Like I do with any new season or event, I marked the start of this Christmas break by writing a "bucket list." I even posted it right here. As I titled it, appropriately, "Christmas Break Bucket List," I wrinkled my nose at the same-old-ness of it all. I have been writing...and ignoring...lists like this for years. I needed better vision for this dream-dreaming and goal-setting.Then, I read a quote from a shiny photographer mom blog that I've been following for some time now. She visited Utah, and was enchanted by what she saw:
"It's unreal. I tried to express my amazement of the place today, but every good word I thought of seemed to cheapen the beauty...so I used naughty words instead, because they're already cheap." -Kelle Hampton
Kelle. You may need a soapy rinse for your dirty mouth, but you're an everyday genius. Sometimes, when I'm struck with something that isn't easily communicated or completed, I roll over. I play dead, and breathe shallowly so no one will ask me to explain anything. I give the cheap response because I don't have to reach far to grab it, and at least people don't pity me for trying hard and failing miserably if I don't attempt things seriously. I write rote lists and attempt new adventures half-heartedly because it's cheaper and easier and it doesn't really hurt if I don't accomplish things that I didn't really care about in the first place.
That's absolutely not what this season is about. It's not supposed to be cheap. It's not spray-painted, shatterproof ornaments from the bargain bin. (Sorry, Target. My pink and green bulbs are cutesy and affordable, but so not legitimate. The paint is flaking off and the white plastic underwear is showing.) This time is delicate - like the mirrored glass of the Christmas balls that shatter into a million pieces if you bump them off of the tree. It's rich. It is real. It's not synthetic poinsettias. It's spicy evergreens that came from a tree that took time to grow.
Sooo...my bucket list. I bucked it. I took off any items that I added just because they generally seemed addable. I thought about what I ought to ask of myself, and what I could accomplish. I thought SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I did not feel nerdy at all for using acronyms in personal list-making.
Some of these things are hard, some easier. Each are rich...rich like hearty foods, and jeweled colors, warm lights in the sharp darkness, and cozy layers in the biting cold. Substantial.
- Memorize a delicious little poem by January 1. FAIL. Not an inspiring start.
Read and relish in a work of fiction to celebrate the completion of the GRE, which left the lingering and unsavory vibe of fluorescent lights and buzzy computer screens and cheap plastic testing cubicles. (The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. Simple, sad, and sincere. Write and mail my Christmas cards to the mission partners who help me to do this incredible job and become my extended family - faux aunts and uncles, or "faunts and funcles."This was an EVENT. They should have brought in the mayor and the marching band when I dropped those 200 little gems down the chute.
- Bug my teammates and my disciples so they won't forget how much they love their FOCUS team. MOSTLY FAIL.
Complete my grad school application by December 31 with pomp and gratitude (pomp+gratitude=promptitude? pratitude?).And right after I hit "Submit," we drove 3 blocks to "downtown" for New Year's Eve kareoke in the small town watering hole. Slightly awkward. Fully celebratory.
- Break in my new running shoes by running real miles. With my real legs. Once every other day, at least 20 minutes at a time. MOSTLY FAIL. But I did register for the Country Music Half. Giddy up.
Water my first real Christmas tree in my very own living room. (*Well, a friend did it for me today. She even added sugar to the water. And apparently you have to do it every three days or something. Sheesh.)
- Drape the real evergreen garland on the eave and wrap the columns of the porch in greenery and white lights. FAIL FAIL MEGA FAIL. We carried this away when it was a moldy, frozen coil. (So, picture the doorway above looking a little less like it's in the Shire. Now picture the greenery lying on the ground beside the door. Put snow and ice on the greenery. Lots of it. You can't even see the garland anymore. Now imagine slimy evergreen boughs waiting to be unearthed in the spring. Ah, domesticity.)
Find the perfect presents for Dad & Mom. (*Hm. Celebrating the birth of Christ with family? My presence? Check check. Presents from a store? Check that too.) Sleep 8 hours a night. Yeah! Pretty much! Prepare to be a Mistress of Ceremonies - find nuggets to share and songs about Baltimore to sing at the Baltimore FOCUS Conference besides that one from Hairspray. Thanks, Christine. I wouldn't have done it without your motivation. Honestly.