Listen! Do you hear that? There - off in the distance. Shhhh. . . there it is. . . very faintly, but it's there.
It's the sound of sleigh bells and the tearing of wrapping paper.
Yep. It's a comin'.
Every month of the year is a smooth calendar page, all new and shiny. January through September are months with patience. They wait quietly, lining up their nice white boxes of days for me to fill with lunches and birthdays and vet appointments and trips. January through September are months that don't care if they're full or empty or halfway in between. They're months that are just happy to be.
Then comes October. And it's attached to November and December and wait - what's this?? All the days between October 1st and December 31st are lined up one after the other and accordion-folded together. There's this much space between January
and September, and just this much space between October
WHO STOLE ALL MY TIME TO GET STUFF DONE????
Granted, October is a busy month. There's my birthday and my mom and dad's anniversary. Fortunately, I had to the good sense to be born on their first anniversary so we can make that one big celebration on the 15th. Then there's my Aunt Lois' birthday on the 19th. Then my anniversary on the 20th (woohoo - THIRTY years this year!!!), and then Halloween. And that, ladies and gentlemen, takes care of wrapping up all the goodness that is October.
November is when I start craving pumpkin pie. I turn my attention to figuring out where everyone on both sides of the family is going to roost for Thanksgiving. The who-where-when of Thanksgiving, with the only given being that we will be eating turkey and turkey-related foodstuffs for some weeks afterward. November is also Get Ready for Christmas Month. It's the month I start baking and freezing cookies to be decorated later. It's the month I start cleaning out the odd closets and facing other dumb cleaning chores I've ignored over the summer so I will be all ready when the kids come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's the month that I figure out what outside decorating we're going to do for the holidays, and then set to testing lights and checking out my stash of wreaths and garland. It's also the month I start collecting catalogues so I can dog-ear pages of goodies to order for gifts and check to see if my little Christmas saving account has magically found it's own sugar daddy.
Next comes the first three weeks of December which is when I really do all the stuff I just said I do in November. In November, I just talk about doing a lot.
My first grade classroom had two portraits hanging in it. One was of George Washington, and next to him was his right-hand man, good old Abraham Lincoln. That's how we all knew before anyone even told us that George Washington was the first President of the United States and Abe Lincoln was the second.
And that's how I know every year without even consulting a calendar that there's Thanksgiving and the next day is Christmas.
But this year is going to be crazy squared, especially for Poor Old Ken who will be known from this point forward as POK because no one will ever think of him as just Ken after this. My sweet POK. His little eyes bugged out the teeeeeeensiest little bit when I told him the doctor scheduled my foot surgery for November 6th. I think his mind left his head for a minute as he slowly absorbed the magnitude of this little announcement. He's been through this before - a couple years ago I had my left foot operated on. But this surgery is even more complicated, promising such delights as bone grafts and plates and screws and a boot and a thing which tells time. (OK. Not a thing which tells time but I'm pretty sure the words "kitchen sink" were used at some point.) And this means not one week in bed following surgery but two weeks in bed. Not three weeks on crutches - six to eight weeks on crutches. Oh yes. I could see POK for the briefest of moments think to himself, "Is there a direct flight to Siberia?"
And I don't blame him at all.
All the things he does on a regular basis to take care of me and the house just got scooched over to make room for all the dog walking, shopping and laundry duties he'll now have to shoulder. And then there's the added delight of physically caring for someone who's basically an invalid for a bit. Granted, I'll be my usual pleasant, cheerful, patient, uncomplaining and undemanding self but there's a lot to do to care for someone who's basically a lump.
And lumps begin to smell after awhile if you don't bathe them.
So as I see it, Christmas is right. . . .there. I have exactly four weeks to do it all. Bake, clean, shop, wrap, cook and decorate. This may be the first autumn in my life where I'll be clearing red and green gift wrap off the table to set out the turkey. I've never been one to get things done early (which is why my kids grew up thinking everyone's mommy finished sewing their Easter outfits on Holy Saturday), but this year I have no choice. This is my year to knuckle under, hunker down and barrel my way through all the stuff on my calendar.
So if you're out and about this fall and see some sweet guy with glazed over eyes and a fist full of lists, mumbling to himself about just getting through one more day, it'll be my POK.
If he asks if he can come home with you, I would be eternally grateful if you'd buy him a cup of coffee, give him a little pat on the back and then him send on his way.
His lump will be needing him.