This always struck ME as funny, because it was SO my mother....
Mom was a perfectionist about the holidays but, like me, couldn't get up any energy to start cleaning and decorating until twenty four hours before Christmas. This used to lead to a lot of exhaustion and large screaming matches between the two of us with my father refereeing...just ONCE I wanted to come home for a visit and get to relax and sit with my parents, talk, watch old Christmas movies...you know enjoy each other.
Instead, Mom would order Dad and I around, barking orders so that when my brother showed up the next day, everything would be in order for HIM. (It's amazing I still like my brother because I used to resent him back then.) Don't get me wrong: I LOVED my mother and my brother, but back then, it just annoyed me so much that I gave up a precious week of my vacation to come home and be slave labor while my brother got to waltz in and out. Must be that "daughter" thing.
ANYWAY, one year, my mother decided she was going to outdo my father's annoying brother and have the WHOLE FAMILY to dinner at our house on Christmas Day. There was a major squabble with me because I was having trouble getting the extra time off at work and wasn't sure I could get more than two days around the holiday and wasn't I being mean and unfair and so on...
Eventually I got the time off, came home three days early and...argued with Mom because she wouldn't start buying the food, hadn't got the tree, wouldn't let me vacuum (we need to dust first) wouldn't let me dust (there was something else that had to be done first) and so on...until, that's right, it was Christmas Eve and the house was still a mess, the tree was badly decorated, there were packages everywhere that couldn't go under the tree yet because the decorations didn't look right and so on.....
Christmas morning I woke up, resigned to the fact that I was going to be killing myself and my father was going to be killing HIMSELF to get the house in order FAST for an extra twelve people (where we were going to put them, I am sure I don't know) I was exhausted since we hadn't gotten to bed until late and I wasn't feeling Christmas-sy.
I hear my parents arguing. My father is saying something like "DROP the dust cloth now, cuss it all to tarnation and get in the car." My mother is snapping back "Well, I can just get this done while you heat the car up." Where were they going?
I stumbled out of my bedroom in time to see my father practically carrying my mother out the front door in her nightgown and slippers, wintercoat tossed over h er. She was clutching a dust rag in her hand which she handed to me on her way out the door.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Oh, it's nothing," siad my mother "the roast beef is ready to go in the oven, just preheat the over and while you're waiting give the living room a good dusting and put everything that doesn't belong on our bed..."
And my father says "Your mother is having a heart attack, don't listen to a word she says, call your Aunt and tell her we're cancelling the dinner and everyone should do their own thing."
Meanwhile, Mom is still shouting cleaning orders at me.
By the time my brother arrived, I was going back and forth between laughing myself silly over Mom's antics and worrying sick that we would lose her.
She stayed in the hospital for several days and despite her insistence that we have Christmas without her, we lugged all the gifts to the hospital so we could open them together (she really liked to see our faces when we opened a package).
After that, things didn't get exactly calmer at our house, but Mom stopped trying to outdo other relatives and sometimes she would even let me come home on a weekend and clean up so things would look nice for Christmas.
She drove me insane for forty eight years and God, I miss her every day.