Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
Which came first, Christmas or the rat race? It’s an age old question that I try to answer every December. The problem is that I don’t have enough time during The Season to give it any serious consideration.
‘Tis the season to be stressed. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas day are a series of urgent tasks with non-negotiable deadlines. Before the turkey is digested, the lights on the porch must be hung. On or before the following weekend, the Christmas tree must be cut, dragged out of the woods, strapped on to the top of the car, hauled home at a speed slow enough so as not to dry it out completely, and trimmed before Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer comes on at eight, seven Central and Pacific times. Oh, and make sure it’s not a blue spruce (like I would know), and less than nine feet tall, please.
Make a list of all the people you have to ” excuse me, want to ” buy presents for.
Over analyze each and every gift idea without considering that there is no item available that can possibly express your love for the person that will receive it. Let this process paralyze you into complete inaction until the pressure of last minute shopping forces you to spend way more than you intended for something that will likely end up at the Thrift Shop before the end of year deadline to make a donation for the tax deduction.
Wrap the presents for out-of-town friends. Track down some decent boxes to package them in again. Then, hurry to the post office to wait in line so you can beat the rush.
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Check the greeting card list, and check it twice. You gotta find out who sent you one this year that wasn’t on yours the last. Forget that none of your friends are going to compare the messages you write so that you spend inordinate amounts of time trying to think up original and clever things to say to each and every one of them. Deck the daily planner with arrangements to get the kids to Nutcracker rehearsals, school class parties, and terrifying visits to Santa at the mall. Set aside an afternoon to make cookies shaped like stars and angels, and another for six loaves of grandmas “famous” fruitcake.
Don’t forget the office party or the fact that everyone else is having one at the same time, too. Solving Rubik’s Cube is nothing compared to scheduling an evening when everyone is free. Next, try to get a reservation, anywhere.
Decide if this is the year when you go out of town to spend your joy with relatives or if it is their turn to come and take it from you. Your choice is to book airline reservations at twice their normal cost for three times the inconvenience of winter travel, or change the sheets and clean the house from dusty nook to cozy cranny.
Plan the big meal. Pull out all the old recipes, but peruse Gourmet for a few new ones, too. Make sure they are difficult enough so that nobody can disturb your concentration in the kitchen without the risk of invoking the ghosts of Christmas disasters past. My suggestion is to try making a batch of toffee, for which one of the requirements is to literally watch the pot boil.
Make sure that you set aside time to take care of yourself. Cram a few workout sessions onto the calendar, if you can find room, there or at the gym. Of course you will be rushed to fit them in, but hustle and bustle will serve to keep your heart rate in the anaerobic zone for a few more minutes. Isn’t that the point of interval training, anyway?
It’s a certainty, too, that you are going to get sick, most likely just when you can’t, so you’ll have to work right through it and get all your loved ones sick in the process and then have to wait on them hand and foot to nurse them back to health before the Big Day. I can’t tell you if it will be the flu, the crud, the croup, or the craps. All bugs take wing this time of the year, so your chances of catching several are excellent.
Add to all of this an additional 20 minutes to get everywhere and back because town is packed, and so is the icy snow onto the streets. Allow extra time for the luxury of parking your car legally while running errands, should you feel that laws of the state still apply. Oh, and don’t forget the bourbon and the eggnog. You’re going to need them more than the Sharper Image foot massager gift from Uncle Ed.
Face it, this is completely overwhelming. So what do I suggest you do? All of it! Go crazy. Act like a kid again. They are setting wonderful examples for us everywhere we look. Remember that nobody is busier than them during the holidays and also that nobody loves them more! There’s a gift for you. Accept it. Better yet, pass it on!
Go ahead, get that sense of wonder back. For a change, believe in something you don’t, but have always wanted to. I’m not talking about conversion. I’m talking about reversion. Bring back the innocence of childhood, the gullibility of seeing the good in everyone. It’s as easy as remembering what Christmas is all about in the first place; an infant born with nothing to give but redemption for all humankind.
At some point, I promise you that, if you over-schedule yourself to the point of collapse, you will find yourself in some quiet place this season. It might be strolling along a back street in the West End or on your own porch, shoveling the product of the latest blizzard out of your busy path. The stars might be out, or maybe the clouds will be hanging low, reflecting the lights of town off of their distended bellies. For that moment, live in a way that fills your heart with true peace. Then you will know the eternal joy that is promised by Christmas.
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