Friday, December 18, 2015

Sometimes at Christmas

In the immortal words of that burned-out rocker Billy Mack from the movie 'Love Actually' "Christmas is all around me. It's everywhere I go."

It's the time of year when we are all flooded with reminders of what season this is. From the music. The movies. The cards we receive. The songs on the radio, the sounds of bells and the glow of lights on the homes of ambitious revelers everywhere.

And whether you're a heathen who's taken the Christ out of Christmas or you're clutching your rosary as you read this, if you celebrate the holiday you share something important with everyone else who does.

That is to say, you take time out of the year and make a point of observing something communally, something that connects us to one another.

"Solid gold, crap!"
Perhaps you pause to reflect on yourself and how you're doing as a human. Maybe you make a point of congregating with those you love, be they family, friend, dog, cat or gerbil. Maybe you put aside what you'd really like to do, in favor of doing something others would like to do.

At minimum, there is a fundamental connection that we forge or reinforce and, while different people might use different avenues to get there, the result is always the same — we're closer to something greater than ourselves and, by extension, closer to ourselves.

Or so I believe.

And now that I've gone and gotten all Buddhist on you, let me get practical for a moment and say that sometimes making that connection is not easy.

Sometimes you have to drive long distances to make it happen.

Sometimes you host people at your home and in the days prior to their arrival you hastily clean, re-arrange and, in general, try to pull off the complete charade that your home is immaculate and organized. Sometimes you do this because you want guests to be comfortable while completely ignoring the larger truth that they're most comfortable if their host is comfortable.

Sometimes you look to make that connection by shelling out hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket. And then sometimes you have to drive two hours to an airport and then pay $50 for parking once you get there.

Sometimes when you get to the airport you realize that the "Park N Ride" van only comes once every 25 minutes to the "economy" car lot, which you chose because, who the hell wants to waste money on parking? And because you've lost 25 minutes, sometimes you nearly have a heart attack making it to your gate before the plane takes off.

So sometimes, instead of feeling the interconnectedness of humankind you instead find yourself in an airport terminal drafting a strongly worded, expletive-laden tirade to the imbeciles in charge of O'Hare International Airport....Ahemm. But, I digress.

Sometimes you make agreements with family to not buy each other gifts this year and you'll "just buy gifts for the kids." And, sometimes those people actually hold up their end of that bargain, and other times they don't and awkwardness ensues.

Point being, it's not always easy to pull off Christmas even when you try to keep it simple and keep it about others.

For me it rarely is.

Bringing darkness to the world one unlit
Christmas light at a time. 
I'm not falling on any sword here. Whatever stresses I have through the holiday season are 99% of my own making. This year I've adopted a low-stress approach to the holidays and, if I'm being truthful, I didn't adopt it by choice.

In fact, the arrival of the New Boy is almost solely responsible for my alternate approach this year.

The little guy forced me to concede this Christmas that there really are only 24 hours in a day and that maybe, just maybe, my annual and decidedly time-consuming quest to decorate the house from top to bottom should take a backseat to other priorities.

So, this year there was no going through bulb after bulb on a string of lights trying to find the bad one. There was no searching the house top to bottom for the bathroom towels with reindeer heads and the words "HO. HO. HO." embroidered upon them.

I didn't spend hours intertwining light strands with garland that would lead into a wreath all of which would illuminate smartly when hung across my garage door.

Nope instead, I'm giving myself a lighter load this year. There's less lights, less decoration and less stress. In the process I'm probably making life easier on Mrs. Blackwell too. (Not like she's had much going on while nursing a newborn for the last five weeks, right?)

So sometimes even I can take a moment and not fight the world with my vision of what should be and instead take time to enjoy what is.

Sometimes. But next year? Well, those lights are gonna be spectacular.


Perri Davenport said...

I love you Mark! Awesome as always....I sure do learn alot from you!

Blackwell said...

Thanks Perri! Merry Christmas to you and Brian.