ho ho holiday blues
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Common wisdom says the holiday blues are due to high expectations of the season and memories of joyous childhood holidays. Yeah, maybe. Except I had the holiday blues as a kid, too. Christmas to me was a few hours of cozy family togetherness that ended as soon as the last gift was unwrapped. I started mourning the end of holiday magic before it even started.
Mine was not a warm family. Interesting, yes. Intellectual, in our way. Creative, certainly. But not loving. Hugs were rare. Emotional support was mostly left to professionals. Depression was a family affair. We all rallied as best we could for Christmas Day, but nobody could keep up that kind of thing for long.
So really, my expectations for the holidays are pretty low all around.
I haven’t been “home” for Christmas for many years. My family and I were estranged for the better part of a decade, reconnecting only as my late mother’s health started declining. Now, our family of five is down to three surviving members—me, my older brother and our father—and I see no point in trying to reinvent anything with them around the holidays. If family Christmases made me blue in the past, can you imagine how they would feel now? As far as I know, they ignore the whole business anyway.
I am proactive about the holidays. I bake and decorate the house. We throw parties. I have festive lunches with nearby friends and make or buy gifts for far-flung friends.
Some years, the effort pays off with a warm holiday glow. Some years, it mostly feels like a pain in the ass. This year is one of the PIA years. Money is very tight. I was sick this week and fell behind on shopping and shipping. Our holiday party was a lot of work for a small turnout. I can think of nothing I want or need that we can afford at the moment, and Tom feels the same. But the idea of nothing under the $10 Target artificial tree is a little too sad to contemplate so we’re forcing ourselves to shop with a strict budget.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m feeling sorry for myself and it’s not attractive. And I try not to present problems without solutions, if I can. So, what now? I just did a cardio workout. That always helps. I put the kettle on for tea, that’s cheering too. I’m researching volunteer opportunities for Christmas Eve because I’ve heard volunteering can bring all kinds of meaning to the season. It’s time to test that theory. We’re going to one party tonight and three events tomorrow. Surely, surely it will all work to turn my gloomy mood around.
And if not, to hell with it. Maybe next year will be better.
random holiday research
Saturday, December 13, 2008
“If, for instance, you walk into a room with a nice, fresh evergreen tree and there is no odor to it, or the odor is not what you expect, that experience will not make as much sense to you.
“You might not be able to put your finger on what’s wrong, but you would know that something about this scene wasn’t quite right,” he says. “There is a whole constellation of stimuli that are part of our sensory world, especially at the holiday season. We put those things together in context automatically.”
Fair enough. We have a little fake tree, but Tom is out right now looking for fresh garland to hang in the living room so we have the scent of evergreen in the house. The holidays aren’t right without it, although it is kind of a stretch to link the holiday with this very general research.
But then Dr. Lorig goes on to say:
“…we are actually trained to ignore odors in most settings. 'You can be in a room that is full of books and computers and telephones and all these things that emit odors, but you probably don’t notice,' he says. 'Despite the fact that the air around us is full of molecules that we can smell, most of the time we don’t. We tend to smell only those things when specifically ‘looking’ for a smell or when something isn’t quite right.'”
I think we smell those things, don’t you? The minute he mentioned the smells of books and computers and telephones, I knew what they smelled like. If someone says “office” to you, doesn’t your mind invent a distinctive smell of plastic, paper, carpet fiber, cubicles, toner, electronics and people? We must be noticing on some level. Maybe, just like the smell of evergreen and vanilla makes us feel festive, like lavender and eucalyptus relax us and tomato soup and sour milk make us nostalgic, the smell of office makes us feel efficient. Or perhaps bored.
That is all. Here’s a random cartoon for you. Made me laugh. Your mileage may vary.
the first gift in
Sunday, December 7, 2008
An eight-bottle wine cooler is a very fine gift except it’s kind of a major appliance that eats up a lot of counter space. Also, unless we are planning heavy entertaining, we rarely have more than a bottle or two of wine in the house. We like wine, but we’re not connoisseurs. We buy it, we drink it. Sometimes we open it, have a glass, then let it turn to vinegar. We often buy wine at the supermarket. When people give us good bottles of wine, we save them for special occasions that never arrive. We keep them in a wine rack, next to a bottle of Diet Coke and a bottle of club soda.
But now we have an eight-bottle wine cooler to live up to. So. We could keep more wine in the house. That’s not unthinkable. We could start collecting audacious little cabernets and putting them in our wine cooler. But is it appropriate to alter one’s behavior for the sole purpose of accommodating a gift?
We put the cooler on a counter in the kitchen, where it looked very large and important and startled us every time we went into the kitchen.
“It’s a good gift,” I said, as we looked at it. “It would just be better if…”
“…it were something else?” Tom said.
We woke yesterday morning and the first thing we both thought was, “Oh, we now have an eight-bottle wine cooler.”
I had to do some baking and needed the counter space so I asked Tom to move the wine cooler. He picked it up and walked around and around the house, looking for another place to keep it. It eventually got kind of heavy so he just stuck it on a desk near the back door, where it looked very large and important and startled us every time went in or out of the house.
Finally, Tom rearranged our cabinets and found space that could accommodate an eight-bottle wine cooler. We put the cooler in the cabinet, plugged it in, and put two bottles of wine in it, since that’s what we happened to have. Now, we will either marvel at the cool freshness of our two bottles of audaciously low-priced wines when we drink them, or we will forget all about them.
No, I would not rather have received a gift card. (Of the several pro and con responses I received to that column, including a couple of letters in today’s paper, the pro people were all the givers of gift cards. No one but MsKrit reported liking to receive gift cards.)
I think we are going to love our wine cooler. And I think I know someone who needs a shoe wheel.
raindrops on roses
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tom has wholeheartedly embraced the new food storage containers. He’s practically giddy.
Our lives improve every time Tom gets completely exasperated. When the rabbit ears fell off the TV in a tangle of wires set for the eight gazillionth time, we finally got cable. When our oddball collection of food containers toppled out of the cabinet onto him for the seventeen gazillionth time, I bought new food containers. Tom has forgotten his look of dismay when I opened my trunk and revealed the giant box of food storage containers. Now, he’s a big fan. I am satisfied but still feel guilty about my callous rejection of our old food storage containers. Are we worthy of snapwear?
I’m going to get sappy with Steve Blow, whose column today are what he calls “pet delights.” I would have been more predictable and called them “pet pleasures” but I’m overly-fond of alliteration. ("Delights" is a newspaper word. Like "sumptuous." And "abounds." If it weren't for newspapers, those words would be obsolete.)
Plus, I have to quibble with Steve assurance that we’ll all know the joys of grandchildren some day.
I like the idea anyway. Counting life's little pleasures is like counting your blessings, but less smug.
Steve says being “in for the night” is good one. I know exactly what he means. My own version of that is those mornings when I wake and realize I have work to do and no pressing need to leave the house. I can fall into my own little routine of oatmeal in the morning, walking Jack at 3, and moving to the couch in the late afternoon, for tea and British reality shows and writing. Delightful.
Jack’s back feet are a pet pleasure.
My Thanksgiving Day walk is a pet pleasure. Our tradition is to cook at home and have people over but I always manage to fit a long aerobic walk amidst (another newspaper word) the cooking and baking. It’s a highlight of my day. (Along with the National Dog Show, which is an inspired new Thanksgiving TV tradition.) Today is balmy and bright and families in the neighborhood were loading pies and kids into their vehicles, tossing footballs on the lawn, sitting out on their patios. Holiday is definitely in the air and I feel fine.
Getting a sleeve set in right when I sew is a pet pleasure. Every time I do it and it doesn't look like crap, I get to feel a little bit proud of myself.
Afternoon sunlight is a pet pleasure. And Texas sunsets...well, I've waxed poetic about those too many times here. You know how I feel.
I have much to do before guests arrive so I will leave you to consider your own pet pleasures. Happy Thanksgiving and all that.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
It annoys me that you're hotter than I am so here are some hideous, dumpy outfits so my boyfriend stops looking at you like you're a sweet piece of mom-candy.
Happy Mother's Day!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Did you buy me a present?
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