My empty nest means I’m rarely crazy busy even around the holidays.
I no longer have to fit in shopping whenever I can manage it because little eyes might be watching or Christmas choir performances and church programs fill the calendar.
Most of my shopping is online and I don’t even have to worry about whisking gifts off the porch before anyone sees them.
I’m a different kind of busy now.
I’m busy making sure I’m not overexposed to Christmas commercials, Christmas movies or Christmas carols because they are likely to open the floodgates of tears I keep behind a dam of determination.
I’m busy drawing deep breaths when I pick up the phone and it’s a relative that never calls but needs an address for a Christmas card and, since I’m apparently the Keeper of the Addresses, always calls me.
I’m busy looking away from the childhood photos lining my upstairs hallway so I can stay focused on the vacuuming that needs doing.
I’m busy pinning down fruitless thoughts of “what if” or “if only” or “I wish”.
I’m busy getting things ready for the brief time my remaining family will be gathered around the dining room table. I’m trying hard to accommodate schedules and preferences and favorite foods and treasured traditions.
I’m busy pushing back sadness that threatens to overwhelm me in the dark of the year when clouds and rain make it even darker, even earlier. I’m lighting candles, plugging in lights and adding cheerful touches here and there to drive out the shadows that come creeping.
From the outside looking in, I’m awash in free time and easy choices.
And some folks wonder why I don’t answer the phone or join in the party.
But I am very, very busy.