December 16, 2004

plumbing and intellectual discomfort

I say it again: thank goodness for 24-hour plumbing services. The leak does seem to be fixed - there is no water more dripping off the roof. However, the floor and wall still still have wet spots in our bedroom, and there are wet patches in the ceiling in the bedroom next door and downstair in the family room under the wet floor. With a modicum of luck, the wet parts won't collapse, will dry out (this is a desert climate) and we can mend them at our (hypothetical) leisure.

Just to liven things up a bit I had two more small catastrophes yesterday. I'd stayed late for a telecon with Singapore and right around 5:30 I realized all the memos on my Palm had vanished. I keep from fairly important information in there, anything from the phone number I use for work telecons to poems to my old addresses. I knew what had happened: I sync with Outlook and they have the latter configured here to delete anything more than a couple of months old. I'd thought I'd exempted the memos from syncing, but apparently not. Fortunately, I did have a slightly older version of the memos on both work and home computers and was able to get them back. What I really need the Palm to do is to sync calendars and contacts with Outlook and other things like memos with the Palm desktop, but I don't think it will do that.

Also, less critically, while waiting for the plumber I noticed that all but the first couple of strings of lights on my tree were out. I jiggled the plug and they went back on but were off again in an hour or so. It's probably just a bad plug on one string; fortunately, I'd taken advice from Real Simple magazine and strung the lights up and down instead of around and around, so it should be easy enough to strip out and replace one string.

Plans for tonight and tomorrow are to finish knitting the dishrag and start the hat, fix the tree lights, finish my cards and maybe wrap some gifts, and to row 10K tomorrow morning. On Saturday and Sunday, I hope to fly, finish the Holiday Challenge (yay!) with 10K Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday, wrap more gifts, pick up Rudder, finish the hat, finish decorating the tree and clean up all the ornament-storage stuff that's in the living room, decide what we're having for Christmas dinner and at least some of the other meals while Rudder's family are visiting, and shop for said ingredients. And maybe bake a batch of cookies. That doesn't sound too impossibly much for a weekend, does it? I'm tempted to go to the local Stitch'n'Bitch tonight, which is in a bookstore I like only a few miles away. If I do, I won't get any wrapping or cards done but should be able to finish the dishrag and start knitting the hat. The only argument against going is that after last night's drama and considering that I only erged 6K this morning and would like to do 10K tomorrow, I really should get to bed early.

This is a difficult time of year for me in some ways. I don't have the usual emotional difficulties with the season, because I only began celebrating Christmas as an adult and Chanukah is a blessedly angst-free holiday. In the milieu in which I was raised, decidedly Jewish but somewhat influenced by surrounding American culture, the only traumas of the season were whether you got the gift you wanted and maybe a few furtive tears when Rudolf and Denny the Elf got kicked out just for being a little different or when Charlie Brown's tree couldn't hold up its one ornament.

The difficulties of the season for me are more organizational and intellectual/spiritual. First, of course, there's the simple pressure of so many things to get done for the holidays. Generally either we're having company or we're going somewhere and there are just so many things to get done before the holiday and I never have enough vacation left to take time off just to work on it. Second, there's the conflict for me of celebrating this holiday at all. It may be paradoxical to be intermarried and yet try to resist assimilation, but that's where I am. I'm Jewish. I'm not particularly observant but my outlook and values are greatly shaped by the tradition in which I was raised. I'm not sure whether Jesus ever existed and I certainly don't believe in his divinity, at least no more so than that of any other mortal. I have no interest in celebrating his birth. On the other hand, I really like Christmas. I love having a live tree in my house so the air smells like pine and there are lights and shiny things in that corner. I love red and gold and shiny things at the darkest time of year; the dark is richer and the shine is brighter because of their juxtaposition. I love the rich tradition of holiday music (though not some of its less traditional manifestations, and I won't be upset at all if I never hear Jingle Bell Rock again.) I love any feast that brings a family together (and that purely is my Jewish tradition speaking, since that's how we celebrated Passover and Rush Hashanah and so on). I love getting and giving presents. I love seeing my in-laws. I love having a festive season to end the year; I would like it even better if we in America celebrated for all 12 days. And I love that one part of the holiday is that even in its most secular manifestation it's a holiday about peace, love, merriment and joy. Even the most blatant commercials pay lip service to that ideal. I really do love Christmas and I can't honestly pretend we celebrate it only because of Rudder.

On the other hand, I'm intellectual historian enough that I can't pretend that it's only a secular holiday, because a big part of it is firmly rooted in Christianity. Chistmas=Christ's Mass. I suppose I could celebrate Yule, but I'm not a pagan either and it takes too much explaining. Maybe the best way to look at it is as a blend of traditions, pulling the most from Christianity but also from a host of pagan traditions (the tree, the time of year, the idea of light in darkness), pure material secularism (duh), humanism (check out the messages in Rudolph and the Grinch), and even a touch of Judaism (Irving Berlin, after all). I'm a little more comfortable with that.

Thankful that: I do have such great in-laws.
Holiday Challenge:35800 meters to go - I hope to finish this weekend.

Posted by dichroic at December 16, 2004 01:01 PM

>>I don't have the usual emotional difficulties with the season, because I only began celebrating Christmas as an adult and Chanukah is a blessedly angst-free holiday.>>

I know exactly what you mean. :-)

Glad your plumbing difficulties have been resolved.

Posted by: Rachel at December 16, 2004 07:27 PM

I'm a non-denominational holiday celebrater. To me holidays are a Good Thing, period. Keep the joy, dump the fret and party on, dude! ~LA

Posted by: LA at December 17, 2004 10:47 AM

Dichroic, honey, sweetie. Your post today in my g-book? Huh? I'm flummoxed, here. 'Splain? Luv you muchly.

Posted by: outfoxed at December 23, 2004 02:02 PM
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