Christmas Complexities (and a REALLY BIG BOX)

Oh man, I’m so exhausted.

You know, apart from being that time of year, I’m in the midst of last classes and final exams. I’ve been grading until I’m actually DREAMING about it. Literally. Ughh. Nothing worse than a dream where you work and work and WORK, only to still have a big stack of papers sitting next to you.


The Christmas season is exhausting too, isn’t it? I don’t you know about everyone else, but I put so much PRESSURE on myself to create this perfect, magical experience for my children. So, yes, I’ve been ransacking Goodwill stores in search of the perfect Christmas books, so my kids will have one to unwrap on each day in December. And yes, I’ve been making way too many Christmas cookies so they can eat warm ones while we read said books each night in front of the Christmas tree. And yes, I’ve been off in search of the perfect wrapping paper, perfect ribbon, perfect stocking stuffers.

It’s fun. But man, it’s exhausting.

Yesterday had to be the most exhausting experience of all.

I have the wonderful privilege of getting to keep my almost 2-year-old nephew every Wednesday while his mom is at work. It’s a nice down day, sandwiched between teaching days. I was really needing it yesterday, though I was also needing his nice, long, dependable naptime during which I could get plenty of grading in.

Yesterday morning, I had one Christmas errand I had to get done. You see, we bought a certain toy (I’m pretty sure my son never reads my blog, but he IS a good little reader now, so I’m leaving nothing to chance…) for my son online. It came in a VERY LARGE BOX.

It was a toy that my husband, especially, was excited about. Mostly, because we’d found it much, much cheaper than the local version we bought, then returned. That meant we could spend money saved on pieces to go with it!

Anyway, when we got it out and tried it, we discovered that it didn’t work. Sad. But the company came through big, emailing us a label to affix to the box. Then, they said, we merely needed to drop it off at a UPS drop-off center.

We wanted to get it back as quickly as possible, and neither of us were sure we’d have the time to do it later in the week. That’s why I decided that this was a job I could do with a 2-year-old in tow.

So I looked for a drop-off center online. I found one, close by, at a grocery store. My thought was this: If I found an outdoor center, I could just leave the baby in the car while dropping off the package. Easy, right? Well, easy assuming I could actually carry the monster-sized box.

I found the store, but strangely, couldn’t find the drop-off. “Shoot,” I thought. “What if it’s inside? No way can I carry the little guy AND the big, huge box.”

I decided to investigate first. I took little guy out of the carseat (which, by the way, when you’re out of practice with such things, taking little ones in and out of carseats is quite exhausting). We walked inside to see about a drop-box. I was told it was around back. Huh.

So, we got back in the car (I was already a little worn out by this point), drove around back. I pulled up close so I could leave this little guy in while I delivered the package.

Trouble! The box was TOO BIG for the drop-box. Just barely. Rats.

A phone call to my wonderful husband resulted in finding a drop-off center close by. Whew. Off we drove.

When we got there, I realized that I had a problem. We’d have to actually walk into the center. A decent distance. My problem solving skills, operating on only a few hours of sleep, perhaps did not function at the top of their capacity when I decided to put little Parker in the stroller, then balance the box on the handlebars to get inside.

Out came the stroller. Out came Parker. Out came the big box. Oh my. The box had GROWN while I was driving! :) I quickly realized that it took both hands and all of my strength just to lift the darn thing. How was I going to get the stroller?

After lots (and lots) of failed attempts, I finally decided just to roll the box. As carefully as possible. (“Ball!” said Parker.) Slowly, we walked along — thunk, thunk, thunk went the box. We finally got inside (“Yay, automatic doors!”). I might add that no one offered help this whole time.

I was just inside the door when I realized that this was not, in fact, the right store. This was FedEx, not UPS! Out of desperation, I asked whether I could drop off UPS packages here. Yes, I knew. But I was so desperate. The employee eyed me strangely before replying, “No, their store is over there.” I looked where she pointed. It was across a very, very large parking lot. Oh. All the way over there.

Thunk, thunk, thunk. I was despondent, as I rolled my box back out the door.

But then! A flash of joy! Guess who just happened to be delivering a package to the shop next door? UPS! My hero!

It was gutsier than something I’d usually do, but I was desperate not to load the big box, the baby, and the stroller back into the car, just to drive 20 yards and do it all again. So I propped the big box against the building, and ran off after the UPS man.

I approached, explained the dilemma to the driver. I groveled. “Is there any way you can just take the package here?” I pleaded.

You hear amazing stories about UPS men. Ones that bring flowers with packages or ask about families or who help chase down a wayward dog. This was not that UPS man.

“Sorry ma’am, truck’s full.” Wait, but, hmmm … when did I turn from a “miss” into a “ma’am”?

Focus, focus. Problem not solved.

I’m not sure if it was the pressure of the holidays or all the grading or the nasty email I’d gotten from a student earlier that day, but for some reason, his words almost brought the waterworks. I stood there, utterly desolate, thinking about doing this all again. I was so sad.

And then I thought, “Self, you’ve got to buck up. You’ve got Parker. You’ve got a big, very expensive box that needs to be delivered. This is your job and no one else is going to do it. Crying is NOT going to help this situation.”

The pep talked worked. Thunk, thunk, thunk. I got the box back to the car. “No, no, no,” I managed to persuade an upset 2-year-old to get back in his carseat. Slam. I put the stroller away. I drove to the other side of the parking lot.

And there, life was good. My grading-addled brain kicked into high gear. This time, I took out the big box first. I carried it up and left it right by the door. Huff. Then I went and got Parker. No stroller this time. I carried him to the door. Then I pushed him through the door. Then an amazing thing happened! Someone held the door while I brought in my big box! And Parker didn’t terrorize anything in the time it took to heave the box through the door.

The lady at the counter quickly took my package with a smile and handed me a Tootsie Roll for the little guy. It came in super handy when bribing the kid to get back in the car.


This Christmas elf is tired. I think I’ll go to bed early. After I grade 98 more projects, that is.


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