It usually happens this time of year. Although it can happen at other times of the year, the primary indicator is a person suffering from supreme over-commitment. I call it the “Oklahoma Syndrome” a known malady that inflicts primarily women who agree to far too many things. We’re just a bunch of girls that can’t say “no.” Perhaps the holidays bring it on as we try to excel at our careers or motherhood or both, while managing to bake all the traditional recipes that our grandmothers successfully won us over with, organizing the family social calendar and secretly wondering when all this hullabaloo will end.
I find myself cheering on the weatherman tempting him to forecast chances of a record-breaking snowfall and I imagine being trapped at home amid snowdrifts and closed roads. We survive by sledding down the hills that even the manliest 4x4 all-wheel drive vehicle wouldn’t dare to venture down. We make hot chocolate and build fires. The adults warm themselves with hot toddies, the kids (yes, even the teenagers) have snowball fights or play fox and geese, and nobody worries about getting back to the city tomorrow. A hand strokes my face and tells me the rosy glow on my cheeks becomes me and I’m thankful that candlelight can be so faulty and forgiving.
On alternate days, instead of checking my email I find myself searching for last minute escapes on the internet promising warm sun, a soft breeze and any number of tactile delights like mud baths, searing hot stones, a pick of treatments that feature the word “peel” and the dueling promise of spiritual cleansing through aromatherapy and/or yoga. I imagine booking a room for one, boarding the airplane and swallowing the guilt that eventually would sink in as I send the text that says, “Have fun w/o me. C u in 2012.” I can almost feel the sand between my toes, smell the mix of tropical flora and fruit, and wonder if one can live on mango nectar and massage. I no longer think, “Someday I should give it a try” and I imagine actually hitting the button that says “Book Now!” and breaking out that new VISA card that came in the mail.
Instead, I find myself staring at the empty corner of the living room where eventually we will erect a Christmas tree and humming a stilted version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” while changing the lyrics to “God Rest Ye Weary Womenfolk, let nothing you dismay . . . Out there some where’s a savior, turning women’s work to play. Please, save us all from thankless thoughts lest we be drawn astray. Bring us tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. Bring us tidings of comfort and joy.” As I stop, I realize that this Christmas carol is a prayer, and with my sacrilegious substitutions, it is now a woman’s prayer for redemption.
I shake off the ague that could be mistaken as an early symptom of the flu and dig deep into the hall closet and pull out a snow globe. I shake it furiously, knowing that it is as close as I will get to a record snowfall today. As the snow settles, I sip my mango green tea, bask in the steamy aromatherapy and I reach for my phone to send my family a text. “Don’t forget to p/u milk.” In my next ten minutes of uninterrupted “me” time, I wonder how I might bastardize the lyrics to “Home for the Holidays.”