Madeline McEwen ‘s back with another post and more sketches…
[As I write this, my spouse, who never reads my work, leans over my shoulder to query my use of the word, “panic.” For him, the word, “holidays,” evokes many emotional responses, positive ones predominate. In response, I’m tempted to flash my lists at him: everything from grocery shopping to revamping twenty-year-old tree decorations, but I resist. We have different experiences and perspectives of the holidays; he’s lounging on the balcony—I’m sweating in the orchestra pit.]
First up, if you have reached adulthood, by default you must have grasped the basic skills for survival. They are: organize, prioritize, delegate, and, most importantly, accept that other people may have different standards of competence and completion. This is where the majority of us unravel, which is why we descend into panic. There is so much to do and we are the only ones who can do it properly. Hence, now is the time kick the “perfect” trap into the trash and adopt a new mantra, namely, “good enough.”
As the captain of the ship, head cook and bottle washer, and cheerleader it is your job to wrestle all family members and friends into the fray.
Examine your “todo” list[s]. Streamline it [them.] Can any item[s] be eliminated? For instance, guests might notice the absence of dinner, but will anyone know or care if beds remain unmade, pets un-shampooed, or an under-decorated home?
[RQT] I’ll commence with a warning. During this season, the wise writer does not mention their/her chosen profession. Failure to observe this advice has dire consequences: a surfeit of fountain pens and quills, [even though you type] a flood of accompanying colored inks, [ditto] an array of multifarious articles bearing famous quotes or amusing admonishments, e.g. mugs, clothing, and tote bags, a random assortment of plastic objets d’art for authors, and a veritable library of “books for writers,” and novels which you already own and have read.
Secondly, consider the following contradictory sayings:
“If you want something done, ask a busy woman.”
“Learn how to say, ‘no,’ politely.”
During December these competing mantras revolve around my rapidly shrinking brain as I run through a never-ending list of errands. And yet, when I flop into bed at the close of day, I find the list has lengthened. How can this be? Is this you too? Where are we going wrong?
RQT — Turn back time in the romantic realm of your life, and make sure you pick a partner whose passion is cooking, requires no assistance in the galley, and prefers to leave the kitchen far cleaner and tidier than when he or she entered. This is not fiction. I know three women in real life who reside with such persons. They are not me.
Children, whether you have some of your own or not, dominate the festive period. Their needs, dreams, and expectations must be managed and controlled by the collective adult world. Never presume a child has crossed the Rubicon, instead assume innocence and naivety.
RQT — Turn back time in the reproductive realm of your life, and ensure that you and your partner do not procreate during the middle weeks of March, otherwise your offspring will be due during the holidays which is far too busy a period to also celebrate birthdays. Yes, two of my four children were born in December.
And for writers, if your project remains untouched and neglected for a period, do not despair. By mixing with and engaging in the holiday season, you’re gathering fodder for your next creative endeavor.
RQT — In case you haven’t come across this book before [not mine, unfortunately, although TIED UP WITH STRINGS is currently on sale for 99 cents http://getbook.at/TiedUpwStrings] I’d recommend, Unplug the Christmas Machine, which read a couple of decades ago when we had three children under the age of five, a teenager, and my mother-in-law all under one roof. https://www.harpercollins.com/9780688109615/unplug-the-christmas-machine/
p.s. Despite the busyness and the chaos of the season, spare a thought for those who have neither.