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Hellish, Hellish

I don't know if yesterday was worse than a typical bad day, or if it just felt that way because the holidays ramp up stress, like a wad of giftwrap tossed on a fire. All I know is that I felt more anxiety, and more things seemed to go wrong than usual.

First, there was the shopping. Despite trips to several stores and the dreaded Grove, I didn't find any of the six remaining children's gifts I need for our Christmas Eve with my cousins. My husband did find something for himself at the Apple Store, which I convinced him to let me buy and hide for a couple of days, but let's face it, that's not the way it's supposed to work. And I did pick up something for him that he didn't know about--until he looked in the bag by mistake. Oh, and he left the receipt for a gift he bought me on the passenger seat of his car--also known as my seat. So much for surprises.

As for making dinner, I can't hide from the truth any more: I'm all baked out. After cooking nonstop for about 10 days, I don't even want to push a button on the microwave, much less turn on the "real" oven. I actually gave my son mozzarella sticks for dinner last night. If I had one of those "World's Greatest Mom" mugs, I'd be forced to turn it in on the basis of that meal alone. Yet even the guilt doesn't inspire me to get my culinary butt in gear.

Now the capper of the day. We had tickets to see 13, a musical about being that age, at the Mark Taper Forum downtown. My son happens to be 13 so I figured it would either be the proverbial "fun for the whole family" or give his father and me some much-needed insights into the teenage experience.

We arrived at the Music Center to find a sing-along underway. The gathered masses were singing "White Christmas," which I find ironic considering there has never been a White Christmas in L.A.--and based on climactic trends, odds aren't looking good. In fact, the only snow around here is trucked in or manufactured at great expense for over-indulged pre-schoolers' "holiday parties," or as background for the Grove's tree-lighting ceremony (see previous link).

I listened casually to "White Christmas" and was ready to move on, when they transitioned into "Silent Night." Uh oh. This is the one, the tear jerker extraordinaire, the carol whose name alone can make my sister laugh because it reminds her of year after year of my weeping. It's beyond Pavlovian. I wanted to get the heck out of there, but it turns out we were early enough that we had time to listen. My husband insisted--he must think I like to cry in public, which of course I did. My son just shook his head. I couldn't wait to get into the theater.

Well, when I showed my printout at the "Will Call" window to pick up our tickets, I was informed that we were a week early. This is not the first time I've shown up on the wrong night--in fact, I've shown up at the wrong theater a few times as well. But on top of the holiday stress, it was just too much. I felt like a big loser.

Luckily, my family chose to find this slip-up funny. We'll be back next week, and I can only pray that, since Christmas will be over, I won't encounter "Silent Night" next time around. Luckily, "Auld Lang Syne" doesn't have the same effect on me--except for the Dan Fogelberg version. Here's hoping that one hasn't reached sing-along status.

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