Oh, how I love Thanksgiving time. To me it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It combines all the elements of a great gathering – the sights, the smells, the tastes, the textures, solitude and space mixed with friends and family – and it has the good grace to last no longer than necessary.
I especially like it because by this time in the academic year, this small break is the grace period that allows students and staff alike to refresh, rejuvenate, and refuel for the final stretch before beginning the whole cycle again in January.
This year I was fortunate to be able to add on a couple of vacation days to the Thanksgiving break. Ironically I learned the value of structure by allowing myself to operate without it, relationships by seeking solitude, and home by being away for a few days.
A couple of days in Galena served as the perfect get-away. Because of its proximity to Chicago, the population of this small art town swells on weekends the way Best Buy does on Black Friday. Consequently, my strategy is to visit during the week when I can have the place pretty much to myself.
For me the whole world feels different when I’m not rushed or crowded. Things are much more manageable when I do not feel the need for speed to get through the day, return phone calls or endless emails, or acquiesce to another’s agenda .
I feel much better when I have some breathing space, some room to pause, ponder, play, sleep in, write with exquisite new pens discovered in my favorite stationery store, watch movies, read a book, explore a new town, enjoy an amazing strawberry salad at the Desoto House Hotel, swim laps unobserved, and soak in an over sized tub with a roaring fire in the fireplace.
Having time to indulge in a few of my favorite things for even a few days makes me a much happier camper at family functions, holiday parties, and when the time comes to return to work. It’s like following the flight attendant’s instructions and putting my own oxygen mask on first. Despite my best intentions, I can’t save anyone if I can’t breathe.
Too often I feel swept along on this frantic journey to “do, do, do” leaving the part of me that wants to “be, be, be” pleading for peace and quiet. When I was telling my friend Tom about this conundrum, he reminded me that perhaps Sinatra was on to something when he sang, “do-be-do-be-do.” I’m sure there is a right balance that’s unique to each of us. Knowing this and honoring it when possible makes life less stressful.
So today as I tackle the task of decorating my home for the holidays, I am acutely aware of the gift of being able to move at my own pace. I realize to others this pace might resemble someone who has alternately had too much turkey and too much pumpkin pie, which would explain the stops and starts, the nap (tryptophan!), intermittent internet shopping between blogging breaks, and the competing calls to action.
Tomorrow I will be on another schedule as I head over to Prophetstown for a bustling day (Small Business Saturday) at my sister and sister-in-law’s new shop, Beans and Burlap. I already know the day will have its way and my schedule may not be entirely my own, so my intention is to let go and flow. Otherwise, I fear what the magnet I found in one of those great Galena shops states will come to pass. “Let go or be dragged.”