Happy Boxing Day, friends.
Not that I know what Boxing Day is about. Nobody does, really, although theories abound. When I was a kid, Boxing Day mean
getting dragged going to the horse races because Dad came from a family of hippophiles. I expect I did my fair share of whining about this particular tradition, but now, looking back some 35 years, I have fond memories of the frosty air, the smell of horses and the noise and bustle of the punters around the bookies, who operated in the open air and communicated by tic-tac, a sign language that Dad actually understands but which is now dying out due to radio communication.
For me, Boxing Day marks the start of the Most Wonderful Week of the Year. The frantic days before Christmas are over, but the excitement of Christmas Day itself, with its presents and family get-together, still lingers. Gifts that have not yet been assigned their proper place in the scheme of things sit in the glory of their newness on my desk, and are not yet starting to look reproachful over my tardiness in using them.
The longest night of the year is past, and the days are eeeeever so slowly inching their way toward spring. I can rest in the knowledge that this is happening even though we are only at the start of the endless Illinois winter.
The house slumbers; the calendar is blissfully empty (there is nothing like a week without meetings to reconcile me to the human race). A faint sound of football drifts into my office from the family room, and the sound of Orangina doing her chores under Felsted's prompting. (One of her traits is an inability to accept a change of routine, even at Christmas.) Wasabi, on the other hand, has yet to make an appearance, even if it IS 3 pm. Teenage hibernation: annoying on some levels, but strangely peaceful on others, especially when I recollect that college is now a lock and these are her last few months as a child of this house.
For me, this week is a week of combined rest and preparation. The new year looms, with its challenges. Will I ever get my books to beta reader stage? Can I uphold my resolution to embrace the season and move my butt around more? Will I ever realize my dream of a colorful, decorated office? Will I earn enough this year? Who the heck knows?
Whatever happens, 2010 should go down as the year I learned that I could indeed write fiction. That I had the mental stamina to come up with a story and put it on paper. That I had the toughness to ignore everything else while I wrote.
And 2011, I suspect, will be another pivotal year. When I end it, I will no longer have any schoolchildren, and Felsted will be very, very close to the fateful big 6-0. Retirement, where and how we plan to live in the post-college years, and the care and keeping of Orangina "just in case" need to be addressed. Maybe I should find these intimations of mortality depressing, but to me they're just exhilarating. I did it! I managed to bring up, however haphazardly, the two sweet little scraps of life who grew into two impossible kids and then, somehow, miraculously, into two young women with the future in front of them. Wow.
So this is going to be a very nice week, the pause at the top of one really big hill before I jog down the next one to see what's on the other side: what will be there, of course, will be another big hill to climb. The photo at the top of this post was taken from the top of Bindon Hill following an absolute killer of a climb: little did I know that I had two more such climbs, and the corresponding downhill scrambles, before I came to a place where I could turn landwards and enjoy a little walking on the flat. At that point, I was simply celebrating having made it to the top! So that, metaphorically speaking, is where I feel myself to be now.
What is your metaphorical landscape?