Monday, December 26, 2005

Post-Christmas Blues

I think I'm destined to be visited by 3 spirits next year. With each year I become more and more unChristmassy. I've spent many years trying to create the Christmas in my mind--the ideal Christmas, the Dickensian Christmas. That's way too much work. And do you know why it's too much work? Because I'm the only one I'm doing it for, that's why. One year, I didn't do it. Well, I still decorated, but I didn't go all out decorating. And I baked a batch of cookies, rather than the dozens and dozens that I baked for Al to take in to work and to send out to friends and family. And I didn't write a Christmas letter, barely getting cards out at all. And you know what? No one noticed a difference, and we still had Christmas. It came. It came, just the same. So, why was I killing myself? Well, I thought it was because I liked it--I liked being busy and baking and doing. But I've decided that I don't any more. My satisfaction isn't enough. I don't want to do all that for me; I want others to like and need that I do all that.

OK, I do get compliements and thank you for the Christmas letters. Several people say they look forward to my letter, so that makes me feel good. But unfortunately, that means that everyone else will be getting yearly, obligatory letters from me every Christmas! I try to keep them short and to the point. It helps that we don't have kids, so the letters don't have to cover too much ground. And, martyr that I am, there's just not much to talk about me (she says with the back of her hand draped melodramtically over her forehead).

Maybe I start too early with the whole Holiday Spirit thing. I start getting excited in October! I just love the whole fall season--Halloween leading to Thanksgiving leading to Christmas. The anticipation is the best part. That's why depression during and after the holidays is so common, I guess.

So, I'm going to try some things differently next year. And if I write it here, maybe I'll remember to do it:

1. I'm not making a Christmas list. This has become a real point of frustration for me. I'm always asked for a list, then I get teased about said list. I get teased about what I put on it, that I make it clear what I really want, that I tell where to get said gifts and what colors and sizes, and that I even make a list. Then, I don't get anything on my list. Except from my brother. He always seems to get me exactly what I want, even if I don't specify it--so thanks, Jason. But the rest of the time, I'm just teased about it. So, no more. I don't care what I get, so figure it out on your own. And I don't think I'm that difficult to buy for. I have TONS of hobbies and things I like. Knitting, writing, reading, scrapbooking, quilting, cooking, music, movies, farming, dogs, celtic stuff, purses and shoes. How difficult could it be?

2. I'm not decorating until the 10th at least. Maybe that way I won't be so tired of everything by the time Christmas gets here.

3. I'm going to find some charities or hospitals or somewhere to donate cookies I bake. I love to bake and I need an outlet. Al doesn't seem to want to take things in to work because there is so much there already, and I certainly can't have them sitting around the house so that I'll eat them. There's a woman in Michigan or Minnisotta, or some where who bakes 300 dozen cookies each Christmas to give to charities and people at work. She's my new hero and role model.

4. I'm going to find time to spend with my friends. I never had that lunch with the ladies like I wanted. I'm going to actually plan it--maybe a cookie swap? Maybe it will start a new tradition.

5. I'm not putting Christmas presents out until Christmas Eve. When gifts come in, I'm going to put them in a closet, and I'm going to tell Al that he can't put my gifts out until Christmas Eve, too. Part of that Christmas Magic is gone because there's nothing new under the tree, and I've figured out what a lot of them are by the time I open them. Or at least I think I have. I fought hard to stop believing in Santa, and I've been sad ever sent. I admit that I was in college before Mom asked if she could please stop putting the gifts out while I was asleep on Christmas Eve. Party pooper. So, no presents under the tree until Christmas Eve.

As I think of others I'll add them to the list, but that's the main ones. I'm going to take control! And I'm going to stop this depression cycle that comes with Christmas.

So, that's all for now. Daily Dog is having a barking contest with the dogs up the street, so I think I should intervene.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dreams of Scotland

I belong in Scotland. I haven't been all over the world, but I've been to Scotland and that's enough for me. Germany, England, and soon Italy. All nice. All livable. But, Scotland? That's home.

I've been twice and would go every year if I could. No, I'd live there if I could. Edinburgh is a wonderful city with friendly people, beautiful scenery, inspiring historical landmarks, great take-away, and a public transportation system that I can figure out on my own and am not afraid to use. And that last one is a biggie, because if I don't have to drive, that's the place for me. The second time I went, we stayed in a flat on the bus line. I parked the car and there it stayed until we left a week later. Heavenly, because driving in the UK is whole other experience. The roads get narrower as you drive down them, I swear they do. And everyone parallel parks, and I'm not that good even when I'm on the left side of the car.

So, I love Edinburgh. And I'm falling even more in love with it with each Ian Rankin book I read. If you haven't read the Inspector Rebus mysteries by the best-selling mystery writer in the UK, you really need to. Each book gets better, and Rebus becomes someone you know so well you're tempted to send him a Christmas card, except that he'd probably just wonder what the hell that's for and throw it away. Rankin's novels are lovingly set in Edinburgh, and it brings the city back to me with each page I read. I think everyone remembers the first time he/she fell in love with a city, and Edinburgh is mine.

But, ah, the Highlands. Why is it that in this country I want to go to Chicago and New York and all the big cities, but when I go to Scotland, I can't get far enough into the country? As the train going into the West Highlands clacks down the track, the tension in my shoulders releases and I breathe easier. I've been to Royal Deeside and the Grampians and Ft. Williams and the West Highlands. All beautiful and breath-taking. All quaint and overpowering at the same moment. The overwhelming vastness can swallow you, but the small villages in town make you feel centered and at home. The market down the street from your self-catering has pretty much everything you need, from eggs and bacon (aaaaaahhhhh English bacon!), to firewood and cider (aaaaahhhh cider in 2 liter bottles!). The butcher has whatever the market doesn't, and the pub takes care of everything else.

Well, I'm going to stop here for now and just revel in my memories of walking the trail outside my cottage during those crisp, clear, cold mornings, with the insistent wind and the landscape opening before me, just begging to be explored.

"Yet who would stop, or fear to advance,/Though home or shelter he had none,/With such a sky to lead him on?" Wordworth, "Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1803.

Boy, Do I Need an Outlet

Everyone has an opinion, right? I certainly do. But I'm getting tired of talking to myself or to the radio or to the TV--well, you get the idea. This seems to be a nice outlet, so I thought I'd give it a try. I don't know how often I'll post. If it's anything like my diary/journal, it'll only be when I'm angry or depressed. But I'm going to try not to do that. How depressing would it be to read only the emotional hang-ups of someone. Hmmm.

So, what will I talk about? Well, I have lots of hobbies, mainly knitting, reading, and quilting, so I will probably give updates on those projects. I have the cutest dog in the whole wide world, so I'll probably give cute-thing-she-did-today updates. I'm pretty ticked off at politicians and the world in general right now, so I might talk about that some, too. I'm pretty much trapped in a world of conservatives, so it would be nice to have an outlet for some liberal and moderate ranting. It would also give my brother a break from having to listen to me rant.

I want to write, and I need to learn to let go a little. OK, a lot. Maybe this will help. I'm going to write what I think and not worry so much about hurting someone's feelings or offending someone. If you post a reply, I'll probably read it, but don't count on a reply, especially if you are rude. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is my outlet. Get your own blog.

Well, that certainly set a mood. This should be interesting.