This season is a nightmare for disorganized people. The same holds true for nervous wrecks and the highly distracted.
Consider the stuff that happens every spring. For those of us who know and/or are related to other humans, it’s a time of many emotional and sometimes bittersweet events. You have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings, anniversaries and graduations. Also, it seems, a freakish number of birthdays. Amirite?
In my case, it’s the graduations that throw a monkey wrench into my not-so-well-oiled celebratory machine. Who is it this time, a preschooler or a freshly minted Ph.D? Something in between? None of us has to look far to get poked in the eye with a mortar board.
This year I can’t default to becoming the usual robotic gift card Pez dispenser. My firstborn and his fiancée are about to conquer college. They’ve worked so hard. They’re both brilliant. (And adorable.) I’m welling up with pride.
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I saw this coming four years ago. Yet I’m flailing, not certain how to properly mark these extra special occasions. Here comes the scramble.
“Siri, please make dinner reservations at a place that’s not completely booked.”
“How about within a 200-mile radius?”
It might be my family of origin that sent me down this road of “flailure.” From childhood to more current times, I’ve witnessed so many dear ones winging it with graduations and all that is spring. To me, any celebration isn’t complete without signing overpriced greeting cards while riding shotgun on the way to the event.
“Do you have a pen?”
“Who has a pen?”
“Check the glove box. Nothing? Just emboss your name with a tire gauge.”
Checks have been stuffed in cards along front yard walkways. Envelopes have been licked seconds before doorbell ding-dongs. Oh please, people, please don’t notice I smell like a 7-11 flower bucket.
It’s not that we don’t care; it’s quite the opposite. And I wouldn’t trade the family comedy for the universe. Folks like me, we dream about our sweeties’ milestones or special days. In our heads, many months before, we swoon with adoration. We imagine composing beautiful sentiments that could fill every inch of white space and ride camel-back around the rear Hallmark logos. We love, oh how we love.
But perfectly executed gestures never seem to happen. Life gets in the way. The cards or tucked-in letters that were supposed to say it all, in our own words, are dashed off. Congrats. Love, me.
Last spring, for my mother’s big milestone birthday party, I was going to do it right. I was determined to create one of those hardcover Shutterfly picture books. I unearthed, scanned and cropped family photos from the 1940s to the present. It was a hefty project that even required “young person” techno help.
I had visions of everyone at the party going gaga over the book. They’d reminisce and giggle and write sweet messages in the margins. I thought for once I’d present a dear one a well-planned sentimental creation.
Then, an unexpected fiasco happened. (A “glitch” bad enough to require a home insurance adjuster. My ServePro moment.) I became distracted. I fell behind. In a cloud of fatigue I managed to order the photo book, but I checked the wrong “deliver by” date. It arrived two days after the event.
I suppose the super-organized “Pinteresters” reading this are appalled. I can hear the chorus: Just make a to-do list! Plan ahead! Make crafting and giftwrap stations in your house!
To that I say, “Pfffft. Ain’t gonna happen.” I know I’m not alone. Team Last-Minute is well populated. We’re frazzled but armed with good intentions, smeared lipstick and Panera cards.
I’m just going to continue winging it and doing the most important thing my family ever taught me: I’m going to show up. And I’m going to beam with pride. Especially this year.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell