Sometimes Christmas is about the happiness and joy of the holiday, about the time spent with family and basking in the warmth of that love. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s about accepting the sadness that the holidays can bring, the darkness of the winter, the long nights that give you no choice but to think and reflect, and sometimes, grieve.
I guess this Christmas has been more of the latter for me, one where I’ve just been working through my own shit, trying to understand this next chapter of my life, trying to process who I am, where I am, and what exactly I want to be doing next. This isn’t a bad thing–in fact, I almost look forward to winter for this very reason: a chance to really dig in on this heavier kind of thinking. But it certainly can come with its challenges, especially when trying to keep things merry and bright.
Through this most recent round of self-reflection and growing, I’ve been thinking more about the goals I want to focus on for 2017, and I’ve noticed that the theme of organization keeps coming up. In an effort to feel a bit more in control of myself/my information, I decided I wanted to be more conscientious of taking my adulting/life-tasking offline, especially after experiencing the significant phone woes this past fall.
Admittedly, trying to figure out how to do this has been more challenging than I expected. I knew I relied heavily on my phone, but it wasn’t until starting this strange “conscious uncoupling” from it that I realized how dependent I really was, and how helpless I can feel without it, especially as someone who often tends to live by the seat of her pants…
The solution I settled on for this was simple: Go With What You Know–I’d look for a daily planner/calendar that I could carry around with me, much like the ones I had pre-smartphone. For me, these books were more than just dates and information–they were records of my life, diary entries that later reminded me what that year looked like, who I spent time with, what events shaped my year. I often held onto them years after they expired, too sentimental to throw out these diligently kept records.
As Colin, and perhaps a few of my coworkers, can attest, this had become a rather obsessive quest. My preferred specs were obnoxiously specific, and based on my searching, perhaps not totally realistic. My hope was after Christmas I’d have the chance to go search some places in person, and maybe catch an end-of-the-year sale.
On Christmas morning, I had breakfast with my family. I was overtired, cranky, and not really up for being social. I was doing my best to not be an asshole, but the truth was, I was failing miserably. The days and weeks of running around coupled with the cold/sinus thing I couldn’t fully shake was seeming to get the best of me.
While wrapping up our meal, my dad mentioned that there was something back at the house I might like, something of my mother’s that he found while sorting through her things. I’m not really one to show my emotions anyway, but being that I was in an especially sour mood, I really was keeping my poker face on.
I followed him back to the house and he disappeared upstairs, going to retrieve the mystery item. I gathered up my things in the other room and headed back to the kitchen when I heard him come downstairs.
When I walked in, I saw him sitting there, holding a spiral-bound book with “1983” etched on the front in gold.
“This was your mom’s planner book from the year you were born. She must have kept it as a memento.” I watched silently as he paged through it, surprised at how similarly my mother and I recorded our day-to-day activities.
I lost my mom 11 years ago. I know some people take issue saying it like that, that saying it like that compels some people to assure me that she is still there, that she is still fully present–but the mother I used to have would play me Queen songs before soccer games as inspiration and rented “Saturday Night Fever” before my first school dance so I could learn some dance moves. She even spelled my last name using pancakes once when I requested it, even though that meant using double the batter to take on a name like “Wuillermin.”
That is the mom whom I lost more than a decade ago. That is the mom whom I search for incessantly–in other people’s stories, in old photo albums, in as many of my own memories as I can force myself to remember.
But just when I start to give up hope that I’ll ever find her, I am reminded that she is still out there, that she really didn’t leave, that wherever she is now, she’s still reaching out for me.
So thank you, mom, for the planner. It was exactly what I was looking for.