I’m writing this on November 22, two days away from Thanksgiving. Which means that I’m two days away from what we at Chez Anselmeau call “the busy season.”
It’s kind of a funny thing, the holiday season around our house. (And if anyone from the evangelical thought police is bothered that I just said “holiday season” instead of some other phrase, all I can say is — tough beans.) We never planned it this way, it’s just how things worked out. But starting Thursday, almost every commemorative event in our lives — and all the attendant celebration and gift-giving — will land in the next twelve weeks.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the rundown:
- November 24: Thanksgiving
- December 9: my birthday (I’ll be 42 this year)
- December 25: Christmas
- January 3: my wife’s birthday (I guess I’m not supposed to say how old Nina will be, but as young as she looks, you’d never guess she was turning 41 anyway, so …)
- January 17: our son Sean’s birthday (the Bruiser’s turning 8)
- January 23: our wedding anniversary (lucky 13th)
- February 14: Valentine’s Day
And I’m sure there are a couple I’m forgetting at the moment. Needless to say, that’s a lot of stuff to plan for, and more than a few gifts to buy.
Over the years, Nina and I have learned to pace ourselves when this season comes around, so that we don’t end up collapsing by the end of it. Most of our Christmas shopping gets done before Veterans’ Day. We don’t do anything for New Year’s Eve; in fact, we’re usually in bed by 10 p.m. We pretty much skip Dr. King’s birthday, as well as Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Groundhog Day. The Super Bowl isn’t a big deal either, though that may change if Nina’s 49ers make it this time. My father-in-law has settled for getting a phone call on his birthday (February 7). And participation in Christmas pageants was dropped after a particularly involved one back in 1999 that left me so exhausted I had to take a week off work to recuperate. (Not joking.)
But nonetheless, for the past several years Valentine’s Day has been a low-key affair for us, because after all the other events, we’re all celebrated out for a while. Thankfully, there’s time to recover, because the next big whoops in our lives are June 19 (anniversary of the day Nina and I met) and July 4 and 6 (Independence Day, our daughter Charlotte’s b-day).
This year, it could be even more hectic, as certain other events are landing in that same period:
- Sean has a gastroenterology appointment on December 2.
- On December 17, Nina hosts her first CMT support group meeting (contact us for details if you want to attend).
- I’m working on finishing up some time-intensive projects, that I’d like cleared out before year’s end — including getting the mountain of photos my mom left behind sorted and put into albums, and updating a massive statistical spreadsheet for the fantasy league I’m a part of.
- Our landlord’s back in town (just arrived last weekend), and will want to do some work on the house in the coming weeks.
- And with two kids in school now, who knows what scholastic obligations will arise?
So yeah, batten down the hatches, ’cause the storm’s a-comin’.
Not, of course, that I mind all this activity. There’s nothing on the above list that I don’t consider fun, except maybe the GI appointment, which is just plain necessary. But it can be a bit draining. And there’s the money issue to consider. I’m obligated to provide transportation, cleaning services, dinners and the like for the rest of the family, so I can’t do much toward actively seeking work (alas, my skills are in the general office genre, thus there aren’t too many swing or graveyard positions where I fit.) At the same time, the school district Nina works for has been cutting all over the place, so she’s only had one day of substitute work this month. Come December, we could be feeling a pinch — and that’ll only add to our already whopping stress levels.
But while I worry, I’m not really concerned. God has brought us through the “busy season” a dozen times so far (often in far worse financial straits), and every time we’ve survived. It doesn’t seem likely that He’ll punt us now. He certainly won’t let us starve — I have that on good authority, both from experience and Scripture (Psalm 37:25). So while I get the collywobbles about the state of our checkbook, or the calendar ahead, I can’t really take those collywobbles too seriously. He’s done it for us before, and He’ll do it again. I’ve got confidence, as Brother Andrae would say.
But I’m still gonna strap myself in for a busy, if not bumpy, ride the next several weeks. ‘Cause faith doesn’t mean not being prepared.