A tiny tree sits next to a pine-scented candle, and it is drizzling outside. Zen wanders through the house, pausing to express her displeasure at all of the chilly corners that lack FunkyPlaid’s presence. But soon he will be coming home, and we’ll all be warmer.
You have noticed by now that despite being Day 364 of this project, there are two more days left in 2016. Leap year granted me a bonus Day 366 photo! No pressure …
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the rain. Happy it’s not snow!
I’m reading Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” and enjoying the new fireplace in my inlaws’ living-room. Not pictured but very close by: FunkyPlaid. 💕
Writing from: a cozy home in Marin County, California. Listening to: the quiet whir of the fireplace.
Gift-giving makes me incredibly anxious. I’m not certain where it comes from, but it is pervasive at this time of year, especially when I don’t have my very best shopping pal at my side to talk me out of talking myself out of choices.
I do like giving people things, but I’m always convinced I’ve given the wrong thing. And it sucks, doubly so in a new workplace where I am still unsure of the gift-giving protocol.
It will be a miracle if I can get to sleep tonight.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: my internal monologue.
A beautiful box of Christmas cheer from my dad and stepmom was waiting for me when I arrived home. It could not have come at a better time; with FunkyPlaid away I haven’t felt much holiday spirit this year, and last week’s weather foiled two of my planned holiday outings. Then this week’s weather caused the worst commute ever. Today’s drive home was less horrible but still harrowing, and I won’t be taking my car back out on Portland roads in even vaguely snowy conditions without chains. And maybe a cowcatcher.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: some holiday music. I’m trying!
I got a little more sleep last night but still not enough to fully replenish my depleted reserves of patience and compassion. I stayed late at work again, then evening traffic was stupid so I stopped off at Fred Meyer for a spot of grocery shopping and ended up wandering the aisles, looking for weirdness.
This being America, it didn’t take very long.
One year ago today, I was still in Scotland, finishing my NaNoWriMo manuscript. I had already started to wonder what living in America again would be like, if I would be able to find a library job, how I would deal with saying goodbye to my friends and home. I naively pondered how it would feel to be in the same geographical location as FunkyPlaid for the holidays, and how it would feel to vote for the first female President of the United States.
Today it’s all annoying the crap out of me. Everything. I went to sign up for Holidailies and couldn’t figure out why I was doing it anymore. Instead of pushing myself to do things I tell myself I should do, I’m going to try and listen to myself a little more.
I’m going to be clear: I don’t like the practice of saying that a year sucked. It’s reductive and disingenuous. 2016 has held some amazing things (like the aforementioned job, despite low-patience days like today). But 2016 has been a massive disappointment on significant fronts. When I was much younger I thought we were all working together toward creating an United Federation of Planets. I knew Star Trek wasn’t real but I believed in it anyway. And 2016 just seems to be another reminder that not only are we nowhere near that level of cooperation, we’re still floundering around in the dirt, throwing rocks at each other.
And I don’t have a message of hope to neatly tie this up in a bow for you tonight. But I’m working on it.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Last Night, Last Night, Last Night” by Well Then, Goodbye.
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Boss’s Day, but one of my direct reports surprised me with a lovely card and cake.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the chug of the dishwasher.
I will post an actual Holidailies entry soon, but I just had to share one of my favourite pick-me-ups.
There are many things I would recommend that you do on Christmas Day:
- Cook shredded Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and bacon and serious amounts of butter.
- Bake sweet potato pie. No butter in that one!
- Show up with aforementioned sprouts and pie to your friends’ home, where they are assembling a magnificent holiday feast, complete with gluten-free stuffing and Yorkshire puddings and gravy and trifle.
- Eat yourself silly.
- FaceTime with your faraway sweetie.
- Watch “Thor” and “Captain America” and “Iron Man 2” and “Avengers Assemble”. All of them! Happy Marvel-mas, indeed.
- Curl up in bed with two happy, snoring cats and just before falling asleep watch the mini-episode prequel to the new season of “Sherlock”.
I hope your day was wonderful, however you celebrate.
Lest you think that I’ve succumbed to mopey gothmas this December, I should mention some bright spots. One is a a very special advent calendar that my mom devised with special challenges for each day. She always thinks of the cleverest ways to mark the passage of the holiday season, and I’m really enjoying this one.
Also, FunkyPlaid has been long-distance nudging me to get a tree. When I got home from my team’s holiday dinner tonight, a box was propped up against the door. It was full of holiday decorations sent from my dad and stepmom. So now I really have no excuse.
Now I will take my sleep-deprived self to bed, and dream of sugarplums. No, ew, gross. Nutella-plums.
Writing from: the day-bed in the window overlooking the garden. Chilly but my favourite place in the whole flat. Listening to: Zen’s chainsaw snores.
Yesterday, I tweeted: “In response to someone wishing me a merry Christmas, I said it back instead of wishing him happy holidays. I hope no one reports me.”
As is usual for me, I neglected to be specific enough in 140 characters or less, and should have added a very important word to my tweet: accidentally. I did not think about saying “merry Christmas” in return; I just did it.
As I was raised Roman Catholic, I celebrated Christmas for many years, and during that time wished people a merry Christmas. I was a child, and did not consider my wish to be harmful or prejudiced. As I grew older, I understood the implications of forcing one’s religious preferences on others, and changed my language accordingly. Even when the words lost their religious meaning to me, I avoided saying them. I continue to be careful with my word choice around this time of year, especially at work.
Which is why it was so surprising to hear myself repeat “merry Christmas” after the patron said it yesterday. I cannot remember the last time I intentionally spoke those words, although I probably do without thinking to my mom and dad because that is how we greet each other on the phone when we talk on December 25th.
What do you think about holidayspeak? Did my knee-jerk response violate the rule of political correctness? Or did I respect his faith by responding in kind, even though I no longer share it? If he had mentioned Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, would the same rule apply? How would you have responded without thinking?