Ease into ’05

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas is over. I always love it in November, even up to about December 15 or so. Then, ick. By early January I can’t stuff the Rubbermaid fast enough. And I’m reflecting on this tonight — by the fire in the livingroom, kneeling on my meditation bench with a glass of wine, pitching crumpled year-end newspaper wads and fist-fulls of balsam needles into the fire to watch them pop and roar. I always leave the tree up one last night after the decorations are off, with just the lights on it and all the presents ferreted away. It’s a final hurrah, and a focus for reflection — the old tree, the old year. Dragging the thing out, leaving a carpet of needles in its wake, is an end and a beginning.

Another thing I do every year is write a little note and tuck it into the packed up decorations. I started this almost by accident in 1998, and have kept it up since. With so many years of January 3 notes collected, it’s easy to see in retrospect how some years were better than others. One note actually says something like “If I’m not alive next Christmas, remember I love you.” Gee, nothing like Happy Holidays, eh?

This year I’m more positive, if still a bit cautious. And there’s the problem. Cautious for what? The things I’ve done that seemed risky, or for which people said I was “insane” now rank among the best decisions of my life. Things like backpacking solo through the Middle East for 3 months, or buying a ravaged clear cut in PEI and then building a little cabin on it.

I always knew risk was OK, even good, but I think it took watching the news all this week to really see another side of it. What’s the point of risk aversion, when you can get swept away by a 30′ wave at any moment. Death puts a lot of things into perspective. For me, over the past few years, death has made me cautious. Now it’s liberating. And it starts with saying some things I have to say, reflecting on them some more by the fire, in the cabin, and then doing stuff again, this time with wife and kids.

Oh, and one definite up side to this Christmas… I’ve fallen in love, again. Simon and I have finally bonded. He never had a problem. It was his old daddy.

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