Idleness

"I must be idle."

 

 

 

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A Seasonal Truancy

The Thanksgiving week began the slow easy slide into the holiday season. While many people find this time of year frenetic and stressful, I look upon it as a season of fun and goofing off. It appeals to my “truant disposition”. I know that I won’t get much creative work done, so I just accept that some things will hang fire until after the new year begins. The Thanksgiving-Christmas season is sort of relaxing. I can be less productive, easier on myself. I can indulge in things I enjoy for a full month. Things like…


I love cooking, especially baking. I do more baking at this time of year than any other. Pies, cookies, cakes, cranberry scones, gingerbread…I can indulge in joyful baking and friends and family will gather ’round during the holidays and our annual holiday party to enjoy it all with me. Baking takes time and that goes with the whole relaxing into the holidays. You can’t hurry an apple pie. Things take as long as they take to prepare and bake.


Yes, there’s a house to be cleaned and a seemingly endless stack of dishes to be run through the dishwasher, but everything will get done and if something doesn’t it’s not the end of the world. My friends and family love me whether or not every single thing is dusted and every dish made. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner is good time to reflect on what Thoreau said:


Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry,—determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way…


Christmas is an especially fun time of year, good for relaxing and goofing off. Besides the baking, there’s parties, surprises, shopping and secrets. I’m not a “born to shop” sort of person; in general I don’t really enjoy shopping all that much. But Christmas is a different story. Hunting for just the right gift and finding things that friends and family will really like can sometimes be challenging, but nevertheless I like buying presents for people. I like it much more than buying for myself and indulge more when shopping for others. This is the one time of the year shopping is really fun. (Of course, it helps that I avoid Black Friday madness and shop in short excursions rather than day-long slogs from store to store.)


Yes, the holidays are wonderful. I get to bake things, wander around stores window-shopping and looking for treasure, both throw and attend various parties and gatherings of friends. As I said: goofing off and having fun. All accompanied by Christmas music which is beautiful, nostalgic and sometimes very silly. Wearing clothes which are bright, sparkly, velvety or very silly.

I also like the magic of Christmas. Though it’s a religious holiday it’s also a secular holiday filled with secrets, elves, and flying sleighs. Admittedly I sometimes wish I had the elves to help with the dirty dishes, but it’s enough to know they’re out there working toward Christmas morning, no doubt in elvish solidarity with my kitchen clean-up. (Half the fun of baking tons of stuff is making a Huge Mess, so I can’t really complain about cleaning up. I should probably give my dishwasher an elvish name.)


I used to get more worked up about the holidays but as the years passed I realized that it was all manageable, that there was nothing in particular to get spun up about. There’s more to do than when I was a child and could innocently wallow in the magic, presents and food of the holidays, but I’m no less excited or anticipatory as an adult. In fact, I enjoy it more because I can participate more: I shop, I bake, I deck them halls, I party with friends. As a kid I helped with the baking and decorating, but to a great extent I was—like most kids—a mostly passive consumer of the holiday spirit. I reveled in it, but the magic was mostly made by others. Now I’m Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and reindeer all rolled into one, belting out mangled lyrics and bopping around.


I hope this holiday season from Thanksgiving through Christmas, you, too, will enjoy and indulge with a “truant disposition”.

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