The Great Idleness

There are those of you how are traveling now, on your way to family and friends, or perhaps  you are heading out west, or to Vermont, for ski slopes and sleigh rides and hot chocolate by a fire. 

Maybe you are knee-deep into a house project, one of those projects that you came up with this time last year, sketched out on graph paper over the President’s Day weekend, ignored in the heat of summer, and are shamed into it, finally, now that you have a yawning break between Christmas and New Year’s, motivated as you are, to draw a line through the task before the calendar turns on Monday.

I don’t know you people.

I am not like you.

For this is the idlest of weeks in my year.  The curtain closes on Christmas Day long about 3:00 p.m. for my family.  Alway has.  The tradition is rooted deep in our childhood, when the five of us, fueled by too much sugar and anticipation, and deprived of sleep and a control of our emotions, would crash and burn and dissolve into tears or pouts or fisticuffs mid afternoon on Christmas Day. 

Often the ending of the holiday was punctuated by a trip to the alley to sort through the trash of ripped wrapping paper in search of a part, or instructions or some other vital thing accidentally tossed out in the mayhem of the morning.

Flashlights were involved. 

Failure usually, sometimes success, but after you have had your head in a trashcan for half an hour, the magic of the holiday season is truly and finally over.

Then the Great Idleness began. For the next five days we barely got out of our pajamas, we ran around the house, played with our toys, stacked and re-stacked our presents in front of the tree.  Counted them, took naps with them, played and played, and wondered how the holiday had come and passed so quickly.  We discussed how long it would be until next Christmas, the agony of that, the letdown that this one came and went so soon.

So, the week between the holidays hasn’t changed much for me.  I sleep late, turn on the lights of the tree, and think…about nothing much at all.  I flip through my Netflix list, looking for something to watch, but fall asleep before the opening credits.  I read books, or rather, I think about reading them. Spend whole afternoon mapping my walks on an app on my phone.

These are walks I intend to take, not walks I have any intention of taking.  I might wander over to my sister’s, but her boys are home and they will have eaten all the good stuff.  I will go to the grocery and  bring home something healthful and cosy, a chicken to roast, or soup. 

I will prepare these things, but I will eat Chex Mix  and cheese balls instead.

Winter has always been a time of conserving.  Our must-do tasks boil down to only a few essential things—keeping warm, keeping fed, keeping our minds occupied.  So, maybe this is the week we make our first preparations for surviving the rest of winter, the dreary days, the cold.

Yes, let’s say that.  I am not slothful or idle.  I am preparing, mentally and physically, to conserve my strength and mental outlook for the bleak days ahead.  Me, this here chicken, some chocolate and Chex Mix.

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