by Holly Jahangiri
One of These Days, I’m Going to Write a Book, but today is not the day. An overabundance of vacation time may put me back in position to finish NaNoWriMo, after all, and I try to remind myself that I just need to believe I can do it, visualize myself doing it, and write it down. Of course, the odds of writing a publishable novel in what’s left of this month are about on a par with my odds of winning the lottery.
It seems like Halloween was only yesterday, but this week has brought office hallways decked out with 10-foot Christmas trees; carols playing at Walgreens; a dizzying array of shiny, sparkly ornaments; cheery ads for “the ultimate present” or the “perfect stocking stuffer,” and I’m wondering – what happened to the rule about not starting Christmas season before Thanksgiving got its quiet, solemn, turkey-stuffed due? When I was a kid, Christmas carols before Black Friday were tantamount to wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Kids looked forward to street decorations magically appearing the day after Thanksgiving. Now, Christmas wants to start in July, and it’s starting to act downright pushy about it.
I love Christmas, by the way. It’s just the media hype and blatant, desperate commercialism I could live without. It shouldn’t be hard to get into the holiday spirit. The economy being what it is, I’m torn between a feeling of civic obligation to spend, spend, spend and the self-preserving urge to bolt the door and hide until January. I have to remind myself to smile - it won't kill me. If I plan things just right, I can take two weeks’ vacation around Christmas. I can tuck in, ignore the jingles, and indulge in a little “baking therapy.”
There’s nothing like the smell of warm gingerbread, sugar cookies, spiced apple cider, and hot chocolate to lift the Christmas spirits and remind us to slow down, savor the moment, and remember what’s really important – to love and be loved. I still say the best Christmas presents I ever gave my family were the personalized poems I wrote them all, one year. They didn’t cost a cent, but they did require considerable thought and care. The hustle and bustle of a crowded mall, the frenzied rush to find gifts that will satisfy people who generally manage to buy everything they want for themselves throughout the year, too often result in us exchanging cash, gift cards, or checks. Trading money – and feeling unsatisfied all the way around. We should challenge ourselves to spend within our means, but spend more time finding a gift that suits each person’s personality.
Surely it’s less expensive and not much less satisfying to receive limerick or an ode written in one’s honor?
I had hoped, this year, to make everyone a crocheted throw or a knitted scarf. My friend Kathy tried valiantly to teach me these womanly arts while I was on medical leave, but I quickly realized that ineptness, Vicodin, yarn, and a crochet hook don’t mix. No one in their right mind would want the garish pink monstrosity I almost managed to inflict upon my friend. Nothing like poorly crafted crafts to induce guilt – “Don’t you like it?” is met with a smile and a silent “Where can I stash it so I won’t ever have to look at it again?” Back to the baking therapy.
But let’s not forget and skip over Thanksgiving, first. Skip the third piece of pumpkin pie, but don’t stint on the gratitude. What are you thankful for?
I’m grateful for my family. I’m thankful, too, for the support and laughter of friends and readers who will lie to me and tell me they’d love to get a poem for Christmas, and for blogging buddies around the globe who will lend a helping hand at the drop of a hat. (I’m also grateful they don’t make me drop my hat. I’ve never understood the need for dropping hats.) I’m grateful for my friend Vivian, who indulges my too-frequent silliness and inability to resist a good blogging contest. (Ever notice how “blogging” rhymes with “flogging”?) I am glad that she’s got such a wonderful man by her side, and hope that she manages to extract another promise out of him – at least another decade or two. I’m grateful for good health (oh, irony that I should even be able to say that, this year, having battled – and beaten – breast cancer). It’s good just to get up in the morning – to know that I’m going to live to face another day.
Holly Jahangiri is a technical communicator, social media analyticator, children's book author with 4RV Publishing (Trockle, and A Puppy, Not a Guppy), blogger, happy wife and mom living in Houston, Texas. She would really appreciate it if you would read her post, Good Goals Gone Bad on TheNextGoal.com.