I love the holiday season. How festive the city is, ablaze with Christmas lights, both ethereal and gaudy, Balsams greening up street corners, shops bright and busy. I thrive on the chaos the season brings. It’s a delicious kind of stress, the only good kind I can think of it—the mad scramble to find gifts and get the holiday cards out and plan the Christmas lunch. Every year I wonder how it all gets done, and it always does. This year, for the first time in memory, I got all the presents wrapped before Christmas Eve. It was fantastic to not be up at midnight, blearily trying to masquerade the ends of a Lego set with what’s left of the wrapping paper. And the years of trying not to slip up and wrap Santa’s gifts in the same paper as Mom and Dad’s! (Nothing got by those kids— they were quick to point out if Santa had the same wrapping paper, challenging me to admit something I never would and never will. You’ll never heard me say I don’t believe in Santa!) This probably sounds either pathetic or crazy to those of you who get your holiday shopping done byThanksgiving. I have met a few of your number, so I know you actually exist. I can never hope to be in your company, O otherworldly ones!
And now it’s coming to end, once again, and 2015 is nearly over. Oddly, I feel as if 2016 is already here. I’m lacking my usual, roll-up-the-sleeves, I’m-gonna-do-it-all sense of resolve when facing a new year. Is it age? Am I just at the point at which time, as meted out in human-ordered increments, has no meaning? Is it just that the number six doesn’t look so different from the number five?
Partly to blame, now that I’m thinking about it, is the state of the world. It’s hard to look ahead with optimism when there is so much to worry about. When and where terrorists will strike. The plight of Syrian and other refugees, short and long term (Germany alone has taken in nearly a million so far and pledges an open door—but can it house and find jobs for so many? Can and will they all assimilate?) At home the appalling slate of Republican candidates. If any one were elected, we wouldn’t be living in a country I recognize (Kasich would be okay, but he doesn’t seem to gaining any traction). Hillary better win. She’s going to, she’s got to. She must.
The world’s problems are taking some of the fizz out of my champagne, but not all. I’ve got resolutions, I’ve got ‘em. Some of the usual suspects are on the list, of course (i.e. reduce ice-cream, red wine consumption; get an agent, get published, etc.) Here’s a new one: I want this latest novel I’m working to be really good—objectively, no-doubt-about-it good. I tend to like my own writing, but I know when things aren’t entirely right—the plot’s going limp, a subplot isn’t jelling, voice is off. So self: Let’s pull it all together this year! And here’s to excellence in your work, fellow writers!