk about it at all.
I was semi-nonfunctional for probably about 2 weeks after.
Slowly, I started getting back to semi-functional.
And now, all of a sudden, it’s the middle of February.
And my Christmas cards still are sitting on top of my built-in in my kitchen, waiting to be sent.
Which is why, my dearest friends and family, you will be receiving Christmas cards from us in February.
I hope you giggle at the absurdity of it. I have. It’s really the only way to overcome the complete and utter embarrassment of sending Christmas cards in February. And while, yes, I could just not send them, as any normal person probably would do at this point, I want to let everyone who is getting these cards know I love them and have thought about them through the year. I also hope they understand that sometimes if they need to send Christmas cards in February–figuratively or literally–I will never judge them, but rather embrace their struggles they’ve had, both big and small, alongside their successes and end-of-year summaries on the back of the cards with their smiling faces, just as I know you will do with us.
And so that, friends, is why you’re getting our Christmas cards in February.