I've noticed a frenetic panic setting in during this shortened holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas are closer than usual this year, and Hanukkah started on Thanksgiving). Everyone is cheerful enough on the surface, but distracted and hurried. The default facial expression -- brow furrowed, focus downward -- only yields, with bewilderment, from direct eye contact and a smile. Normally this would be the perfect time for our favorite social experiment game. Wynne and I like to find the grouchiest soul in a room and change everything with a genuine, positive greeting or just a smile. It can be very entertaining -- the dramatic change in mood is usually preceded by several seconds of confusion. The payoff is akin to the karmic blast one gets from paying a stranger's toll or restaurant check.
This year, however, I've noticed that I am the one with the furrowed brow. It's my own fault, really. I've become obsessed recently with creative, crafty pursuits I had given up long ago because of their time-consuming nature. Once enmeshed, I was thrilled with the soul-soothing process, until I realized again just how time-consuming creativity is. Continually craving a quick payoff, I have started project after project, only to find that there is no quick payoff. It's time to focus on Christmas. I am watching myself procrastinate, but I just . . . can't . . . stop.
It all started on October 1 with Wynne's request that I create Arwen's cloak for her to wear on Halloween. My youngest child wanting something from me that I can actually do? -- Involving something from Lord of the Rings???? Um, yeah! Ten days, 3-7 hours per day later: the cloak was born! I'd show you a photo, but she is 16 and doesn't approve mass consumption images of herself, unless they are selfies, of course. I did a great job on the cloak, so I thought I was a master seamstress again. Wynne then wanted Haylie Williams' plaid pinafore/jumper thingy, so we went looking for the fabric and pattern. We found something I thought I could work with. I found myself something too. I am not done with either project and am not thrilled with early results. To soothe my jangled nerves from seam ripping the mistakes over and over again, I started some homemade Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors. I'm still in the early stages with these.
Still searching for the elusive sense of accomplishment, I bought piles of yarn so I can remember how to knit, and maybe teach myself to crochet -- haven't touched 'em. I'm about halfway done with Christmas decor -- tree up, no ornaments, cardboard box containing creche figures on the side table. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are still in their bubble wrap.
Still, sometimes the spirit moves me. The other night, fixing dinner in the kitchen, I spouted forth: "God rest ye' merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!"
Andres, watching something on tv in the other room, responded "shush!" Wynne and I made eye contact and had a fit of giggles.
But I can give any grinch a run for his money. Having a snack after school the other day, Wynne got a kick out of watching me go through the mail while loading the dishwasher and prepping dinner. Glasses on, brow furrowed as per usual, I read each Christmas card, bill, junk mail/coupon aloud to help it make sense to my scattered brain.
"Add some sparkle to your holiday, (a credit card solicitation) -- NO!" (ripping it in half).
The phone rang: "Why, why, why is my phone always ringing?! -- oh, hi honey,"
Thank goodness my child is there to show me myself from the outside so the two of us can laugh at me. Yes, I understand I'm avoiding getting into the thick of the season with mindless grinchery and distraction, so as of this moment I will just say no to ripping out another seam on a homemade dress that I don't need and which is not working out. After the new year and a long winter's nap, I'm sure projects will flow more smoothly. I'm going to sit down now with this lovely soy nog (cut with unsweetened vanilla almond milk) and work on those homemade gifts. Oh, and Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let's get you out of those bubbles!