It's December, and Christmas is coming. But my friend Nancy is prepared. She's attacking Christmas with military precision, gift ideas formatted in an Excel spreadsheet. My friend May used a data analysis program to compare gift prices, and mail merge to send personalized cards, printed in a handwriting font.
May's planned her calendar tightly and blocked 40 minutes Tuesday to set up the Christmas tree, and exactly two hours Sunday to bake snowflake cookies. Christmas, she said, done and done.
My friend Jim found his ladder to string lights on the roof, and looked exhausted at the prospect of installing light-up plastic Santas on the lawn.
And, listening, I keep thinking "Where is the joy? How did the holidays go from being a lot of fun to being a lot of work?" In an over-scheduled era, the season to be jolly seems more to-do list than tra-la-la-la-la; not celebrated, but efficiently checked off.
In my memories, Christmas wasn't approached with such grim determination, a get-this-over-with list of obligations efficiently managed using color-coded markers.