We are list people. Everyone makes a list, whether it is a mental checklist in your mind, an electronic list on some techno-gizmo, or maybe like me, you simply jot it down the old-fashion way — on a piece of scratch paper with a pencil. (Once my list is made I usually forget it at home or lose it.)
Wool blanket, thermos of hot coffee, bottle of water, gallon Ziploc bag of chocolate chip, M&M, oatmeal, crunchy peanut butter cookies, stadium chairs, rabbit fur Russian hat. Rabbit fur Russian hat? My wife wears “the rabbit” to football games as a good luck hat — weather permitting. It needs to be under 40 degrees to wear “the rabbit” or your head gets too hot, and who needs a hotheaded wife, right?
My wife’s brother brought “the rabbit” back from Moscow several years back when he was overseas on a mission trip. “The rabbit” made its football debut in 2004 when after the floods and the damage to Pisgah’s football stadium, the junior varsity played their football games at the middle school’s field in the Bethel Community of Haywood County.
It was a cold night and she dug the hat out of the closet and said, “I think I’ll wear this fur hat.” My daughters pleaded that she not, “Mamma, please, people know us,” was their response.
On the drive to the game I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tease my wife by calmly commenting, “What if someone has fur issues and is offended by you wearing the fur hat?” She made a little gasp as if protest signs and blood throwing awaited her at the gate. How insensitive of her to wear the fur of some helpless little bunny just so her head would look fashionable and stay warm.
When she made the “Oh, dear ...” gasp, the reaction I was hoping for, I laughed and told her, “Honey, let me remind you where we are going. This is Bethel, not Manhattan. People up river here eat little animals like the one your wearing on your head.” (No blood or protests, but a lady at the game wanted to buy “the rabbit” from her.)
This is the time of year that lists take on a new meaning of urgency. Please call your mother — she needs a list of possible gifts for the girls for Christmas. Calling my mother is on my list, I tell my wife. We need to make a list of what to send the nieces and nephews, and my sister and her husband Tom, and what to send my mother and Butch. I’ll put fruit on the list — citrus always makes a great gift. Is it Butch or Tom that doesn’t eat grapefruit? I thought I wrote that down last year?
The Christmas card list needs to be updated and reentered on the computer so we can print labels. Christmas cards are always stressful for me, even though it’s my wife who does most of the addressing, writing and stuffing. As a guy, I say we eliminate cards and the annual Christmas letter from the list and simplify this time of year. Think of all the time, money and my stress we could save if we let just this one ritual die.
(I’ll let you know right now that not sending out Christmas cards is NOT an option at my house as long as my wife is able to wear “the rabbit.” As a matter of fact, I should be working on my Christmas letter instead of this column.)
Since I’ve mentioned eliminating stress this holiday season, here’s a list of places to avoid that I find stressful this time of the year: Wal-Mart, Russ Avenue in Waynesville, any dance studio that is performing a holiday show, the malls in Asheville, the doctor’s office, Christmas card stores, and I-40 going east or west.
Will I be able to avoid these places over the next month? Probably not. However, I can keep a list of ways to keep my sanity during this most insane time of year: make purchases early, smile frequently and breath deeply, remind self that going to Wal-Mart is not as bad as having the flu, drive the back roads, enjoy children’s performances as they grow up too fast.
I better add — text list to self on cell phone so I have a copy when I lose the first one — to my list of things to do, right after I buy stamps for the Christmas cards.