I live in a tight-knit community. The type of town in which you know your neighbours, newcomers can’t fly under the radar, and you go to church with your rivals as well as your friends. Around Christmastime, there inevitably comes the ringing of the doorbell as friends and neighbours drop off cookies, crafts, candy. Some are decidedly clever, others simple, but they are all what I call “little remembrances” given and received between people of good will: a token of love when a full-on gift would be extravagant.
In early November, what with new job and renovations, I made a conscious choice to abstain from the tradition this year.
I’m not a Scrooge. Really.
I just decided that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all this year, and that was one thing I was going to let slide. I’ll admit, it was a little awkward when someone would drop something off and we had nothing to hand back in exchange. They would have our sincere thanks, and a few minutes conversation, and then they’d go, empty-handed. Small levels of guilt.
I stuck to my guns though. One thing that helped assuage my guilt is the strong conviction that there’s too much junk food and junk stuff hanging around this time of year. Why contribute to it? And why all the enthusiastic giving only at this time of year? Why don’t we express love and appreciation more consistently?
In reality, these are unfair things to say. Many people get great satisfaction out of sharing, and maybe part of the message that comes with that box of oranges is, “I’m really busy too, and I wish we had hung out more this year.”
I don’t really regret the decision I made for this year; that’s my life right now. And while it has made me realize that I really do want to participate next year (in some non-sugar way), it’s mostly helped me resolve to be more consistent in my friendships throughout the year. Because if I’ve got time to make a batch or two of cookies in December of all months, I’ve got time to give a hug, or a phone call, or help with an errand, in any other month.