Yesterday I got one sentence into a Christmas post and then stopped. I’m sorry; it just doesn’t feel much like Christmas, and I don’t know why.
I mean, you can point to Corona and I can say “sure,” but really, our Christmas so far today isn’t looking all that different from many of them. Lynn and I are home by ourselves, but really, that’s the norm in the days of postal employment. Christmas is “the busy season” at the post office, so it’s hard to make travel plans in the best of years. And perhaps you’ve noticed, this isn’t the best of years.
We did not have it in us to decorate this season. I have a confession about that: we paid Branden to design and install our motorized garage loft expressly so that a ladder wouldn’t be required to get things out of it, and it turns out it probably would have been easier to just have a loft I could climb up to. To drop the loft requires backing my car out of the garage and moving way too many things, including the ladder, out from under the loft. And then I worked the first weekend of the month, and then it was the second and pretty soon it just seemed easier to do without this year.
When making electrical requests for the house as it was under construction, Lynn specifically requested a receptacle for outside Christmas lights, and last year we put up a few, plus a projector that washed colored light across the road-facing side of the house. This year they’re all still safely tucked up in the loft, and I do feel a little bad, because the neighbors who did take the time to decorate have made the neighborhood look festive and cheery.
December just seemed positively frantic this year. Lynn started back in June or July telling me the daily package load at the post office was more than they usually saw at Christmas, so by the time the holidays really arrived, the post offices were buried under an avalanche of shipments.
Some of Lynn’s hours, which averaged about 10 per day six days per week the last two weeks, were spent at Almont, normally her quiet little office. But up in Crested Butte, where the population keeps growing and growing but the post office does not, people have started to realize that it’s quicker to drive the 18 miles to Almont to ship out packages than to stand in line at Crested Butte, where one wag suggested the post office line could serve as a vaccination station.
So by the time Lynn somehow managed to get little shards of plastic in her eye, I couldn’t even tell which was the inflamed eye — they both looked equally red and swollen.
I was not overworked, but I certainly felt behind most of the month. I finally got around to sorting through and depositing two weeks’ worth of payments, and felt almost wealthy for the first time since January — for an entire 10 minutes, up until I opened the credit card bill. We have a good system at work: I take credit for and process the payments; Kara gets blamed for all the money we spend. And she spent a lot.
We also spent probably a literal three cumulative hours trying to do something as stupid and frustrating as using our credit card points to get gift cards for employees, most of whom never thanked either of us for the bonus checks they already received in this year of Pandemia.
We’ve actually come to expect the lack of expressed appreciation, since that’s the norm almost every year, and I understand one should never proffer a gift in expectation of thanks in return, but it’s always a tad disappointing, and in the throes of inputting the credit card number 4,000 times and talking to people half a world away who weren’t listening just to give an additional bonus to folks . . . well, it doesn’t feel worth the time or aggravation. Especially when it got us precisely nowhere and the points are still locked despite two different assurances that they are not.
So this is Christmas, in a year where I mostly just feel tired and stressed (but not you, I’ll bet). I spent yesterday afternoon not doing any of the things I’ve promised myself will get done in what amounts to a three-and-a-half-day weekend.
It’s also the last weekend before our routine changes once again: Lynn’s shoulder surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Since the surgeon doesn’t know whether he will be repairing a rotator cuff or not (definite fix on the biceps tendon and a shave of the bone spur, but the percentage of tear on the cuff itself is at issue), and he also doesn’t know whether he’ll run into “leather or Kleenex” in terms of tissue strength, there’s no good way to predict the outcome or recovery time.
The surgeon’s office put “16 weeks” on the form for Lynn’s work, which just about gave her boss heart failure, but knowing Lynn as we all do, the hard part isn’t going to be making her go back to work, it’s going to be keeping her from going back too early. She isn’t called “Ms. Patience” for nothing.
And so today I mostly just feel worn out, too worn to summon a false sense of cheer for you readers, no matter how much you were hoping for that. Not that you’re ever going to catch me anywhere near such an event, but I feel like we are all in the final quarter of an ultramarathon. We know we’ve run most of the race, but we’re very tired and there’s probably still an entire regular marathon of miles ahead of us. There’s no point in quitting now, but wouldn’t it be nice to just stop for a minute or two and rest?
So that may be what happens in our house today, which I think is all any of us ought to ask of Christmas this year. A moment of respite in a long and profoundly different year, with a ways yet to go to get to “normal,” which probably will never look exactly like it did before.
My wish to all of you is that you are having a joyful Christmas, but if can’t be that this year I get it (totally get it), and then I hope it can at least serve as a moment of recovery before we all push ourselves to our feet and aim once again for a finish line.
And before I forget, thank you for reading. I don’t mean to take you for granted, although perhaps I do. But I appreciate you taking time from your day to read my ramblings — it means a lot to me.