Border Mail Column Wednesday 21 December 2011
In an attempt to avoid repetition, I returned to the column I wrote this time last year.
It was a reflective piece underpinned with the memory of Christmases past and the knowledge that I would be spending my first Christmas without seeing my sons.
We will be parted again by three and a half thousand kilometres, but I don’t have the same sense of separation I had from them then; there’s no feeling of Groundhog Day about this Christmas nor of the life and experiences I’ve had in 2011.
It’s been a year of excitement and change in my fortunate life.
Among that fortune, new jobs for my partner and me and a grandson whose arrival has given me not only a renewed sense of wonder in the world, but just a month ago the experience of a day caring for him where rather than feeling the time rapidly disappear, each minute with him was noted and cherished.
It’s a day I’ve returned to many times in the past few weeks as, despite my best intentions, the end of year madness has kicked in.
Working three jobs, two of them involving marking student assignments and exams and related paperwork, and the other promoting a major production, I’ve found recalling that day helps me to pause, but in that pausing I am noticing more and more how much Christmas’s impending arrival sends people into a spin and I’m not the only one to see this.
Conversations in the past few days with some self employed friends who can’t afford to say no to work at any time of year have centred on an almost universal need to ensure projects are completed by Christmas.
Outside of the business world, the necessity to catch up with people, have the new curtains/carpets/kitchen installed and generally have everything in place for a perfect Christmas is creating a vortex which sucks us in and on Christmas Day dumps us exhausted and as bewildered as Dorothy was when she found herself in the Land of Oz.
I’m as guilty as the next person in the expectations I have of myself at Christmas, because frankly, there are some tasks that if I don’t complete them I feel as if my year is incomplete and they give me that connection to family and friends that I need.
These include making puddings, large and small, ensuring the Christmas parcels are boxed and in the post to arrive in time to be opened on Christmas Day and writing Christmas cards.
As of this morning I’ve managed two out of three of these and plan to write the cards this evening which means they may not arrive at their destination before Friday, and that is okay because it’s fine to extend the period of goodwill beyond the 25th of December.
Then it’s time to look to the new year and resolutions on which, I’m happy to say, I have a head start on.
One of my resolutions is to invest more time in my creative writing; I’m booked into a workshop next month with one of my favourite authors.
We will have celebrations in the family with the wedding of my partner’s daughter and no doubt there will be the surprises and curve balls inevitably thrown into our lives.
They also say time goes faster as you get older, but with 2012 being a leap year I’ll have one extra day to prepare for next Christmas.
I just might need it!