Christmas tends to get a little more exciting than I'm usually prepared to handle. School programs and parties scurry out of the paneling like happy little woodlice, and church activities multiply exponentially, all assuming my cooperative--nay, joyous participation. Shopping necessitates getting out of the house (to my introverted distaste) and going to places where there are people en masse scurrying around like more happy little woodlice, and then, when I finally acquire and bring home the booty, it lounges around on my floor demanding wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and bows, gift bags, tissue, name tags and peeled grapes. Christmas decorations drag themselves blearily out of my closet, displacing everything "stored" between themselves and the door. They yawn and stretch themselves out across the living room floor and over the dining room table in languorous poses, batting their tinsel flirtatiously in my direction and waiting to be placed around the house in locations that will show them to their best advantages. It can get a little overwhelming, all this catering to expectation.
For a couple of weeks, I've felt building holiday tension and ignored it. Today I realized I can't ignore it any longer. Standing in Borders bookstore, a book of Mary Oliver's poetry in my hand in a desperate attempt to regain perspective, I came face to face with the fact that I was too wound up to read. This just does not happen. Something had to give.
The trip home afforded me some time to think, to steady, to kick a clear place in the festive jumble of holiday happenings and make some choices.
1). Whatever decorative Christmas objects aren't already out. . .ain't goin' out.
2). Gift certificates for everyone! (Border's personnel love me.)
3). Laundry and dishes are festive when they're clean.
4). Going to every church and social function of the season. . .is utter nonsense.
Peace on earth and good-will toward other human beings are the best ornaments of the season, and the ones for which I'll willingly reach out my hand in fragile hope and wonder this Christmas: in hope of grasping them more firmly and surely this year, and in wonder that they're possible at all despite the chaos we make of the season.
All the other ornaments can go back in the box.