Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ho. Ho. Ho.

And so upon us now fall the holidays. A beautiful time of universal stress and confusion. This morning at around 9, when I didn't show up where I was supposed to be at 8:30, I answered the query "where will you be at 1:00" with three separate possibilities, each equally likely and each equally frenzied. And I realized that I've had nearly the same exchange at least 3 other times this week.

It's not that I have such amazingly lots of places to go and things to do. I just have more than usual. And it's not that my kids have amazingly lots of things to do and places to go -- I try harder than ever to Keep It Simple for them at this time of year -- but they do have more than usual. Ditto my husband. So when you jumble up more-than-usual times four, you have amazingly lots of places to do and things to go and it becomes more difficult to sort out who will be where when doing what. (Why?)

And just about everyone around us is in the same boat. Even those who "don't celebrate Christmas" aren't granted an exemption from the cacophony that occurs in this culture at this time of year. And none of us are "celebrating" Christmas unless we really make a point of it. This whole season can easily become a stinging blur of musts and shoulds and obligations and expectations.

If your routine environment, be it school, or work, or home, or alla them, is the scene of a special event on a special occasion, well that's nice. It's worthwhile and delightful to have ceremonies and traditions. Especially ones that connect us with the rhythms of the seasons and with the milestones and landmarks of our lives. If your routine environment is the scene of a different special event 8 times in 10 days... is that special, or just a new routine that obscures the regular routine?

You have that regular routine, ideally, because it supports you in some way. It's where and how you support yourself; or it's where you learn and grow; or it's where you restore yourself and assimilate all that you've experienced each day. I reckon a good regular routine oughta include a little of all of those things.

Sometime in the last 20 years, I became a low energy person. If I stopped to think about it, it'd be clear why that is so. I didn't heed my kindergarten lessons: play is important, do a lot of it; eat well so that you are strong; get rest so that you are alert. I just played. And I ate poorly (coffee, chocolate old-fashioned donuts, quarter-pounders, french fries, wine, popcorn, green olives)*. And rest? No. (Arrive late to work that starts at 8, go for a drink after work, stay out, maybe go dancing, go home past midnight, go directly to bed, wake up too late to get ready properly, repeat).

So maybe that is why I fall on the particularly susceptible end of the spectrum of sensitivity to overscheduling. That, and it is probably just part of my genetic makeup, since both my kids tend that way and they haven't had 20 years of misspent youth yet. Unless they tend that way because it's just what they are used to seeing me be like. Someone research that (is it nature or nurture?) and get back to me. Meanwhile, we're bumping along on the lumpy road to next year and I'm trying to get some celebrating in here without coiling us all into knotty skeins.

I'd love to think about this more deeply, but I've got 3 places to be right now.

*and yet, I'm so smug about never developing a soda habit.

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