Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Easing Into Holiday Mode

We're just about a month away from Christmas, and I confess that I have barely thought about it up to this point. I don't watch a lot of TV, but with leaving it on for the dog during the day, I've heard it a lot more than normal, and it seems that the holiday ads haven't kicked into high gear yet. A few people I know already have their trees up, and since I like just about all of them, I am going to refrain from commenting, other than to say it's too damn early for that. I have no small children to buy for any longer, and I think that contributes to the general ennui that now accompanies the season for me. I do enjoy the season, don't get me wrong I just don't get excited about it anymore.
That may change in the future; relationships could heat up, friends or lovers with children may enter my life, my kids (eventually) will have kids of their own. And even though he's not human, we do have an addition to the family this year; I have made a mental note to get a stocking for Wimmer, and I've already started to look in places for Christmas-themed dog treats. And the one Christmas tradition I have done for certain friends in the past, making sausage breads, is one I am going to expand this year.
Because if there has been a development in my life over the last twelve months, it has been the vast expansion of the circle of friends I have. I reflected on that the last couple of days, when something happened to my car; I talked to Mark about it, who referred me to Tim. Both of these guys have been around recovery longer than I have, and yet I barely knew who both of them were at this time last year. Losing the job thirteen months ago snapped me out of the familiar routines and stuff, and leaving the former home group I was in a year ago started the process of opening my mind to the rest of the fellowship. I go to three meetings a week regularly now that I never went to before this past year, and I have become friendly with dozens of, and even close to a half-dozen, people that were not big parts of my life a year ago. And while I am not buddy-buddy with a whole lot of people--that's not really who I am, anyway--I feel welcome, liked, and respected pretty much wherever I go. It's been a process underway over the past few years, and it's still evolving, but I feel reasonably happy with the way my life is now, and the people that are a part of it.
And everyone likes gifts of food.
It's an item of ethnic humor that Italians say "I love you" by feeding you, but there's a lot of truth to it. Anthropologists will tell you that feasts on important occasions are a staple human societal norm, that it is a bonding ritual that goes back to Neanderthal times. Most family units have dinners and meals as part of a healthy family relationship, and even adult children that have left the nest often return at holiday times. My generation's norms are changing, with so many divorced and never-married families, but nonetheless, the cultural pull is strong, even overwhelming. Every year, my own family confronts my mother's mortality, but unless something happens in the next 30 hours, we will have at least one more Thanksgiving together. I am hopeful that next year, if all goes the way I would like it to, that it will be my turn.
And Sunday, after work, after taking my car to be looked at in detail and perhaps fixed,I will do what I always do on the first Sunday of Advent: get the decorations and the tree out of the basement and prepare the house for the Christmas season, which in this household runs through January 7, the date of Orthodox Christmas. I will likely do my Christmas shopping after the second of December, my next pay date, with some supplemental shopping after the 16th. My daughter wants a very adult gift (her car insurance for the year paid for), and everyone else will get something, unlike last year.
It will be a good holiday season, I believe. I just am not quite ready to be in full Christmas swing yet. Let Thanksgiving be over with first.

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