The house is messy. Piles everywhere, items that have no permanent home: wrapping paper, Christmas cards that should already be sent out, suitcases that, in my idealistic plan of a few weeks ago, should already be filling up with swimsuits and warm weather clothes that I'm digging out of the basement in free moments.
I have huge stacks of books that I wanted to wrap for my students, because just arranging books as gifts for them was not enough. I have rotting bananas that I promised myself would become banana bread for coworkers and neighbors. I am trying to honor Ben's birthday, a family Christmas, a Florida Christmas, and stay on top of all the normal stuff like work, exercise, an ever-shrinking social life, writing, reading, and constantly being better. I'm trying to get it right, and getting annoyed with myself when I fail.
There is nothing new about this list of seasonal "failures." I cannot blame it on having children or working full time or any life circumstance- I would follow this pattern no matter what was happening in my day-to-day. Every single person has felt this way, and 90% of it is brought on by myself. I set up my own expectations. I put off my own success. I tell myself, angrily, hissing under my breath, "Next year, you'll start in July. You won't be so lazy and unrealistic. You'll be done before November, your cards addressed for December 1st, and you'll never be scrambling the weekend before Christmas again."
Instead of letting myself get caught up in all this stress, I'm trying to remember that it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. It will all be over in a blink, anyway. Wrap, unwrap, Christmas movie, hot chocolate, drive, fly, visit, love, and then we'll be on the other side of it, slightly out of breath, moving into a season of abstinence and optimism, telling each other in work hallways and banks and the check out line, "It went so fast this year!"
I won't condescend. It's impossible to escape the busy of this season, and it's lovely when it clicks and you're watching The Muppet Christmas Carol for the 13th time and tree lights are on and you're digging into one of the gingerbread cookies you decorated while your kids drank frosting like energy gel during a marathon. There's also the sweet sadness of crying with your husband after wrapping gifts in two different colors of wrapping paper (Santa and Other), picking tape off the soles of your feet while Harry Bailey toasts "To my big brother George, the richest man in town." I hope you can find something about this riot that you can love, and try not to let the rest of the noise ruin the good parts. This was the reminder I needed to write to myself today.
After the storm, when we're lugging bags of cardboard and ribbons to the curb and eating one last cookie, I swear, I encourage you to take a second to think about 2014 as a whole. Go back through your Facebook statuses, your journals, the picture files on your phone, the box where you keep your ticket stubs and postcards. Think about what worked. What were you proud of? What do you want to do again in 2015? What do you want to change? Christmas is like a huge send off for a 12-month year, but sometimes it takes up so much mind space that we stumble into the next one swearing to lose weight and save money as a knee jerk reaction to treats and presents. There is more to you than what you did in December.
Let's sum it up: Christmas is busy and crazy for most people. You're not alone. Enjoy what you can and don't beat yourself up. Watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. When it's all over, take some time to look at your entire year. Make sure to celebrate at least one thing you're proud of. Talk yourself up, brag about the wonderful being that you are. If you feel the need to plan for 2015, do it by taking into account all that you've done in the previous year. Do not sell yourself short. Do not sell yourself short.
This ends my ranty December PSA for the weary and stress-inclined. I hope that you have some love to be thankful for and some love to give away. I hope you're ready to enter 2015 bad ass and beautiful. I hope we all keep finding the courage to be our own lady. Happy everything.