My apologies to family, friends, community – and to my self. Somehow next week is Christmas. Life in this new world has meant making apologies to old customs, habits, traditions, and expectations. That means an impressive workload means less time for cards, gifts, decorations, and those mythical celebrations that are supposedly part of the season. Ironically, the extra work means extra hope which is one gift I’ve chosen to concentrate on.
Conventional wisdom is that, except for retail, business slows down at the end of the year. People are supposedly distracted by shopping and cooking and arranging the trappings of the season. My life took an unexpectedly positive turn around Thanksgiving, a well-named time. From wondering how I was going to financially survive until the new year, within a week I found myself helping someone buy land, someone else list their house, and someone else buy a condo so they could relax after decades of tending acreage. Life as a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker on Whidbey Island, eh?
I’m a romantic. Being raised just outside of Pittsburgh during the end of the Baby Boom meant growing up with a good chance of white Christmases, carols in church, and having lots of kids to play with during school breaks or snow days. Mom put white twinkle lights where ever she could. Dad defending his array of big colored lights that were enough to warm the room. Everyone got and gave several presents. The term ‘feast’ was an understatement. My naturopath probably doesn’t want to hear about my binge-ing on sugar covered nut roll cookies consumed with glasses of full fat milk while playing Battleship, or whatever that year’s game was. Cards were strung into garland effectively delivered by mail. Of course Santa existed, and of course the doubter in me kept quiet rather than reveal the fact that I didn’t think he could make it all the way around the world or get down our chimney. Thanks for the presents, packages, and bows – and the To/From cards that I lost track of.
Now, I work in that overlap between what was the traditional model of real estate broker, the new model of independent contractor, and whatever it is I am in the Gig Economy. When I was in the salary world it was a push, but it was possible to at least touch on all of the old traditions. Now, work when work is available, and be thankful for it regardless of schedule. Besides, it is good to help people who want to be helped.
So, here I sit, waiting for emails about contracts and house inspections, phone calls from clients, and checking social media because calls and letters are no longer the only way to contact someone.
So, here I sit, realizing a week from today will be Christmas. Presents and cards are arriving at home, some opened and unwrapped (particularly the ones shipped with dry ice); but no tree, no cards, no gifts made or bought and ready to give, and little thought about what I’ll make for Christmas dinner.
The beginning of the island’s pre-Christmas storm is about to be delivered in a few hours, and the main package of the Pineapple Express (an atmospheric river event) is due in a day or two. The email Inbox is empty of unread messages. The phone isn’t ringing or dinging or whatever they do now. If I decide to work from home and leave now maybe, maybe, I’ll be able to harvest enough rosemary to make a wreath or two, write a few cards, order at least a few gifts that will be just a bit late for Christmas (unless Amazon plays Santa), and rummage through the boxes of decorations for some heirloom pieces to remind me of life decades ago.
Within the next few days I plan to buy a live pine seedling, bring it inside, decorate it, and then plant it with hope it will adjust and survive – a model for our new world, upon reflection.
So, excuse me as I write something more concise than usual, but life is about choices. I’ll apologize what won’t get done by choice or necessity, as I also choose to blend a bit of the new and the old, at least for a little while.
I’m not entirely sure why, but your essay today made me a little sad. I think that sadness comes from the passage of time, the changing of seasons and the inevitability of change. I have similar memories of Christmases as a kid. Today, the first Christmas where one of my kids no longer lives in WA, we’re building new traditions for the first time in 30 years. Memories are a tough thing sometimes. All that said, I love this time of year because of the push to stay in touch with friends and family and the reminder to take time to do any number of things that revolve around love, friendship and gratitude. I hope your Christmas season is joyful and bright. We still miss you at Soup Night!