It is a continuous struggle for me to savour the moment. Especially during the holidays I find I get so caught up in crossing experiences off my list that I don’t stop to appreciate my surroundings. Skipping from one festive tradition to another, grabbing at as many tasty morsels as I can, the season whips by and before I pause a moment to bask, it is done. This seems to be a general problem, doesn’t it? The glorification of busy and of doing all the things all the time is at once compelling and empty.
I was better at this last year. With dwindling funds, the holiday should have been depressing. We had no money for gifts, no budget for entertainment, and I was so exhausted I didn’t bake a single cookie. In spite of all that, we still managed to enjoy the moment for what it was meant to be. We had our tree, our out-dated strings of lights, music on the radio, and our little furry family. It was more than enough and we had as good a holiday as ever.
This year, however, I have forgotten to take the time to sit in the quiet and enjoy. Our – albeit slowly – recovering financial situation has enabled us to spend a little more and this somehow lead to an urgent need to dust off the old Christmas checklist. I had to drink all the eggnog, watch all the movies, sing all the songs, attend all the symphonies, put up all the lights, eat all the chocolate, take all the photos…
Of course, no matter how hard I work to get it all done, I still end up missing an item or two which inevitably leads to self-recrimination. For example, on the weekend I realized I had yet to send out a single holiday card. It made me feel like an enormous jerk. I meant to do it, only I forgot in all the gift-wrapping and Nutcrackering. Now it is December 23rd, Christmas Eve Eve, it feels like my time is up. Two days left to dance, to devour, to delve. Two days and the joy is done. What will I have to show for it?
Memories, I suppose. That must be the goal of all the anxiety. Gotta create memories otherwise in 2018 I might look back on December 2013 and… What? Hate myself for not attending a performance of A Christmas Carol for the sixth time?
The holidays are special because they are so brief. As much as I adore the music, I don’t want to sing “Sleigh Ride” in February. It should be saved for December, when it is happy and relevant, when it makes my co-workers smile. If Christmas lights were not tacky in March they wouldn’t bring so much hope in the dark days of November.
I realize now, perhaps too late, that it isn’t shoving in all the festivity I can that helps me enjoy the season. Quite the opposite seems to be true. When I focus on the activities that have the most personal meaning, that is when I glean the most from this joyful time. If there is room for a bit of extra frivolity, one more lunch with friends or one more picture of my dog in an elf hat, that’s a bonus. But I should never feel let down by not jamming in as many customs as I can, as if it is some sort of holiday contest. It is far more important for me to take the time to soak it in, to indulge in the calm, and, when I have the energy, to share the little sweetnesses with others.
I don’t know how much computer time I will have between now and the New Year, unfortunately. It worries me a little, taking more than a day away from blogging. I feel my motivation is still so fragile that any slip or sabbatical, even two days, will snap it for good. With a little magic, this will not be the case.
Our travel plans are going to be fun, but hectic. It will be Shiva’s first Christmas away from home and, of course, I am very worried about how she will behave. All I want this holiday season is a less anxious dog and an un-harassed family. If we make it through this holiday without anyone’s head getting bitten off, I will consider it the celebration of a lifetime! Please wish us luck!
I will try to share a little something tomorrow, the best day of the year, but if I don’t I want to wish you all a very lovely, very happy, very relaxing holiday season. Thank you for all of your warmth this last year, even when I was being a selfish bratface and didn’t deserve it. You are the reason I am still doing this thing.
As a late gift to you, here is one of my favourite videos of all time.