Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One big checklist

Last night at a neighborhood holiday party I confessed to a friend that I have begun to regard December as one big checklist, with my job being to check off as many boxes as possible in a race against the clock. Ordering cards? Check. Shopping for both sides of the family? Check. Ferrying kids to church choir and after school activities, and running back and forth to school for various holiday performances and parties? Check. Buying and decorating the tree, wrapping the gifts, decorating the house? Check, check, check.

Of course in addition to celebrating Christmas this month, we also have one very sweet little girl's birthday that we want to keep special. So that means a St. Lucy Day celebration, a separate birthday party, and then something on Christmas Day which is, after all, her real birthday.

About six years ago we made a conscious decision to cut way, way back on our holiday celebrations after realizing we were exhausting the kids and undermining the meaning of the holiday. Now the girls get three gifts from Santa - since that's how many the Baby Jesus got, after all. We say no to some holiday invites, and much as I miss it, we don't go to see the Nutcracker or Christmas concerts in the city anymore...too expensive and one more thing on an already busy calendar.

I think that's what I'm so frustrated with this year - we don't go overboard, and yet I'm still worn out by December 24th. (Or, let's be honest, by the 21st.) I feel Grinchy when I seek to feel peaceful. This year we are making more presents than ever and shopping locally which feels good but is far more time consuming than shopping online... there is meaning in our choices, but the cold hard fact is that there are only so hours in the day. I worry that I have caught the malaise that is sucking our entire economy and national spirit down the crapper.

I think after it's all over this year, I'm going to make a list of three things I really love(d) about Christmas in the past, and three things I hate about it now. Then when next year rolls around focus on the good things and drop the bad things. I think that will mean more time sitting and staring at the tree with holiday music playing in the background. More board games on the floor in the living room. And yes, a trip into SF to see the ballet perform. Less ...what? last minute baking is about all I can think of. You see my conundrum.

At any rate, I know the Christmas spirit is still somewhere inside me and will be fostered with the right treatment - just like I know that a lot of us are waiting for January 20th with a hope that borders on mania. We know where we want to be as a country, we can envision it...we just need to figure out the steps to take to get us there.

For this holiday, I wish us all the time and space to contemplate and plan and dream.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. My Christmas wish is for you to spread this idea to all your immediate friends....I'll happily go see the ballet with you!


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