As We Dream by the Fire

There are times when the holidays just get to be too much, even for me. It’s easy to run ourselves ragged with the shopping, the parties, the decorating. Even seeing family and friends can start to feel like a chore. There’s too many people to catch up with, too many places to be.

This month, I was overscheduled, running late to everything and still trying to fit it all in. Take it from me: trying to do too much is not a recipe for holiday cheer. There were moments I felt like an absolute Scrooge.

Last Saturday, I went from the farmers market to the East Bay to babysit our friend’s hilarious 2 year old and then came back into the City for a friend’s cookie-baking party. I hadn’t had time to make cookies for the party. I hadn’t even had time to shower. But I hoped in a cab even though I felt tired and crabby.

I sat in silence in the dark backseat of the cab. I looked out the windows into the lit-windows of other people’s apartments and houses, all decorated in some small way. Some had lavish light displays and ornate trees, but my favorite places were those that had done just one simple decoration, like stringing colored lights over a houseplant.

It was a good reminder that celebrating doesn’t have to be anything big. Some times, the most meaningful moments are the quiet spaces in between work parties and family visits.

Driving to the airport to pick up my sister last weekend after yet another busy day, I turned on the radio and spent an unexpectedly blissful 15 minutes listening to the soothing tone of Ira Glass’s voice on NPR’s This American Life.

I’m trying to hang on to these random moments of solitude and quiet, especially in these last few day before December 25th and remember that it’s perfectly festive — in fact, it’s about time — to let go of the shopping, the baking, the decorating, and start spending some quality time sitting in front of the tree. Maybe sipping a warm cup of tea, maybe listening to holiday music, or catching up with friends and family, or maybe just sitting in the glow of the lights, in silence.


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