I have been busy and distracted. Don't tell me you haven't been either. I remember reading somewhere that the busiest and most stressful age of a lifetime is the time when a person's children are young. No kidding. Add holidays, visitors, and winter weather and you've got the makings of a berserker melt down.
Or maybe it's just me.
Last weekend I skated my very first ever roller derby bout. I can't begin to tell you how nerve racking it is to go out and do something so decidedly odd yet passionate in front of hundreds of strangers, and how much worse it is to know that your friends and family are watching you too. It was a blast, but I know that no matter how hard I worked over the past year to go from a non-skater to actually playing derby and not getting killed, it is just the beginning still. I have so much sweat and many bruises ahead of me, not to mention the development of grit and tenacity, before my second bout will be played in February.
This time in my life, with my babies so young, my passions still new, my relationships with my man and family, feels like a ball of steel wool in my chest. This time is precious, so fleeting and excruciatingly fragile, I know I am living in golden times that I will look back on in longing. Yet - of course, there is a yet - I can't manage to give the time and attention to any of it to do it sufficient justice. There is cracks all over the place and things are slipping away.
The kids grow and I can't remember clearly what Smootch looked like when she was Birdie's age. Was Birdie ever a baby? I don't think there was a time when he didn't tell me 'no' eighty times a day. How wonderful would it be to fill their holiday season with a warm kitchen, scented with gingerbread and mint, to fill their stockings with mama made dolls and hand carved wooden trains, to walk every day with them out in the snow, watching the deep, under-appreciated beauty of winter unfold with icy, alien landscapes and pondering the mysterious lives of animals who leave us only with snowy tracks to indicate their existence. To have a never ending pot of cocoa on the stove to warm us from our frequent ice skating and sledding.
How much I'd like to present my husband with a handmade shirt or a handknitted scarf and toque. How wonderful would it be to have pieced together a quilt for my mother and have posed for a family portrait to give out to the grandparents. I want to sit in the kitchens of my friends, while we chat over wine glasses, our hands busy cutting out cookies. I want to have the lights, the garland, the feeling of sanctuary sitting in a room lit up for the celebration of all that is cherished.
Hmmmm... my desires are suspicious. Must try to remember I don't live in a greeting card.
So, here is is again. Holidays. Stress. For me. For you. For the lady I saw quietly weeping the grocery store last night, holding her unhappy toddler as she picked through the discount bread shelf.
Now, normally, like to get into the holidays a bit with some crafting and baking, but it's all fairly minor league. The few gifts I give are usually either handmade or second hand. My husband is famous for giving everyone junk for Christmas a couple years ago, so you can see how we are actually fairly relaxed about the holidays, despite my inner monologue about icy beauty and handmade quilts. I work hard at trying to keep a sense of humor and perspective.
Still, this year, even the bare minimum is feeling overwrought. The mere thought of having a go at some festive decorations or sewing up a party dress sends me into this funk where I end up hiding in the kitchen, no, not cooking, but sitting feet up with a block of chocolate and some pleasant distraction.
I am going to take this as a sign. Instead of fighting my zone out response, I've decided to take it on as a mission. This is a terrible month to get things done, so I'm going to not do things. The holiday madness seems the right sort of time to schedule a break from the everyday grind to sit back and mull things over a bit. To question and reaffirm my values instead of full out participation in the glittery illusions and semi-hysterical sugar high Christmas usually ends with.
No holiday hangover for this gal, thank you.
This next month I am going to focus on reducing. Reducing stress, reducing stuff, and reducing the demand on my, and your, precious attention. I will do my best to make this a guilt and madness free blog for the duration of the holidays. Here there will be no count down, no last minute ideas, no clever tricks to fit even more in. Maybe with a bit less to do, there will be more time for a couple of winter strolls and a trip through the photo archives to remind myself of Smootch's two year old face.
Join me or ignore me, I wish you a truly peaceful holiday.