It’s the Hap, Happiest Time of the Year

What time is it? Time to write the annual holiday letter to friends and relatives. It’s the hap, happiest time of the year!

Here’s one good reason to keep a blog or diary: when you can’t remember all the things you’ve done over the past year, you can go back month by month and look them up.  It’s like keeping notes in class (not that I ever learned to do that, myself).  Anyway, the letter is now done.  Whew.

To friends and family who have already written and sent their holiday letters, congratulations!  To friends and family who are about to start receiving our holiday letter by email, snail mail, and Facebook, greetings!  To friends and family who so far have not gotten around to writing, let alone sending, their holiday cards and letters — mwah-ha-ha-ha, beat you!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound like a contest.  But to many it is a sort of contest, Christmas.  Who gets a letter, who gets a card?  What do I write about?  What do I give?  Will it be good enough?  No wonder so many people get the blahs this time of year.

We went to the first of four holiday parties last night, five if you count the one we’re hosting Christmas Eve.  Last night we had dinner with Donna’s boss and her co-workers from the gun shop.  Tonight we go to Darrell’s house for a gathering of our walking and bicycling friends.  Christmas Eve we invite friends over for clam chowder and to help decorate our tree.  Christmas Day we’ll eat at another friend’s house.  Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) we go to a fancy party at yet another friend’s house.  I suppose we could have squeezed in the holiday dinner with my co-volunteers at the air museum, but not this year.  Enough is enough.  New Year’s Eve?  We’re staying home, thank you very much.  New Year’s Day?  I should be recovered enough by then to cook a special dinner, but it’ll just be for me, Donna, and Polly.

I read a lot of science fiction as a kid, and a few have stayed in my memory.  One in particular was about a future where poor people are forced into a life of consumerism by the demands of the economy.  To keep the industrial engine going, to keep big companies growing, the working poor have to consume like crazy: they literally have lists and quotas for cars, household appliances, clothing, and food to buy, use, wear out, and buy more of.  If you’re middle class you still have consumption quotas, though somewhat less demanding.  Only the most wealthy can turn their backs on the madness, living simple lives in cabins in the woods.

Any of that feel familiar to you?  We’re by no means wealthy, but we are getting to the stage of life where we need and want less.  Buying Christmas presents for each other is really hard now — we have everything we need.  Not that many years ago we’d have seven to ten holiday parties to attend each December; we’re thankful we’re down to five and wish there were fewer.  If only we had a cabin in the woods!

So it goes, paring down a little more each year.

Oh, hell, I can’t resist — have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  I have!  Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

© 2011, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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