Life has been crowded since my last post - way too crowded to cram into one posting. So I'll be taking a couple days to catch you up over the next several days.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were islands of respite from four weeks of absolute, flat-out insanity at The Evil Empire. Everyone involved in the technical side of things was on a similar "rev-on-the-red-line" schedule - several of the tech/IT guys went way beyond my own excesses of work addiction. But I resolved that whatever wasn't done on Friday, December 22nd could just wait until December 26th, and worked hard to focus on the holiday, and the Savior, and not the taskmasters in Chicago.
One of our family Christmas traditions is a set of incredibly delicate ornaments from the Corning Glass Works. Less than 2 inches square, each one is a thin wafer of winter-frost Corelle (yes, just like your everyday dishes) laser-cut into incredible designs. Each ornament is about the thickness of five or six sheets of paper - and I've never seen anything like them ever again. Both sisters and I own a set of four - and when they go on the tree, I know the holiday is in full swing.
The "Home Sweet Home" ornament has been triply meaningful this holiday - because my heart is both at home here in Ohio with my family, and missing friends and "extended family" in both Kansas and Chicago. The problem has been that during this holiday, I allowed my working "works-righteousness" addiction to worm its way more and more in between me and the important parts of my life. Looking back - especially in light of a number of recent events - that was really freaking stupid.
But the holiday itself was pure bliss. Between Friday night dinner in Findlay at sister Sandy's, Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day, we definitely caught up on family. We saw the photos from San'n'Dave's latest Harley-Davidson ride adventures (and, of course, all the photos of the cutest grand-baby in these here parts). We ooohed and ahhed over each others' respective Christmas tree decorations, spent a brief amount of time whining about our respective work situations, and gave thanks that for a few short days, our respective taskmasters had been retired to at least tertiary place, behind God and family.
The week between Christmas and New Years' was just lost to work. There is no other way to say it. And to be honest, at times I didn't know whether I was making things better or worse by my participation in the insanity. There were a number of SUE's (stupid user errors) caused strictly by an ill-conceived mixture of my own exhaustion and SSP's (stupid system problems) - and it wasn't very pretty at all. By December 30th, I'd had all I could take - and more.
New Years Eve was, in some ways, amazing. A "gratitude meeting" at the AA hall, watching the movie Camp (which will be fodder for several other posts), followed by just lolling around the house, and then Chinese food (boneless almond chicken, a dish I could never find in all the Chinese restaurants I hit in Chicago) and going to see A Night At The Museum, which gets my vote for feel-good movie of the winter.
As we left the Chinese restaurant, headed for the movie, the all-day-cloudy skies opened up and poured, as one friend is wont to say, "like the firehoses of God." When we got back home, about 10:30, we found out that the power had been out since 7 PM for about a mile radius...the entire neighborhood was in darkness. With no alternative (no TV, no internet, no nuthin') we lit candles and oil-lamps and snuggled under blankets, reflecting on the year gone by and the blessings we had received.
And that gratitude was important. By the time that New Years Eve rolled around, we all needed a dose of it. A day earlier, I'd been ready to quit the job that my family and I needed so badly; but that night, by candle-light, I could see how it had helped me help my family when they have needed it badly. In fact, it was fairly easy to see how almost every challenge or calamity in the last twelve months has brought at least some good with it, even though it seemed impossible at the time.
The power came on about 12:30 - so somehow, the various symbols of the new year managed to drop successfully without us. We yawned, kissed, and went to bed - and in my mind, at least, the song which echoed was not "Auld Lang Syne," but a 70's classic by Barry Manilow:
It's just another New Year's eveHappy New Year, indeed.
Another night like all the rest
It's just another New Year's eve
Let's make it the best
It's just another New Year's eve
It's just another "Auld Lang Syne"
But when it's through
This New Year, you'll see
We'll be just fine....