This is it for the cutout cookies. I have brought them with me to the keyboard in order to end the madness. I have eaten so many Christmas cookies in the past week that I, as is customary for late December, feel like I, too, may be made of nothing but dough and heat.
But I, also as is customary for this time of year, also have a complete lack of willpower when it comes to good cookies.
Sidenote #1: Good cookies. Not burnt cookies. Not too-sweet cookies that look pretty but instantly rot your teeth. Not the ginger snaps I made five or six years back in which I may have forgotten the sugar altogether.
Perfectly baked, not-too-sweet-but-still-resembling-a-cookie cookies.
Yesterday I stopped bringing them up out of the freezer to replenish the cookie plate, refusing to sabotage myself any further. Today I’ve burned 1,067 calories on the stairs as I emptied one, and nearly two of the buckets from down there. They have been calling me all day. Sad and frozen. Begging for release.
Sidenote #2: It is important to note that these buckets were nearly empty before the day started. I am not having the willpower-day-of-the-year, but I’m not completely over the edge.
So, the way I see it, I have two options. Ignore the tortured pleas from the basement, or liberate those buggers as fast as possible.
We are now down to one.
You see how I’ve chosen.
Sidenote #3: I can show you the evidence of these heinous crimes because my children don’t read my blog. They used to. But their mother gets wordy, and it seems they don’t need more of me in their inbox. I am floored.
So, Christmas is all over.
Oh, boy, and I didn’t even post the 2019 Christmas Letter.
Apologies, and here you are.
You’ll note I didn’t write the letter this year, so I suppose I have an excuse for not posting it here in a timely manner. Nevertheless, if you rely on these letters for your end-of-year sustenance, go on over and take a gander.
Here, I’ll even bypass the archive page for you:
2019 Christmas Letter, featuring guest writer, Emily.
So anyway, now that the letter is up, Christmas is really all over. The living room is still bedecked with a gorgeous and rapidly desiccating Douglas Fir, but festive decorations aside, we’re all done here. And that is fine.
And it means that 2019, the year that I never want to relive, is almost done and gone as well. As Emily says: 2020, like a breath of fresh and hopeful air, awaits.
Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to think in that direction yet. And who are we kidding, I’m wont to wait until June to really commit to such important things.
So I’m not jonesin’ to ID the fourth annual installment of KJ’s Incredibly Wise Words to Live By just yet, but the reminder did make me think a little bit about the first three installments.
I have to say that I’m amazed at how the simple act of choosing a word to follow through your year can affect things. It is a herculean, though ever-so subtle way of setting your intention for one calendar’s time. Or in my case, sometimes a bit less.
It is one small decision that sets the course of your attention. One small realization. One small hope.
The first time around, I was skeptical. This sounded a lot like one of those gratitude journal things*. (Now don’t get your panties all in a bunch. Go on down to the end and find the asterisked endnote before you lynch me for dissing the gratitude journal.) Like something that folks do when they have far too much time on their hands. But still, there was a spark there, ignited by the meddling priest, that just wouldn’t die.
I supposed it wasn’t like I was being asked to commit to one kind of cookie for the whole year. Just one little word that I might carry around in a bucket and water occasionally, see what it’s up to in there. From what I understood, these things practically self-propagated. No effort required. Spirituality for Dummies.
Sidenote #5: I just had to look up the Its vs. It’s thing again. I thought I’d mastered that grammatical beast, and out of nowhere, BAM. Gone.
I relented to the beast of a priest, and bought in for 2017. Then I brooded over possibilities for weeks and weeks. It was torturous. What if I chose the wrong word? What if my word didn’t like me. What if I didn’t like my word???
The potential pitfalls were endless.
I brooded and brooded, determined to discover the word that God Himself willed me to meditate on for the next twelve months, and then the word chose me.
It was everywhere. All of my reading. All of my experiences. The whole of creation was crying out for me to spend just a little more time in the shoes of others.
It took me some time–nearly three months–to give in to this one. Not because it wasn’t a good choice, but because it was the word of my priest the year prior, the very guy who’d suggested the exercise. It took me some time to embrace Empathy because I first had to acknowledge that copycatting wasn’t the worst a gal could do here. In fact, maybe, just maybe, setting my Self aside enough to copy his word would be advantageous.
That word followed me like I had Christmas cookies taped to my back. And because I opened myself up to it, I learned a great deal about what it is to see through the eyes of the hideous driver in front of me, or the grumpy guy in line at the Walmart. Occasionally even the husband whose junk metal collection was sneakily taking over the bedroom, or the kid in the backseat I was dreaming of throwing out the window at the nearest gypsy camp. I started giving folks the benefit of the doubt. I started suspending judgment, just a little.
Because one wouldn’t want to go overboard with this Empathy thing.
Sidenote #FINAL: Seriously??? I had to ferret out Whose vs. Who’s too. As Pooh would say, Today is not a Writing Sort of Day.
Be kind. Everyone you meet is waging a great battle.Philo of Alexandria (???)
Iteration #2? That one took me some time. I may have overthought it. I may have been too lazy to think about it. But eventually, it caught up with me, with the realization that once again, the words had chosen me.
I. Don’t. Know.
It was a year of pushing me further up and further in, and slapping me in the face again and again with the knowledge that life is not black and white, and even moreso, that I know very little. It’s a good thing to know, that you know next to nothing for sure. It might be the only thing to know.
2019 was the year of Here and Now. I chose those bad boys on New Year’s Day.
It was prophetic.
I knew that this was the year to work a little more on being present where I am, when I am. Really, there’s no bad time to come to that particular realization. But I did it just in time for some intense challenges that would wrench me from the present moment left and right.
I’d be warmly invited into the dimly-lit and comfortable attic of the past, where I could sit with my cocoa and scrapbooks for eons while the real world passed by underfoot.
I’d be seduced by a never-ending stream of worries, beckoning me to live in the future. Just a few moments from now. Maybe a decade. Maybe tomorrow. There is always so much to be done out there in the future.
And above all else, even if I could turn away from the attic and step out of the stream, I’d be sucked relentlessly into the dark abyss of Wishing It Were Different.
Good Lord, is that one a black hole. There’s no nostalgia there. No facade of responsible planning. Just a sucking void.
I spent far more time out of the present moment than in it this year, engaging in the whispers and whimpers of all that pulled me away, but I am certain that that simple act on January 1st, of choosing Here and Now as the words that would follow me through, made a big difference. I started off the year by settling into a posture of readiness, an active hope for More Here, More Now. A posture of waiting such that I didn’t even know what I was waiting for.
So here we are on the cusp of 2020, and I’d like to say I plan to have The Words ironed out at it’s very dawn, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, about life, and about myself, it’s that the plans kinda get in the way. So we’ll see when it unfolds.
If you need me, I’ll be listening,
* Endnote #1: Observant readers will note that I recently started one of those gratitude journal things. I dunno what to say. I’m 100% on board with the gratitude part, and even somewhat enamored with the benefits of writing down the gratitudinal noticings. But the fancy journal with all the help? That was a little too contrived for me.
I thought I’d like it, and I didn’t.
I’m a pretty grateful person (and humble, too!), and filling in someone else’s blanks didn’t do it for me. I gave it a full 21 days. Then I chucked it.
Lest you worry for my soul, know that I’m still committed to counting my blessings, and expressing my gratitude, and reminding myself at critical junctures of All The Things. I might even be persuaded to write it all down. But I’ll be sticking to the $0.10 college-ruled Mead from now on.
Turns out I still don’t play well with others.