Om for the holidays

I’m supposed to be packing for my Thanksgiving trek to points south where I will spend the next three days with my dad’s side of the family, but in spite of the piles of clothes strategically placed about my bedroom and the open suitcase on my bed, here I sit talking to “my friends in the computer,” as the bloggers say.

Here’s the thing–I’m already starting to freak out about Christmas. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and already the “what the heck am I going to get (fill in the blank) for Christmas?”/”when am I going to put up the tree?”/”maybe I should host Christmas this year…” tape is playing in my head. I’m blaming the commercials. Have you noticed? Every commercial, from department store jingles to new car ads, features some allusion to the red and green holiday. Target may be the worst offender, but Walgreens is the most frightening. Is anyone else disturbed by their series of commercials featuring people walking into their dark back yards plucking wrapping paper and batteries from trees? And the radio stations are adding insult to injury–they’ve been playing nonstop Christmas music since Saturday. I know, I know, I was listening to Christmas music weeks ago, but not constantly!

And then there are the crafts. You see, my family is crafty. My mom is extraordinarily creative, and she passed that gene to my sisters and me. But there is an aberration in the gene. Inevitably, at least around the holidays, we wait until the last minute to begin the creative process, thereby finding ourselves wide awake at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning making that year’s gift du jour. It is not unusual to stumble upon the following scene at my mother’s house on Christmas Eve: Mom at the sewing machine surrounded by fabric with pins in her sleeves and the iron on full blast; Charity in front of a canvas covered in paint; Megan huddled on the floor with her bead box open and a pile of magazines and an open jar of decopage glaze in her lap. By this time I’ve already pulled my all-nighter, or else I have wrapped written descriptions of what I’m going to make for everyone over Christmas vacation, and I’m wandering around from project to project guessing who is making what for whom.

But it’s not really any of that. I enjoy all of that. I even like a few of the commercials. My problem is the rapid rate at which the season approaches, and the alarming speed at which it passes. I know the advertising world thinks that by beginning Christmas just after Veteran’s Day they are giving us more time to enjoy the season. What they fail to realize is that the moment Christmas officially starts, time warps into supersonic speed. We could begin hanging greens and stringing lights in March, and December would still arrive seemingly without warning. People would still start their Christmas shopping late, the calendar would still be full to overflowing with parties and drop-ins and open houses–and my mom and sisters and I would still stay up until four in the morning making stuff. When are we supposed to truly enjoy the fruits of our labors?

This Christmas season I’m applying what I learned in yoga class to my holiday approach. Taking lots of deep breaths, making slow deliberate movements, staying in one place for as long as I need to stay there. I doubt I can slow time, but I can slow me, and perhaps that’s been my problem all along. So happy Thanksgiving, people, and Namaste, and Om, and if you know what’s good for you, when those damn Christmas commercials come on, downward facing dog is a nice way to pass the time.

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