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Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The bottom fell out of my holiday spirit this morning when I found myself running around the house looking desperately for a sharp object. I turned over all the papers on the table, my desk, and several less logical places. I tossed the sheets on my bed, as if I could have slept in it all night and not felt a pair of barber shears. This house doesn't have many rooms, but I gave each of them several chances to deliver the goods.

It's Wednesday, you see, and I can't do payroll without scissors. It's a long story, not long and gripping in the Homeric vein but just long, like a drum solo or a Henry James novel. The most interesting details are these: I get the time cards over the fax, two to a sheet, and I have to cut the sheets apart and make copies. And that's the interesting part, so be glad I'm sparing you the rest.

But my dad's scissors were nowhere to be found. It would be bad enough to lose a family heirloom, worse to lose the family heirloom I use to open little packets of soy sauce. (Don't tell the rest of the family.) After looking everywhere twice I noticed I was also missing my nail clippers. Not that I needed them, but I sensed a trend, as if an airport baggage handler had snuck in during the night.

I counted all the knives in the kitchen, and there don't seem to be any missing.

One of the side effects of doing all this online shopping is the accumulation of cardboard boxes. It's a good thing I can recycle almost everything that passes through my life, or else I'd feel guilty about the waste. But the boxes just kind of pile up, higher and higher, until I get around to breaking them down and putting them in the recycle bin.

Remembering that I'd used the nail clippers to open a package yesterday, I started going through the heap of empty boxes. I got midway down the pile before I opened one and found my precious scissors. It was like finding a pirate's doubloon or a dinosaur bone. I felt as if I'd actually accomplished something, instead of just having wasted a couple of hours because of my own carelessness.

Well, I was a demon with the payroll program from that point on, and I got it done only an hour and a half later than I'd hoped. I should have just taken the paychecks to the post office and come home to get more work done, but I did some late shopping anyway.

And I feel good about what I accomplished out in the stores today. Mostly I feel good that I didn't let the holiday madness get to me, for once. I decided to assume people were nice and friendly, and I made allowances for anyone who seemed to be under pressure. I can certainly relate to the feeling. Since I'd already gone past my own deadline, I didn't push myself to get back to work at any particular time. I just did what I had to do in whatever time it took.


That could be the next storm coming in.

So now I think I can get through the next week without panic or regret. With the lost scissors episode I reached the low point, and I rebounded well. Plus, as a bonus, I reached into my jeans pocket for my car key and pulled out the missing nail clippers. What a bonanza! Thanks, Santa.

I've done everything I can to get ready, and I'd just like to enjoy what's left of the season. There's so much going on that I want to soak it all in and make the most of it. It won't last forever, which is sad, but it's also the happiest news I can think of. Once a year is just about right for all this festive madness.

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Thanks, Travis, for the kind words and the place of honor. (The rest of you, go read!)

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Passages
"Death is our cue to embrace the living, to cherish and comfort one another."

Two years ago: Stop Me Before I Have Fun Again
"And a very happy holiday to them, too, wherever they are. Just please stay there."

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Brightly shone the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel.