Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Vacation--Time to Think About What is Important

Ah...two weeks off school.  It's not just the kids who get excited about Christmas break!

First priority:  Get over being sick for a week.

Second priority:  Get ready for a big dinner next Sunday.

Third priority:  Catch up on all those things I've let slide since September 1st.

Oh, really?  My first priority is always to make sure my priorities are in the right order.

Here's a little story I wrote yesterday, a random essay that was stirred up in my brain while I was opening the Christmas cards that had been sitting on my kitchen counter for several days.  Hope you enjoy it.

May you all have a joyful Christmas.

Maybe it's the week-long bout of sinus congestion, coughing and minimal sleep that has contributed to my flighty thoughts this morning, but opening Christmas cards from friends and family made me think about the connection between anxiety and keeping too much stuff.
It's my practice to tear off those little return addresses from envelopes when the info looks unfamiliar, then stuff them in a little cup in my stationery drawer. All through the year I'm reminded of those labels when I open the drawer to root for cards and paper, but I usually don't get around to updating my late 70's address book until just before sending out a mass mailing. If you're pondering when was the last time you received an annual mass mailing from me it was about six years ago.
This morning I looked at the return address of a buddy who lives in the now-frozen tundra of Wisconsin. The info looked pretty familiar, but was I sure? Maybe I should, wait, stop...I don't need to keep it. My worries were taking over, the address looked just like the one I recalled from last year and, if it really turned out to be a new address that I toss out, I could send her a friendly e-mail or locate her with the help of Mr. Google.
Keeping too much stuff in my life, even a tiny slip of paper with a return address, starts with the thought, "I might need this." Little scraps of paper don't take up much room, but they foster the mindset of keeping other things in your life that add up to consume much more space--in your home, in your car or in your mind. Anxiety always asks, "Are you sure?"
Handsome Casaera
There are things I never want to lose--the locket my mom gave me in 8th grade that holds a single cat hair from my beloved companion, Cesaera, the rock with lichen that Casserine "picked" for me on Whiskey Mountain, the shell necklace Uncle Grumpy bought for me from a street vendor in Carytown in '76. I want to linger over these bits of my past, hold them and feel their textures so I can re-live the memories they evoke. Books I don't love, photos of my friends not looking their best and recipes I'd cook if I ever became a perfect wife have long since left the house. They didn't enrich my life or memories while I had them around, why would I keep them.
This time of year is a little too busy to take on extra tasks, like organizing or streamlining this or that area of your life, but it sure is a good time to contemplate what's precious to you. Which ornaments and decorations give you a thrill when you put them out? When you read that holiday letter from a friend, what do you wish you had done this year to stay more connected? If you have a rare moment of quietness in the next week, which thoughts bring tears of thankfulness?
Here's to doing more of what brings us joy next year.

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