There is a pleasant overwhelmingness to the holidays, a sense of more things to do than there is time, a plethora of preparations, a ferment of family, a gaggle of gifting. And then it's over and you think, this wasn't a vacation at all. This was exhausting.
I'm not much good today. Not much good for anything, save Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which requires me merely to do whatever my current officer tells me to do (so far, I've been three different characters in the game). There is a pleasant word which appears on the screen of the game most of the time. That word is "follow."
How different following is from hosting out-of-town family who mean to apply no pressure but who wait expectantly for every next move. I had "snacks" waiting for them when they arrived--wine, smoked chicken wings, cheeseboard and crackers, edamame hummus, homemade onion dipped, chargrilled oysters, habenero-roasted pineapple dip, pickled shrimp. I had Christmas dinner for them a few hours after that--cream of garlic soup, smoked ham, homemade rolls, shrimp and crawfish etouffee, shrimp and oyster dressing, pear-cranberry-pecan salad, smothered greens, maque choux, chocolate mousse. The next day we ate out a couple of times, which only involved negotiating restaurants that fit the various desires of foodies, veggies, pickies, and all of the other eaters out there, and a trip to the movies. The next day, I took them to Atlanta to see Picasso to Warhol, as well as a restaurant, again only a cheese and cracker spread before a late Champy's supper, then Christmas cookies and a roaring fire before bed. Today, a final outing at the Blue Plate.
But I am exhausted. Half-heartedly, my family and I have been putting the house back together, a house that we busted our asses to get ready for days before their arrival. Much of our preparations were undermined by a cat allergy.
Yes, the crazy holidays can wear you down. The planning, the preparation, the logistics.
But it is all good. This is certainly no complaint. A gathering of family with minimal politics and maximum conversation is very rewarding. But tiring. And all-consuming. My father proclaimed last night, "Well, shall we do it again next year?" I am not yet ready to consider that possibility. He took most of the time off, not accompanying us either to lunch and the movies one day or to Atlanta the next, so his vision is a little different. And, frankly, while acknowledging that families like to create all kinds of traditions, I had already created one--going to New Orleans the day after Christmas. So this one conflicts with that one.
Families are large, unwieldy things. Mobilizing 11 people to do anything takes a good deal of effort, a fair amount of compromise, and plenty of good old wheedling, so I am forgiving myself for being more worn out than energized right now, for dwelling on the meaningless details, instead of the meaningful connections, for nodding at comments about what a great time it was (it was) while looking at the mopping up (none more than emotional) that still needs to take place.
So if you call and I am less than excited, if you try to catch me in a conversation about a career decision while I am wondering how me and my men will be able to retake Paris, if you look for coherence from me while I am looking in the refrigerator for leftover wine, please know that this is something of a temporary condition and that, soon enough, I will be ready for people again.
Oh, yeah, the wireless router blew out, too. Dead. So if you've been wondering where I've been, I've been here just incommunicado for one more reason, one that I spent the day fixing. Hello, blog. Hello, world. The holidays are over, for the most part. New Year's Eve is nothing compared to Christmas. I'll be back up to speed by then. See ya.