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Christmas. Good Times. Moving On.

There was a remarkable drop in holiday
mellowness last week, right about, oh, December 26, and I
can’t help but notice that it happens every year. The nation
virtually shuts down for the last week of December, but for some
reason it’s seen as slothful or lazy to simply enjoy the
downtime and do nothing; we have to briskly pack up the tree and
lights and hit the organizational sales.

I understand that some of us often procrastinate household chores,
which in this case means still having a bald tree up in the middle
of March. So I can see the attractiveness in using some vacation
time to get a head-start on post-holiday cleanup. But can’t
we take a few days to enjoy the slowness of everything? We spend
all of December “getting ready” – the baking, the
cleaning, the gift-buying and wrapping – all for that one big
day. Why don’t we simply enjoy the fact that our to-do list
is done, and we’ve nothing that really needs doing for a
while? It’s not wallowing, it’s simply being in the
moment and coasting. Those same neighbors who glared at us as
Grinches for not having our lights up the day after Thanksgiving
are now giving us the Stare of Shame for still having them up three
days after New Year’s. Three days! Don’t we at least
get until the weekend??

Of course, there are some good reasons for
the speed at which people move on. New Year’s Day, for all
its arbitrariness, is seen as a chance for new beginnings.
It’s the day you can circle in the calendar and say,
“Ok, here’s where my life becomes (more organized,
wealthier, healthier, more pared down, whatever).” It’s
a moment you can point to and say, “That’s where it all
started.” There’s something so peaceful, so full of
promise, about the clean slate of the new year.

But these goals we set are so unrealistic, we’re doomed to
failure! The end of the year is always the moment when everyone
looks up from the sea of new toys like a prairie dog sticking its
head out of the hole and realizes, “Hey! I’m
swamped!” Millions of personal parallel epiphanies going on,
all across the country. Look at all of our new toys! Where the heck
will we put all of it? Better get rid of the old toys! We attack
our physical and organizational housekeeping with grim
determination – even delight – and then poop out
halfway through as we realize that 1) it’s a hopelessly
monumental task that will never really be finished, and 2)
it’s never going to make us (thinner, healthier, wealthier,

So by some startling coincidence, retailers also have organizing on
the brain; I mean, is it any wonder that href="http://www.containerstore.com">Container
annual Elfa sale (30% off, by the way –
check it out!) is in January? Time to clean out and organize your
closet, your office, your life. And gym memberships – how
cool is it that January is the month when gyms most frequently
offer to waive the initiation fee? It’s as if they can see
our New Year’s Resolution lists.

And despite my protestations, despite my stubborn
digging-in-of-the-heels and flagrant wallowing in a lazy final week
of the year, I always find myself inexorably drawn into the
whirlpool of the cleansing fever. You’ve got one more chance
to be the improved, “2.0” version of you – the
one that’s always thinner and eats better and knows where
last month’s electric bill is and has a coordinated underwear
drawer. Ok, so I’ve always got a coordinated underwear
drawer, but the rest is a pipe dream.

So this year, even as we succumbed to “Start-Over
Fever” and began attacking our house, we decided to take baby
steps – cleaning out that coat corner, emptying the fridge,
sorting through DVDs. We’ve taken on bite-sized tasks that
gradually enable us to take back our space and our time without
overwhelming us and feeling like organizing is a Sisyphean task.
See, I’m the one who always wants one whole day (or weekend
or month) to simply pile the mess in the middle of the room and,
using a metaphorical whip and stool, force the chaos back into its
cage in submission. Now, though, I cut myself some slack and settle
for ten minutes and a tame corner.

Did I defy convention and enjoy a slower holiday season than most
people? Yes. Did I jump on the bandwagon and start sorting and
throwing away, just like most people? Yes. What can I say –
I’m an All-American Girl, and like to cover my bases.


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