Sunday, November 30, 2008

on fleeing to Aspen

It's the day before the first of December. That would be the 30th of November, by most calendars. And we all know what that means. The holidays, they are upon us. I tend to look at the December holiday season as starting around the time of the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I don't know why, but it just seems to fit. So yesterday, we lugged the decorations downstairs and spruced the place up festive-like. Then we listened to the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas while I made dinner and after dinner we watched the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD.

Today, John put up the lights on our front veranda, and I did magical things with cedar boughs, magnolia leaves, berries and other festive stuff in my outdoor urns. We watched another Christmas special before the boys went up to bed. In a couple of weeks we will go choose and bring home a nice tree to decorate. There will be baking and shopping. Sounds great, right?

Then why does it always seem to dissolve into a full-on stressfest?

A couple of years ago I resolved to be more organized as the holidays approached, and to spend more time actually enjoying them, instead of cursing out other drivers as I headed once again to the store to buy yet another gift I'd forgotten I needed to buy. I resolved to simplify things - to spend less money, to streamline things. To eliminate some of the stressors that the holiday season tends to bring.

I think I've been relatively successful. Except that the rest of the world? Apparently didn't get the memo.

I think what I need to do is to completely shut off from society during the month of December. I don't mean from the people I care about, just from everything else. From the endless TV commercials boasting diamond pendants that are just what she wants, starting at $999.00. People! We are in a recession! Or, if not officially a recession, a really, really bad economic place! Diamonds are not a necessity! Also I need to shut off from the mall where the big red letters tell me that everything is MARKED DOWN AND 80% OFF AND IF YOU GET HERE EARLY YOU CAN TRAMPLE A MAN TO DEATH! (see my post from yesterday if you're not sure what that's about).

Now I realize that crazy-ass commercialism is not new. Heck, Charlie Brown recognized it in 1965. This is probably why his Christmas special is my absolute favourite. And this is also why the title of my post is what it is. I have a couple of friends who feel the same way, about the pressures of the holidays. I brought up the idea of a chalet in Aspen (I have no idea why I picked Aspen, but I did, and it seems perfect). A chalet we could all retreat to for the holidays. For ski and apres-ski. Good wine and great food. A fireplace. Good conversation and catching up. Possibly a hot tub. Relaxing and laughing, and doing it all without the stressors and the pressure.

Of course this chalet exists only in our collective imaginations. But maybe that's ok for right now. Maybe even an imaginary place is all we need to get us through the tough situations. Meditate - on the gathering at the chalet and you will be stronger. Visualize - the hot tub and the kids chilling by the fire, and you will be content. Breathe - into the images of hot rum toddies with your best friends, and you will find peace.

In January, I will let you know how I made out.

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