2013.12.24 Busy times at Christmas


Life continues to become busier and busier and it's not just for me, it seems. I hear the complaint so often from so many people. What's changed? It has to be the internet and all of our many ways to communicate these days.

Imagine letting your phone's battery die out and leaving it that way. Do the same for your iPad and unplug your computer. I know that's never going to happen—you won't let it—but just think about it. What would you do? Sit down and read? Look out the window? Try it for a couple of hours and quickly see how it's all intruded on your life.

Like everyone else, I have modern communications taking up more of my time along with the general busyness of putting out a newspaper every week. Besides that, I figure I must be operating at a slower speed—the product of an aging mind.

My wife is busy, too. I think we could finish quite high in the competition for "Morenci's Busiest Couple." In fact, I think her time spent as library director easily exceeds my time with the newspaper, even with sports photos thrown in.

When an acquaintance asked me last week, "Are you ready for Christmas?" I didn't just politely say "Yes" or "No." I rudely said something like, "What do you mean by that?" I think she responded by saying, "It means different things to different people." Poor Leslie; I owe you an apology.

She's right, of course it means different things to different people. Preparing for guests, preparing for meals, sending cards, decorating a tree—and for many people multiple trees—buying gifts…there's much involved in being ready for Christmas.

I have done none of those things. I've thought about preparing for guests by walking around the house and spotting the things that my granddaughter will want to do endlessly, such as emptying the container of marbles and pennies. Spill them out, get her to put them back in, when it's almost done spill them out, get her to put them back in, when it's almost done spill them out…. I should hide that container in hopes of guiding her to something new. 

The colorful markers that will leave her face and hands colorful, along with the carpet—they should go. The container holding the deck of cards…I know what she will do with that and it has nothing to do with a card game. I know she will locate the odd container with the snowman smiley face. It looks like a take-out container for Chinese food, but it's packed with homemade notes cards such as this: "short-lived, transitory." On the reserve side it reads: "ephemeral." They're little study cards for Mrs. Walker's vocabulary tests. They were created by Caroline's Aunt Maddie, but Caroline doesn't read. One of the main goals in her young life is to empty containers and there will soon be dozens and dozens of little cards strewn across the room. Her motto: Leave no container un-emptied. Yes, I should prepare for guests.

Prepare for meals. That can be pushed aside. Only Maddie will be here on Christmas Day. The others will arrive later in the week. I did make a fresh pot of black beans Saturday and I'm thinking about something else that I can't mention in print.

Sending cards…that's just become one of the embarrassments of Christmas. It's been years. When the kids were still at home, we would try to remember to get a family photo while on vacation—on a beach in Alaska, standing above the Grand Canyon—and use that for a Christmas card. We successfully did that a few times. When we didn’t take a family vacation, I suggested a sunset photo at the sewage lagoons. There's a little jetty at the east lagoon, the perfect place for all of us to gather. So far that's remained a conceptual Christmas card. If only people could intercept our thoughts and intentions.

I'm not a shopper and Christmas makes me feel like an inadequate jerk. I can't buy stuff just for the sake of buying something, and when I try to picture what someone would like, I generally draw a blank. It's a skill that I never learned.

Leslie, this is why you picked the wrong guy to ask that innocuous question. No, I'm not ready for Christmas; I'm only ready for it to be over with.

Here's my embarrassing confession: We don't even have a Christmas tree up. I would gladly create the swinging, up-side-down tree again, but I don't think my wife will allow it. 

OK, I have another suggestion. I'm always amazed by the number of people who toss their tree to the curb on the day after Christmas. We're going to go out and find the nicest one, bring it home, and let it stand for the next month until we somehow find the time to take it down again.

It could become our new family tradition.