Friday, December 24, 2010

Past Deadline: Meltdown Postponed

This time of year is a killer.

Groom-boy said to me the other day, “You haven’t had your annual meltdown yet.”

Unfortunately he wasn’t kidding. It’s true, though, I haven’t.

Every year in November and December all of my clients band together and give me lots of work to do. While this is, of course, a great and marvellous thing for which I am extremely grateful, it also means lots of deadlines overlap. Throw in the fact that I teach part-time at Algonquin and the end of the semester (December) brings with it copious piles of marking, and it can be a bit stressful.

Most years I handle it with sheer professionalism and composure. That means I only break down sobbing at home, and usually only once. Maybe twice.

Oh, and did I mention Christmas? No, I didn’t! Why? Because around here I usually don’t have time to think about it until Dec. 23or so. (By the way, your card will be late, if it gets sent at all.)

Now, I know, boo hoo hoo. This is a busy time of year for everyone. There are lots of year-end work-related projects that need to be finished tied in with school concerts and staff parties and baking and cards and shopping and life and spending most of your weekends doing laundry so you can afford to pay your hydro bill.... Oh, wait. That last one might be a separate column for another day.

Anyway, the point is, I’m not complaining. Okay, I guess I am, but I mean it in the nicest way. Or something.

I consider myself to be reasonably organized, but I have never done well when it comes to Christmas shopping. When one considers the fact this deadline crunch of mine happens every single year and has for a good decade, you’d think I would be smart enough to plan ahead and do the bulk of my shopping by October. Same goes for Christmas cards – get on it, girlfriend! For some reason, though, I just can’t make myself do it. I think there are a few reasons for this.

First, I work better under pressure. Actually, wait. It’s true that I do, but I have to say that wears a bit thin after a while. The thrill of the all-nighter to get a job done – or even just staying up to the middle of the night – lost its charm around the same time the kids started waking me up in the night. I have enough people keeping me awake – I don’t need to be strapped to my computer at all hours, too.

Easier said than done.

Secondly, I used to put a lot of thought into Christmas gifts and try to come up with neat, creative ideas for everyone on the list – even if it was fairly close to the big day. I’m not sure when that changed. Possibly I was overcome with the feeling that everyone already has everything they need, but I also suspect my creativity waned around the same time computers and short people started keeping me up until all hours. I think at some point that section of my brain said, “Forget this noise! If she won’t let me sleep I’m going to skip town. You’re on your own, lady!”

So now? Lots of gift cards.

Lastly, I usually need snow to inspire me to shop early. Sometimes this isn’t a problem, but often we just don’t get the snow, so in those years no one gets presents. Ha! This year we’ve got a little snow, so I should get to it. I guess I can’t blame climate change for my disorganization. Somehow that doesn’t seem cool, anyway.

In November a friend and I had occasion to do some shopping for something unrelated to Christmas, but we took the opportunity to squeeze in a little festive shopping, too. So even though I am not even remotely close to finished, I have at least started before Dec. 23.

So although there is still no Christmas baking done and no cards are written, there is at least that one small victory. Maybe this means I can skip my annual meltdown this year. That’s fantastic because nobody needs to see that.

Published in The Perth Courier, Dec. 9/10

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