Wednesday, December 29, 2010

countdowns make me crabby

The week after Christmas has always made me feel blue. I used to think it was a natural let-down after the hype preceding Christmas day--similar to the way one feels the morning after their wedding, bleary and faintly tinged with regret that all the excitement is over in a flash and somehow you missed parts of it because it was all too much at once. Lately I've realized that it's all the "end of the year" lists that make me feel melancholy. Whether "Best of" or "Worst of," these lists result in me feeling:

a) a little sad because the entire last year is past, finished, over forever. No going back. No reliving it. This is silly because a year is merely an arbitrary measurement of time, why not feel this way at the end of every day? Week? Month? But our society chooses to focus on the passage of years, it's a contrived sense of nostalgia. I hate being manipulated, told to feel this passage of time just because Auld Lang Syne is playing on the airwaves. Everywhere I look-- newspapers, blogs, magazines, TV shows--I'm treated to a "look back" at the "Songs of 2010" or the "Film of 2010" or "Top News Stories of 2010." I don't care to look back, I'm a forward-thinking kind of gal, loath to revisit my past, far more interested in what's coming up next.

b) like I missed something. Lists have an inevitable effect on us Type A people--they're assignments, right? So when I see lists ("Best TV Shows of 2010") I feel responsible for at least hearing about them, if not actually having watched them. But you cannot keep up with all the contents of all these lists of media, trends, hits, stories. I hate feeling left out, and these end of the year lists make me feel like I'm falling short of some sort of standard. (But don't worry, reader. I'm efficient at blocking my media intake. I've learned to ignore the magazine covers, TV news shows and most radio programs in an act of self-preservation.)

c) sorrowful--what opportunities did I miss? That whole year is over now! What didn't I accomplish? Oh, a girl could get all knotted up thinking of these things, flipping backwards through the calendar of time.

It's not post-Christmas blues causing my angst, it's all the damn "End of the Year" talk. That's why I'm tuning out all the retrospective stuff. Today is Wednesday, it's a few days after Christmas. I'm only counting down days until I leave for Iowa for Christmas with my in-laws. I'm only counting down thank you notes my kids need to write. I'm only counting the minutes until we hit the sledding hill today. I'm leaving the tree be, I'm noshing on Christmas fudge and watching A Christmas Story tonight. For now I'm using this week to extend my Christmas, not get all weepy and weird about it being the end of anything.

Spill it, reader. Are you inclined to look back or are you like me, focused on what's coming next?

Remember, every comment this week is an entry to win December's FABULOUS: a trio of things hand made by ME! Raspberry jam, wool hand mitts, good-for-you granola. I'll pick a winner on Monday!

19 comments:

  1. I feel exactly the way you do!
    (I'm not as articulate, though.)

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  2. I'm focused on what's coming -- back to school, new freelance assignments, lots of running (weather permitting), etc.

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  3. I love the end of the year lists. I like to remember what has happened, in hopes to make the future better.

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  4. If you're not working in the media field, it really doesn't matter if you miss something. Anything important or worthwhile will be lasting and you'll eventually see it.

    Have a relaxed and happy new year!

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  5. I think I could have written this exact post. :)

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  6. i like to "see" what has happened over the past year because i tend to forget about some of the events. i always go through the "in memory of" section to see what old stars have passed on. sometimes i see a name in there that surprises me (missed the announcement).

    i try very hard to look forward, thinking that tomorrow has GOT to be a better day than today or yesterday. i don't always succeed (and not all of my tomorrows are any better than my yesterdays).

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  7. I do keep feeling like I somehow ought to care about all the retrospectives, but... I just don't. I DO care about the mits, jam, and granola. Just so you know my priorities are alright.

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  8. Is some of this a throwback to your teaching days? The week between Christmas and New Years is the week of Winter Break; a week of sleeping in and relaxing - and thinking of how much needs to get done before the kids come back shortly after the new year arrives.

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  9. I don't take the lists that seriously. The end of summer seems more like a new year for me than this time of year. Maybe because my boys both have summer birthdays and are another year older and start a new grade and I have a Sept. b-day.

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  10. Last year was too stressful here to look back at my personal life.
    I'm spending this week making a list of things I want to experience and accomplish in the next year.

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  11. Whoo! What a great prize! I'm going to try to make some seedless blackberry jam next week. Wish me luck (I'm hoping I have enough blackberries for the project).

    As to your question, I'm pretty forward thinking too. I always kid myself that next year I'll do more projects, try more things, pay attention more, etc. Not sure if there's ever any improvement. But I'll take maintaining. :)

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  12. This year, in particular, the looking back lists are not fun at all--it was a pretty sucky year for many in our society.

    I love New Year's for the fresh start and I generally get on an organizing tear--but not until New Year's Day.

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  13. You've outlined it well.

    Me, I am now ready for spring...

    Pearl

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  14. I think I do a bit of both. I do look back a bit and just try to appreciate the ups and downs of the year but I also anticipate what is to come. Or I try too. The unknown can be spooky. ;)

    I think what has got me this year is that it is the end of a DECADE. I can't believe the first decade of the 2000's is over. So bizarre.

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  15. Hmm. I can relate to the weird last-week-of-the-year blues - it's sort of a Christmas hangover, like when the family is feeling stir crazy and all the good cookies are gone.

    As for the lists? I prefer to make my own, of stuff I really liked this year. Not stuff that was new or important - stuff that made my year what it was.

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  16. I wish I could focus more on right now but I am one who lives in the future. "Someday" is elusive and seductive and draws my attention away from being truly in THIS moment. Since this moment is all we really have, I get angry with myself for not giving it enough notice.

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  17. Good for you, ignoring those media lists! I might look at some lists of the year gone by, but I won't pay them much attention. These few days between Christmas and school starting up again are days for resting up before the Taxi Mom duties begin again.

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  18. I look ahead to the upcoming year and imagine all the fun activities we may do, trips we may take, people we may visit....

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  19. I just looked at a pictorial retrospective of all the “famous people” who died in 2010. With few exceptions I thought “Huh, I forgot they died”. I say onward!

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Spill it, reader.