Day 358: Unexpect

Yes, another–and perhaps the last–in a long line of grammatical abuses, all in the name of verbification….

Tonight is Christmas Eve. I come from an Italian family, and without question, Christmas Eve is a big deal. As a family, we would prepare a major meal together, always with lots of seafood (though not always with seven dishes). After dinner there would be plenty more snacking and movie watching. We would stay up late, and just after midnight, gather around the tree and unwrap presents. Sure, Christmas Day we would have another big family meal, and more likely than not make our way to church, but Christmas Eve was always the main event.

This year, we are spending Christmas Eve with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, at their new house. And I am entirely in guest mode. I will lend a hand as best I can wherever my help is needed–but tonight, I am all follow and no lead. They have both been looking forward to hosting Christmas at their house, and I am happy to play my part as guest.

But that means parking all my own expectations about what Christmas Eve is supposed to be. I am sure if I let my expectations run the day, I am bound to be disappointed. But… if I can accept this evening as it comes, for whatever it has to offer, I am sure I will have a wonderful Christmas Eve to remember.

So Happy Christmas Eve, to those of you who celebrate this night–and may yours be filled with unexpected joy!

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Day 357: Stitch

I was driving back to my mother-in-law’s house this evening, after having spent the day in Atlanta running a couple of errands and visiting with friends. It was pouring down rain, with lightning flashing across the night sky. The roads were slick, and cars were starting to slow down and put on their hazards.

An odd moment, I suppose, for me to suddenly feel that everything was going to be alright.

I’m not sure exactly what brought it on. Probably lots of things stitched together, like a patchwork of thoughts, and feelings, and half-formed ideas, set against the backdrop of a rainy night’s drive with music playing on my car stereo. Part of me was thinking about the connections I have made with friends over the years, and how I want to keep those relationships alive. Part of me was thinking about this blog, and the small daily contact I have made with some of you, off and on, as I’ve shared with you little glimpses of me each day–and how this little experiment will come to an end in just a few more days. And part of me was thinking about how much has changed in my life in twelve months, and how much will keep changing, day after day after day.

And how everything was going to be alright.

So that’s where I’m at today, and it’s a very good place to be.

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Day 356: Empty

My calendar was empty today.

To be honest, it’s always a little hard for me to be at loose ends. Today was one of those days–nothing planned, no events, no pressing work deadlines. It was just a day.

I read for an hour or so on the couch. And I worked on a puzzle for a bit. And I brought the kids out to the playground. And so on.

Sure, I accomplished a few things. I got those Christmas cards out (kind of early for us, actually!) and I did some light work for a course I am teaching in the spring. But that was it.

It’s hard for me just to be OK with days like this–days that feel like they are “without event” or accomplishment. But that’s really what I needed to focus on today–allowing today to be what it was–a day without event–and still appreciate it.

OK, now off to my next pressing event of the day–watching a movie with the entire family!


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Day 355: Refrain

Hoo boy–we can go all the way back to Day 13 on this one….

As I’ve said many a times on this blog: I’m hardly a Luddite. A good portion of what I do professionally involves writing and thinking about how people use technology. And I think there are plenty of good uses for computers and cell phones and tablets in daily life. But I’m realizing–OK, maybe admitting and accepting are better words–that I’ve developed a somewhat dependent relationship with my phone.

OK, I’m not on my phone all the time, that’s for sure. But when that little red counter pops up and tells me I have an unread email or text, I have a compulsion to read it. So as a result, I am constantly allowing all sorts of other worlds–emails from work, from my kids’ teachers, from various community groups, commercial interests, and random others–to slip into whatever I am doing at that moment.

So why would I want to do that? How can I possibly be present when I am trying to be so many other places all at once?

It’s a Sunday. I’m on vacation. Just for today, I have no need to be in touch with anyone or anything else except the people I am with today–not at this moment, at least.

So I’m attempting to refrain from picking up my phone. I’ve left it in the other room. Oh sure, I will have a look at it, sometime. Maybe just the texts. Or maybe a peak at the email….

Or maybe all of it could wait until morning?

Again: it’s not as though I can suddenly claim to be a technophobe (after all: here I am tapping away at a computer keyboard as we speak, happily connected to the Internet). But it seems that it has taken me an awfully long time–from Day 13 to the Winter Solstice–to reach the point of realizing maybe, just maybe, I have much to gain in the moment, if only I could untether–just a bit, at least.

Even just for one day.


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Day 354: Drive

Oh, I did a lot more driving yesterday, but tonight was different.

Tonight after dinner, my mother-in-law mentioned that she used to like to drive through a section of her town where neighbor after neighbor would deck out their houses in Christmas lights. My wife thought it would be fun for everyone to head out for a drive. My daughter was on board right away, but the boys (OK, and maybe me as well) were a little reluctant. In the end, we all agreed to go for a drive.

It turned into a bit of a snipe hunt. We drove. And we drove and drove. And we drove. We never did get to anything that fit my mother-in-law’s description. But we ended up having a very fun evening–mostly laughing at ourselves on our foolish quest–pointing to the occasional lit-up shrub or house and shouting “Christmas lights!” At some point, my youngest suggested we sing Christmas carols, and so we did–off tune, stumbling over forgotten words, in both earnest and self-parodying renditions.

It was an evening to remember. But then again, aren’t they all?


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Day 353: Reconcile

OK, it’ an early morning entry–another case of preponing to make the rest of my day a little easier.

I have a different kind of “reconcile” in mind here–the kind that accountants and budget officers do at the end of the year. At least I think that’s what accountants and budget officers do with their books….

Anyway: after today, we have just twelve more days in this year–and that means I have just twelve more blog entries.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve been up to this year: what I’ve gained out of this attempt at daily reflection on a more simple, deliberate way of living. But also: what I’ve gained by a commitment to a daily practice of writing down those reflections, and in a semi-public format as well.

So today, as I make that long drive down to my mother-in-law’s house, I think I’m going to do a little mental bookkeeping of credits and deficits, profits and losses. Blah–I can’t keep up that finance metaphor much longer (you know me and finances!)

I don’t think I will be able to calculate a bottom line, but I think it’s safe to say: while I got rid of lots of stuff this year, I have gained far more than I gave away.

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Day 352: Nurse

I just finished spoon feeding my eight-year-old daughter some pastina in chicken broth. I’m sure she could have fed herself just fine, but I think it made us both feel a little better for me to feed her one spoonful at a time.

It turns out the little one has the flu. Her fever was just under 103 this morning. Kinda scary, to say the least.

She had a good day of rest. Lots of sleep and lots of liquids. And a little bit of food too. Her fever is down to a modest 100 and change, but tomorrow should make for an interesting five hour car ride….

Yesterday I was writing about how much I could get done today, since I was staying home from work. Sure, I got a lot done, but housecleaning definitely took a back seat to nurse duties.

Now she’s asleep again, and hopefully down for the night. And you know what? I’m exhausted. Time for a little self-care, I think.

So off to bed I go.

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