Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

As I grow older--and, I fear, none wiser--the temptation to grow far too introspective near year's end takes hold, especially around Christmas, a holiday fraught with the peril of traditions handed down from generations of family upon family and heavy with the burdens of so many added tasks and stressors. It's easy to become overwhelmed and isolated. Things look impossible, or at least incredibly difficult.

This feeling is not new, I found out. Writer Julia Peterkin put it aptly in A Plantation Christmas:

I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas; that it is changing from a time of merriment and carefree gaiety to a holiday which is filled with tedium; that many people dread the day and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary, bored souls; that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus; that all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair instead of beaming with good will and cheerfulness.

That was in 1934.

As we rush headlong into 2008, plugged into life digitally and otherwise, I hope we try to give ourselves a break. I hope we find some peace. I hope we try.

And I hope the effort isn't so very hard after all.

Merry Christmas from The Dept. of Nance.


  1. I hate to use this language with a teacher, but I'm a Christmas dropout, and I'm very pleased with the feeling that comes from aiming low and keeping everyone's expectations under control.

    Merry Christmas. I hope you survive your annual gathering.

  2. Merry Christmas. I hope you are enjoying a little break from your students. I know I am.

  3. I'm sooo feeling the pressure of Christmas, the shopping, the baking, the cooking, the cleaning. I'm hating it all this year and feeling very angry at my family as I realize how little help I receive. I'm wondering if it's all even worth it. Am I going to even enjoy the family gathering at my house on Christmas Eve or will I be too tired and just be silently hoping that everyone goes home early?

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Merry Christmas Nance...
    You the words of Agador Sparticus...


  5. SoMdPrincess--Thanks. I'm real tired of the pretending phase.

    nina--it's the age-old bullshit of Woman as Martyr and Christmas Bringer. and if you blow up and say "why do I have to do this all myself!?" they will say, "All you had to do was ask!" And you simmer and wonder, "WHY DO I HAVE TO ASK!?" it's neverending and horrid and it all comes to a head at christmas, tripling the guilt in its wake. sigh. why can't we just be merry with no strings attached?

    mrs. who--i am enjoying the break from the students, but at least in my classroom, i am in total control. that's a wonderful feeling!

    v-grrrl--oh, you know you can use any old language you want around the Dept.! i admire your christmas mien. maybe it's your euro sensibilities. hopefully, you can import that and keep it when you return here. and thanks for the good wishes re: the fam fest. right now, i'm taking a break from the prep. it's going okay.

  6. I decided many years ago that Christmas should not be fraught with stress. And so I said, "Bah, humbug!" to everything that I figured was fraughting my Christmas with stress. So far I have managed to keep the stress to manageable levels. Right now, in fact, I have to finish putting up my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, fresh from the box where it has lain in swaddling ornaments since last year.

    But I digress.

    Thanks for giving us the best present of all: Observations from the Department of Nance.

  7. I canceled Christmas. I got no help from the husband and I said forget it! Everything is being moved to my sister's house. Why don't I feel any better?

  8. ortizzle--good for you! we could all take a lesson from you and v. re: less fraughting. as a matter of fact, thanks to you, not only is that my new year's resolution, but so is using "fraught" more often as a verb.

    nina--sigh. because you cannot let go of the guilt and due to your pregnancy, you cannot drink to help it leave. this year's christmas is dim for so many and for so many reasons. yet, it will come and, in due course, be over. we will get through the residual afterguilt and soldier on. my hopes are pinned on 2008, but i recognize that it cannot be different unless i find it within myself to make it so. that is my project.

  9. ortizzle--one more thing--your shameless flattery is lovely and wonderful and so kind. thank you.

  10. Martinis were made for the season. Have a Merry One, Nance. And thanks for another year of Brian's ties, keeping the evil one on his toes and letting us in on all the things that go on inside that head of yours!

  11. I haven't been home in so long that it's been really enjoyable. We have to hang out soon!

  12. Ssshhh... I'm hiding. I've taken a few days off of work and am doing my best imitation of a hermit, effectively dropping out of life for a bit. It is my hope to reamerge more relaxed and refreshed.

    I'm wishing you the very best of New Years, love... and a peaceful and happy 2008.

  13. I hope you had a Merry Christmas Nance and that you'll soon be ready for New Years! But I guess it's sneaking up on us no matter what! ; )

  14. This year Christmas was a scrabbled together, shop online and spend too much in an effort to make up for something I never can mess...and I am sorry that I did it. I am also sorry that I just kept focused on "getting through" to the other side of it. Why do we do these things to ourselves? I hope the year ahead brings you much joy. I cannot tell you how much I adore reading your blog.

  15. I really love that ornament picture...

    I'm so glad I found you/your blog Nance! I'll be back in the New Year!

    Happy 2008 to you and yours!!

  16. I hope you had a fabulous Christmas and Happy New Year, Nance!

  17. I managed to survive, and after 670 miles, presents in tow, and a few glasses of egg nog, here I am back at work...Sigh.

  18. Anonymous1:31 PM


    Nice blog. Check out for more in the same vein. New site but dedicated to the idea that Christmas has become "Xmas" and it is time to replace gifting with charity and volunteerism. Call me old fashioned!


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