How to spend the holidays

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Vince Luecke

When I was a kid, there was no more enjoyable time of the year than the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I had the six or seven days all to myself. On the farm there were still chores to perform: spreading straw in the barn for the cows, cutting firewood and sometimes cleaning house, but there were no endless hours in the hay field or mowing grass.
I spent my time reading, watching TV, exploring nearby woods and, occasionally, hunting.
Kids on Christmas break still have the luxury of having those days off, though I suspect texting friends and playing video games fill their idle hours. Still, it’s a special time for everyone, those who have lots of time to fill and those who have their usual duties to fulfill.
I have to work this inter-holiday week and with a co-worker on vacation it will be a busy time, though tolerable. This Thursday’s edition is the only one of the year in which we are only one section. That means fewer pages to fill. Still, accidents, fires and other news events we have to cover are no respecters of holidays and it seems seldom a year goes past in which there is not some bad news. As I write this on Thursday, there have been a couple of house fires that have marred the holiday for some families.
I’m thankful for a lot of things as the year rumbles toward its end, a good job and co-workers who do their jobs well and who are fun to work with. I have a collection of good friends outside the newspaper who keep life fun and involve me in their families’ lives. And I have a loving family.
Despite such blessings, I find the holidays sometimes deliver mild doses of depression. Maybe not having a spouse or kids is to blame and there’s no more poignant reminder than you are somewhat alone in the world than a quiet Christmas morning.
I worry about evolving into some middle-aged Ebenezer Scrooge (perhaps it’s too late), sitting behind my computer working while those around me celebrate the holidays. I’m determined not to let that happen and having siblings and close friends with children helps fill the void.
I won’t be totally deprived of holiday cheer. I’ll indulge in family feasts and gatherings with friends. I’m determined to trek through the woods I own before the year expires. I think I’m nature-deprived sometimes and just being outdoors will ease the mild melancholy that comes with winter and cold weather.
I’ll set a few New Year’s resolutions, common sense ones I know are obtainable. Some will be easy to keep: such as spending more time with the people I love and being a little nicer to myself. That might mean a first real vacation in a couple of years come late spring.
These final days of the year are special and once gone, 2010 will have slipped away permanently. Take time for yourself and those you’re close to. The holiday season is truly what we make of it.