“I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”
– Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
It’s been two-and-a-half-weeks. Since the last time we all had to get up, get ready, get our things together, get ourselves out the door.
Two-and-a-half weeks doesn’t sound like a very long time. Just a little more than half a month. Eighteen days, give or take.
But it’s long enough. To be far, far removed from the normal routine. To have relaxed into a new, though temporary normal. To forget what it’s like to have deadlines and phone calls and emails that don’t include invitations to parties or wishes of love and joy and happy.
To forget the password to get into my work email…
It’s long enough that I have indeed been relieved of my own life for a little while.
And, yes, long enough to make me long for it again.
When I was a little girl, I used to hate New Years Day. It would be a long, dark, boring day. My brother, sister, and I would wander about, using up the last bits of excitement over toys that were a week old. In the background was always the sound of the Mummers Parade because, born and raised in Philadelphia, my Mom still firmly believes that it is not New Years without string bands and fancy brigades. And all the while, I’d be dreading the next day. Back to school, back to normal life. Back to cold, dark days and the threat of snow and freezing rain every morning.
This feeling stayed with me well into adulthood. This love of special and holiday and breaks in the routine. And the sadness when it all comes to an end.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to realize that January 2nd, and, for that matter, the 6th or 10th or 31st, don’t have to spell the end of special. And routine, especially when you take a couple of weeks away, feels as warm and cozy as a well-worn sweater when you return to it.
And when you put the two together, normal life feels not so normal at all.
And when you start to feel the let down from the holidays, a little ache for people and festivity, you can gather with friends and make a party for no reason at all.
Or you can look just a bit ahead and start cutting out hearts because another holiday is just around the corner.
The break from routine and the freshness of the new year come together for me in January to inspire changes to the old ways of doing things and the creation of new routines and rhythms.
And the parts of the routine that we missed? We’re oh so glad to be back to those.
And without the holidays looming and the full calendars, we get to rest and relax. And with the snow and the cold we spend more time at home and we slow down and talk more. And everything feels just right. And calm.
So even though I’m up much earlier today than I want to be and it’s far too cold outside and I’ll really be in trouble if I can’t remember my password by the time I get into the office… I’m welcoming January 6th today.
Are you back to the routine today? How’s it going for you so far?