Christmas seems to be upon us faster than ever this year. It's not all perception and advancing age. My university started a week later than usual in summer, and won't be done until three weeks after Thanksgiving. That's a full seven days of holiday that was unceremoniously moved from December to August, and a full seven days faster that Christmas will arrive after finals are over.
And yet, because we're not traveling over the break, I'm feeling a minimum of urgency. Yes, there are presents on their way (and shipping boxes piling up in the guest room), but nothing is wrapped and under the tree yet. There are still a couple of people for whom I've haven't settled on a gift yet, even though everything needs to be on its way to the various domiciles of relatives pretty soon. Contributing to my relative ease is the fact of my in-laws' visit on Christmas weekend itself; gifts and stocking-stuffers for his family can travel back east with them when they return, giving me another week to finish their preparations.
My low stress level is also due to the major events I organized in my classes this year, like the Conway Cradle Care hat campaign. Until that was over, it was my sole focus; it had a clear deadline and parameters; everything else (including Christmas for my loved ones) had to take a back seat while it was underway.
Today as I walked to the gym, I was mentally reviewing my workouts last week. I ran Monday, rode the stationary bike Tuesday, ran Wednesday, and walked Friday ... and I skipped Thursday, I remembered, but for what reason? I knew I had pushed myself on my Wednesday run harder than usual because I was aware that I wouldn't be working out on Thursday. But I couldn't remember what had happened on Thursday that made going to the gym impossible. Then after a few minutes of futilely racking my brain, it hit me: That was the Conway Cradle Care party. It already seems like it happened weeks ago, not days. Such was the magnitude of the effort; such was the slope of the decompression after it was done. I haven't ramped back up my organizational campaign for Christmas yet, because I'm on the downward slide from that full-court press.
But with every day that knitted gifts don't get finished (or started), with every day that I fail to make a decision on gifts to be sent around the country from online retailers, it's a day closer to a Christmas that is rapidly approaching. I'm giving myself the rest of this week to get everything underway. That's cutting it close, probably, for an ordinary year. This season, though, feels shorter and yet less shot through with pressure -- out of the ordinary in so many contradictory ways.