It’s been a rough week, man. Rough like tree bark. Rough like that time you were running and you saw a tree and you were like I need to climb that tree RIGHT THIS SECOND so you beelined over there and commenced scrambling up that thing and you got maybe halfway up before you figured out that you weren’t really confident about how to actually get back down and also there was sap and then there were ants and your running companion was standing there on the ground staring at you so you made an executive decision to half-jump half-fall down and landed on a root and there was a shooting pain up your ankle but you just smiled like it had totally been a wonderful life-affirming experience and turned and started running again.
Yeah. It was rough just like that.
I gotta tell you, it sucks being a contractor around this time of year. It sucks to constantly hear cheery updates from my friends about how they’re busying themselves baking cookies, or wrapping up the last of their shopping, or watching holiday movies on the sofa with their loved ones, or out at a festive party featuring full martini glasses and softly twinkling lights, or arse-deep in hookers and blow, or whatever, while I’m hunched over my laptop miserably tapping out an email to a client regarding the latest project changes. It sucks that if I want to take a day or two off, I have to work all the hours I’m going to miss in advance or I just won’t get paid.
I know. I know I’m lucky to merely have a job. I know I’m lucky to get any paycheck, period. I know I should thrill at the sound of a mouse click; I know I should ascend into sheer ecstasy at the privilege to stay up deep into the night earning money. I just enjoy complaining, okay?
But it’s getting better. Truly, at last, things are looking up! I should have all my work done juuuuust in time to enjoy the weekend. Freedom, baby! Open timelines! Endless horizons! Drinks and merriment and drinks and pleasure and cheer! And drinks! Oh, and present-wrapping. Right. I’ve gotta wrap those things sometime. And I’ve gotta bake that cake. Yes. That. And run all those errands I neglected when I was busy working. Yep. Those. And clean… the bathroom. Ick. Shit.
Tell me something: does anyone actually enjoy the holidays? Or is it one big myth we perpetuate year after year? Do we all just go around believing everyone else is having a beautiful, blissful, quietly joyful time while we secretly grapple with our own holiday-related stress and internal turmoil?
But maybe gladness does exist in the holiday season. In fact, I halfway suspect it really does, because today I’m finding it in two unexpected, unassuming places. One is the mega-sized bottle of calcium supplements my mother stashed in the box of gifts she mailed us. She sent it because she’s worried I’m not taking enough calcium, because of course she is. This kind of heavy-handed display of concern would be grating in close quarters, sure, but from the perspective of 3,000 miles away, it’s loving and cute.
The other is something that arrived in the same box: a little round red and green crocheted potholder that my beloved, departed grandmother made. I don’t know how my dad got hold of it or why he decided to give it to me, but as I sit here holding it in my hands and marveling at how her hands once created it, I feel a little glimmer of something deep inside the black cavity of my chest. What’s that? Gratitude? Appreciation? Happiness?
Okay, I’ll allow it. Just this once.
Are you stressed during this time of year, too? Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s not swimming in a perpetual pool of hot chocolate and mistletoe and sugar cookies and snuggles. Please?