This time of year gets pretty messy... The house gets turned upside down looking for paper or tape or tags from the stash; the kitchen cupboards get shuffled through checking on what's in storage and whether or not there is enough for this and that; the furniture gets moved around and the resulting messes that were unnoticed and forgotten add to the list of "things to do when I have time"... and then all the time is up and I'm left either too tired to do anything or I have to move onto things that HAVE to be done NOW! Like WORK! It's a totally new experience for me and it's still taking some getting used to.
I am still woefully disorganized this year. Even taking many old customs out of my yearly equation I'm still amazed at how fast Christmas arrived! I didn't write a letter to "all my friends and family" nor did I mail out 100 cards containing hand printed party invitations with seasonal stamps and embossed images... there was no draping the front with lights nor did I connect power to the existing lights on the eaves of my home.... Instead of counting the days until December the 1st I was scrambling to learn my new job and memorizing codes instead of making lists.... and when December 1st came around I didn't keep track of the days but I did keep track of my hours at work (and there were a lot of them, many last minute and ALWAYS fun for me!)....
I did put up my tree, bake a few cookies and some Christmas cake, invited many friends to come and enjoy time and company here for Boxing day, and I am really looking forward to that!
But after all the rush in the last few weeks I have time to remember other times and other meals... and other family members who I am not celebrating with this year.
The last time I cooked a turkey for Christmas was on December 2009. Newly separated and on my own for the day I had arranged with my Mom to bring dinner to her house. I roasted a small turkey breast, made all the fixings, packed a lovely bottle of Port and brought the meal hot to her little home. Together with my brother "R" we shared a meal, sipped our wine (Mom abstained, and I only had a little because I knew I would be driving home later) and shared our traditional carrot pudding, just the three of us. It was a quiet and sweet memory. And it was the last time I spent Christmas with my side of the family.
Since then I have been lucky enough to spend every Christmas with my kids... opening gifts, sharing stories, playing games, scratching lottery tickets, enjoying the labours of other hands while I sit as a guest at table to share turkey dinner and copious desserts... but there is no more Carrot Pudding on the menu because there are not enough people who eat it, and there is a phone number I can't call on Christmas morning to wish Mom "Merry Christmas!" any more.
Last night I worked my little job telling my customers " I will get you through as fast as I can because you have better things to be doing than standing here in the line up at Superstore on Christmas Eve.." and I smiled and took care of business until they had all gone home... Then I wandered the store aisles putting away abandoned purchases until long after I was supposed to clock out... and came home to a quiet home, some warm dinner, a sparkling tree, the log show on TV and the little dogs so happy to have me home.
My gifts were wrapped days ago. There is enough glitter and tinsel to make anyone's eyes shine... there are piles and packages and wrapped-and-ribboned boxes waiting to be loaded into my little SUV so they can go to their destination and be opened and enjoyed.... and there was is a small red-headed tornado who will be ready to tear paper and laugh and run and eat too much and be the center of the Universe for a few more hours today, because our little "boy" is big enough to "get" that this is a big day.
So the torch has been passed, and life moves forward in a sweet way. I appreciate so much more now than I did when all the hustle and the lists took over my life. And if there had been a way to talk to my younger self I would have said "life it too short to take all your time preparing for a single moment"... instead I would have counseled myself to enjoy every single moment and prepare yourself instead of your surroundings".... it also makes me realize that all the stuff around me that at times seems anonymous stuff is actually MY stuff! That's a pretty empowering feeling as well! Because if I don't take control of my own stuff I'll be so out of control that life and all it's small moments will speed past me and I will still be sitting at home every night on a quiet evening, watching something simple on the television, puttering aimlessly, and there will be no voices except my own.
And even though I have finally learned to enjoy my alone time and my privacy there are still times when it would be so good to hear voices laughing, the noises of presents being torn open, the comforting familiarity of the music and the closeness... watch the food disappearing from bowls and plates, hear the quiet enjoyment from satisfied and well fed family... and to have to clean up the mess one more time ... because the very best mess is the one that you create with love and joy, the torn papers, the dirty dishes, the ribbons stuffed down the sides of the couch... furniture askew from being pulled closer to bring us all together... and just being together.
And until the next time I will be cuddled quietly on my couch with several little doggie and kitty eyes watching me, a warm blanket, a fine cup of (decaffeinated) tea, perhaps a book on my lap or a movie on my television screen, and always a smile on my face...
Merry Christmas... Happy New Year... and may all your messes be ones made with joy and love...