Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Twas the Week Before Christmas

It seems like every year, I spend the first two weeks after Thanksgiving griping about how everyone seems to start the Christmas stuff too early, before I'm ready for it, and then the week before Christmas I suddenly realize the season is almost over, and I haven't done half the things I wanted to do. I've done all the obligatory stuff -- my decorations are up, gifts are purchased and even (where applicable) mailed -- but I'm way short on the experience stuff I planned to do.

Every year, I say I'm going to take the train downtown and do the whole "Silver Bells" Christmas in the city experience -- look at the downtown Nieman Marcus windows, take the trolley up to the faux-old-time shopping square, sit in the nice Starbucks with a fireplace in it and have a peppermint hot cocoa, maybe even go to the art museum. Or I plan to go to a holiday tour of homes, or visit one of the nearby old-fashioned Main Street towns and soak up the atmosphere. Then there's the quiet time at home I plan -- evenings watching favorite holiday-themed movies or reading appropriate books while listening to Christmas music. Then it comes down to four days until I need to leave town, and I haven't done any of it, and I don't really have time to do it.

Not that I've been totally slacking. I did do my big shopping day at the mall, and I hadn't done a mall Christmas in a while. I went to the community Christmas concert. I put up a mini tree in my office this year, which I've been planning to do for ages and never got around to. And I guess I've even done my movie watching, although it appears that Hogfather replaced my usual viewings of Love Actually and About a Boy. Really, it's not so bad not to repeat the same things every year. I don't want to get sick of things I like. I've read two of the seasonal books I wanted to get through, and I may get around to the others.

But this was supposed to be my year to take the month off and just enjoy myself, so what happened? A lot of it involves having to do those book revisions, and since we're going through it a section at a time, that means I'm never sure when I will or won't be busy. When I get revision notes, I jump on them, but then I don't know how long it will be before I get the next set of notes. I probably could go and do something else, but I have a bad habit of just sitting at the computer and constantly checking e-mail. Then the weather has been an issue off and on, and to be totally honest, I haven't much wanted to go out and do things. Even though I thought it would be fun to do a day in the city, I've yet to bounce out of bed in the morning thinking, "You know, I ought to take the train downtown today!" (Actually, this time of year there's precious little bouncing out of bed, more like waking up, peeking above the covers, then pulling them back over my head and going back to sleep. I swear, I'm part bear.)

On the up side, I haven't faced The Forced Death March O'Fun this year. A few years ago, I guess I was involved in a lot of stuff and was very popular because I went through December averaging three parties or other events every weekend. There was one weekend where I had something Friday night, then was so busy on Saturday that I left the house in the morning, went from one thing to another, and got home nearly twelve hours later, and then on Sunday had something after church. I think that was the year I swore I was going to plan to take time to do more quiet things in the future. This year, I just had that one office party and my writing group's holiday breakfast. I do have a New Year's Eve party on the calendar, but otherwise, this has been an antisocial year because I dropped out of a lot of stuff that I had been involved in, and that got me off the list not only for those groups' official parties, but also for private parties given by people involved in those groups.

It's probably good that I didn't have many parties to go to because according to the fashion magazine I was reading last night, I might have been an unwelcome guest. In their list of tips for attending holiday parties, they said sheer black stockings are okay, but if you wear sheer nude stockings, you would be removed from the guest list. Wow, I didn't know that was a huge crime. Yeah, the "suntan" colored stockings from the 70s are kind of tacky, and it doesn't look so great to wear stockings with sandals, but those are things I choose not to do. They're certainly not my criteria for who I want to socialize with. Who can see someone's legs well enough to know whether they're bare or covered with nude stockings at a cocktail party, anyway? Are you crawling around on the floor? With really good nude stockings, you can't tell other than that the legs have a nice, uniform flesh-toned color. If I go bare-legged at this time of year, you get a sick, purplish gooseflesh. On my skin, self-tanner looks more fake than nude stockings. Plus, I tend to get blisters from wearing heels without stockings. So, if I'm wearing shoes that aren't black or a skirt that doesn't go with black stockings, I'll be wearing nude stockings, so there. And if that's how you choose party guests, rather than conversational ability, friendliness, sense of humor, personality or intelligence, then I don't want to be at your party anyway. That's one of those magazine subscriptions I got with frequent flier miles that I will be letting expire, especially considering that the same issue contained an essay on how materialism is healthy.

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