I am a Pollyanna pessimist, which means that, although my natural tendency is to look at the negative aspects of life, I continuously train myself to look at the brighter side. I try not to be an irritating ass about this, spouting off shallow platitudes in an effort to coat brussels sprouts with fondant icing, but I also recognize that the same circumstances can look very very different, depending upon one’s way of looking at them.
That being said, I am feeling discouraged these days.
And that being said, it doesn’t mean that I’m being optimistic or pessimistic, but just honest.
I don’t know what the future holds — who does? — but right now it’s looking a bit murky up ahead, dense, with smog, and the path is not clearly marked.
The newspaper announces happily that the Recession is over — apparently it ended two, three years ago — but when your job has been eliminated, as the Norwegian Artist’s day job has — and the local newspaper’s Help Wanted section is shorter than the Freebies — well, let’s just say that, in our household, holiday spending levels will be on a Recessionary basis as opposed to a recovery one.
Which, for our household, won’t be much different than the spending habits in the best of years. While the newspapers reported people thronging through the doors of discount stores to buy boom boxes and X boxes and sock boxes and big-screen TV boxes, we kept it conservative, the Norwegian Artist and I and the four children each purchasing one reasonable gift for each member of the family, and devoting Christmas morning to the slow, leisurely opening of each wrapped box, one at a time, passing the revealed item around from member to member before the next gift was chosen for its unveiling.
The morning itself is a yearly gift, one that provides lasting memories that require no batteries, replacement parts, or extended warranties.
So, even though the job prospects ahead look challenging, the spirit of Christmas remains unfazed, with six people plus two more, all with a vested interest and history and passion for one another, draped around the living room and exclaiming over the unwrapping of a ball of yarn (for me), a calendar (every year, for the Norwegian Artist), a sketchbook, a novel, a plastic Minotaur, a bag of coffee.
There is heat from the woodstove, food in the cupboards, and the pleasant feeling of being around people who genuinely like and love one another.
The circumstances haven’t changed. Just the point of view.