Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a moment to breathe

Today we got a day off work. Well, our department had a holiday outing in the late morning, so after a couple of hours in the office we headed over to "the palace of the legion of honor', an art museum in the city to look at the "japanesque" exhibit, featuring works on loan from the d'Orsay in Paris. What a treat, to wander around a gallery admiring intricate woodprints form centuries ago.

After a civilized lunch the rest of the day was our own. I decided to pop over to the little British Grocery store that lurks behind Safeway, next to the city pound. The basement of a small house, it is one room that stocks everything the expat Brit needs, from baked beans to marmite to double deckers, hobnobs, lucozade and robinson's barley water. Of course at Christmas it also has mince pies, pud and birds custard. We have a potluck party at the office on Thursday, so I thought I'd treat them to some Mr Kiplings mince pies, my oven being broken, I have a perfect excuse not to attempt to bake any myself.

I then went to the post office to mail my gifts to family in England. The queue was winding out of the door into the somehow festively drizzly street, but since I was, remarkably, in no hurry, I quite enjoyed my wait. There was a camaraderie in the disparate crowd, united by the need to send gifts to loves ones far away. I saw packages addressed to Brazil, to Paris, to Beijing. Maybe I was under the influence of my recently dowloaded Glee Christmas album, but as I stood there I pictured people all over the world opening gifts, knowing someone here in San Francisco was thinking of them, was prepared to stand in the rain for half an hour to make sure that gift made it to its destination.

Christmas can take a working mum to breaking point. When life is a carefully balanced house of cards the extra demands of the season can feel overwhelming. Even a supposedly pleasant thing like a holiday party invitation becomes simply more items on the to do list; book babysitter, buy tights with industrial supportty top so that party dress fits, get hair done....

I'm almost there though. I've reached the point where I can listen to my holiday music in the car without it bringing on feelings of panic. The cards have almost all been posted, the gifts almost all purchased. Just the daycare party and the work white elephant potluck to go, and maybe I can even relax.

How about you. Are you ready?

I'll leave you with my new favourite Christmas song of the moment; Mercedes from Glee singing "Angels we have heard on high".