Sunday, December 11, 2016

Notes from a year named Thrive: Holidays

We did our last show of the year yesterday, a one-day holiday event focused on exhibitors and shopping. It was the one that the team felt was the least amount of work, and the one that I felt most comfortable doing.

There's an ebb and flow, a rhythm, to social media for most businesses that isn't the same as the rhythm of this job. It's objectively neither good nor bad—it's just different. Holiday being the busy go-go-go time is something that still feels most natural to me.

I love the holidays. I love peppermint mochas, and Christmas trees lit with lights visible in windows, and the wonder that's imbued when it snows lightly in December. I love the quest for finding a friend's gift within the challenges of a small budget and where I happen to be shopping. I love that many people feel buoyant and prone to being a little bit gentler to strangers.

People both suck the most and the least during December. It's an annual paradox, and I find it as traditionally comforting as carols piped in to most public spaces. It's not everyone's experience of December, but it's mine—and having had to go without it, I know how important it is to my well-being.

I decorate for the holidays every year. Something simple and contained, because until now I lived in shared spaces and not everyone I shared those spaces with had a positive feeling about the holidays. This year I had planned to buy a tree—a small tree. When December arrived and I still hadn't bought the tree, I started having concerns about it for the two weeks that I'm not here. So earlier this week I bought a wreath of fir boughs, after having to walk four blocks to find a cash machine, and then walked home for twenty-five minutes carrying it. (So it's a good thing I didn't get a tree.)

My year first in Toronto, I went to Crate & Barrel (yes, I'm aware of my middle class aspirations) and I bought a not-obviously-Christmas garland. I've hung it various places: across a railing, over a bookshelf, and over the same bookshelf in a different apartment. This year I wrapped it around the wreath, stepped back, and thought oh, that's where that was meant to go.

It felt amazing to, for the first time in years, use something the way it was intended to be used because I have the financial ability and personal agency over my living space. Just a moment, a pause, in the riot and political turmoil of this year to feel accomplished. To feel like I was in the right place and again capable of continuing to find that right space.

When I name a year, I learn something about the word. Last year I learned that kindness is something no one is entitled to—it's a choice that I make. No one can demand it from me, and I can't expect it to be automatically given by others. This year, I am learning that to thrive is to carve out a good space in a bad environment. To find the moments of calm that create stability when the world feels relentlessly chaotic. Success at either of those things varies, but they are good things to learn.

No comments: