Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not So Busy

I know this may sound weird, but despite all the talk about hustle and bustle this time of year, it's possible to not be that busy at all.

And if you are already a bit out on the margins, a lack of busy-ness can make you feel even less relevant or plugged into a world where tight schedules are laid out in the smallest of increments, and busy-ness is a badge of honor.

I'm not all that busy for a variety of reasons.

Margaret is at an age where there are no more room mothers, class parties, or nativity pageants. She doesn't play an instrument, so we can cross "recital" off of the list. There are no visits to Santa, and thank God, she can go to the mall with her friends now and not with me.

I decided against a family Christmas card this year, so there's no licking and sticking. And if our kitchen smells anything like gingerbread, it's because of the talent and generosity of friends, not any grand effort on my part. I'm much more of an eater than a baker.

Shopping took place right here at my computer with just a few clicks. Instead of circling stuff in the ToysRus or Target catalog like the kids did when they were small, Margaret just emailed me applicable links. It's good for me to shop from home, because when I head out on my own, I'm more likely to sneak off to the thrift store and come home with another car load of chairs.

There has been a bit of volunteer work, and some writing for other outlets (including a second article for Woman's Day!) but not I didn't schedule any speaking engagements for December, so my work load has been light.

Many good things can come out of time spent DOING:  connecting with others, making memories, volunteering, and celebrating the season.

But in this culture (and often cult) of busy-ness, it's good to remember that there may be people who aren't as busy as we might think.

They may be grieving, or lonely, or perhaps just entering a different phase of life with a little more breathing room than they are used to. They may not be feeling very joyful at all.

I sent an email out to my fabulous grief group last week, wondering if we could meet up for dinner. I wondered if it was ridiculous to hope to get together before the new year. We hadn't all five been together in at least 6 months. One by one the emails came back, "I'm in!" and we gathered last night at a local restaurant for a wonderful time together. I'm glad I threw it out there and didn't just assume that each woman would be too busy.

As I write this, things will start to get busier for me. Family is coming into town in just a few days, and we have several parties, plays, and concerts to look forward to.

I don't regret the quiet month I've had at all, and in a way it will help me gear up for what is ahead.

But I'm especially glad that this quiet month has led me to think about others who despite all of the talk about the frantic pace of December may be feeling like their days are far too quiet.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this awareness, but I'm grateful to have it.

P.S. Head to Facebook and see the nightstands I  finally found for my friend Arnebya.

I hope you'll check out these recent articles I wrote:
Woman's Day Dec 2014 Print Edition on how to help a grieving friend.
Washington Family Magazine, on some of my favorite books!


I can't find my blog said...

I'm not so busy this year too. It's weird, but good weird. To be honest, I haven't even started shopping yet! We leave for Colorado in 2 days so unless I have stuff shipped, there's really no point since suitcase space is limited.

Merry Christmas Anna!

One crazed mommy said...

I'm ready for a little quiet time - my month has been filled with chaos - birthday party, tennis lessons, trip for work to Chicago (last minute) - trying to get clothes for Chicago, because SC clothes just don't cut it at this time of the year...then my birthday, and I work in it's always fun at the end of the year -throw in a Christmas Party and ordering gifts, and you have once crazed me! Tired...just tired and ready for the whole family to be in town and enjoy Christmas together. (Thank goodness for computers - all my shopping was done online as well - love Amazon Prime!!!)

One crazed mommy said...

Oh...and I forgot the Christmas Pageant at school (on a Saturday) followed by our HOA Christmas Party....yeah - I'm sure there's more. Hahaha! Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!

Beth said...

Wonderful post. My husband and I believe that your type of awareness is a gift! We see it as being closer to God, and when you are closer to Him, those w/o this awareness sort of fall away and you are left to sit and unpack all of the wisdom that awareness brings. Thanks for sharing. Have a blessed season. Prayers are with your family!

Layla said...

Oh, this resonates so deeply. The culture (and cult) of busyness is not a direct correlation of happiness, satisfaction, etc - and you've given such an eloquent description (and dare I say, permission) to be un-busy, and still be a participator, supporter, contributor in whatever version of Holiday season/family/community exists for you.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I read your book and I was left wondering if you ever spoke to the boys who were with your son at the time he fell in..Did the boys explain what happened ? was it a playful push that ended wrong ? was there daring involved ? I am so sorry for your loss. I thought of your son today when I saw some legos at the thrift store I work at !

Unknown said...

Is is bad of me to long for the not busy? Today has been especially crazy and it's not even over! ;)

I am glad for YOU that you've been able to enjoy the quiet and yay for shopping online!!

Beth Marshall said...

Anna- this is such a refreshing post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And, I'm so excited about your 2nd Women's Day article. Do you have another book in the works? Your writing is inspires me!
Wishing you God's peace and joy this Christmas season.
x Beth Marshall

Alison said...

I'm glad you're taking in the less-busyness of a crazy season. xo

Harper said...

Such a great post. Love your writing.

Susie - Walking Butterfly said...

That would be me for the last few christmas's and it still feels weird and wrong. After many ministry years when we had to fit our own family stuff in-between the multiple church parties, pageants and volunteering, it feels uncomfortable and sad to be bored and longing to stroll through a crowded mall.
But the empty nest is at least temporarily full this christmas and a new grandchild has perked everything up a lot!

Unknown said...

I'm still too busy, myself, but I would have arranged everything to come and have dinner with you.

Bob Braxton said...

Advent (anticipation) - and good grief.

Anonymous said... is what my brother said he missed most when his daughter died..."I miss the chaos...embrace the chaos"
Peace and love to your family.

Anonymous said...

Anna- My older sister is feeling this for the first time. All 3 of her boys are in college now and she's alone in a big house. She was the 'Queen of Busy'. A virtual Martha Stewart on top of her day job. I get the feeling that it's hard to know what to do now. We all are so consumed when the kids are small that we easily forget there will be a time of quiet. This is probably my busiest year yet with boys 6 and 9--work, sports, room mom stuff, neighborhood stuff (and remembering to move that Damn Elf each night:))!...I need to take a deep breath daily and to remind myself what is truly important this time of year. The Holidays are especially tough on those that are missing somebody special. It's important for us all to reach out to them this time of year. I wish a peaceful season and a great new year! XO, Jen

Anonymous said...

yeah, feeling similarly. I lost my mother this year but not to death (I hope that isn't insulting) -- i just finally realized (in my early 40s! good grief) that she doesn't care about me -- not because she's a bad person, but just because she can't, she doesn't know how -- I love her, but I can't allow her to keep abusing me if I want to move on with my life. and so I worked up the courage to just asked her for an apology for her hitting me (I was a fully grown adult mind you) and she refused. and then i saw no other choice but to fade away from her life. i still send her presents (she loves presents) and i still will be there for her when she's infirm -- but in 2014, I, in some real sense, lost my mother. and man does it hurt, even though it's just and internal loss. and so this Christmas is quiet.

you might be interested in this:

julie gardner said...

Sometimes I feel like the only one in the world who is not overscheduled.

This is one part laziness, one part knowing my limits, and one part growing older/wiser; but I don't take on too much over the holidays. Or ever, really.

I've spent several recent mornings sitting in the quiet, sipping coffee and trying to be grateful.

That is busy enough.
For now.

Alexandra said...

Ah,yes, yes. The time for connection. The time we never can find. We have to make it, don't we? xoxoxo Happy holidays to you, dear friend. xo

Anonymous said...

To be really honest, moms who work full time like me can't relate to this. I agree we should make quiet time though to enjoy the season.

Anonymous said...

My mum died last Saturday. I'm putting the happy face on for my kids, one is still just wee. They need to still enjoy Christmas. So we listen to the Christmas songs and share happy memories of their gran. And I smile the fake smile and wait till Christmas is done and I can properly lose my s**t. Thanks for showing me grief is endurable. Thank you.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Another wonderful post from you. I will never get enough of your writing and I liked your Woman's Day article too! I hope your Christmas was nice and I wish you blessings in 2015.....