I used to be a Christmas neurotic. For years and years, I had a goal to be finished with Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving. Some years I actually achieved this goal, which meant I picked up presents year-round and stepped up my game in earnest by about September.
I still buy gifts throughout the year when I see something perfect for someone on my list, but every year I get more relaxed about finishing early. I never got to the frenzied state of last-minute preparations - until this year.
This year, Oma suddenly had a vacant apartment right around Thanksgiving. Up until this year, she was always able to prepare her apartments for the next tenant by herself. Though she is 90 percent recovered, her illness did weaken her. We also can't forget that she is 82 years old, not to mention that the apartment is on the third floor. Oma has five huge pins holding her hip together from an injury thirty years ago, so it is excruciating for her to climb up and down those stairs. By the way, climbing the stairs does have its reward; this is the view from the living room and the bedroom:
And if you squint your eyes and know where to look, you can see the tippy top of the Golden Gate Bridge:
Oma did quite a bit of the work, supervising and working alongside a few favorite workers, but she still needed help. My sister, brother-in-law, and I spent the last few weeks shopping at hardware stores, Benjamin Moore paint stores, lighting stores, and Home Depot, plus we hired some extra workers and managed the tenant selection.
We never had an open house during the holidays before so it was fun to decorate the unit with a few holiday touches. Overall we were all pleased with the end result:
This past Sunday, we held an open house while it was pouring rain outside. It was lightly attended, but we think we found a lovely, responsible tenant.
We usually get our Christmas tree around mid-December. This year, we didn't get our tree until the morning of the open house, December 21st, because I always had to take our big car so I could schlep around light fixtures, curtains, shower heads, and staging props for the apartment.
As for our Christmas preparations, my lovely daughter managed to cook our entire Christmas dinner while I was a wrapping fool at the kitchen table, preparing the rental contract, and trying to perform credit and reference checks while everyone was at the mall instead of answering my phone messages. I abandoned the task of decorating the tree because the Christmas tree lights decided to have a mind of their own. Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law came to the rescue and decorated the tree before we sat down for Christmas dinner.
While it was hard work, it was also strangely liberating. Our holiday expectations were suddenly brought down to a human level and I was much more relaxed about getting it all done. Next year, I hope to take a page out of the same book.