There’s something comforting about the calendar—the way it goes around and around in a completely predictable manner, punctuated by events that someone invented long ago but that still shape our collective experiences. Holidays. They are annoying and stressful and expensive in all sorts of ways. They bring out the very best and the very worst in us. They both highlight and exaggerate the differences between us and provide a common framework we all understand.
I hate the annual freakshow that we create with our mandatory consumer frenzy. I hate that we teach people that they desperately must have that electronic gizmo. I hate that some people will do whatever it takes to get that gizmo for $20 less at the Walmart, because they wantneed that gizmo but they needneed that 20 bucks for food. I hate that we set this up and then we point cameras at the people who fight over the cheap gizmo. It’s like throwing bread scraps on the ground and then pointing and laughing at the starving people who crawl around to pick them up.
I love the generosity and gauzy-lensed sense of caring that this season produces. I love that the development team at my organization has to work extra hard at this time of year to handle the deluge of generosity. Checks come in from everywhere. Many of the grant proposals I submitted months and months ago finally result in a contribution in December. Every day’s mail brings donations. Gifts—wrapped presents and gift cards—intended for our clients appear in such numbers that we run out of spaces to put them before we can deliver them all.
[Unfortunate fact: we staffers have to unwrap all of the items that our benefactors carefully and kindly wrapped before we distribute them, but the effort is still much appreciated!]
People are good, inherently good, when you give them an opportunity to demonstrate it.
I’ve had a hard year, which I’m sure all three people who still read this blog are sick of hearing about. Next year may or may not be better. It’s one of my resolutions to be totally okay with it not being great, if in fact it isn’t. I don’t have any particular addiction issues (coffee doesn’t count) but my resolutions this year are still heavily informed by the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program.
- Let it be. I can’t make it all be perfect. I don’t have to. I don’t have to feel like I failed if I don’t.
- One day at a time. Remember that one year when I resolved to throw out one thing that was cluttering up my house every day? That worked great and I kept it up for months. This year, something similar. Complete one task, however small, to improve my living space every day. Stuff I would do anyway doesn’t count.
- Find friends, old and new, who bring something positive to my life and spend time with them.
- Avoid people who bring something negative to my life.
- Cherish my children. Love them, support them, forgive them, and when the time comes, let them go.
When the moment comes for the page to flip from 2014 to 2015, the water will wash my sadness away. At least for that instant, infinite possibility.