I like Christmas. I like the gift-giving because I’m generally a very good guesser when it comes to figuring out what someone wants. I like the food because it involves showing off one of my few skills (The baking, not the consuming. Ahem.). And I like writing holiday cards.
Throughout my life (short, if you’re a octogenarian, long if you’re a caterpillar), I’ve built a reputation for writing really great cards. I’ve made people cry, made them laugh, made the least likely to write back respond within days. I have two penpals in the military, both in Iraq, but more impressively, I have an astounding 100+ greeting cards ready to be sent to eager friends. (I counted them just for this column, and I didn’t include the sheets of special handmade paper or sticker collection.)
The December month for me is filled with red candles, baked goods of all kinds and events, like last week’s gingerbread-house decorating party.
The month is also packed with cards. Lots and lots of greeting cards.
I have about 75 people I MUST send a note to and about 50 others that I ought to write. This year, I’m having trouble getting started on my list. Perhaps it’s because, to date, I have received ONE card. And it’s from a former editor so it practically doesn’t count.
It’s also because the past few months have been some of the hardest in my life. Joyous and full of progression and movement, but hard. Very hard. So what do I write in my cards? I can muster the usual non-sequitur jokes, the goofy signature, but I worry I won’t have much news.
It’s my first year in the working world and I find it difficult to keep track of successes as concretely as I used to. In internships, you finish the employment. You get a recommendation. In school, you complete a course, you build toward your major. In my graduate school, you get a piece published. There are built-in ways of measuring progress and success. Two -ess’s I’m finding very important to my life.
In the year (almost) that I’ve lived in New York, I can tick only two things off my list. I got a challenging job and a beautiful apartment. They weren’t easy feats, and I am certainly not taking them for granted, but the -ess’s are scarcer than they used to be.
I’ve made up for it in other ways. I’ve become — those of you who know me will howl with laughter — a bikram yogi. This means I practice high-intensity, fast-paced yoga in a 120-degree room for 90 minutes, five days a week. This is not the focus-on-the-end-of-your-nose, tinkly music kind of yoga. Last week, I made it through my first session where I completed every posture. To put this into perspective, for the first week or two that you practice bikram, the goal is simply to stay in the room for the full 90 minutes.
I signed up for a pottery class, and I’m working on ways to practice (and hopefully revive) my Spanish skills. All of these are in an effort to create goals that can be easily understood in terms of accomplishment.
But holidays are about ham, not hamstrings. Chimneys, not kilns. Nobody wants a card about that.