Does Anyone Else Feel Like They're Failing Christmas?

by Emily McCombs
New Line Cinema

My boyfriend and I usually have our own gift-exchange night — you know, doing something we actually enjoy before the buzzkill of family Christmas activities.

It happens to be tonight, which means I spent this morning scrambling to wrap his gifts so I could cart them to work with me and have them for our afterwork holiday date.

That would have been all well and good if I could find his Christmas presents. Seriously. I apparently hid them so well I hid at least one from myself and was forced to leave without it.

My boyfriend is a ridiculously considerate gift giver. Like last year, he secretly photographed the perfumes on my bathroom shelves, took the photo to fancy perfumerie CB Bigelow's and had an employee there create a "scent profile" of me in order to select a solid perfume that could go in the Wednesday Addams-looking vintage perfume locket he'd bought me.

Also, the locket was already filled with some kind of musty-smelling old lady perfume, so he had to actually put the locket over the stover burner to drain out the old wax first. And don't even ask me about the two-page ultra-romantic letter that accompanied the gifts.

I got him some books and a Krampus stocking.

So whatever, I lost one of his presents and, oh yeah, two others didn't show up. When I inquired about their status, the company informed me they'd refunded me weeks ago because the products were sold out.

That's pretty bad. But it's just the start of my holiday failures.

My son, on the other hand, has way too many presents and is probably going to be spoiled and turn into the tyrannical dictator of a small country somewhere as a result. Plus nothing's wrapped and I probably don't have the right kind of batteries for anything, which will lead to a Christmas morning meltdown. Also, I have no idea how all this new stuff is going to fit in my New York City apartment.

Not to mention my entire family got back-burnered when my son's school pictures didn't arrive before the holidays, thus destroying my easy-peasy plan to just frame those suckers and call it a day.

Do you think I sent out a Christmas card? No. In fact, I probably just glanced at your Christmas card before I put it directly into the trash. I'm sorry, it's just that there's already so much clutter and so many identical pieces of my son's scribbly artwork and pieces of paper with his name written on them over and over again taking over my fridge door there's really no room for your very lovely family.

Did I mention I am the world's sh*ttiest present wrapper? Seriously, I should just start blaming the sorry state of my packages on my actual child, because they could very well have been wrapped by a toddler and look better than what I do.


Oh, and what about all the hazy acquaintances you didn't think you were exchanging gifts with... until you find out they got something for you? I guess now I'm supposed to scramble for a last-minute gift so I don't look like a dick?

Perhaps even more so than with other domestic duties, women still tend to take the on the lion's share of the ever-lengthening and overwhelming list of sh*t that has to be done before Christmas. That can include cooking, cleaning, decorating, buying or designing and mailing cards, wrapping presents and, of course, shopping. Most married and coupled women I know even do the shopping for their significant other's families in addition to their own.

As a single mom, that's not really my issue, although I do have an unboxed, unaddressed present for my boyfriend's mother sitting on my desk that is clearly not going to make it to Minnesota before Christmas.

No, for me, it's sheer incompetence when it comes to large-scale organizational efforts, in addition to the fact I never really made that tricky transition from childhood Christmas participant to adult Christmas participant. One day you're just sitting back, raking in the toys, and the next you're the one who's supposed to be giving out those toys to every niece, nephew and cousin, friends, significant others or spouses, their friends and families and all those aunts, uncles, and grandparents who hooked you up with all those sweet gifts over the years.

In your early 20s, people still cut you some Christmas slack. You're probably not making much money, so they don't expect you to shower the whole family in presents. They probably even still send you cards in the mail with a check tucked inside. But eventually, that sh*t dries up and you're expected to step up to the Christmas plate.

I feel like I'm still in the "not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman" phase of Christmas participation. I know it's time to step up and take on my adult Christmas responsibilities, but I never seem to quite get there. This year, I started a new job (hi Elite Daily!) the week before Christmas and not only was my paycheck situation briefly disrupted, but I was so busy and overwhelmed getting the lay of the land at my new gig that I barely had time to eat lunch, much less go to the Post Office. (And when you live 1,400 miles away from your hometown, Christmastime preparedness means a lot of time in line at the Post Office.)

So, I admit it. I'm a Christmas failure. I tend to beat myself up a lot in general, but this time of year has me really bringing out the reindeer whips. (Santa totally whips his reindeer, right? Or I am I just imagining him as the Michael Vick of holiday deities because I'm mad at Christmas right now?)

I'm not religious in the whole Jesus is the reason for the season sense, but I do have a spiritual side and I am into love and kindness and goodwill and all that sh*t, so I guess for now I'll just try to focus on showing my loved ones I care the best I can and hope they love me for who I am — a disorganized, woman-child mess who also wraps presents like a chimpanzee.

But seriously, does anyone feel like they're on top of this sh*t? If so, what's your secret?