Have a happy new year ASAP
“If it’s brown, take it down” is a Mississippi hunting mantra I’m used to hearing whenever camo fills our laundry basket, but yesterday I was thinking it to myself in a different way as I vacuumed up a gazillion bits of cedar – the remains of The Day. December 25 has once again come and gone. We are left with lights to remove from the roofline (“Soon, Mom”) and a robe to return at Belk’s. Oh, and a stack of cards and letters. I suppose they are the most lasting remnant of Christmas around our house, because we use them as prayer reminders during family devotions throughout the new year.
I’ve noticed the catch-up letters and notes scribbled beside Snapfish photo layouts have an increasingly common theme – busyness. There’s a thread of it in nearly every homerun highlight, travel story and surgical report. Example: “2015 has just about worn us out” was the topic sentence from a two-pager I received from a high school friend.
Truth is, I’m busy, too. Too busy to write this column, in fact. I just fed a husband, who prefers biscuits and eggs, his third granola bar of the week. Yesterday I had a daughter suggest that I not bother asking her questions if I’m not going to take time to listen to her answers. The worst proof: a friend told me I text like a man. “Are you mad at me?” she questioned. Your texts are so, well . . . to the point.”
And I’m sure you’re busy, too, probably even too busy to read these 750 words. That’s why it’s good you can hold a newspaper while you do at least three other things (look at your calendar, finish your coffee, unload the dishwasher) at the same time, right?
One of the biggest critics of my busyness stands about 5-feet-11 and likes to eat with us on Sundays. What I call “redeeming the time,” he sees as squandered opportunities. “Clear the table later, Mom. Come visit with us while we’re here,” he beckons from the couch. I tell him I will — in a minute. When did 23-year-olds get so smart, anyway?
I’ve got a sister-in-law who’s pretty smart, too. She didn’t write a standard Christmas letter this year. Instead of penning threads of busyness, she titled hers “The Year of Mom,” and in it, she described the loss of her mother:
“Now our home is a little quieter. Mom’s room is empty. My memories are not. I think back and find myself like Martha of the New Testament. Busy. Do I wish I had taken up her invitation to watch Victor Borge, the funny classical pianist, in her room? You bet. Or stop to have that extra cup of coffee in the morning? Yes. I hope I’ve learned to take more time to smell the flowers, as cliché as that sounds.”
And obviously she has. Their card arrived on the 26. Reading it aloud to my husband on our way to the day-after sales (still redeeming the time), I found the word picture E. painted to be of such a compelling nature (i.e. I cried) that I gave her and my brother a call. They were grabbing lunch at the San Francisco airport between flights, and between bites my brother — the one who invited his mother-in-law to live with them for the past 16 years — made his own jab, unknowingly, at the busyness demons I was fighting. Sizing up the decision they made then and the loss they’re feeling now, he told me without hesitation, “You’ll never regret doing the right thing, Kim. Never.”
Wow. How could he have known he was dealing with a woman who wants the opportunity to do the right thing to come neatly packaged during a 30-second window between checking email and ironing khakis?
On the cusp of 2016 I am fumbling for solutions to my issues with busyness. (Can you tell?) Beyond the convicting Christmas correspondence there have been convicting words of a more serious nature – sermons from my pastor. They stop me in my tracks, but just for a moment. Then it’s back to “X”ing off my list: get an estimate on the Sentra’s bumper, balance the checkbook, plant tulip bulbs, mail that birthday card, plan dinner, etc., etc., etc.
Any suggestions for a less-busy new year? You are most welcome to send them to my email — unless, of course, you’re too busy. In that case, just plan to send a letter next Christmas.
Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at email@example.com.