It did not help that the last two weeks have been full of the kind of stuff that tends to make you neglect even basic personal hygiene, let alone things like ‘decorating the house’ or ‘planning large meals’ or ‘shopping for presents.’
We had a rather important code deploy that went into integration testing on…wait for it…December 22. T’was the deploy before Christmas and all through the team, not a partner was idle, not a voice didn’t scream… (I know. I do not have a career in rhymes.)
I did not (technically) work on Christmas Eve…but I’ve still got forty hours billed for the week. So needless to say, I skidded into said Christmas Eve sideways and cussing. Because much to my surprise, it actually showed up on December 24! I mean you know REALLY. After all, the aforementioned deploy was supposed to have an initial deploy on December 15 (for internal tech team only), but that didn’t happen and then we were supposed to get our deploy on 12/20 but guess what? That didn’t happen either. Nor did the 21st, or the 22nd.
So it seems rather indecent of Christmas to show up right on time. It’s like Those People who don’t get the memo that you’re supposed to always be about twenty minutes (a.k.a., “fashionably”) late to social gatherings, and instead show up Johnny-on-the-spot to everything.
Therefore, this Christmas has gone by in a terrible rush. It has gone by with a huge sucking noise, in a blur of light and movement and noise. (Ooooooooh, the noise!)
People came and went. There were outings. There was cooking – lots and lots of it.
Then on Christmas Eve as we were shutting off the lights and heading for bed (at one in the morning, thank-you-very-much, HO HO HO), we had no cookies for Santa…because I didn’t get around to them. So I dug through the larder, found some tortilla chips and a jar of homemade salsa, broke out the ‘good’ cordial glasses and filled a dark green one up with Goldschlager for the jolly old elf.
I mean, hey. Everywhere he goes, milk and cookies, milk and cookies. A little jalapeno and cinnamon schnapps would make a nice change of pace, don’t you think?
Really? Never would have guessed…
And then there was this kind of implosion. Time took off like a runaway horse. There were presents, and shouting, and running, and candy wrappers on the floor. I made pancakes (I think…at least, I was rinsing maple syrup off a bunch of plates this morning, which usually means something like pancakes happened), and then I was making all kinds of other things. Pumpkins became pumpkin pie (and a lot more pumpkin puree, too). A black-bottom pie was also made, because otherwise The Lady My Mother would disown me. All the little sweet potato “fingerlings” from our sweet potato harvest a couple weeks ago became a soufflé (next year, I don’t care if the kids do hate it, I’m putting the bourbon in…it was OK, but kind of bland without it).
A six pound rib roast from the steer Ashley raised (a very bright-eyed young lady in the Future Farmer’s of America, whose steer I bought at the junior livestock auction at the county fair this summer) went into the oven and became a juicy roast.
Here’s the funny thing: I didn’t plan well (or arguably, at all). At 9:00 this morning, I was still deciding what-all I thought I was going to get done. (A lot of things didn’t. Like, 98% of the cleaning that really ought to be done before you have people in your home.)
Two weeks ago, I didn’t have a single present purchased.
But this morning, there were presents under the tree, neatly wrapped in coordinated paper – each Denizen with his or her own design. (This helps to avoid mistakes when you’ve got a pre-literate or extremely excitable kid in the brood…we can show Captain Adventure which paper is ‘his’ and turn him loose without a whole lot of fear, whereas otherwise every time you take your eyeballs of him for even a second, he’ll be ripping into somebody else’s present in hopes that it’s his.)
This morning, I had a good rough idea of what I was going to be making, but no actual plan; what time which thing had to be in or out of an oven or on the stove, what order to do things in, and not a single slice of celery done in advance.
But a few hours later, we all sat down and ate ourselves silly.
And there was laughing and talking, and talking and laughing; the children were happy with their new toys, and everybody found something they liked at the table.
Christmas happened without a lot of planning and coordinating on my part, and it turned out great.
That’s what happens, I guess, when distinguishing a “special” day from a “normal” one becomes difficult, or impossible. Every day we laugh. Every day we love. We ignore each other’s dusty blinds and bland potatoes, we laugh and talk and drink our wine and admire the children’s artwork.
So when Christmas comes, there’s no man-made stress added to it. No terror in the event the wine got corked, or the roast comes out burnt, or the pie crust is inedible. No what will She think if the napkins aren’t folded just so, just right, or the coffee isn’t hand-picked by monks.
We’re the same bunch of nuts on Christmas as we are on June 5.
Which leaves a lot of room for the sacred to creep in, really, in all the moments freed up because we don’t need to feed each other’s neuroses.
So…may the returning of the light at this solstice-time warm and bless you, may the lengthening of days uplift you, may you see the hope of tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that in each added moment of light we gain as we begin the slow climb from winter’s dark to summer’s light; may your God be with you, and bless you, and keep you well.
I hope your days are blessed, one and all, yesterday and today, tomorrow and always – Christmas day, or doomsday.