Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I worked late tonight, trying to get caught up with program changes and other stuff from being out Friday and Monday.

It was dark as I drove home. I called home to let them know I was on my way, then I turned on NPR and listened to Fresh Air with Terry Gross - talking to Frank Schaeffer. It was a repeat of an interview I heard earlier in the day, but well worth listening to again as he talked about his life, George Bush, growing up in Switzerland, and his memoir, Crazy for God. It's apparently just come out in paperback and I think I need a copy.

Part of my drive takes me through downtown and the past the chain of parks. The Christmas lights are up and glowing. I guess the Winter Festival has come and gone and I've missed it again because I wasn't paying attention.

November and December are like that for me. Have been for years. This year has been a bit more overwhelming than others. There's the digital and HD transition to get through. We're in the middle of a pledge drive that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I'm supposed to be training other people to do some of my job so that A) I can actually take time off around Christmas and not think about work at all and B) when Beckie retires, I won't be shouldering her work all by myself. She's leaving just before Christmas. One trainee is (hopefully) having her baby in the next couple of days. One will be training with me Friday, but will be gone for the holidays. The other one has spent a grand total of two hours with me. My goal is to get her up to speed enough to handle emergencies during the winter break, but I'll have to get all the work done before I leave. Budget cuts say we can't hire a new person - the old position is being eliminated. So I have to make do with taking the time of other already-existing employees who have full time jobs already.

Luckily, we're a fairly adaptable bunch. We'll make it work.

But in all of this, I seem to be losing Christmas. Usually, by this time, the stirrings of excitement are fluttering around my heart. Goodwill towards men... and children and people who need all the goodwill the world has to offer.

I stopped with the Christmas cards a couple of years ago because I could never quite seem to get them out the door and into the mailbox. I have no idea how much money I have tied up in unused Christmas cards around here. In years past, I have dressed up as Santa and taken my boy shopping for Toys for Tots. I have no desire to don the suit this year.

We haven't decorated the house or gotten a tree - and unless Darling Man and ZBoy take the bull by the horns, it might not happen.

There is nothing I want for Christmas - and with a couple of exceptions, I have no idea what to get anyone as presents. I am tempted to just put a moratorium on Christmas presents this year.

Will the Christmas spirit descend on me this year? And if it does, when?

This post sounds depressing - but I'm not depressed. Just kind of overwhelmed by life at the moment. And Christmas feels like one more "have to" to me right now.

Except for this... When I got home from work tonight, there was an envelope sitting on the end table. I picked it up and noted the return address.

It was a Christmas card. First one. Perhaps, to be the only one.

And inside was a note from one of my brothers' former girlfriend. Expressing gladness that she'd met us and that we were a part of her life... even if my brother chose not to be.

And somewhere in the depths of my heart, I felt a faint stirring. A minute joy that somewhere out there was a person who, despite the odds of a happy holiday, did indeed have the holiday spirit.

I hope that it's catching.


Anonymous said...

To not celebrate the joy of Christmas and embrace the many blessings of family and plenty is to dishonor the sacrifice being made by our Soldiers abroad.

Whether it is difficult or inconvenient to do so matters not.

Celebrate the season to honor them. Many have given their lives for no other reason than to guatantee your opportunity to freely share this expression of faith with your loved ones.

Meet us halfway on this, Sis.

Merry Christmas!

Love, John

karisma said...

Ex girlfriend sounds sweet! I am with you though this year with the lack of enthusiasm! I think its because with each passing year the true spirit of xmas seems to be left behind while more and more materialistic shit is thrown at us!

Xmas has become for most a big chore, a keeping up with the Jones type thing! We have issued major cuts this year (I have not even gone shopping yet!) I give give give all year, xmas is not a big deal to me anymore!

Dont get me wrong, I love the family time, the sharing dinner and games just not the present and expectation of everything "wanted" anymore.

Anonymous said...

Heh, I still send out cards. They are usually late. Once in a while I beg everyone to agree to mutual non-gifting.

I read Shaeffer's book Portofino a while back, and that was great. Sometime in adulthood he converted to Orthodoxy (he's the son of the ultimate arch-Calvinist), and I've listened to a couple of his (recorded) public lectures on religion also. He seems like a very interesting guy.


Sandcastle Momma said...

It sounds like your stressed and overworked and it's hard to find joy in anything at times like that. Step back and take a deep breath. Think about it from Zboy's young eyes. Christmas is magical.
Don't stress over decorations or gifts, just enjoy your family. And for the gifts - maybe spend one afternoon and grab a name from an Angel tree and give to someone who really does need something.
Christmas will find you, just like that card did.

Sandy said...

Sandcastle Momma stole my suggestion - the Angel Tree always puts me in the mood.

But you are correct - it IS catching and it's a boomerang. Throw some holiday spirit out there - even if you have to fake it - and it will return. I promise.

PinkPiddyPaws said...

Ummm.... just to clarify, I don't think I actually wrote "even if your brother chose not to be" on the X-mas card! Did I? Oh please, tell me I didn't!!! ha..ha.ha..

I ***AM*** glad that you are a part of my life! You ROCK! Now, let's get that Christmas spirit working, babe. It doesn't have to be much.

Drop a $1 in the Salvation Army bucket. Wear a Santa Hat to work (I have three and two of them are PINK, wanna borrow one?). Put on a jingle bell bracelet. Or wear some "ho,ho,ho" earrings. (yes, I have ALL these things) :D

I love Christmas for the happy spirit, for the unabashed ability to smile at strangers and have them return that smile w/o thinking I'm odd (your brother told me people think I'm weird because I smile so much).

If I could reach out and hug you and infect you with my Christmas joy, I would! so..virtual {{hugs}} and feel free to call me. I've got enough enthusiasm for the both of us!!!!


Nienke Hinton said...

It's been like that for me for a few years now. I don't have kids and I'm not holding any dinners/parties at my house this year - so putting up a tree only makes me think of the work in taking it down. I did put up the 6-foot giant blow-up/light-up snowman tho.
Also, in light of economic times, both side of our family have decided not to spend monies on gifts this year and instead spend some time on each other.
I hope your Christmas - with or without the traditions and consumer aspects of it - brings you joy and happiness and lots of time with family and friends.

swampy elf said...

For some reason, your post takes me to that scene in "Elf" when Santa's sleigh was stuck in Central Park and needed some Christmas Spirit to make it fly...one by one, the crowd started singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and the spirit became contaigious and lifted EVERYONE'S spirit.
For me, when I'm feeling a bit low, I try to do a small something for someone else, one of those 'pay it forward' things. And with the economy the way it is these days, any little something for someone will spread your spirit a long way.
Here's a smile from Swampyto get you started.

lisaschaos said...

Typically I go into the season wishing I could just skip it. I don't like having to spend all this money at this one certain time and I would prefer to get a gift out of the blue and figure other people would too. But then there's Christmas where it's the norm to get and give and . . . well this year, I am more in the spirit, maybe it's because I'm getting the bestest present ever - a baby granddaughter. :)