I really love Christmas, but even better than that, I love the day after. It’s the perfect day – no expectations, the fridge is stuffed with leftovers, so no pressure to cook – anything really – and no one sees a need to change out of pajamas. There’s toys to play with for the kids, a fire in the woodstove, and other than laundry, dishes, and a bit of cleanup here and there, it’s the best do-nothing day of the year.
So of course, when the furnace stopped working that morning due to a burned-out igniter switch, we all huddled up in the living room near the fire, made a phone call, and kept doing the large amounts of nothing we had previously been up to. My woodstove heats exactly 1 room – the living room – but that was enough to keep us warm until Brad, the guy who has kept oil heaters going for most of my homeowning life in multiple houses, could fix it in the early evening.
It isn’t that there weren’t chores to do, emails to be answered, and projects in need of starting. In fact, I did make some phone calls around the car we are buying, and write out some bills, but that was between long stretches of relaxation. Doing the things is necessary and important. It’s just that after the production of a large turkey dinner and a lovely Christmas overall, doing the nothing is equally important. As a very wise man once said, we are human beings, not human doings.
The next day I did do some more traditionally post-Christmas things, such as hitting a bunch of clearance sales for kid clothes – my kids are growing like weeds, and everything they own is starting to show wrist and ankle bones more regularly than one typically wants to in the dead of winter. I also got them next year’s Christmas Eve pajamas and put them away – I don’t have a big budget for pre-buying Christmas gifts right now, but I do take advantage of deals when I can. Same for buying things in advance – when one of them likes an item of clothing on sale, I might get it in multiple sizes so that we can spend less money and time later on. And I worked on the car purchase Eli and I are taking on, as he goes from city to Sithean-dweller, and starts carting around various smallish people here, starting in just a few weeks.
But even though we’re in a place of a few big purchases and growing kids, and our Christmas was certainly not a modicum of restraint, I find myself wanting less and less as the years and months tick by. I like to go out but almost always would rather eat at home. I don’t need more clothes or shoes, even though i like them. What I need is family and friends, financial security, and time to enjoy our lives. Those are not things that I can buy. I have enough things – actually, a few too many. The things I don’t have enough of require me to stop and think through how our lives could change to create more of them – more time for the simpler joys that bring me so much more pleasure than a new pair of shoes.
2019 is going to be a year of a few big expenses- a small wedding this August, a newer car for Eli, continued work with the architect, and a few trips. But after we get through these items, and in and around them, my plan is to decrease our standard of living, not increase it. My plan for next year is to maximize our time outside, and really put effort into simplifying, decluttering, gardening and taking time to breathe.
We have enough, and that’s a pretty good feeling. How about you?