A couple of months ago at work, my small department met to discuss the division of premium PTO days. We can’t all be gone at the same time and there’s a standard minimum number of employees who must be on staff at any given time. And most everyone wanted to be off the day after Christmas.
I didn’t have strong feelings about taking that day off, so along with two others, I agreed to work. But because there were so few people in the office that day, it hardly seemed like we had to work anyway. We had some fun and relaxed conversations while completing what few tasks could be done considering the lack of resources. And our reward for working that day was that we got to take the day after New Year’s Day off! So I am currently enjoying a lovely five-day weekend.
The downtime has been nice, particularly considering how frenzied the past few weeks have been not only with the holidays but with the added emotions that accompanied the passing of Mark’s dad. These days off have been a good mix of productivity and leisure, and time to regroup. First, a good cleaning of the house was in order. The combination of having everyone at home for the holidays, including an extra dog, gift boxes and packaging tossed aside in the wake of gift opening, dishes that tended not to make it into the dishwasher, unattended laundry and dog fur … oh the dog fur … resulted in the place looking (typically as it does at this point after the holidays) as if a bomb had gone off. I was just dying to get the vacuum out and restore order again. And I am not ashamed to say that it felt amazing to do it!
After the house was returned to a respectable state, we celebrated New Year’s Eve minimally. Actually, the kids lived it up, but Mark and I had a quiet evening with friends, some pizza and snacks and a game of cards. Our friends left and we were in bed long before midnight. And come morning, I can’t say I was missing the headache that surely would have accompanied a much crazier celebration. After saying as much to my mom on the phone New Year’s Day, she laughed and said, “You’re old.”
Yep. And somehow I’m okay with that.
Kacey and I did some shopping. She had gift cards burning a hole in her pocket and we scored some serious after-Christmas clothing bargains and a light-up reindeer for Mark to add to his front-yard holiday collection next December.
Christmas decorations came down inside and outside of the house. My pre-lit Christmas tree was no longer lit in its lower third anyway and it was driving me nuts. Mark seems to think he can fix this, but I’m not holding out hope that he’ll actually do it before it’s time to put the tree up again next year. I’m thinking I’ll probably just extract the existing light strings and wrap some others around the tree the old-fashioned way next year.
I wrote twenty-ish thank-you cards to friends and family who had given donations in memory of Mark’s dad’s passing. We only had responsibility for the friends and family most directly associated with Mark and me. And Mark was very gracious about my managing this task. He clearly felt it was his responsibility, it being his dad who passed on. But we both agreed his “chicken scratch” wouldn’t make for nice thank you notes. Besides, he does a lot for my mom and dad in the line of manual labor around their house and yard. The least I could do is write a few thank you notes.
Yesterday morning, I baked up some cornbread we were given as a Christmas gift, and we ate it for breakfast with honey that was a part of the same gift.
It was yummy, but it occurred to me that it’s probably a good thing I’ll soon be back to work, routine, and healthier eating habits. A few too many cookies, crackers, cheeses and candies have been consumed over the past couple of weeks and even though I’ve managed to maintain a regular exercise routine, my body feels the effects of all the sugar. The time away from work is nice, but I’d turn into a total slug without the routine of my usual days.
Does anyone else find themselves in the midst of the Christmas season, wishing it would last just a little longer, wishing we could stay wrapped in the coziness of family and home for just a few more days? But then realizing if that actually happened, the whole thing would probably lose its lustre? I’ve got the rest of this weekend ahead of me and plan to enjoy it to the fullest, but I’m actually looking forward to getting back to into a rhythm again. It’s the routine of everyday life that drives me, that gives me the chance to miss my kids and grand-dog, celebrations and time with extended family. It’s the pattern of daily life that makes the out-of-the-ordinary moments so special.