Monday, December 9, 2013

Captain's Log: Stardate 91544.54

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. –Albert Camus

Flashback #1:
Monday, November 11th, around 4:00 pm. I'm grocery shopping at the local Wal-Marts and Christmas music is playing. This does not put me in a relaxed and happy mood. Nor does it inspire me to spend a little more on the ones I love. It nearly induces a panic attack in the dairy aisle because I have no idea what to get for anyone on my Christmas list and time is running short for inspiration to hit. It also kind of makes me want to cut my ears off and send them and a note that says, "happy ho, ho, ho to you!" to whatever corporate genius thought it would be good idea to start selling Christmas the day after Halloween. I then come to my senses and finish my grocery shopping in a very Grinch-like manner.

Present day:
Tonight was my work Christmas party. I started work at this company 3 years ago, just a few days before the Christmas party. This is the fourth Christmas party I've attended while working for them. Wait. That's not true. I stayed home last year with a migraine. {Sidebar: I had a migraine this year too, but I went anyway.} This was, by far, the best party we've had. We enjoyed lots of amazing food at a local favorite restaurant. Everyone got a small gift {a 16GB USB drive} and then they raffled off some really fun stuff, including $10 lunches on the company, movie pass/restaurant gift card combos, Redbox movie night packages, and a {slightly used} 32" flat-screen TV wired for internet and with a built-in USB port. As awesome as all of those things were, the prize up for grabs when my name was called was eight hours of vacation time. It was exactly what I wanted.

Flashback #2:
Tuesday, November 26th, around 6:00 pm. I've just finished grocery shopping and have a supply of cold cereal and milk to keep us out of the stores well beyond Black Friday and the mayhem that follows. With the prospects of a nice four-day weekend ahead, the lights on the trees and the decorations on the street posts that the City put up actually make me feel a little cheery and anticipatory of the Christmas season.

Present Day, a few minutes later:
I'm feeling quite festive tonight. I'm really looking forward to our family parties. I love the food and the conversation and the time together. But I still don't really have a clue about what to get my loved ones for Christmas. I'm riding coattails wherever I can. When someone says, "hey, let's go in on this fantastic item for Beloved Family Member X," I say, "You bet. You can count me in." But as far as getting really great brainwaves of my own, well, I'm not.

I don't consider this attitude to be particularly Scroogish. Let me explain why. At our house we already have plenty of stuff. I'm actually more interested in sorting through and paring down the stuff we already have than I am in going out and hunting for the perfect new stuff to give the Not-So-Little Bugs, which I will then have to try to find places to put. Instead of the commercial collecting of stuff, this year I want to focus on the creating of memories. Did I mention I got eight hours of vacation time at the party tonight?

Flashback #3:
Sometime in December in perhaps 1983 or 1984. Maybe it was 1985. I'm not 100% positive. Growing up, we did not have a lot of money. My parents worked hard to make sure that we had what we needed. They stayed out of debt and made a dollar stretch as far as it would go. This particular year, there was a family in our ward {congregation} whose budget was stretched even thinner than my parents'. And so my mom asked us what we would think if she took one of our gifts back and used the money to buy something for this family. We thought it was a great idea. My mom did the shopping and wrapping. On Christmas Eve we crept quietly to their doorstep where we gently placed the packages, rang the doorbell and then ran for the hills.

I do not remember what we gave them. Perhaps pajamas and a toy for each of the kids? I do not remember what I got for Christmas that year, nor do I remember feeling at all deprived because I had one less gift than was originally planned. But I do remember how good it felt to give something to someone who needed it.

Present Day, a little bit after that:
I think perhaps my gift-giving mental block this year stems from the fact that I already have everything I need. I can not think of a single material thing that I need. Mr. Bug and I are happy. We care about each other. We help each other. We have rough spots now and then, but we're on the same team. We have two beautiful children. We have a roof over our heads, clothes to wear and enough to eat. I have enough Ph.D's to keep me stitching for years. I really couldn't ask for much more.

What I want is to make memories with the residents of Bug Cottage. Those eight vacation hours are going to come in handy. I have them earmarked for something special.

My mom continues to help others in need each Christmas season. I don't think there has been a year that has gone by without her donating to Sub-for-Santa or picking a name off the Angel Tree. And I think that maybe a little of that giving spirit is what is missing from my Christmas this year. I've decided that part of my quest for family memories will include some time spent volunteering at the food bank {barring any unforseen age restrictions} this holiday season.

There is still shopping and sewing and crafting to be done. Christmas coming ever closer. Just thinking about everything that needs to happen in such a short amount of time in order to pull it all off this year makes me hyperventilate a little. But I've decided that I'm going let the idea of a "Perfect Christmas" go. I'm going to get done what I can and not worry about the rest. Christmas will come whether or not I send out a hundred Christmas cards and give homemade ornaments to all the neighbors.

At this point, I have two options. I can ride the crazy train for the next two weeks and arrive stressed and stretched so thin that I don't even enjoy it. Or I can see where the Polar Express takes me.

I have a feeling that the second option will be a little more magical.


Julie said...

I still remember that Christmas too. I'm feeling much the same about stuff, and getting it all done. My nativities are up. My tree has candy canes on it this year because that is all I could get the kids to do. Not our normal large tree, or the one that was going to be real this year either. It is small and in the corner of the living room rather than the front window. Oh, well we're not even home on Christmas anyway. See you in a couple weeks.

Paulette said...

I can relate to a lot of what you have said here. I really *need* nothing for Christmas. I have a wish list, but there is nothing essential for life or happiness on it. Love the secret Santa story for the neighbors in need. What a great life lesson and example set by your parents.

Other things: The new photo of you is lovely! Also, winning 8 hours of vacation, now that's stuff of dreams for a busy woman like you! Congratulations! Thirdly, I am all for letting go of the stuff that drives one crazy for the "perfect" Christmas. Making memories is what it's all about, and you are on track for that, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Take a deep Breath and repeat after me , it is only a movie, it is only a movie... then grab the DVD of The Christmas Story. See life at Christmas is never perfect. The furnice chocks up and the dad swears at it. The BB gun breaks your glasses, the dogs ruin the turkey dinner, and you still have a good time with family at the Chinese Restaurant singing Christmas songs with the owner.
Merry Christmas.

Lane said...

Great post. Great sharing. I'm feeling much the same. I can't find what I have because I have so much. Wondering about those that don't. Be well. Lane