The Olive Jar: Underachieving the Holidays

Photo by Flickr user Marjon Kruik; published under Creative Commons license.

As a child, I remember the year separating into distinct seasons.  Fall was school and the World Series.  Winter was snow and Christmas.  Spring was Easter and flowers. Summer was vacation and the beach.  

I am sure the calendar is the same.  I looked, just to make sure. But it seems to me that the seasons are blurring together at an alarming rate.  I no sooner get a pumpkin carved when a turkey needs carving. The turkey soup still lingers while Christmas Carols are playing.

I feel like I am being saturated with events that demand my attention, but I seem to be in a time warp that can never catch up to NOW.  The countdown to the holidays has begun, and I feel like I have entered a race without lacing my sneakers.  By the time I reach the finish line, we will be wearing funny hats and wishing each other “Happy New Year!”

Is it just an aging perspective of time?  Did it speed up as I slowed down?  I don’t think it is that.  I think there is just so much going on at once, that one can get bombarded with sensory overload.  There are so many guilt-driven responsibilities that have sucked the joy out of the season.  I can remember feeling withdrawal symptoms the year I decided to NOT send out Christmas cards.  I feel inadequate as I hang my artificial wreath (I used to make my own!) and purchase cookies because Ms. Loizou is a much better baker of Greek cookies than I am.

This year I am limited as I recoup from surgery on my wrist, but still the “to-do” list haunts me: cookies, cards, wreaths, tree, presents, bows, caroling, wrapping paper, Poinsettias, special foods, red and green, ghosts of Christmas Past. Uncle! I give up, Martha Stewart.

One tradition I will continue, though, is my annual, dreaded by some and admired by others, Christmas letter.  I feel so strongly about keeping up with friends and relatives that I will send greetings (mostly by email) about family news.

There is so much to enjoy this holiday season if we can untangle our lives like we try to untangle those strings of Christmas lights. This weekend marks the beginning of MY holiday season.  The Town of Olive Tree Lighting, spearheaded by Diane and Gino Sorbellini, revs me up with the spirit.  There is nothing as inspiring as a little boy or girl sitting in awe as they meet Santa.

On December 10 is the Breakfast with Santa at the Boiceville Inn, from 8 until 11am. Adult price is $5.00, and children under twelve are free to enjoy the egg, sausage, pancake, OJ, and coffee breakfast.  Santa and his elf will be there for photos and to give a wrapped gift to each child.

Then it’s off to the Olive Library Craft Fair in West Shokan, from 10am to 4pm. Many local crafts make great gifts, and there is a light lunch of homemade soup and chili with coffee and goodies. From there, you can hop over to the Samsonville Church and buy homemade cookies at $8.00 a pound.

I can picture this holiday season as swimming against a tidal wave of traditions and events.  A fearsome ocean wave scares me, so this year, I prefer to float on an inner-tube of calm of love, peace, and joy and enjoy the ride rather than be drawn under the crashing waves of commercialism.  The best gifts can’t always be wrapped.  May you enjoy the essence, not just the trappings, of the season.

Olive resident Carol LaMonda (and the wife of current town council member Bruce LaMonda) is the longtime author of a local print column, "The Olive Jar," now appearing on the Watershed Post and our Olive town news page.

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