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[Quiet Thoughts] The Breakdown Time

12 months ago

1266 words

Photo: The tree is in the dining room this year, and it is actually a pretty swell corner for it! We get the smell and the lights and the presence without shrinking the living room significantly. The Husband can be kinda… specific…about how to deal with the ornaments and such. Sooo…. I stayed out of it this year. Two little boys decorated with Daddy and all is well.

On any given day this week, something didn’t come home from school.

A boot.

A glove.

Two hats.

Two scarves.

Matter of fact. Ursa Minor wore four separate pairs of gloves to school this week. All four failed to come home from school. No hat either. No scarf. “Do you know how cold it is outside? This is winter in Massachusetts, child!” I bellowed in the middle of the driveway yesterday. The child had come off the bus with an open coat, no hat on his head. I’m sure the neighbors think I’m losing my mind.

All of us are showing our frayed edges this week. People seem to lack awareness of their bodies in space, bumping into others or carts or shelves. I saw a woman today wrestle an organic chicken, knocking over two signs in the meat counter while simultaneously pushing her cart into my foot. “Oh, uh, sorry,” she mumbled under her breath, then she violently pushed her cart away, catching the corner of my shoe as she did so.

“Please,” “Thank you,” “May I,” and all the other courtesies that lubricate the social communications of society seem to be disappearing. This is the breakdown time. We’re just charging to the end. The collective mantra goes something like this: Get me to the break. Get me to some rest. Get me to the presents. Get me to my family. If you’re not doing any of those things, get the hell out of my way.

In our house, the fraying has manifested in lost items, rude children, punted dinners, a pile of laundry in the bedroom, oversleeping our alarms…

But the worst of it? The very worst of it, Dear Reader? I was on the phone with my Mom yesterday and, in a moment of just clear lack of delicacy, I called her an elitist snob. Yes, my own mother! So very stupid of me! Just to be clear, I called myself one as well. As you can imagine, it wasn’t exactly what Mom wanted to hear. I just spent part of my afternoon spending not a little bit of money on an extra Christmas gift for her and a card that will read something like, “I’m an idiot and I’m sorry.”

Christmas is little over a week away. It’s stupidly cold here in Massachusetts. Deadlines are looming because people are gearing up to step away. Traffic is in flux as the coming-and-going has started already. The news is full of dumb stuff. It’s just… the perfect time for the breakdown. It’s all just falling apart.

My Quiet Thoughts today are on how this seems to happen every year. No matter the planning, to vows of dialing back and not going crazy, there is always one week where it all seems to come apart at the seems. Best to relax and breathe into it. Breathe in the cold air. Breathe into the group experience and try, if possible, to laugh. Breathe into the anxiety of the children, who are so excited for Santa that they don’t actually know how to act. “Nice” and “Naughty” are blurred because their tummies are so full of butterflies, their brains are so distracted, and the days are going by so fast and yet so very slowly! Breathe into the partnership of sharing it all with the significant other in your life if you’re lucky enough to have one. The Husband and I have gotten into our unmade bed, turned off the light, and barely been able to mumble a “good night” to each other before falling right into snoring. Breathing into this sprinting marathon more manageable.

I also think it makes some of the magic come back. Next week is when the miracles really start to happen and the warm-feeling stories that we all need start to get told. We each, in our own ways, come out of the slump and step up to perform the selfless acts of loving kindness that make this season what it truly is. Keep your eyes and ears open for the random acts, the grand gestures, the great and good things that will stick with you and inspire the good acts of the future. Breathe into your magic, Dear Reader. It’s so beautiful when you do.

It’s a blue-cold sort of Friday. The bite of the frigid air digs deep past the skin, into the muscles and inward toward the bone. The result is a cold that lingers long after you get into the house and nestle under some blankets. The ceiling is low and heavy, with the promising look of snow or something. This is “stay inside and craft” weather, for sure.

Even though the weather is mean, it’s Friday, so I have wishes for you. I wish you two good chances to affirm someone’s humanity this weekend: hold a door open for the person behind you, ask the check-out person how their holiday is going, smile and nod to a passer-by, pay-it-forward in the coffee line, pick up something wonderful for Toys for Tots or give to St. Jude. Give a little bit, personally, to something or to someone this weekend, Dear Reader. I wish you a made thing this weekend. I hope someone presents you with something lovingly crafted by human hands. I hope there is warmth in it, and that it gives you joy. I wish you good, hearty soup, with meat and beans and tomato. Bonus points if you make it yourself, if it is made in your home and you get to smell it all day. Extra super bonus points if you get to each it with good, crusty, homemade bread. I wish you a hug that lingers and a kiss on the cheek. I wish you a quiet time to sit with your favorite person, saying nothing at all. I wish you a song hummed over washing dishes, maybe even a few notes here or there sung with a friend. I find myself singing more in the grocery store. I can’t possibly be alone in that, can I, Dear Reader? Well, you know what? I wish you some singing in the grocery store, Dear Reader. You try it. It’s kinda fun.

No matter what you do, Dear Reader, I want you to know that you’re someone’s miracle. In the last 12 months, you’ve done something that has touched someone else in powerful ways. You’ve inspired, you’ve helped, you’ve given, you’ve saved. What you’ve done has mattered. What you will do in the future will matter all the more. So feel the warmth of the love and admiration that people have for you. You deserve it.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, take care.



Really quick: If you’re gearing up to travel for the holidays and need a quick book to read on the plane, don’t forget that my novella, Patron of the Meadowlark Inn, is on sale on Amazon! If you read it and enjoy it, please write me a review! Everyone is about to use their Amazon funbucks on ebooks after the holidays. A few stars and nice words would go a long way for me! Click on the cover here. Thank you for your support!

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