The last few months have been a bit rough on me an my beloved. There have just been too many deadlines to meet, requirements to feel pressured by, scheduling conflicts to navigate, crossed signals to unravel, reports to write, programs to coordinate, concerts to sing, end-of-year gatherings to attend, students to advise, assignments to read, cards to send, gifts to purchase and wrap, disappointments to attend to, and stressors in general.
In our home, the chaos of the holidays is only compounded by the fact that both my partner and I are bringing the most ridiculously busy time at both of our jobs to a close. He, finishing the billable and then business year. And me, welcoming, orienting, teaching, advising, programming, and planning ahead with a seemingly un-ending stream of students.
Yep, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around we're both usually just about ready to throw in the towel. But that is never what we get to do. Instead, we celebrate his birthday and turn the corner into an up-hill race against time that persists until the end of the year. We, though I'm not sure how, add MORE. Each thing as lovely and exciting as the next -- in their own right. But, when compounded they make our combined day-timers read like the who's-who of "you'll never get a good night's sleep, ever again". As a result we have less time together, less time to connect, to rejuvenate, re-cooperate, enjoy the holiday season as a couple. Not to mention less time to sleep, eat well, or exercise. We become the King and Queen of divide and conquer. DOing but not BEing.
So, it should come as no surprise that this weekend while in the car with my partner, amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and concerts, that we were admittedly stressed and bickering as a result. I can't really remember the details of what we were discussing other than we were vowing to ourselves (as we always do this time of year) to do LESS at Christmas. I was surely on a rant that NO one would care if we didn't send a card, or starve if we didn't bring cookies. He likely chimed in to remind me that the nieces and nephews will be showered with gifts regardless if we send ours and that our spirits will be bright with or without an 11-foot tree in the living room (yep, you read that right, e-l-e-v-e-n feet!).
Yes, we finally agreed (and boy, wasn't that refreshing?): we'll do less at Christmas. No weekend of choir concerts to sing, no 1100 cookies to bake, no mountain of cards sent near and far, no shopping marathons, no shipping gifts all around the world. None of it. We'll re-invent Christmas. We'll make it work for us. We'll divorce ourselves from Christmas as a "season of expectation" and make a new season of survival and (maybe, just maybe) periodic joy.
It was in that quiet moment of scroogy-sanity as we sat at the stop light that I glanced out the passenger window. There, in the car next to us was Santa Claus himself. No fake beard and dated polyester suit here folks! Nope, HE was the real McCoy. Wearing a red beret and a fleece vest and driving a Scion: Good Old Saint Nick. Apparently he's given up the sleigh for the new boxy-but-trendy rig (better MPG and comes standard with GPS). He moved from the North Pole to Salem (better weather and proximity to Ms. Claus' family). And, well the red suit lined with fur isn't "Northwest chic" so, he opted for the beret and vest: tre Oregon! This little moment brought me such joy amid an otherwise bleak December evening that I just had to share it with you.
So, if you're feeling the disappointment of the holidays and stress of the end-of-the-year, I encourage you to re-write your rules. Choose joy. Decide what you want and begin it. I've decided to say a less than fond farewell to 2000-and-sucked-my-ass. And, hello to what I've decided will be 2000-and-awesome (the year of awesome according to the Chinese calendar).
If you don't get a card, cookie plate, or gift from me next year, please don't take offense. If you come around and see no decorations, please don't assume I'm next festive. Rather, take solace in the fact that I didn't run myself ragged trying to make Christmas *magical* all the while missing all the magic around me: running through lighted neighborhoods, the occasional egg nog latte, singing carols with the radio, baking with my mom, giving to charity, spending a quite moment with my partner.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Santa, his Scion is silver and I'm sure he'll bring you just as much joy as he did me - if you're ready to receive it.
CSSA Class of 2004 Reunion
4 years ago