Tonight is a Sunday night as I am writing this, and I'm sitting at my usual spot in the dining room with the television on in the connecting family room, and Big Dave is on the couch. He's not yet snoring...so that tells you that it is sometime before 8:30 or he is watching something that has his interest. Actually, tonight, both are true.
Big Dave is watching "The Walking Dead" - a show that is apparently a hit with a lot of my friends and family - and one that I prefer getting the five minute recap of after all of the mouth breathing and violence is over. Frankly, with two shih tzus...who are really enjoying tussling with each other when the younger one is not chewing up some critical cord to something or leaving a "bad puppy" on the floor...I get enough mouth breathing and violence in any given hour.
Tonight has the added annoyance of a pile of burning wood that Big Dave saw fit to deal with after collecting it for months. It has been sitting down by the pond as a general eyesore to the neighborhood...much like our driveway and that strip of land between us and the next door neighbor who rarely comes out of his house except to mow his yard. He has - for the past eleven years - refused to mow a strip between our yards. I don't know if he thinks it is our property, or if he just wants a hedge of vegetation between us...but it has been a point of contention between us for the better part of a decade now.
No, I haven't knocked on his door to ask him what his problem is, and his kids haven't been over here selling stuff...so I think we're even.
So, I have a smoky house, a house in disarray (we got some of the holiday stuff out of the attic...failed to mention that), two dogs fighting in the next room (okay, they are playing...but it sounds worse), and I am listening to Rick lose it on "The Walking Dead." I'm guessing that he's just been robo-called for the election again...
Okay, maybe not.
This week is Thanksgiving, and although I have a lot of things to be thankful for right now...I am not going to join the masses and tell you what all I am grateful for tonight. I'll just tell you that I'm happy to finally get my life back in some kind of order so that I can weather the next four weeks of the holiday season.
My calendar is filling up, and my thoughts will be of how to manage the non-existent budget for Christmas gifts this year. I'll want it to be special...but I also don't want to go overboard. After all...this is the "quiet year."
What is the "quiet year", you ask? Well, a friend of mine inspired me with this about five years ago. She sends out Christmas cards every other year...because it is too much of a hassle for her to get all of her kids and her husband together to get the photo...so she makes it happen every other year instead. She has a lot more leverage by reminding them that they didn't have to do it the previous year...nor would they have to do it the next year. She doesn't feel guilty receiving cards from friends who send cards every year...because she has already set her policy. She is free to enjoy her "off" years.
I liked that idea...and adopted it myself. At least with most things. I do still send cards every year. But that is because I like to.
Every other year, I go a little bit overboard with the spending and wrapping and celebrations. On the quiet years, I just enjoy the smaller things that make the holiday special. Watching the Hallmark Channel ad nauseum. Making hot chocolate and enjoying a cup. Putting up my tree. I just don't get bent out of shape if I don't bake cookies, find the perfect gifts for my family and friends, or even attend everything. After all...it is my quiet year.
Last year, and three years ago, I did a big project that involved family (2009) and friends (2011). I even blogged every day in December in 2009 and tried to decorate my house to be a little more Southern Living and a little less...well...us.
This year, I just want to enjoy the season. I don't have a project, a mission, or even a lot of energy. I may get around to cookie baking, or may buy the perfect gift for a person or two...but I'm not going to sweat it if I don't.
I mean, seriously, Big Dave never sweats the holidays. He just enjoys them.
Novel idea, yes?
I think that the way that my world is right now...I need to focus on the reason for the season...and not try to do a ton of outreach, or a lot of overscheduling. I want to sleep late on the weekends, have fun wrapping my purchases, and plan a lovely holiday that leaves me energized instead of stressed out and counting down the days until it is over.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Tonight, I have a lot of things to do. Christmas cards to finish addressing, and boxes to get back into the attic. I have to finish some cleaning so that I can welcome family in on Thursday and I'll be preparing food for the better part of the week. But it will be worth it, you know. The preparation...the time...the decorating.
This holiday season will be different for our family...and so I am glad that it is a "quiet year." We won't have Big Dave's sweet mother, Mimi, with us, and our furry boy, Rebel, won't be in the Christmas pictures this year.
I haven't had a Thanksgiving without Mimi since 1983. And even though I have her dressing recipe and know how to make a turkey the way that she did...I will miss her so much this Thursday. But as I do what I have always done...I'll feel a little bit that she is right here with us...because if there was any place on earth that Mimi loved to be...it was in the midst of her family.
So, as you are dealing with the aggravations of life...like elections, football results that don't go your way, smoke in your house from a fire that will probably be smoldering until Wednesday, un-potty-trained dogs, messes, the loss of Twinkies, cooking yourself into oblivion, and cleaning toilets...try to give yourself a break.
Pray this week about all that you have and all that you are grateful for...and not just the big rocks in the jar either. Be thankful for the little things that make life work for you...the perfect sweatshirt, the way you feel when you are leaving the gym after a good workout, your favorite coffee cup, or salted caramel anything. Try to make it a "quiet year" and don't worry so much about making it a perfect year.
After all...you probably did that last year...and you can always do it next year.
And I'll be right there with you. Enjoy your week.