It’s been a busy and harried few weeks, though all complaints are minor and all general demeanor has been, for the most part, looking upward. I tend to look forward to the Grand Holiday Brouhaha that is the entire month of December in a different way than most people do. Because I neither believe in Jesus nor feel an immediate need to participate in what is usually a fantastic and grotesque display of capitalism year after year, Christmas tends to be a rather calm time for me. And I looooooooove it.
My family has long since decided not to make too big a deal out of Christmas gift-giving within our own circle, and I was out of the office for my company’s White Elephant Gift Exchange, so I literally didn’t have to buy a single holiday gift this year. And can I tell you how good it feels? Super good. I don’t even have to deal with that rush of panic when I enter a retail store and feel the frenzy of so much spending—I just move along at my own pace, somehow—strangely–kinda enjoying the holiday tunes. I love the twinkle lights, I love the extra day off work. I love that other people have to schlep all across the state and country and I do not. I hope this Christmas will be exactly what it was for me last year–a bonus day to sleep in, go for long walks with Mona, and cozy up to movie with a some Chinese-food-for-white-people. What more could a lonely little Jewish girl ask for on Christmas? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.
Even though I don’t let myself get sucked in to the holiday madness, doesn’t mean I necessarily have calmness in the rest of my life. No, sir. Work has been busier than ever, but in a good way. I am so lucky that what I do for a living coincides so effortlessly with my creative side work. Writing shoe copy may not be the most obvious choice for a creative writer’s day job, but I like that I remain very casually tapped-in to my writing mind throughout the day. I can keep my mind somewhat focused on whatever plot point I may be trying to work through in my novel, all the while churning out one after another shoe description like some kind of copywriting-machine. Sure, sometime the copywriting can be stale, formulaic, or even numbing, but that usually fades when I pull up a really cute pair of shoes in my writing queue. Or a really ugly pair, or a fancy pair, or—best of all—a really slutty pair of shoes. That always wakes me up. Best of all, I really have made some of the most amazing friends through my job, in very short amount of time. And not just “work friends,” not like “school friends” who you never actually hung out with after class. Though I have a long list of really incredible friends spread across the country, it was nice to start this job and be reminded how easily I make new friends. I now have a handful of really caring, smart, funny girlfriends who have ever-so-nicely rounded off my social circle. And for this, in large part, I need to give credit to my mom and dad.
I don’t usually have any problems in my friendships, and I adore paying attention to the people who mean a lot to me. I know I could get distracted by the whole nature vs. nurture thing here, but I’m just going to focus on the nurture part. I can see it in myself and in my brothers just how well my parents did instill in us the value of creating and maintaining lasting, meaningful friendships with people from all walks of life. The three of us each has several rock-solid, go-to best friends, along with hoards of dear friends spread all across the globe. This says something about how our parents raised us.
And not only did my parents—both individually and together—teach these values, they also modeled them. I think it is incredibly important for kids to see their parents put effort and love into their adult relationships—show children how friends laugh, share, cry, and get through life by leaning on each other.
Sure, spending half of my childhood at a summer camp–where being a good friend has pretty much always been the number one goal—might have had a little something to do with it, but then again, all that friendship stuff came from my parents there, too.
With the nine-year anniversary of my father’s death just behind me, I have to admit that it’s been hard for me to truly focus on the million things I have on my plate at the moment. Work is wonderful, social life is buzzing, love life is…set on a low and intermediate simmer. The literary magazine is in great shape with many exciting things coming down the pike, and I’ve finally hit what I’d refer to as a solid and unfancy writing groove. I’m making things happen for my characters a bit more quickly and smoothly now than I was throughout the fall, so I feel confident and excited about my fiction writing again. Hell, I even found out recently that Mr. Dave Eggers himself, one of my literary obsessions, is personally reading my non-fiction manuscript, thanks to resident super-agent, Gordon Warnock.
All these very happy and exciting things, and yet…And yet I can’t shake this tinge of the winter blues. Maybe it’s the unusually heavy rainfall we’ve been having the last few weeks, or maybe it’s just the seasonal blahs. Either way, I can also feel how sharply grief has his hooks turned into my skin.
And all I can do is steel myself up, truck on, and remind myself that if I can just keep doing my thing no matter what stresses come and go, I’ll be doing my father proud. I know he sees me giving and receiving so much love and support and goodness from my friends, and is proud. He sees me talking to my mother and siblings several times every week just so we all stay connected. He sees me checking in on my grandpa, entertaining him over the phone with stories of my writing and dating follies. I know he sees me writing, and is proud.
This year on the day when, nine years ago, my dad passed away, I tried to do all those things my dad loved—good food, a little writing, some time with my dog, and—most importantly—lots of phone calls and messages from all the people who love me and who I so fiercely love back. If my dad does hang around a little extra close around these tough times, I know for sure how happy he’d be to see me honoring him with my own happiness, no matter what tries to get in my way.