03 December 2017

First Sunday of Advent: Never Enough Time

I've loved Christmas seemingly forever, from the days when I made my own ornaments out of cardboard and the foil saved from chocolate Easter eggs and gum wrappers, and painstakingly broke apart walnuts and glued the empty shells back together, gilding them with Testor's gold and silver enamel paint and sprinkling them with different colors of glitter. (All of these ornaments are still on my feather tree.) I still look forward to decorating with anticipation, although it seems each year the boxes get heavier!

What makes me sad is that each year it's a race to get everything done. There are cards to be sent and gifts to be mailed and decorations to go up, and no matter how early I begin, I never catch up. I want to do everything. It's not a chore, but that clock keeps chasing me. This year I am behind because of a ridiculous cold.

I think what bothers me most is that I also like to do "Christmas-y" things at Christmastime: visit the stores in downtown Marietta, go to see "An Atlanta Christmas" as done by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, drive up to Chattanooga to see what's going on at McKay's Books (and to have some yummy chicken soup from City Cafe), attend the Apple Annie Craft Show at the Catholic Church of Saint Anne. I keep wanting to do other things, too: perhaps go to the Botanical Garden, or back to the History Center, or drive through Madison, GA, which is a picture-perfect antebellum town that puts on the dog for the holidays. But, like the decorating and the mailing and the cards, all these things have to be done before Christmas. Well, okay, a craft show pretty much has to be held before Christmas...but it frets me that I can no longer do some of the things, like the Christmas walk around the city, or the McKay's trip, or going to Madison or the monastery, in the week between Christmas and New Year's. I know that no one's done the Twelve Days of Christmas properly for years, but I remember things being slower to turn around "way back when."  Sure, there were sales galore on December 26, but all the Christmas decorations stayed up until New Year's, with black-and-silver and black-and-gold New Year's Eve decorations dotting the still festive streets and store aisles. There was still one week left to enjoy the Christmas season, another week to savor the leftovers and enjoy the presents and admire the outdoor decorations and the colorful lights.

Now by the time afternoon comes on December 26, everything's ripped up, put in a corner and marked "clearance," and everything has turned pink, heart-shaped, and chocolate. (Next thing we know there are "if you love her you will buy her expensive jewelry" commercials.) We're chivvied, rushed, and left bereft as Christmas just clicks off like a light switch at midnight. Good grief, can't we at least get past New Year's Day without hearing from Valentine's Day? I miss the Aste Spumonte ads and the displays of party hats and noisemakers and paper horns and blowouts, and the reports on the news about resolutions.

It's one place where the "slow movement" and "mindfulness" should come back. Till then I'll have to retreat into my leftover Christmas magazines and reread my Christmas books and enjoy my own lights—everything here stays up until Epiphany!


Karen the writer said...

My problem isn't "never enough time" but "never enough energy" to have the Christmas I really want. I live in a one room apartment, so I never did massive decorating, but I'd get out my tiny tree and decorate it with tiny ornaments (some homemade), I'd set out a few other decorations, all while playing my vinyl Christmas records -- including my deceased mother's records that were part of my earliest Christmas memories.

But then 2015 became my year of cancer treatment, and I've been tired ever since. Too tired to clean my own home (though I have a part time paid cleaning job), too tired to dig out that box of decorations. Plus my turn table's broken so I can't play my Christmas albums!

So I lower my expeditions. A tiny bit of cleaning, hurray! Christmas cards taped to the inside of my door -- oh how pretty they are! A few cheap presents for siblings, when I know they'll give me more -- well I tried to buy things I thought would be useful, so that's not so bad.

I read old Christmas stories about a piece of candy and new handmade mittens bringing great joy to children. I attend church. If I'm too tired for my once-traditional Christmas Eve walk to see neighborhood outside lights I think about how nice it is that the decorations are out there.

I somehow save the money to buy stamps for Christmas cards, and write little notes on the bottom of dollar store cards, bought during last year's clearance sale. I remember long-ago Christmases, read long-ago stories, and tell myself that a downsized Christmas celebration is good. And it is good, though sometimes I do a bit of wishing that my home was a little more tidy, and a little more decorated.

May your "never enough time" Christmas bring you joy and satisfaction. And know that you're not the only one who knows that Christmas is a season that doesn't end until those Wise Men arrive on Epiphany.

Linda said...

Karen, I wasn't complaining about "never enough time" for me to do preparations (I know I do a lot, and I do it alone; if I didn't enjoy the prep, I wouldn't do it--not to mention I should have begun some of it earlier; I usually write out Christmas cards during the Macy's parade--not much else to do during the four hundred commercials--but this year I had to cook the turkey since James was sick...stuff happens) but that the Christmas season is now so rushed by commercial pressure that it MUST end on Christmas Day at 11:59 p.m. I would love to be able to still do some things between Christmas and New Year's, like enjoy window decorations and store decorations, historic home decorations, etc. Most of these are pulled down on December 26 and everything turns into Valentines Day. I want to be able to enjoy Christmas during Christmastide and not have to cram it all in by December 24.

Linda said...

PS I wish I could send you a turntable! I would miss my music most of all, more than the decorations!