I've been kinda out of sync with the whole holiday season thing this year.
Case in point, it's Christmas Eve and I spent most of the day painting one of the rooms in the new house and then went for a run before it got too dark. And now I'm sitting home alone at my computer (homes alone what with the new house also being unoccupied) trying to figure out what I'm going to make for dinner.
I'm hoping to go out for drinks with some friends later tonight.*
It's just not feeling particularly Christmas-y except for the part where I have to take into consideration whether stores are going to be open and realizing that most people either aren't around or are off doing family things. (Like the SOOTTAD, who's already at the parental homestead.) I haven't been exposed to much of the commercial holiday onslaught because I don't really watch TV, haven't done much (any) shopping (at least in any kind of retail venue) or really been out and about in any kind of traditional/mainstream public space. It's a testament to the busy, I guess. In fact, the first time the whole Christmas music thing really was noticeable was at lunch Friday at a fairly mainstream "Mexican" restaurant in the area. (A regrettable meal, I'm sad to say.)
Anyway, it was an odd feeling seeing the decorated houses on my run (somehow seeing the Christmas tree through a window hits home more than the lights and decorations out front), noticing clusters of parked cars in some neighborhoods where a family gathering was probably taking place or the occasional family packing into a car, presumably heading off to just such a gathering, only elsewhere.
It's actually the first year I haven't flown back to California for holidays. In the past, I've always visited for at least a few days, even if I had to fly out on Christmas day or spent much of my time working at the computer.
But things were just too crazy this year. I knew we were closing on the new house in the middle of December and would have to deal with fixing things up before the SOOTTAD moved back. There was a possible business trip to Texas the week before Christmas. (It thankfully fell through, but still made travel planning difficult.) And I was also feeling a bit reluctant leaving the sick kitty to the care of others. (I trust my friends, but I didn't want to burden them with the frequent medication, supervised feedings, daily poop-scooping, and the general stress and anxiety caring for a ward whose condition could go quickly from bad to worse.) And when I'd normally be planning my flights, I was feeling overwhelmed dealing with the new work project, school demands, a sick kittycat, and new house details, not to mention trying to provide moral support to the SOOTTAD, all on top of managing the normal everyday business.
It was just too much to deal with, so I punted. It was probably the right decision, but it still makes me a little sad. And I've definitely been feeling it more the last few days. I kind of hoped that my parents would decide to fly out and visit me instead. Supposed to be a mild winter this year, y'know. But, no... and I didn't really try to push the issue.
Anyway, after my run I made my first active acknowledgement of the holiday season by putting on Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I'm listening to Soma-FM's Christmas Lounge broadcast now.
During the run, I was thinking about all this. How I was feeling a bit down. A bit frustrated with the slow progress on the house. Bummed that the SOOTTAD had to leave yesterday afternoon because of filial obligation. That I was left to paint alone. That I couldn't drum up any friends to help me. That I had to fend for myself for dinner tonight. I was hopeful that I could at least hang out with some friends tonight, but that plan fell through too.
But... it is what it is, and I suppose it's as it should be. These little twists and turns, I assume, I hope, have some reason.
After all that, I still felt, I still feel, an underlying sense of gratitude. I'm kinda bummed right now, but in the grand scheme of things, life is good. I have a roof over my head. (Two, even, were I to need it.) I'm worrying about WHAT I'm going to have for dinner, not *IF* I'm going to have dinner. I'm not with my family right now, but I know they're there, and that they love me. I have many, many friends, new and old. The SOOTTAD will be back tomorrow, and actually, I'll be heading out to spend the day with her family.
When I finished my run, the sun had already dipped beneath the horizon but the part of the sky that was still light was still a deep amber and orange. I ended up watching it slowly faded into a sort of pale brightness, silhouetted by the leafless trees around the neighborhood. It was no idyllic, snowy New England winter scene, but it was still a beautiful sight.
Walking back home, I wished on a star.
I guess I'm getting into the spirit of things in my own way.
Happy holidays, folks.
* A friend of mine apparently has a long-standing tradition of going out drinking at Charlie's Kitchen every Christmas Eve with some friends. I was hoping to join them, but this year, one member of the group has a girlfriend who's hosting a dinner and it turned out that the dinner ran late and they had to bag it for the first time in several years. My luck these days, it seems.