By: Mary Fran Bontempo
To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already exhausted.
The last remnants of the Thanksgiving extravaganza are still finding their way back into cabinets, drawers and the giant closet in the basement where I throw everything I can’t fit anywhere else, and the pressure to create the Christmas spectacular has begun.
It’s still November and my name is indelibly etched in stone on the list of those who object to Christmas decorations prior to December 1st, despite the fact that Santa has been standing next to jack-o-lanterns and turkeys for two months now in every department store in America.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to look at the lights, tinsel and excess of the season. But the older I get, the more even the thought of heading up to the attic to haul down the twenty-six boxes of jolly stashed up there wears me out.
So, I was more than a little relieved when the answer to creating “the Most Incredible Holiday Your Family’s Ever Had!” arrived in the mail, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens and their invitation to purchase the Celebrate the Season 2012 book of all things Christmas.
I eagerly tore open the envelope, excited to find that I was on the road to the “Holiday of Your Dreams,” with the promises of “Easier Than Ever,” “Quick as a Wink,” and “More Fun Than You Dreamed Possible” stamped in bold lettering next to charming color photos of opulent decorations, sweet treats and lavish table settings.
Then, I read the fine print.
“Dazzle friends and family with personalized gift tags that double as tree ornaments.”
“Welcome your guests with cheerful and inspiring place cards you make from recycled holiday cards and pretty papers.”
“Perk up your homemade holiday candies with these crème de menthe cups—the kids will love helping you create them.”
And my personal favorite:
“Show off your mantel with a festive fruit scene by combining nature’s beauty with adoring handwritten thoughts.” The thoughts were written on the fruit.
Ummmm…excuse me?
The merry elves at BH&G want me to buy a book that tells me how to make personalized gift tag tree ornaments along with place cards made from recycled Christmas cards right after I whip up my homemade holiday candies and write “adoring handwritten thoughts” in perfect script on the pears I’m supposed to throw on my mantel amidst the nature’s beauty I’ve gathered from, I guess, my yard.
And to make sure I keep on track, they’re providing “Goof-Proof How-to’s for Every Project” along with a sample calendar offering ideas about exactly what I should be doing every day in December—i.e. “Make ornaments,” “Make wreath,” “Finish homemade gifts,” “Finish and hang Christmas Cones,” (whatever they are) and just to make sure I don’t sit down for a second, “Make decorations for New Year’s party” scheduled for the 27th.
I’m sorry, but I think there’s been a fundamental miscommunication here. The holiday of my dreams goes something like this: someone else cooks, cleans, sends cards, shops, decorates, wraps gifts, tramps around in crowds for a month, fights traffic, returns gifts someone declares they don’t want even before they are opened, loses receipts, bakes thousands of cookies with that damn cookie press and most important, finds the boxes and wrapping paper I squirreled away last year.
And at no time does anyone write on fruit.
In fact, the only thing the Better Homes and Gardens mailer offered of interest fell on December 11th on the sample calendar: the space was inexplicably blank. Maybe the frenetic woman following the other days’ directives had to go to the doctor for her B-12 shot or maybe she was just getting drunk on the crème de menthe from her homemade candies before finishing up the month.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. Until BH&G comes up with a book that embraces the holiday of my dreams, not theirs, I think I’ll pass.
Let someone else write on the pears.
What’s the “Holiday of Your Dreams” like? Click “comments” below and share!